The level of stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation in our country has reached an epidemic, leaving in its wake a long trail of health complications that are impossible to ignore. Your immune system, heart and circulation, blood sugar and brain rely on your body’s ability to fight inflammation and maintain optimal function—all of which are affected by the accumulation of stress and lack of sleep.
And when you find yourself consumed with worry, you know that a bout of sleeplessness and restlessness soon follow. Because stress and sleep are deeply connected.
Stress and sleep: the vicious cycle
The human body is wonderfully complex with a multitude of checks and balances in place to preserve life, order and wellness. Nighttime is the time when cells repair and rid themselves of the impurities and dead tissue that can be harmful if left to accumulate. But this vital process can only occur when you’re asleep and digestion is at rest.
Stress and worry are the enemies of sleep, threatening to disrupt this extended period of repair. Like a car being driven to the ground without the benefit of regular tune-ups and maintenance, your body starts to break down—from the engine to the wheels.
And as you know, chronic stress can be all-consuming, which in turn causes you to stress out even more, preventing you from getting the restorative sleep you need. If this vicious cycle continues over an extended period of time, the buildup of toxins and cellular waste can trigger a wave of inflammation that wreak havoc throughout your body.
Do common sleep aids and stress relievers work?
Most adults have experienced sleep disturbances and extended periods of stress in their lives. According to the American Institute of Sleep, 77% of adults experience stress that impacts their physical health. Another 48% lose sleep due to stress.
Desperate to shut down your racing mind and get a good night’s sleep, you may have sought solace in one or more common sleep aids.
Though you’re anxious about turning things around before you compromise your health, you want restful, recuperative sleep without the frustration of being able to fall asleep but not stay asleep, or getting “knocked out” and waking up feeling drowsy and groggy.
Thankfully, modern nutritional research has ushered in a healthier, more natural class of stress and sleep ingredients that deliver the benefits you want without side effects.
The scientifically-backed ingredients that work
When you think about natural ingredients that promote a sense of calm and help induce sleep, melatonin is probably first to come to mind. Studies do support that it can be incredibly effective—if you take the right form.
Melatonin is a natural hormone you need to promote a balanced sleep/wake cycle and help you feel sleepy, which daytime stress and evening blue light from TV, tablets and devices can easily disrupt.
While melatonin supplements have been shown to help you fall asleep, they don’t all help you stay asleep. So look for one that’s delayed release to work gradually through the night to help you get the slumber you need to be energized and focused in the morning.
Additionally, there are science-backed, stress-relieving herbal extracts that can effectively calm your racing mind and help you drift off to sleep including:
- GABA – This natural neurotransmitter helps you ease into sleep by calming feelings of anxiety and reducing the effects of mental and physical stress. In supplement form, it can work wonders to quiet your overactive mind.
- L-theanine – If you find your mind and body get restless when you want nothing more than to rest, this relaxation amino acid is what you need. As an anxiolytic, its natural sedative effect helps to calm anxiety.
- Ashwaghanda – This time-tested Ayurvedic healer is known to help reduce stress and promote calmness. But its most amazing quality is that it can actually reduce stress-related hormones from flooding your mind.
- Rhodiola rosea – Another centuries-old herbal remedy, this plant extract has been the focus of research on stress and anxiety, and has revealed itself to be a potent mood balancer.
- Holy basil – As a powerful adaptogen, this extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that support a healthy brain while also helping to reduce stress, boost memory, fight fatigue and improve sleep.
My bedtime ritual
If unwinding from a stressful day starts the moment you turn off your light, you’re already too late. Here’s my ritual for getting the sleep I need even after my toughest day:
- Late afternoon – Take a few minutes to center yourself with a soothing breathing exercise or calming walk. And cut the caffeine after 4 pm… it can stay in your system for upwards of 6 hours!
- Early evening – Digestion can interfere with production of melatonin, the natural hormone that regulates your body’s circadian cycle. Give your gut plenty of time to wrap-up activities for the night.
- Before bed – Put away your devices to limit melatonin-disrupting blue light that emanates from digital screens. Try a soothing activity instead such as reading a book. And take melatonin 30-minutes before bed to easily drift into sleep.
- Bedtime – Feel your stress melt away with the soothing scent of lavender oil. This powerful essential oil has been shown to promote relaxation. And you don’t need an infuser—a few drops on your pillow or sheets are all you need.
For a natural melatonin formula that is safe to take on a nightly basis, try NAOMI SleepAdapt featuring a unique combination of traditional melatonin and delayed-release melatonin, plus proprietary GABA to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
And if stress and worry affect your ability to concentrate and feel calm during the day, NAOMI StressAdapt is a comprehensive formula that tames overwhelming feelings with a combination of L-theanine, ashwaghanda, rhodiola rosea and holy basil.