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  • Writer's pictureSonia Vasquez

Regulating Sleep with Medicinal Plants

Americans spend over $65 billion a year on supplements to improve sleep or cure insomnia, and the number is expected to grow beyond $100 billion. Yet, 50-70 million Americans still suffer from sleep disorders.

How do you know if you are sleeping well? The general rule of thumb is to sleep uninterrupted for at least 7 hours a night; 8-9 would be ideal and wake up recharged to start the day. Good sleep has become a luxury for many. However it is perhaps the most important basic human need that exists. Sleep is a crucial part of what is known as the circadian rhythm.

According to the Merck Manual of Health, circadian means around (circa) the day (dies). Circadian rhythms are regular changes in mental and physical states that occur in approximately 24 hours, the internal clock of each person. They are controlled by a light-influenced brain area (called the circadian pacemaker or internal clock). Light entering the eye stimulates cells at the back of the eyeball (retina) to send nerve impulses to this area. These impulses tell the brain to stop producing melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.

The usual thing is that each person has a different schedule for sleep and wakefulness. Some people (early risers or "day birds") prefer to go to bed and wake up early. Others (night owls or "night owls") like to go to bed and wake up late. These variations are not considered a disorder; however, people with circadian rhythm disorders fall asleep at inopportune times and then do not go to bed or do not wake up when they need or want to. Your sleep-wake cycle becomes disorganized.

Abnormal circadian rhythms are associated with obesity, T2DM, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, not to mention mental disorders, confusion, and difficulty making decisions.

To regulate the circadian rhythm is recommended to establish a healthy lifestyle, avoid exposure to any screen for at least 1 hour before going to sleep, exposure to the sun during the day, establish sleeping hours, and, when necessary, use supplements, medicinal plants or medicines to support the process.

Nervine, sedative, relaxant, and adaptogen plant extracts applied topically or ingested can be very effective in helping sleep regulation. In some cases, they work even better in combination with specific vitamins and supplements. Many of my clients have reported better sleep using my Tallow Pain Away Kit, and there are many more options in the market. I always recommend scheduling a preliminary consultation to personalize your treatment.

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