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The benefits of good sleep – and consequences of poor sleep – extend to nearly every system of the body. However, most Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
Developing healthy sleep habits can help with important functions including memory consolidation, immune system optimization, reducing oxidative stress, and regulating hormones. Together, these beneficial effects enhance health in the systems of the body including cognitive function, cardiovascular system, immune system, and metabolic health.
But getting adequate, healthy sleep can be challenging. Many lifestyle factors can impact sleep including certain medications, traveling – especially across time zones – consuming alcohol or caffeine before bed, and too much screen time. Physical activity can benefit sleep unless it occurs too soon before bed, which can lead to sleep disturbances.
Common sleep problems in Americans range from trouble falling asleep or staying asleep to breathing issues during sleep, or sleep apnea. Other issues include restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, as well as stress- and anxiety-induced sleep disturbances.
Scientific studies have demonstrated the usefulness of several nutrients and herbs to support sleep and decrease anxiety and stress through a variety of mechanisms. Whole-food magnesium, vitamin C, and several B vitamins can help improve sleep quality and modulate important molecules involved in sleep including cortisol and tryptophan. Adaptogenic herbs including ashwagandha, schisandra, and kava can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
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