7 Natural Remedies for Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep can cause a variety of health conditions. Here are seven natural remedies that can fight the negative impacts of sleep deprivation.

A woman yawning while working at home at night.

The world has been suffering from a lack of sleep. In a 2021 survey involving 13,000 adults in 13 countries, Philips revealed that 70% of respondents have experienced one or more new sleep challenges since the start of the pandemic.

The survey also showed that women are more likely to struggle with sleep issues than men, and stress is the main culprit.  According to the survey, the pandemic, financial challenges and work responsibilities are stressing out sleep-deprived people.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has changed the way people work. More and more employees have been working from home and this has disrupted their sleep due to the absence of regular schedules, and the juggle between work and house chores. 

Work is important, and sleep is vital. What happens if we can’t sacrifice one for the other because of our life responsibilities?  

Thankfully, there’s a solution for this. Sleep deprivation can create complications that may lead to health problems, but some supplements can restore what we lose from lack of shut-eye. Read along as we discuss seven of these natural remedies that can treat sleep deprivation.

What Happens When We Suffer from Lack of Sleep

A mother holding her forehead frustratingly while her child plays in the background.
Your daytime fatigue may be caused by a lack of sleep

Fatigue aside, lack of sleep can cause other changes in the body, including: 

1. Oxidative stress damage

A 2019 study reported that night workers have higher levels of oxidative stress damage and lower levels of antioxidant defences. Oxidative stress can result in numerous diseases, like cancer, hypertension, diabetes and asthma, to name a few. 

Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an overbalance of oxidants. It is caused by an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can alter human cells’ functions. ROS itself is produced by plants in response to environmental factors, like pollutants and cigarette smoke.

2. Reduced immunity

According to Sleep Foundation, research has indicated that sleep strengthens immune memory or the immune system’s ability to recognize and react to dangerous antigens. 

The exact reason why this process takes place in our sleep is still unknown but believed that the sleep-inducing hormone – melatonin – would counter the stress from inflammation during sleep.

3. Decreased liver function

A 2020 study found that insufficient sleep is associated with fibrosis. The study said that, in contrast, optimal sleep helps to reduce liver stiffness and liver metabolism, among other health benefits.

4. Disrupted state of mind

From Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) perspective, not getting enough sleep can have a severe impact on the kidney qi (vital energy). Multiple health conditions may derive from kidney qi deficiency such as chronic inflammation, anxiety and heart irregularities. The imbalance of the body’s yin and yang energy, which disrupts the state of mind (when), also causes Insomnia.

At night, yin energy predominates as the body switches to the resting state. For a good night’s sleep, the main requirements are sufficient yin energy, heart-blood and liver-blood. External pathogenic factors such as heat or heat-phlegm could affect one’s rest as well. Without sufficient rest in the long term, the body is unable to rest and recover properly.

Besides suffering from general lethargy, the body’s qi and blood will also be in a diminishing state. In addition, depending on an individual’s body constitution, this would manifest as varying symptoms such as increased irritability, mouth ulcers, backaches and more.

7 Natural Remedies for Lack of Sleep

These supplements can help combat the effects of sleep deprivation on the body: 

1. Vitamin B

Vitamin B has long been commended for improving immune function, and a 2012 study managed to find out how. The study revealed that products of vitamin B synthesis are found in bacteria and yeast. 

Therefore, when we consume food containing vitamin B, our immune system is quick to recognize infections. Vitamin B can be found in meat, poultry (chicken and turkey), whole grains such as oats, green vegetables, dairy and nuts.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D affects sleep regulation, thanks to its involvement in melatonin production. Some sources of vitamin D are oily fish (salmon, sardines and mackerel), red meat (beef, mutton, goat meat), liver and egg yolk. 

3. Berries

An overhead shot of a collection of different kinds of berries.
Berries can fight the effects of sleep deprivation

From blueberry to cranberry, different kinds of berries comprise antioxidants to fight oxidative stress. Moreover, a study proved that berries also possess anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive and antihyperglycemic components.

4. Antrodia Cinnamomea

Native to Taiwan, the herb Antrodia Cinnamomea has protective effects against liver diseases.

5. Lavender

A popular aromatherapy treatment, the lavender essential oil can soothe the mind. Now, there is evidence that oral consumption of lavender supplements also produces physiological effects such as anti-anxiety and sleep.

6. Green Foods

As mentioned above, green vegetables contain vitamin B, which promotes immunity. Beyond that, green foods also consist of significant antioxidants, making them an essential anti-cancer agent. Not a fan of eating veggies? Consider green supplement drinks instead.

7. Kidney-nourishing herbs and herbal teas

Physicians recommend some Chinese herbs or medications to replenish kidney qi, which late-nighters lack. You can also take various herbal teas to improve insomnia. For individuals who suffer from insomnia due to deficient yin energy, heart-blood or liver-blood, the following teas can be taken.

Logan-goji berry tea, where logan can nourish the heart-blood and calm the mind while goji berry can boost liver-blood and strengthen the kidney. Lily bulb tea is not only able to nourish yin energy, but also clear “empty-heat” and calm the state of mind. Excess heat in the body can cause insomnia. Therefore, you should take rose tea to circulate liver ‘qi‘, clearing the excess heat produced due to liver ‘qi‘ stagnation; it also relieves stress.

These natural supplements may be easily available to protect the body against the effects of sleep deprivation. Even so, it bears reminding that the best and healthiest remedy is a good night’s sleep.

8. Acupoints to calm the mind

In general, there are a few acupoints that can help to relieve insomnia, such as massaging “Bai Hui”, “Shen Men”, “An Mian” for one to two minutes to calm the mind.

“Bai Hui” is located at the top of the head along the ear apex. Whereas, “Shen Men” is located on the wrist crease, closer to the little finger side, on the inner area where a tendon is felt. As for “An Mian”, it’s located around both sides of the neck, behind the earlobes, under the bone protrusion.

In TCM, insomnia can arise due to different reasons. Individuals should consult a TCM physician to understand their body constitution and receive targeted treatments better suited for their body.

References

 

  1. Philips. 2021. Seeking solutions: how COVID-19 changed sleep around the world  [Accessed 29 January 2022] 
  2. Research Gate. 2013. Vegetables as Sources of Antioxidants  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  3. Nature. 2019. Night workers have lower levels of antioxidant defenses and higher levels of oxidative stress damage when compared to day workers  [Accessed 29 January 2022] 
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2012. Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Defense  [Accessed 29 January 2022] 
  5. Sleep Foundation. 2018. How Sleep Affects Immunity  [Accessed 29 January 2022] 
  6. Sage Journals. 2020. Insufficient nocturnal sleep was associated with a higher risk of fibrosis in patients with diabetes with metabolic associated fatty liver disease  [Accessed 29 January 2022] 
  7. Science Daily. 2012. How the body uses vitamin B to recognize bacterial infection  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  8. PubMed. 2020. Vitamin D and Sleep Regulation: Is there a Role for Vitamin D?  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  9. National Health Service. 2017. Vitamin D  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2012. Protective Effects of Antrodia Cinnamomea Against Liver Injury  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  11. Science Direct. 2021. Berry polyphenols and human health: evidence of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, microbiota modulation, and cell-protecting effects  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 
  12. Research Gate. 2017. Subjective assessment of the effects of an herbal supplement containing lavender essential oil on sleep quality: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study  [Accessed 30 January 2022] 

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