Sleep deprivation has reached epidemic status in the United States, with a shocking one-third of adults getting less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night and 4 percent routinely using prescription sleep aids to induce slumber.1-3 Insufficient sleep exponentially increases your patients’ risk of long-term health complications. Natural sleep therapies are a time-tested strategy for easing your patients into deep, restorative slumber without the harmful effects of prescription sleep aids.
The Science of Sleep
Sleep, long considered an enigma by the scientific community, has only recently come to be fully appreciated for its powerful health effects. Sleep impacts health in a myriad of ways:
- Regulates appetite, cognition, and mood4,5
- Optimizes immune function6
- Melatonin detoxifies free radicals7
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, causes serious health problems, including:
- Increased insulin resistance8
- Heightened pain and stress responsivity9,10
- Impaired immune function11
- Cognitive dysfunction12
- Overweight and obesity13
- Mental health disorders14
The Dangers of Sleep Medications
Sleep medications are big business, with sales totaling $1.4 billion in the United States in 2017.15 Despite their popularity, sleep drugs are not without side effects, including daytime drowsiness, reduced sleep quality, dependence, and dangerous sleepwalking behaviors.16 Natural sleep therapies are an excellent alternative to medications that not only induce sleep, but also improve its quality.
Nutraceuticals for Sleep
A balance between glutamate, the body’s primary excitatory neurotransmitter, and GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, must be achieved for sleep to occur. Naturally-sourced GABA balances excitatory and inhibitory brain activity, reducing sleep latency.17,18 GABA also increase non-REM sleep, which comprises 80% of total sleep time for adults and is crucial for cognitive and metabolic health.19,20
Scutellaria lateriflora (skullcap), a botanical long used in herbal medicine for relieving tension and supporting relaxation, also balances GABA and glutamate.21 It is an excellent standalone sleep aid but also synergizes well with other sleep-promoting nutraceuticals such as GABA, passionflower, chamomile, and CBD.
The beautiful purple and white flowers of Passiflora incarnata, the passionflower vine, increase GABA activity and non-REM sleep, leading to deeper more restorative sleep.22,23 Passionflower also regulates the activities of circadian genes, normalizing the body’s sleep-wake cycle.24
Chamomile has a long history of folk use for relaxation and sleep. The calming, sleep-inducing properties of chamomile are attributed to its high content of apigenin, a flavonoid that binds benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and has anti-anxiolytic effects.25-27
The endocannabinoid system is intimately involved in the maintenance and promotion of sleep.28 High-dose CBD has been found to prolong sleep duration, while THC reduces sleep latency.29,30 A combination of CBD with residual THC may be the ideal option for patients requiring a stronger natural sleep aid.
Quality Sleep is Essential to Health
Quality sleep is essential for your patients’ health and should be a top priority in clinical practice. Natural sleep therapies that promote rest, relaxation, and restorative sleep are powerful allies for improving sleep quality and the long-term health of your patients.
Liposomal Formulations: The Ideal Delivery System for Sleep-Enhancing Nutraceuticals
The uptake and absorption of nutrients and herbs varies widely and can be limited by breakdown in the digestive tract.31 Liposomal delivery systems protect molecules from breakdown and enhance uptake, making them ideal for rapidly delivering sleep-promoting nutraceuticals to your patients’ cells.
- Rodriguez, Julia. “CDC Declares Sleep Disorders a Public Health Epidemic”. Advances in Sleep Services. 22 May. 2019, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
- “Sleep and Sleep Disorders”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 20 May. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html
- Chong Y, Fryar C, Gu Q. Prescription Sleep Aid Use Among Adults: United States, 2005-2010. NCHS Data Brief. 2013;127:(1-7).
- Hibi M, et al. Effect of shortened sleep on energy expenditure, core body temperature, and appetite: a human randomized crossover trial. Sci Reports. 2017;7(39640).
- Wild CJ, et al. Dissociable effects of sleep-reported daily sleep duration on high-level cognitive abilities. Sleep. 2018;41(12).
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and Immune Function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121-37.
- Tordjman S, et al. Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2017;15(3):434-43.
- Donga E, et al. A Single Night of Partial Sleep Deprivation Induces Insulin Resistance in Multiple Metabolic Pathways in Healthy Subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(6):2963-
- Krause AJ, et al. The Pain of Sleep Loss: A Brain Characterization in Humans. J Neurosci. 2019;39(12):2291-2300.
- Morales J, et al. Stress and autonomic response to sleep deprivation in medical residents: A comparative cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2019;14(4).
- Watson NF, et al. Transcriptional Signatures of Sleep Duration Discordance in Monozygotic Twins. Sleep. 2017;40(1).
- Kaliyaperumal D, et al. Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Cognitive Performance of Nurses Working in Shift. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(8):CC01-03.
- Cooper CB, et al. Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. British J Sports Med. 2018;4:e000392.
- Medic G, Wille M, Hemels MEH. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017;9:151-61.
- LaRosa, John. “Top 6 Things to Know About the $28 Billion Sleep Market”. Market Research. 25 Apr. 2018.
- Fitzgerald T, Vietri J. Residual effects of sleep medications are commonly reported and associated with impaired patient-reported outcomes amount insomnia patients in the United States. Sleep Disord. 2015;607148.
- Kim S, et al. GABA and L-theanine mixture decreases sleep latency and improves NREM sleep. Pharmaceu Biol. 2019;57(1):65-73.
- Boonstra E, et al. Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1520.
- Sara SJ. Sleep to Remember. J Neurosci. 2017;37(3):457-63.
- Herzog N, et al. Selective slow wave sleep but not rapid eye movement sleep suppression impairs morning glucose tolerance in healthy men. Psychoneuroendocrinol. 2013;38(10):2075-82.
- Shi Y, et al. Herbal insomnia medications that target GABAergic systems: A review of the psychopharmacological evidence. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014;12(3):289-302.
- Elsas SM, et al. Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method. Phytomed. 2010;17(12):940-9.
- Guerreroo FA, Medina GM. Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnate L) on sleep. Sleep Sci. 2017;10(3):96-100.
- Toda K, et al. Passionflower Extract Induces High-amplitude Rhythms without Phase Shifts in the Expression of Several Circadian Clock Genes in Vitro and in Vivo. Int J Biomed Sci. 2017;13(2):84-92.
- Yurcheshen M, Seehuus M, Pigeon W. Updates on Nutraceutical Sleep Therapeutics and Investigational Research. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015:105256.
- Adib-Hajbaghery M, Mousavi SN. The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial. Complem Ther Med. 2017;35:109-114.
- Hieu TH, et al. Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials and quasi-randomized trials. Phytother Res. 2019;10.1002/ptr.6349.
- Babson KA, Sottile J, Morabito D. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: A Review of the Literature. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017;19(4):23.
- Carlini EA, Cunha JM. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):417S-427S.
- Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surg Neurol Int. 2018;9:91.
- Melehil S, Mason WD, Chang C. Dose-dependent absorption and excretion of vitamin C in humans. Int J Pharmaceu. 1986;31(1-2):83-9.