How to Catch More Zzzzs

Everyone’s got advice on how to fall asleep quicker. But what if you’ve tried the warm milk, the boring book and the comfy mattress? When sleep problems are keeping you from waking up fresh faced, take comfort in sleep solutions from Pharmaca. Here are a few common sleep problems, addressed by Kate Brainard, ND.

I fall asleep fine, but wake up at 2am sharp. Is there a supplement to help me stay asleep all night?

My first recommendation would be to take melatonin before bed-it’s a natural sleep hormone that we make in our bodies, so supplementing what we do make can help us stay asleep longer. You can take it either in its individual form like in Source Naturals Melatonin, which is timed-release to keep it working throughout the night, or in combination with other herbal formulas. One product I like is Pharmaca Sleep, which includes 3 mg of melatonin and a blend of relaxing and calming herbs. One thing with melatonin, if you take too much, it can be hard to snap out of it the next day. Start with a lower dose and work your way up.

For a completely herbal approach, I would try Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc. It’s a blend of California poppy, valerian, passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, oat seed and orange peel, all of which promote restful sleep. But you do have to take it for a few days before you’ll see the right effects.

Sometimes my mind just won’t stop racing. What can I take to calm my thoughts so I can fall asleep more quickly?

Skullcap is a great herb for calming ruminating thoughts. Herb Pharm and Gaia Herbs both offer Skullcap Extract, but you can find blends that include skullcap and other stress-reducing herbs that can be really beneficial.

GABA is another supplement commonly used for people who can’t get their brain to slow down. It’s a neurotransmitter inhibitor—it slows down the synapses that keep firing, usually because you have too much stress. Again, GABA can be taken on its own or in combination, like in the formula NightRest by Source Naturals that includes GABA, melatonin, skullcap and other relaxing herbs.

I seem to sleep fine most of the night, but I usually wake up around 4 or 5am and just lay there until I have to get up. Anything I can take to fall back asleep for just a little while without causing a “sleep hangover”?

My suggestions would be more gentle, I would never recommend melatonin at this time. Instead, I like Calms Forte Sleep Aid, a non-drowsy homeopathic remedy that’s also non-habit forming, which is important to a lot of people. It has a blend of different homeopathics, ingredients that you’ll see in a lot of sleep remedies. For example, passionflower helps with restlessness from exhaustion, and oat seed is good for stress and nervousness.

Another good one is Bach’s Rescue Sleep. You can just spritz a few sprays in your mouth and it should be enough to get you back to sleep for just a little while.

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