Millions of people around the world battle insomnia. Sleeplessness may be a byproduct of different conditions, and treatment may depend on the underlying cause of the insomnia. Many people find using all-natural supplement therapy is enough to ward off sleeplessness.
Insomnia is more prevalent among elderly individuals and women. Elderly people are more likely than younger ones to have medical conditions that may cause pain at night or to take medication that can interfere with a good night's rest. Some research suggests that men lose about 80 percent of their deep sleep between the ages of 16 and 50. For women, hormonal events often trigger sleeplessness. These can include menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Individuals who are over the age of 50 may be more prone to anxiety, grief and depression which can cause sleeplessness.
Although there are many different medications, be it prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, to alleviate symptoms of sleeplessness, some people prefer to not take these medications due to the risk of dependency or the side effects associated with them. Hypnotics, which include the brand name Ambien, have been linked to morning drowsiness and even temporary amnesia, where individuals walk around, drive or even cook while under the medication and are unaware of what they are doing.
Those who are looking for more natural approaches can use the following vitamins and minerals in conjunction with good sleep hygiene.
* Calcium and magnesium combination: Calcium and magnesium have been shown to relax the central nervous system, helping the body drift into sleep. According to Dr. William Sears, calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. It is important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium to magnesium helps calcium work properly. It is recommended to take 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium once per day, later in the evening. This can be done after dinner or a few hours before going to bed for best results.
* Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. It also helps with myelin formation. Those who are deficient in B6 find the peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes and the central nervous system can be affected. Taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily can help in the production of serotonin and promote sleep. It is believed to work well for people who struggle to stay asleep through the night.
* Vitamin B12 and vitamin B5 combination: Taking 25 milligrams of B12, especially when supplemented with vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), can be a successful sleeplessness remedy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common and is a factor for many patients who suffer from insomnia, especially seniors. Vitamin B5 may also relieve stress.
* 5-HTP: Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter involved in sleep and mood, and 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytroptophan, is a precursor to serotonin. In several double-blind clinical studies, 5-HTP decreased the time required to get to sleep and to decrease the number of awakenings, according to HolisticOnline. It is recommended to take 100 to 300 mg, around 45 minutes before retiring for bed.
* Melatonin: Although melatonin is the go-to supplement for sleeplessness because of its direct relationship with sleep onset and circadian rhythm in the body, some research indicates that melatonin supplementation may only be effective for those who are deficient in this hormone. However, it may be effective for the elderly person who naturally produces less melatonin as he or she ages. A report titled, "Melatonin in elderly patients with insomnia: A systematic review," found there is sufficient evidence that low doses of melatonin improve initial sleep quality in selected elderly insomniacs. Melatonin doses ranged from 0.5 mg to 6 mg, and most participants took a single dose 30 to 120 minutes before bedtime. However, larger, randomized controlled trials with less strict inclusion criteria are necessary to yield evidence of effectiveness in geriatric patients who suffer from insomnia before widespread use can be advocated.
Sleeplessness is something that can cause anything from mere annoyance to a long-term health problem. Older adults who are more prone to insomnia can consider a number of natural remedies to help get a better night's rest.