If you’re not getting enough shuteye you’re not alone. Experts say around one in three of us struggles with insomnia at some point in our lives. And no matter if you have trouble getting to sleep, or you find yourself waking up too often or too early, shortchanging your sleep bank can take a real toll on your mood and your health.
If you’ve already taken our advice and banned electronics for at least an hour before bed, and created a snooze friendly “sleep cave,” then it might be time to take things to the next level with a natural insomnia remedy.
Sleep better, and live happier and longer with one of these four strange, science-backed insomnia solutions you’ve probably never heard of.
If it’s anxiety or stress that’s keeping you up at night magnolia bark may be able to help. This proven herbal remedy can calm your nerves, helping to erase your spinning thoughts so you can drift off to dreamland in no time.
Magnolia bark, or honokiol, is twice as effective at relieving insomnia as the prescription drug Valium, according to research published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. But unlike the drug, magnolia helps you settle down for sleep without the dangerous drug side effects.1
Relaxation-triggering compounds in the extract naturally lower your level of the stress hormone cortisol.2 And at the same time your level of soothing GABA rises, promoting REM sleep, according to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacolgy.3
Believe it or not white beans could be the key to finally getting a good night’s sleep. Because it turns out this humble legume contains not one, but three substances that can help you leave your insomnia behind.
White beans contain a small amount of the essential fatty compound called phosphatidylserine (PS). PS covers and protects your brain cells and carries messages between them. And while you may not be able to say phosphatidylserine three times fast, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from this natural amino acid.
Research suggests that PS can help you fall asleep and stay that way, reducing or eliminating middle of the night wake ups by helping erase stress and lowering your cortisol levels.4,5,6,7
White beans are also rich in sleep-friendly potassium. Less than half a cup of beans provide enough of the mineral to help you slip off to sleep, and keep you from waking up throughout the night. According to a study published in the journal Sleep, potassium could help you sleep more soundly, increasing your REM sleep and slicing the number of times you wake up in the night in half!8
And the white bean benefits don’t end there. One of the first signs of a magnesium deficiency is insomnia. Eating white beans can help restore your levels of this essential mineral if it’s running low.
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled study on insomnia in seniors, a magnesium supplement helped folks fall asleep faster, and sleep longer and more soundly. 9 Plus, as a bonus, magnesium helps relax tense restless muscles, which can significantly improve the quality of your rest, according to a study published in the journal Sleep.10
Watermelon is brimming with the powerful phytonutrient lycopene. Lycopene is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Research has linked low levels of the antioxidant to abnormally short sleep cycles, while folks with higher levels of the compound have been found to have less trouble falling asleep.11,12
Other great sources of lycopene are tomatoes, papayas and grapefruit.
Watermelon also contains plenty of the amino acid citrulline, which your body eventually converts into the natural muscle relaxant nitric oxide (NO). NO can help soothe tense muscles, allowing you to drift off to sleep easier.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter found in your brain. One of GABA’s jobs is to send a message to your nerves that it’s time to settle down so you can sleep. In other words, GABA helps you fall asleep quickly and easily.
In a study, published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology researchers found that GABA is absorbed and metabolized by your body within just 30 minutes. And study volunteers who took the GABA fell asleep faster, and got significantly more restorative deep sleep than folks who took a placebo.13
Foods rich in GABA include spinach, chestnuts, bean sprouts, kale and sweet potatoes.14 GABA supplements, which are very affordable, are also available online and in natural food stores.
Stop letting insomnia rule your days and nights. Try one of these unusual sleep aids and before you know it you could be enjoying the best sleep of your life without resorting to dangerous sleep drugs.
1. “Honokiol, a putative anxiolytic agent extracted from Magnolia bark, has no diazepam-like side-effects in mice,” J Pharm Pharmacol. 1999 Jan;51(1):97-103
2. “Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects,” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 37
3. “Honokiol promotes non-rapid eye movement sleep via the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor in mice,” Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Oct; 167(3): 587–598
4. “Omega-3 fatty acids administered in phosphatidylserine improved certain aspects of high chronic stress in men,” Nutr Res. 2012 Apr;32(4):241-5
5. “The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise,” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008; 5: 11
6. “Effects of phosphatidylserine on the neuroendocrine response to physical stress in humans,” Neuroendocrinology. 1990 Sep;52(3):243-8
7. “The Effects of Phosphatidylserine and Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Containing Supplement on Late Life Depression,” Ment Illn. 2015 Feb 24; 7(1): 5647
8. “Diclofenac potassium restores objective and subjective measures of sleep quality in women with primary dysmenorrhea,” Sleep. 2009 Aug;32(8):1019-26
9. “The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial,” J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec; 17(12): 1161–1169
10. “Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study,” Sleep. 1998 Aug 1;21(5):501-5
11. “Dietary nutrients associated with short and long sleep duration. Data from a nationally representative sample,” Appetite. 2013 May; 64: 71–80
12. “Dietary nutrients associated with short and long sleep duration. Data from a nationally representative sample,” Appetite. 2013 May;64:71-80
13. “Effect of oral γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration on sleep and its absorption in humans,” Food Science and Biotechnology, April 2016, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 547-551
14. “γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) content of selected uncooked foods,” Preventive Nutrition and Food Science 8.1 (2003): 75-78
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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