How many hours do you spend sleeping? According to science, young adults and adults should sleep between 7 and 9 hours, the elderly between 7 and 8 hours (Lichtenstein et al, Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2015). The problem, however, is that we are not always able to guarantee the correct number of hours of sleep and, above all, of good sleep. Difficulty falling asleep, continuous nocturnal awakenings and a too short deep sleep phase are some of the disorders that can worsen the quality of sleep with consequences on daytime life and health, reducing the degree of attention and the ability to concentrate, increasing the levels of inflammation and causing a weakening of the immune system (Worley et al, PT, 2018). In a previous article we have already had the opportunity to understand how some essential oils, sounds and herbal remedies can help us prolong the phase of deep sleep, to wake us up more rested and regenerated. Today we will see how to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
Essential oils for better sleep
Mandarin essential oil has been shown to have a calming and sedative effect and reduce the time to fall asleep. However, for this to work, mandarin essential oil must be used diluted. For example, 3-4 drops in the diffuser filled with water. In fact, it has been observed that smelling pure mandarin essential oil, for example poured on a handkerchief, can cause the opposite effect, increasing attention and wakefulness (Chandharakool et al, Molecules, 2020). Lavender essential oil had already shown, thanks to previous studies (Goel et al, Chronobiol Int, 2005), to favor the deep sleep phase, which is the sleep phase in which the body and brain regenerate. When the deep sleep phase is disturbed, the likelihood of getting out of bed in the morning already tired increases. Well, lavender essential oil also has another beneficial effect on the quality of sleep. In fact, as shown by research, it is able to reduce the time of falling asleep (Chandharakool et al, Molecules, 2020).
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body, mainly secreted by the pineal gland. This hormone plays an essential role in regulating the sleep-wake rhythm and a reduction in melatonin is linked to sleep problems such as insomnia and early awakenings. However, melatonin can also be taken in the form of foods that contain it, such as salmon, eggs, some cereals such as corn, black rice, basmati rice, barley and oats and some fruits such as strawberries, tart cherries and grapes, or as a supplement. (Meng et al, Nutrients, 2017). Well, it was found that the intake of melatonin reduces the time of falling asleep, increases the total time spent in bed while asleep and improves the quality of sleep (Ferracioli-Oda et al, PLoS One, 2013).
Herbal medicine to reduce the sleep onset latency
Herbal medicine can also help to improve the quality of sleep. In particular, it has been observed that valerian is able to reduce the time to fall asleep and to increase the time spent asleep (Guadagna et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2020). You can find valerian mother tincture in herbalist's shops and pharmacies, 30 drops in a little water. Do not exceed the doses and do not use for prolonged periods as it can induce agitation, headache and gastric problems (Natural Medicine from A to Z, Bruno Brigo). A help can also come from Indian ginseng or Ashwagandha. In particular, 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extracts per day has benefited insomnia, reducing the time to fall asleep and improving the quality of sleep (Langade et al, Cureus, 2019).