Insomnia describes any change in sleep quality and/or quantity. It includes difficulty falling asleep, and waking up in the night or too early in the morning.
While it may happen occasionally when conditions are unconducive to sleep (poor bedding, noisy environment, consumption of stimulants …), it can sometimes become established over time: it is referred to as chronic insomnia when it occurs at least 3 times a week for a period of 3 months.
Sleep problems have a considerable impact on daily life, causing significant fatigue, difficulty concentrating, excessive irritability and daytime drowsiness. The good news is there are natural, sleep-targeting substances that can break this exhausting cycle.
Native Americans would use it to help their children get to sleep. Also known as eschscholtzia, California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) is a herbaceous plant indigenous to North America, popular in phytotherapy for its precious alkaloids (such as protopine). It plays a role in mental health and relaxation and helps to combat anxiety, nervous restlessness, disrupted sleep and insomnia(1). It’s well worth considering if you have trouble switching off when it’s time to sleep!
Extracts of this pretty orange flower have been combined indietary supplements with other plant extracts for maximum efficacy (for example, in Natural Sleep Formula, a totally natural formulation containing California poppy, hop, valerian and rhodiola).
Secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin orchestrates the sleep-wake cycle. It starts to be released as daylight fades, reaching a peak during the early hours, before gradually falling during the second half of the night.
However, in certain people, this normally well-regulated cycle can sometimes get out of synch, especially as a result of insomnia or jet lag. In such cases, it can be helpful to supplement with melatonin in order to get back on track and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep (try, for example, Melatonin 1mg, which is bioidentical to naturally-produced melatonin).
If you’re looking for maximum convenience, choose a spray that you apply under the tongue (such as Melatonin Spray, enriched with vitamin B6 to help reduce fatigue): an innovative format offering optimized efficacy, as the active substances go straight into the bloodstream.
Melatonin without tryptophan is a bit like trying to sleep without closing your eyes. An essential amino acid, L-tryptophan acts as a precursor of melatonin, serotonin and niacin (vitamin B3). It is thus a crucial link in the sleep chain (5-6).
In terms of dietary sources, tryptophan is primarily found in wholegrain rice, poultry, dairy products, chocolate and bananas.
For disrupted sleep, some naturopaths recommend tryptophan supplementation (with, for example, L-Tryptophan, a quality-assured tryptophan supplement).
Just the smell alone is conducive to relaxation. Growing wild on the high plateaus of Provence, some 800m above sea level, lavender or ‘true lavender’ (Lavandula angustifolia), is loved by perfumiers and aromatherapists alike. When the flowering tops are distilled, it produces an essential oil with a highly-sophisticated scent, and above all, excellent therapeutic versatility.
Like a gentle hand steering us to a world of dreams, lavender helps to maintain an optimal state of relaxation and improve the quality of our sleep(7). The powers of this great medicinal plant have thus been used to excellent effect in numerous supplements (such as Organic Relaxing Oil Blend, an exclusive blend of organic essential oils of true lavender, mandarin and caraway).
Last but not least, a plant that has long watched over our dreams! Prescribed for sleep problems by Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen, valerian showed its worth again during the First World War when it was widely used to calm the nerves during bombing raids.
Traditional use such as this is supported by science: valerian root actually helps to combat insomnia and maintain good mental health and cognitive function(8-9). It also supports good cardiovascular function, an aspect of health sorely tested when sleep is in repeatedly short supply (10).
So to ensure a good night’s sleep, put your faith in a valerian-based supplement (such as Advanced Sleep Formula, an exceptional formulation combining valerian and melatonin with the best sleep-promoting plant compounds such as California poppy, hawthorn and hop).
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Sleeping well is not always easy … but the good news is that certain plants can help restore the joys of a good night’s sleep. Read on to find out which 5 plants can help put an end to disrupted nights.
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Suffering from insomnia? Don’t panic: our easy-to-follow advice will help you fall asleep quickly and ensure you benefit from restorative sleep