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How to get to sleep: Taking valerian root may help you to achieve “perfect sleep”

This Morning: Expert highlights importance of regular sleep

Sleep loss can be insufferable because the effects extend far beyond the tedium of tossing and turning. The cumulative effect of sleep loss can amount to an all-out assault on the body. Fortunately, you can reverse sleep loss without having to overhaul your entire lifestyle.

Making small dietary tweaks before bed time has been shown to restore sleep without the need for fundamental changes.

One of the most promising solutions is to take valerian root, a herb native to Asia and Europe.

Valerian root’s sedative effects have been shown to improve a number of important sleep measures.

Research suggests that taking valerian root may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improve sleep quality and quantity.

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In a controlled study of 27 young and middle-aged adults with sleep difficulties, 24 people reported improved sleep and 12 of those reported “perfect sleep” after taking 400 mg of valerian root.

The herb has also been shown to facilitate slow-wave sleep – the third phase of sleep that marks the deepest sleep.

One study in adults with insomnia found that a single dose of valerian allowed them to achieve deep sleep 36 percent faster.

Additionally, the time they spent in deep sleep increased during 14 days of taking valerian.

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Valerian may also help people who have insomnia after they stop taking benzodiazepines; sedative medications that may lead to dependence over time.

In a study of people who had withdrawal symptoms related to stopping benzodiazepines after long-term use, significant improvements in sleep quality were reported after two weeks of valerian treatment.

What else may help?

Several studies have linked drinking tart cherry juice to improved sleep quality.

In one study, people who drank two one-cup servings of tart cherry juice per day were found to have more total sleep time and higher sleep efficiency.

“These benefits may come from the fact that tart cherries have been found to have above-average concentrations of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm and promote healthy sleep,” explains the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

According to the NSF, tart cherries may also have an antioxidant effect that is conducive to sleep.

General tips

First of all, keep regular sleeping hours.

According to the NHS, this programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.

It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day.

“While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine,” explains the health body.

Your bedroom should be a relaxing environment – experts claim there’s a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.

However, as the NHS points out, certain things weaken that association, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.

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