There are different kinds of sleep problem: difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking in the night, total insomnia … Those who suffer with these chronic problems end up with an increasingly large sleep debt or deficit.
But why do we sleep so badly? Perhaps our modern lifestyles are to blame. According to a study conducted on a sample of 14,000 Europeans (1), we sleep less well when we use digital devices before going to bed. Similarly, sharing a bed with a partner can also disrupt the quality of our sleep (as a result of snoring, restlessness, etc.)
Specialists agree that an adult needs between 7 and 9 hours’ sleep a night to remain in good health. This is because sleep not only enables the body to rest but it also boosts the immune system. Good quality sleep is therefore an invaluable aid to resisting all kinds of infection, and in addition, it improves cognitive function.
If your sleep quality is less than ideal, rest assured there are certain plant extracts which offer natural solutions to promoting drowsiness and good quality sleep.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) grow in temperate regions such as Europe and North Africa. In phytotherapy, it is just the plant’s female flowers that are used as they have a soothing effect and promote good quality sleep(2).
Hop cultivation developed to meet the demands of bread and beer production. The plant’s sedative effects were discovered when it was found that those who harvested the flower clusters had a tendency to fall asleep easily at work.
As its name suggests, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) comes from the south-west of the United States. It was used by native Americans to help get their children off to sleep.
Today, it is grown for the beneficial properties of its aerial parts: the seeds, flowers and stems. Not addictive, this plant is recommended for those suffering from anxiety, fitful sleep and insomnia. Itsrelaxing action is effective against nervous restlessness (3). It features in certain dietary supplements (such as the formulationNatural Sleep Formula, which also contains hop and rhodiola).
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is primarily known for being an excellent catnip. It has been used since the time of Ancient Greece for its fragrant root which contains valerenic acid.
This substance is used to both fight insomnia as it appears to help synchronise sleep cycles, as well as to help support good mental health (4).
Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), long-associated with a range of virtues, is today used in many drug formulations. In particular, it helps to support circulatory and nervous function.
Its relaxing effect helps those suffering from insomnia to get back to sleep more quickly when they wake in the night (5).
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) was widely used in Mexico by the Aztecs for its sedative properties.
World-renowned, it is used nowadays to reduce psychomotor agitation, boost the body’s resistance to stress, induce a state of calm, and promote restorative sleep (6). Dietary supplements are a convenient way of benefiting from its positive effects (such as the formulation Stress Relief Formula, also rich in magnolia, polygala, magnesium...)
If you suffer with sleep problems, it’s possible to take a synergistic formulation offering the combined benefits of all five of these plants.
You could opt for the unique supplement Advanced Sleep Formula, which along with these effective plant extracts, also contains vitamin B6 and lithium orotate. The various compounds in this product will help you rediscover the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
In addition to these plants, we can’t possibly fail to mention melatonin.
This natural hormone is produced by the body as night falls to send the signal that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin thus helps to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Frequent travellers may also find melatonin useful as it helps reduce subjective sensations of jetlag (7).
Melatonin can be found in supplements such as Melatonin and Melatonin Spray (a spray form that works more rapidly). This hormone is also included in the above-mentioned product Advanced Sleep Formula.
Alternatively, you could opt for the melatonin precursor L-tryptophan, which also promotes production of serotonin (the ‘happy hormone’).
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