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A good night’s sleep is possibly a ‘cure-all’ for almost any negative mood-related malady. Feeling frustrated, anxious or low on patience? Looking at your average hours of sleep might just point you in the direction of the cause.

With our modern fast-paced lives and many deadlines, sleep is often the first item on the list of compromises – and not in a good way. Running behind schedule on a deadline? Sure, why not push deep into the wee morning hours to deliver that project on time! You can always make it up. That is what we tell ourselves, but more often than not, we never take the time to catch up the hours we missed as there is always another deadline looming around the corner. And so the compromised nights quickly add up leaving you feeling sluggish, frustrated and very low on patience.

The good news is that there are a few things you can implement into your routine immediately, outside of, or even in addition to a natural sleep supplement.

What Is Healthy Sleep?

Sleep, and the body’s need for sleep, is a relatively new research field. We do know that sleep is necessary to:

  • Maintain critical body functions

  • Restore energy

  • Repair muscle tissue

  • Allow the brain to process new information

Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk for serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. It can also affect your immune system, reducing your body’s ability to fight off infections and disease.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

The body’s sleep requirements change as we age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep if you’re between the ages of 18 to 64. Younger children and teens require more sleep than adults in this range – but often make up sleep hours with the help of naps throughout the day.

Each person has unique sleep needs and many factors (including genetics) can influence how much sleep you’ll need.

Quality of sleep is another factor which determines how much sleep you will need. People who get good quality sleep without waking up may need a little less sleep than people who frequently wake up or have trouble staying asleep.

Natural Sleep Supplements

Some people with sleep deprivation may want to steer clear of medicines and use alternative treatments to help get some shut-eye.

These natural sleep supplements may include:

  1. Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle. It helps your body to know when it’s time to sleep and wake up. Normally, your body makes more melatonin at night. Taking an additional supplement close to night-time is said to improve the ability to fall asleep.

  2. Theanine: Theanine (L-Theanine) is an amino acid found in green tea. It is also found in some mushrooms. Its relaxing properties can mainly be explained by its similarity in structure to glutamate, the most important excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Theanine can block certain responses brought on by glutamate resulting in a calming, more relaxed state. So, your brain is calmer, you’re calmer and you’ll definitely have an easier time falling asleep because of it.

  3. Valerian: Valerian is another natural sleep aid. It’s extracted from a plant and sold as a dietary supplement. However, research into its effects on insomnia is not conclusive.

  4. Magnesium: Magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.

  5. Essential Oils: Lavender aromatherapy is used as a natural sleep aid. This relaxing scent is used in a variety of sleep-promoting products. Research suggests it can also influence your nervous system, promoting better and more restorative sleep as a result.

7 Tips For Better Quality Sleep

  1. Establish a routine – Try to be consistent with your sleep and wake up time each day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimises the quality of your sleep. Choose a bedtime when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock, you may need an earlier bedtime.

  2. Slow down on the caffeine – Even if you only drink it during the day, the stimulant may keep you from getting sleep at night. Try to consume fewer caffeine beverages during the day, and ideally well before mid-afternoon. Coffee is not the only beverage that includes caffeine. Other foods & beverages that may include caffeine include tea, sodas and some chocolate.

  3. Pack away your phone – Try to put your electronic devices down an hour before your bedtime. We know this one might be hard to do, but the blue light from the phone can stimulate your brain, which may make sleep more difficult. Replace reading the latest social media or email notifications by reading a book instead.

  4. Track your naps – While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, napping can make things worse. Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.

  5. Exercise during the day – People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Exercise earlier rather than later in the day. Exercising too late in the day may cause sleep problems, due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline. Should you enjoy exercising later in the day, something calm and restorative like yoga, tai-chi, or pilates might be better options.

  6. Clear your mind – Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. Taking steps to manage your overall stress levels and learning how to curb the worry habit can make it easier to unwind at night. You can also try developing a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you prepare your mind for sleep, such as practising a relaxation technique, taking a warm bath, or dimming the lights and listening to soft music or an audiobook.

  7. Improve your sleep environment – Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep. Keep your room dark, cool and quiet, and make sure that your bed and bedding is comfortable.

Good quality sleep can ward off many short-term issues such as fatigue and trouble concentrating. It can also prevent serious long-term health issues. Making sure that your body gets the sleep it deserves should be a priority for long term health.

Many sleep disorders might not allow you to get the quality or quantity of sleep your body needs. If your sleep is disturbed frequently, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder. If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, book an appointment with your GP to rule out any sleep disorders, or schedule a visit with a therapist which may help you work through what is on your mind.

Releaf Theanine tablets are a great natural sleep supplement to add to your routine and maintain your sleep health. Speak to your health care practitioner about adding some L-Theanine to your sleep routine. Available at all leading health shops and pharmacies, nationwide.