October 19, 2022 12 min read

Why should we prioritise natural sleeping remedies?

Sleep allows the body to recharge and troubleshoot natural processes. Like technology, if we don’t turn our bodies off regularly and allow these systems to run, there is a greater risk of malfunction. It is therefore unsurprising that inadequate sleep leaves us at risk of health problems such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (causing heart attack and stroke) and depression [1].

Prioritising a natural sleep can be difficult when life gets hectic. We often place sleep in the ‘if I have time’ category, leading to poor sleep hygiene, a reduced ability to effectively ‘wind down’ and get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep.

So how can we get a better sleep and function better?

The answer certainly does not lie in ‘pick me ups’ to get us through the day, nor does it warrant the use of addictive medication. The key lies in programming our body to fall asleep naturally.

Adding magnesium to your sleep routine 

Does magnesium help with sleep?

Magnesium is the 4th most abundant element in the body [2]. It is involved in many biological processes, including facilitating sleep. Magnesium blocks the action of N-methyl-D-aspartate NMDA, an excitatory neurotransmitter, and enhances the action of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory or calming neurotransmitter, helping us to sleep [3]. In fact, magnesium supplementation has been associated with improvements in insomnia severity, sleep time, quality, onset latency and well as reduced stress hormones (cortisol and renin) and increased melatonin [3].

Does magnesium help with anxiety?

Is anxiety keeping you awake at night? Emerging research suggests that magnesium deficiency in the body may be related to increased anxiety levels [4]. While the biological mechanism is unknown, it is theorized to be related to how we process vitamin D [5]. With few side effects, magnesium is a great natural option to help you manage mild anxiety and achieve a restful night’s sleep.

Creating a healthy sleep routine 

Sleep hygiene is about taking steps to put us in a position to get the best sleep each night. Whether it be having a warm bath, putting screens away, and listening to calming music or sounds, the environment and what we do can affect our sleep. Read our blog about creating a healthy sleep routine

Australian made natural sleep remedies 

Abundant Natural Health’s Magnesium® and Abundant Element® are Australian-made, made of natural magnesium to help you get a restful night’s sleep without the need for addictive medication!

Combine a good sleep routine with your evening dose of magnesium for a restorative night’s sleep and a happier, healthier and better you!

Taking a warm bath before bed is undeniably one of the best ways to wind down after a long day, with many benefits for your physical and mental health. Soak your cares away with ourMagnesium Bath Soakand exfoliate your skin with ourExfoliating Body Bar. Following your bath liberally massageMagnesium Lotion into your tired legs, feet, or any areas of tenderness for natural relief.

As you ready yourself for sleep, take 30mL of Abundant Element® – Sleep. This tonic contains organic magnesium compounds – Magnesium Lactate (1000mg), Gluconate (1000mg), Fumarate (750mg) and Glycine (1000mg) which are more easily absorbed and used by the body, and easier on the stomach than inorganic forms of Magnesium. This product is safe for children, with a recommended daily dose of 15mL before bed.

Natural sleep tips for adults

Get pain under control.

For a lot of us, aging comes with increased acute and chronic pain states, which can be very disruptive to sleep. Getting on top of your pain is a balancing act. Too much or not enough… either is not great. 

Opioid-containing pain relief medication can have side effects which make us drowsy. If used during the day, this can interfere with the body’s normal circadian rhythm. Make sure you talk to your doctor and are aware of how to properly use your medication to manage pain.

Try to supplement your pain relief with natural or alternative remedies, such as topical magnesium. We recommend Abundant Natural Health’s Magnesium® range which offers topical pain relief solutions- great adjuncts to traditional pain relief with no nasty side effects. Magnesium has an anti-pain effect [6] by blocking a particular pain receptor known as NMDA which heightens the sensation of pain [7]. 

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! 

Exercise is very important as you get older as it helps in the management of chronic conditions and prevents functional decline. But did you also know that exercise improves your sleep? Exercise is a recommended treatment for insomnia, and in a study by Passos et al., moderate intensity aerobic exercise led to a 55% reduction in sleep onset time, 30% reduction in wake after sleep onset, 18% improvement in total sleep time and 13% improvement in sleep efficiency [8].

Avoid long daytime naps.

Napping is a common practice especially among older adults. If you haven’t had enough sleep during the night, napping is the body’s way of trying to ‘catch up’ on missed sleep. While a 30-minute afternoon nap can be a great way to recharge, long naps can throw your sleep schedule out and make it harder to sleep at night.

Avoid caffeine after 3pm. 

While caffeine can help boost your energy levels when you’re feeling run-down, try to have your fix at the beginning of the day. Caffeine-containing food and drink consumed in the mid to late afternoon can make it harder to go to sleep, cause you to sleep lighter and wake up more often [9]. 

Can’t sleep? Do something. 

Sleep cycles come and go, such that sleepiness comes in waves. This means that if we ‘miss’ a sleep cycle, it can take another 90 minutes to start to feel tired again. If this happens, don’t try and force sleep to come, but take the time to read a book and keep lights and screens to a minimum. 

See your doctor regularly.

Getting to your doctor for a check up regularly can be an invaluable way of addressing issues which may be affecting your ability to sleep. Getting chronic conditions under control and doing a medication review can help you sleep better naturally. If you believe you have a sleep condition, it is important that you speak to your doctor to assist with a management regime suitable for you.

Sleep as we age

Despite needing the same amount of sleep as the rest of the adult population, the elderly experience greater difficulty sleeping. It is estimated than 30-48% of older adults experience insomnia [10]. 

Sleep problems are not a normal part of the aging process, however can arise as a consequence of aging due to multiple health problems, medications, psychosocial factors affecting sleep, and sleep disorders [11]. Sleep architecture (or the basic structural organisation of sleep) also changes as we age, meaning we experience reduced:

  • Total sleep time
  • Sleep efficiency (or the percentage of time in bed spent sleeping) [11]
  • Deep sleep states (Slow Wave and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep) [12]

We also experience increased:

  • Time to get to sleep
  • Waking duration [11-12]
  • Waking frequency [11-12]

Sleep is important for our body, no matter what age we are. Getting into the habit of following a sleep routine is an invaluable tool to improving sleep quality.

Natural sleep remedies for kids

As a parent, one of the biggest challenges is getting your kids in bed and asleep on time. With extra energy demands, a growing body and brain, it is unsurprising that kids need more sleep than adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, school aged children need 9-11 hours of sleep a night, compared with adults who require 7-9 hours [13]. Kids are not getting enough sleep. Cohort studies looking at sleep duration, found children between 4 and 10 are sleeping about 8 to 8 and a half hours a night [14-15].

Insufficient sleep in children is associated with negative physical and psychosocial effects, including memory impairments, decreased attention, creativity, learning and school performance [16], problems with motor tasks [17] mood changes and hyperactivity [18], poorer physical health and immune system function [19] and increased risk of obesity [20-22].

Natural sleep tips for kids

Agree on a regular (age-appropriate) bedtime and wake time.

This gives your child the opportunity to get enough sleep. The time your kids go to bed will depend on the time they need to wake up. For example, if your kids need to be up at 7am for school, start getting ready for bed at 8pm and set their bedtime for no later than 9pm to give them the opportunity to get 10 hours of sleep. Pre-schoolers will need earlier bedtimes since they need an average of 10-13 hours of sleep [13]. To maintain ‘circadian rhythm’ (our natural body clock), continue this schedule on non-school days.

Dim the lights and take away technology. 

Melatonin is a hormone triggered by darkness, signaling the body to sleep. Switch off or dim the lights and take away technology, phones, and laptops to allow this natural process to occur, to give your kids the best chance of getting to sleep. 

Limit or stop caffeine after 3pm. 

Caffeine-containing food and drinks should be limited or stopped in the afternoon. Caffeine is a stimulant, and therefore can make it harder to fall asleep, causing your kids to sleep lighter and wake up more often [9]. 

Create new sleep habits/associations. 

Follow set a night-time routine with your kids- an example could be bathe, brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, read a bedtime story with them, share a kiss, and tuck them into bed. You may also like to use a transitional object such as a blanket or teddy bear, which the child can take to bed [23]. This object can help redirect your child’s association with sleep from you to that object, allowing you to leave the room. 

Stay with them as they fall asleep. 

If your child has trouble going to sleep without you being there with them, camp out for a bit. Stay with them at the beginning of the night, and gradually withdraw your presence over 1 to 3 weeks [23]. You can do this by moving the chair further and further away from the child’s bed, until you are outside the room [23].

Set limits & do not respond to inappropriate behaviours. 

If you find your child protesting or trying to bargain with you, it is important to be clear about what your expectations are of them [9, 23-24]. It is easier said than done and requires discipline on your part. For example, you may tell them ‘you need to stay in bed tonight’. Ignore bad behaviour and calmly lead your child back to bed, reinforcing your expectations [24]. 

Use relaxation techniques. 

If your child cannot go to sleep because they are anxious, a variety of relaxation techniques can be used as they are winding down to sleep such as calming music or breathing exercises. If your child cannot sleep because they are anxious, acknowledge their concerns and offer to talk to them about it in the morning. You may also like to encourage your child to write or draw what they are worried about [24].

Stop daytime naps after 5 years of age [25]. 

The period between birth and 5 years old represents a transition from biphasic sleep (sleeping at night and during the day) to monophasic sleep patterns (night-time only sleep) [26]. One systematic review on 26 research articles on the effects of napping, found that beyond 2 years of age, napping is significantly associated with later night sleep onset, reduced sleep quality and duration [27]. 

Ensure adequate sunlight exposure during the day. 

Sunlight plays an important role in regulating circadian rhythm, as it helps to control the production of melatonin [28]. Sun exposure therefore has a large role in determining when we go to sleep [29-30].

Practice self-care and talk to someone if you become overwhelmed.

This could be your partner, a friend, or your doctor. Implementing strategies to help your kids sleep can be physically and mentally draining. If you are partnered, get on the same page about how you want to manage your child’s sleep. This can ensure consistency in parenting and prevent you from sending your child mixed messages. Look after yourself. If your child is protesting and you feel on the verge of a breakdown, remove yourself and take time to calm down before you re-enter the situation.

Do natural sleep remedies work? 

Sleep is vitally important for our bodies and mind. Achieving a good quality, natural sleep leaves us feeling recharged and ready to tackle the day ahead. For most of us, implementing an effective sleep routine and using natural sleep aids can be very effective in inducing sleep. Having said that, sleeping problems are multifactorial and if you believe you might have an undiagnosed sleeping condition, it is useful to go to your doctor to discuss your options. Sleep better for a better you!


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