Sleep Cycle Support - Understand the body’s sleep cycle and natural sleep supplement benefits
Everyone has different sleeping habits, but an irregular sleep cycle can be a problem, as it negatively affects your mood, productivity and immune system. A proper night’s sleep isn’t just beneficial for the mind and body; sleep is also beneficial for overall health and daily functionality.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that individuals who are ages 26 to 64 years old get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If this time is cut short, the body can’t complete all its healing phases when it comes to muscle and tissue repair, hormone release and energy restoration (1).
The sleep cycle pattern alternates between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) (2). It remains in the four stages of NREM sleep for approximately 75% of the night, and cycles into REM sleep every 90 minutes or so for 25% of the night (1). Not only does the body stick to a sleep cycle pattern, but it also follows its own 24-hour internal clock. A natural hormone produced by the body, known as melatonin, helps signal the brain to enter and exit sleep mode (1).
In addition, both sleep and alertness are affected by brain neurotransmitters, but factors like food, medicine and other stimulants can affect the body’s REM sleep stage (2). For example, caffeinated drinks and decongestant medication can cause insomnia, making it more difficult to reach the deeper stages of the REM sleep cycle (2). On the other hand, when someone does enter deep sleep stages, the sections of the brain that control emotions, make decisions and manage social interactions have the chance to fully restore, allowing us to function properly once we’re awake (2).
Sometimes, a bad night’s sleep is related to a small change in a pre-bedtime routine. But many times, lack of sleep is caused by anxiety, stress or low levels of sleep-related hormones. Research suggests that some natural sleep support supplements may help people drift into a quicker and deeper sleep.
Melatonin. A natural hormone produced by the body, melatonin can be used to support those traveling across time zones, benefit overall sleep quality and help people fall and stay asleep (3). It can be taken as immediate release or extended release, depending on a person’s sleep cycle needs (5). Melatonin plays a special role in sleep support because rising levels of this hormone in the body signal that it is time to sleep. In fact, levels are often naturally highest overnight and barely detectable during the day. Food-derived sources of melatonin available in supplement form can help support healthy restful sleep in a similar way by helping regulate this natural rhythm.
1. National Sleep Foundation, “What Happens When You Sleep?,” https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep, accessed May 10, 2016.
2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep,” www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm, accessed May 10, 2016.
3. WebMD, “Sleep Supplements: Melatonin, Valerian, and More,” www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/natural-good-sleep-tips-on-melatonin-valerian, accessed May 10, 2016.