A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health and if you’re not getting enough, it could even contribute to major health issues such as increased risk of obesity, diabetes, inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and depression.
There’s no doubt that diet and lifestyle play an important role in fighting insomnia, but despite our best efforts to eat right and exercise daily, sticking to a lifestyle plan isn’t easy – so many people turn to supplements instead.
Now, Dr Sami Karam from the Sports Medicine Clinic in Parramatta, NSW, has shared some expert tips with Starts at 60 on the best sleep-promoting supplements, explaining: “These supplements may help you rest easier and wake much fresher.”
Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps with muscle recovery, allowing you to relax more ahead of time.
“This should help you fall asleep easier, especially if you suffer from restless legs or muscle twitching at night,” Karam said.
The doctor explained a magnesium deficiency can increase heart rate, spiking cortisol (a stress hormone), and added: “This will make it harder to fall asleep.”
Research has long suggested that good levels of B6 may help people to achieve good sleep. B vitamins help regulate the body’s level of tryptophan, an amino acid important for producing healthy sleep.
If you’d prefer a more natural approach through your food, B6 can alternatively be found in chickpeas, salmon, chicken breasts and yellow fin tuna.
Melatonin works together with your body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock) and lets you know when it’s time to sleep, wake and eat, Karam explained, promoting the best sleeping pattern possible.
GABBA is a neurotransmitter that can dampen nerve activity, while also serving as a critical calming agent for the body which helps to combat stress and anxiety, Karam said.
“A study in 2014 looked at the relationship of stress disorder and sleep quality with GABA production,” he said. “It found that poor sleep quality and GABA production were interrelated.”
L-Theanine, an amino acid found in tea leaves, helps boost GABA levels and promotes alpha brain waves (common during deep sleep), according to Karam, with research showing it can help benefit a better night’s sleep.
Health experts have lauded the health benefits of valerian for years. The herbal remedy claims to cure insomnia and nervous tension caused by anxiety.
“Although more research is being done on this plant root, early studies are quite promising in showing that Valerian improves the quality of sleep, especially so in the ageing population,” he said.