If so, don’t worry because you are not alone!
We may have difficulty getting to sleep. Or once we're asleep, we might find ourselves waking in the early hours because of bad dreams or for no reason at all.
We could also be woken by a partner who snores or is restless in bed.
And once we're awake, we might find ourselves worrying about our day-to-day issues or simply about the fact that we're not getting enough sleep.
It seems like we are stuck in a vicious circle of anxiety and insomnia.
All these factors result in us only getting a few hours’ sleep a night.
This means not enough time spent in deep sleep mode, a state that has a healing effect on our body, letting us wake up refreshed.
So in this article, we’re going to look at the value of sleep and how you can use natural remedies to help get that deep, refreshing sleep we long for.
It’s especially useful for anyone who does not want to risk the known side effects of traditional medication for insomnia prescribed by doctors.
Why Is Sleep Important?
To understand how you can achieve great sleep with natural remedies, it helps to set the scene and know exactly why sleep is important.
In short, it’s essential to keep us healthy both physically and mentally.
Lack of sleep impacts many different aspects of our wellbeing. Let’s look at just a handful of these issues to understand how valuable sleep is.
One scientifically proven consequence of lack of sleep is weight gain. Many studies have been carried out in this area.
One long-ranging study (1) followed over 68,000 women for a 16-year period and found that women who slept for five hours or less put on 1.14 kg more in weight than those who slept for seven hours.
A lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, will also mean that we lack energy during our daytime activities.
This impact is closely linked to weight gain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body craves food to make up for the lack of energy. This in turn leads to unwanted weight gain.
A study (2) found that just five days of inadequate sleep increased energy needs.
This prompted subjects to eat more, but the amount they ate was over and above the amount needed to generate necessary energy, leading to weight gain.
It's well-known that a lack of sleep can also mean that we age more rapidly.
This was clearly demonstrated in a study (3) that looked at the effect of lack of sleep on brain structure and cognitive function.
It found that shorter sleep duration was associated with increased brain atrophy (wasting) and cognitive decline.
It’s clear from just these few examples that lack of sleep has a profound effect on the health of the human body.
What Happens To Your Emotional Wellbeing When You Are Sleep-Deprived?
As well as these consequences on our physical health, lack of sleep also takes a toll on our emotional wellbeing.
Anxiety is a recognised consequence of lack of sleep, and the link has been clearly demonstrated in a number of scientific studies.
An article appropriately titled Overanxious and underslept published in Nature Human Behaviour (4) highlighted that even losing a small amount of sleep can result in daytime anxiety.
Depression is an issue too for people who don’t get enough sleep, particularly women.
This was revealed in a study looking at chronic sleep deprivation and its consequences (5).
It concluded that depression was more a risk for the women than the men in the study and emphasised the importance of women getting enough sleep to stay mentally healthy.
In an interesting study on the daytime consequences of sleep deprivation (6), researchers studied 43 couples.
The participants gave blood samples and details of how well they had slept on the previous two nights.
They were given a subject to discuss that had the potential to cause conflict between them. After the discussion, the couples gave another blood sample.
Researchers found that those who had had less sleep had a more pronounced inflammatory response to the conflict, suggesting that lack of sleep can lead to more tension at home.
It's clear that lack of sleep and not getting good-quality sleep leads to anxiety, depression and stress.
This becomes a vicious circle, with people who suffer from poor sleep finding that they lie awake trying to get to sleep, or back to sleep, overthinking and reliving stressful situations from their day.
What’s also concerning is that trying to catch up on your sleep at the weekend won’t cancel out the risks to your physical and mental health, as explained in this article in the Harvard Health Blog.
It’s consistent, good-quality sleep of proper duration that your body needs to replenish itself.
What Can I Do If These Issues Affect Me?
If these issues sound familiar, then you will want to know what steps you can take to relieve your stress and anxiety,
— indicators that we can’t get to sleep and find a way to fall asleep fast.
What About Prescription Medication?
Sleep medication prescribed by your doctor is one option you might have thought of trying. This generally takes the form of sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs and tranquilisers.
While these methods can offer a short-term solution, doctors do not recommend using them for more than three weeks.
They may also come with unpleasant side effects, including:
- Drowsiness in the daytime
- 'Brain fog' or the inability to think clearly
- Problems with balance
- Allergic reactions
What Natural Remedies Work For Sleep Deprivation?
For those of us wary of taking prescription medication to help us sleep because of its side effects and are looking for a more natural solution, why not consider herb-based supplements with few or no side effects?
The Power Of Passionflower
One well-established herbal remedy for sleep issues is the extract of passionflower, a beautiful flower that grows naturally in tropical regions in Central and South America.
A number of studies have been carried out showing that it helps people sleep all the way through the night and improve sleep quality.
This has been shown to be the case in a number of studies on mice and rats, while a study (7) where human subjects drank herbal tea containing passionflower extract every day for seven days found that their sleep was significantly improved.
Researchers agreed that passionflower herbal tea is a good solution for sleep disruption.
Wild Jujube Extract For A Great Night’s Sleep
Jujube, also known as Chinese date, flourishes in Southeast Asia and is eaten for its rich nutrient content and sweet taste.
It has also been used in traditional medicine for many years as a solution for insomnia.
A study (8) using jujube seed extract found that the sleeping time was found to increase.
Scientists concluded that it would be reasonable to use jujube as an antidote to insomnia in humans.
Rare Zinc Glycinate Holds The Key
There are lots of different forms of zinc, which is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body.
It performs many different essential functions and is also recognised as a natural solution to sleeping issues.
Many studies affirm zinc’s position as an antidote to insomnia. One of these studies (9) sought to establish a link between the relief of unpleasant symptoms in menopausal women, including insomnia, and a remedy containing zinc and other natural substances.
It concluded that the remedy was effective against hot flushes, insomnia and anxiety.
A Full Night’s Sleep Without Side Effects
The busy lifestyle of most modern women can have many adverse consequences on their physical and mental health.
One of the most far-reaching of these is difficulty sleeping, which can be made worse by anxiety, overthinking and feeling stressed about the very fact that you’re not able to get off to a deep, peaceful sleep.
While some women seek solace in medication from their doctor, this solution is not always desirable. Medication may be effective for a few nights but is not recommended as a long-term regime.
The side effects of drugs can also be off-putting. And if you’re using other medication to treat health conditions, you may be fearful of adding yet more drugs into the mix.
It’s great to know that the natural remedies we’ve discussed here – passionflower, jujube extract and zinc glycinate – have been proven to be effective in counteracting sleep disorders.
What’s just as reassuring is that natural remedies come with very few side effects, and any that they might have are usually very mild.
If we're struggling with sleep issues and are looking for a more natural solution to prescription drugs, why not give one of these natural and effective remedies a go?
Before long, you will be able to drift effortlessly off to a full night’s sleep to refresh you and prepare you for the next day’s challenges!
Editors note: Take our scientific 3 min free Perimenopause and Menopause Sleep quiz. You'll get personalised information about your sleep problems, pinpoint the exact root cause ad get scientifically proven solutions to end it for good:
1. Patel S, Malhotra A, White D, Gottlieb D, Hu F. ‘Association Between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women,’ American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 164, Issue 10, 15 November 2006, Pages 947–954, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwj280.
2. Markwald R, Melanson E, Smith M, Higgins J, Perreault L, Eckel R, Wright K. ‘Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain,’ PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), 2013 Apr 2;110(14):5695-700. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216951110.
3. Lo J, Loh K, Zheng H, Sim S, Chee M. ‘Sleep Duration and Age-Related Changes in Brain Structure and Cognitive Performance,’ Sleep, 2014 Jul 1; 37(7): 1171–1178.
4. Simon E, Rossi A, Harvey A, Walker M. ‘Overanxious and underslept,’ Nature Human Behaviour, 2020 Jan;4(1):100-110. Doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0754-8. Epub 2019 Nov 4.
5. Conklin A, Yao C, Richardson, C. ‘Chronic sleep deprivation and gender-specific risk of depression in adolescents: a prospective population-based study,’ BMC Public Health 18, 724 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5656-6.
6. Wilson S, Jaremka L, Fagundes C, Andridge R, Peng J, Malarkey W, Habash D, Belury M, Kiecolt-Glaser J. ‘Shortened sleep fuels inflammatory responses to marital conflict: Emotion regulation matters,’ Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2017; 79: 74 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.02.015
7. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality, Phytotherapy Research, 2011 Aug;25(8):1153-9. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.3400. Epub 2011 Feb 3.
8. San A, Thongpraditchote S, Sithisarn P, Gritsanapan W. ‘Total Phenolics and Total Flavonoids Contents and Hypnotic Effect in Mice of Ziziphus mauritiana Lam. Seed Extract’, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013;2013:835854. Doi: 10.1155/2013/835854. Epub 2013 Jun 4.
9. Cappelli V, Morgante G, Di Sabatino A, Massaro M, De Leo V. ‘Evaluation of the efficacy of a new nutraceutical product in the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms,’ Minerva Ginecologica, 2015 Dec; 67(6):515-21.