The longer days, warmer temperatures, and more casual schedules of summertime may sound like a recipe for relaxation. Yet for many, these factors actually aggravate insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, and waking unrefreshed. An estimated 64 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. Chronic sleep deprivation due to insomnia can lead to a deterioration of cognitive alertness and ability to function in the daytime, and may be associated with conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress reaction, pain, sleep apnea, and hormonal changes.
Sleep hygiene, behavioral therapies, and relaxation techniques may help people with insomnia to improve the amount and quality of their sleep. During the summer, this can include regulating the temperature of the sleep environment, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and avoiding eating, exercise, and computer use in the two hours before bedtime. In addition, certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help promote relaxation of mind and body.
Passionflower is a popular herbal remedy for anxiety and insomnia with a long history of use in North America. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating anxiety, and regular use does not appear to lead to dependence. 1
Lemon Balm is a medicinal plant in the mint family with mild sedative properties. Lemon balm has traditionally been used for its calming effects on both the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Research suggests that lemon balm may improve self-rated mood, increase calmness, and improve cognitive functioning in healthy people. 2
Hops is most familiar for its use in flavoring beer. Its most common medicinal use, as a treatment for insomnia and anxiety, has been supported by animal and in vitro studies. 3 4 5 Studies suggest that hops extract helps quiet the central nervous system. 6
California Poppy is a flowering plant in the poppy family, known for its sedative effects and used historically for insomnia, nervous tension and sensitivity to weather changes. Its ability to influence the metabolism of several neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine and serotonin, has been documented. 7 8 9
Valerian is a flowering perennial plant well known for its ability to ease nervousness and promote sleep. Studies suggest that valerian terpenoids and flavonoids may exert anxiolytic and sedative properties by affecting GABA and GABA receptors. 10 11 12 13 14
L-theanine is an amino acid present in green tea. In human studies, L-theanine supplementation increased alpha brainwave activity, indicating a more relaxed state. 15 It also reduced physiologic signs of stress in people given stress-inducing tasks in the laboratory. 16
Lavender Essential Oil is a perennial flowering shrub with a distinctive fragrance widely believed to ease tension and enhance relaxation. Aromatherapy with lavender oil has had relaxing to sedating effects in a number of studies. 17 18 19 20 21 Inhaling lavender oil during sleep increased sleep quality and a sense of vigor upon morning waking in one study. 22
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin levels are low in people with insomnia, 23 and supplemental melatonin has been found to be an effective treatment for insomnia in controlled trials. 24 25
Vital Nutrients Sleep Aide contains a synergistic combination of the above botanicals and nutrients to help calm the central nervous system and support restful, refreshing sleep at a dosage of 1-2 capsules, 15-30 minutes before bedtime.
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