Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Last updated: May 15, 2019

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD) is a sleep disorder that causes insomnia and excessive sleepiness. This disorder belongs to the group of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. It affects people whose working hours overlap with their usual sleeping hours.

What are the symptoms of SWSD?

A person who has SWSD may experience:

Excessive sleepiness

Someone with SWSD experiences excessive sleepiness as a result of a night of restless sleep. This can affect not just a person’s professional life but his personal life as well. Excessive sleepiness can hamper one’s productivity in the workplace. It can also affect a person’s personal life because bouts of excessive sleepiness can occur even during family activities or gatherings.

When a person gets too sleepy he can experience a microsleep. Incidents of microsleep can be dangerous, especially if a person’s occupation requires him to drive or operate heavy machinery. It can also be upsetting for friends, family, and romantic partners if it happens on a regular basis.

What is Microsleep?

Microsleep is a brief and involuntary episode of unconsciousness. A microsleep usually lasts from as short as a fraction of a second to as long as up to 15 seconds. Most people have experienced microsleep but are unaware that is what it’s called. These are brief instances when a person completely zones out and ends up with his head bobbing down with the eyelids closed. It is usually accompanied by the sudden head jolt once that person realizes that he fell asleep for a second.

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A microsleep is a real episode of sleep. This means that a slowing of neural activity and the drop of muscle tone accompanies microsleep. This is what happens when a person sleeps. The only difference is the length of a microsleep.

Most of the time a microsleep is the result of extreme fatigue. A person who did not get enough sleep can result in parts of his brain shutting down for a few seconds even if that person is awake. In a way the brain is forcing the person to rest and take a nap.

Microsleep is also common for those who have insufficient sleep. If a person has had less than four hours of sleep that person is more prone to episodes of microsleep. Incidences of microsleep are more common with shift workers. This is because they’re working against their bodies’ natural rhythm. Shift workers have to stay alert at night even though the natural urge of their body is to sleep.

One way of fighting off microsleep is ensuring that a person is performing a physical activity or doing exercise. Performing monotonous tasks for a long period increases the risks of microsleep. Simple stretching exercises can be performed without the need to leave one’s office desk. Exposing one’s self to bright light can also help a person stay alert. It can also help reset a person’s urge to sleep.

Insomnia  

Insomnia is another symptom of SWSD. This is the inability to sleep when a person needs to. When a person has SWSD he is forced to sleep during a time when his body is not used to sleeping. Regular working hours are usually between 8 AM until 5 PM. The regular sleeping time for those with regular work shifts is between 9 PM to 11 PM. Let’s say that the work schedule suddenly changes to 2 AM to 11 AM. That person is forced to move his sleeping time to between 3 PM and 5 PM. The body’s internal clock may resist and this can result in insomnia.

Insomnia is not just limited to the inability to fall asleep. Insomnia can also manifest itself as the inability to wake up as needed. In the example above the usual waking time should be between 5 AM to 7 AM. But with the change in work schedule, the waking time will get moved to around 10 PM to 11 PM. It will be harder to wake up because the body’s internal clock recognizes that it is still the time when that person should be sleeping.

Insomnia is at its most severe during the first few days following a change of schedule. This is when the body has not yet adapted to the new sleep schedule.

Unrestful sleep

Forcing the body to sleep during a time that it is not used to sleeping can result in a restless sleep. Someone who suffers from SWSD will often wake up feeling unrested even if he got 7 or 8 hours of sleep. There will be a lingering feeling that he got insufficient sleep. This is even though the number of hours of actual sleep he had is at par with the hours of sleep he usually gets. That person may end up feeling unrefreshed.

Irritability

The amount of sleep that one gets affects his mood. When a person has inadequate or poor-quality sleep it can cause irritability and stress. Studies have shown that getting poor-quality sleep has a significant effect on a person’s mood. Those who are unable to get the quality of sleep that they’re used to getting often feel stressed, irritable, angry, and mentally exhausted.

Depression

Difficulty in sleeping is also associated with depression. In most cases difficulty in sleeping is the first symptom of depression. Around 15 to 20 percent of those who suffer from sleep disorders will develop major depression.

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The depression that someone with SWSD experiences can also stem from the impact of the different work schedule has on his personal life. Those whose work shifts are different from normal working hours have a higher tendency to miss social and family gatherings. This can put a strain on a person’s relationship with his family or romantic partner.

Lack of Focus

The inability to pay attention or concentrate has always been attributed to other disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). A lack of focus can also be a result of sleep problems such as SWSD. A person who is unable to get the quality and quantity of sleep that he’s used to often finds himself having trouble focusing. This can lead to relationship troubles whether with peers, co-workers, or romantic partners.

The inability to focus caused by SWSD can also affect the quality of the work output of a person. A person who had poor sleep the night before is prone to making mistakes while performing his duties. This can result in poor productivity in the workplace. It can also be dangerous not just for the person with SWSD but also others around him. This is especially true for those whose work requires quick thinking and undivided attention like nurses, policemen, firefighters or security personnel. Unfortunately these occupations are also the ones that often require shift schedule changes.

What are the risks associated with Shift Work Sleep Disorder?

Work-related injuries

Chronic sleep deprivation can create dangerous work conditions. Sleepiness is believed to be partly responsible for the Chernobyl disaster. The nuclear plant catastrophe is said to have begun at 1:23 AM and is a result of  human error. Although there is limited information available about the human factors component that contributed to the disaster, the accident happened when the people working on the plant would have normally been sleeping.

Another disaster that cites poor judgment related to sleep loss as a cause is the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. A report of the Presidential Commission that investigated the accident described the substantial sleep loss experienced by the senior managers at the Marshall Space Flight Center prior to the accident. The said report stated that the effects on the managers of the irregular working hours and insufficient sleep “may have contributed significantly to the atmosphere of the teleconference at Marshall”.

Road Accidents

The loss of sleep also reduces the safety of our highways. According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation 60 percent of adult drivers admitted that they have driven a vehicle while feeling sleepy. This equates to around 168 million people in the United States alone. Of that number, more than one third said that they’ve actually fallen asleep at the wheel. An estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that around 100,000 police-reported crashes were a result of driver fatigue and lack of sleep. This means that drowsy-driving results in approximately 1 million crashes each year. These crashes resulted in 500,000 injuries and 8,000 deaths annually.

Substance and alcohol abuse

Shift Work Sleep Disorder can also lead to substance and alcohol abuse. Drugs and alcohol are often used as sleep aids. Sedative and hypnotic drugs, in particular, are being used to help people get to sleep faster. These drugs should only be used as short-time relief. Those who use these drugs as a long-term solution for their sleep disorder may become dependent on them.

Alcohol is another sleep aid that’s been used for ages. However, the quality of sleep from alcohol-induced stupor is not the same quality as that of natural sleep.

Health risks from SWSD

Chronic lack of sleep due to SWSD can also lead to other health problems. Chronic sleep loss can increase the chances of:

  • Heart diseases
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke

According to a 2008 study conducted by the University of Chicago there is a link between shortened sleep and the increase in coronary artery calcification (calcium deposits). The study also revealed that shorter sleep worsens hypertension. The reason behind this is the tendency of blood pressure to fall while a person is asleep. When a person’s sleeping time shortens there is also a shorter time for blood pressure to dip.

Shorter and less restful sleep due to shift changes can also impact the health of the heart. A good-quality sleep decreases the work of the heart because blood pressure and heart rate go down while a person sleeps. This means that the less time a person sleeps, the fewer chances for the heart to slow down and rest.

Sleep-deprived people also show less variability in their heart rate. This means that instead of a heart that’s fluctuating normally, the heart rate stays elevated. Insulin resistance also increases with lack of sleep. This is not just a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes but heart disease as well.

Shorter sleep can also increase CRP or C-reactive protein. CRP gets released with stress and inflammation. When a person’s CRP is high it is also a risk factor for cardiovascular and heart disease. In addition, shortened sleep also results in unregulated appetite. This means that a person may end up eating more or consuming foods that are not healthy for the heart.

Those who resort to medication and increased alcohol intake to sleep also place themselves at risk of kidney and liver diseases.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

How is Shift Work Sleep Disorder Diagnosed?

There are different methods used to diagnose if a person has SWSD. A licensed sleep specialist can help determine which method of diagnosis can work best depending on the lifestyle of the patient.

Sleep Interview

A face to face interview with a doctor or a sleep specialist can help in both the diagnosis and treatment of Shift Work Sleep Disorder. The health professional will need to know about the sleep habits of the person getting diagnosed. They will also take note of any other health conditions that may be contributing to the disorder. It is also important to disclose all the medications that a person is taking.

Sleep Diary

A sleep diary or a sleep log is one of the easiest ways to determine not just Shift Work Sleep Disorder but other sleep disorders as well. In this method, the patient should keep a log for at least a couple of weeks that keeps track of sleep patterns and habits. The log can be used by a health care provider to diagnose and treat a sleep disorder. Some of the things that get tracked include:

  • The time a person went to bed
  • The time a person woke up
  • The total amount of sleep
  • Quality of sleep
  • The number of instances that a person awakened during the night
  • The amount of caffeine or alcohol consumed and the time of consumption
  • The food and drinks consumed during the day. This includes the time they were consumed.
  • The emotions or stressors felt before going to bed
  • Medications taken
  • Type of exercise and the time the exercise was performed.

A sleep diary can be just a simple notebook as long as all the important details are noted. There are also printable versions available online that are ready to use.

Actigraphy

An actigraph is a device worn on the wrist. It records the movements made by a person throughout the night. The recorded information can be used to estimate sleep parameters through the use of specialized algorithms. Actigraphy has been proven as a great way of validating the estimation of nighttime sleep parameters.

This is a non-invasive device and a person’s sleep will not get affected if he wears an actigraph.

Polysomnography

Polysomnography is also called a sleep study. This is a test used to diagnose sleep disorders. Through polysomnography a person’s brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing rate gets recorded. The movements of the eyes and legs are also recorded.

This test is usually performed at the sleep disorder units of hospitals or sleep centers. Although most of the time the test gets done during the night, it can be done during the day for shift workers who sleep during the day.

During the test the sleep stages and cycles are monitored. The test also records sleep patterns. At the same time the test takes note of the times when a person’s sleep patterns get disrupted and the reason for the disruption.

Melatonin Sampling

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone found in animals and plants. The pineal gland of the human brain is responsible for producing melatonin. Melatonin is a part of the system that regulates the Circadian Rhythm or the sleep-wake cycle. It chemically causes drowsiness and the lowering of body temperature.

In melatonin sampling they take note of the melatonin levels of the patient. Samples are taken before going to sleep and immediately upon waking up. In this test the level of melatonin gets measured through samples of the saliva of the patient. This is a non-invasive alternative to polysomnography. It can be helpful to those who cannot spend the night in a hospital or sleep center.

Sleep Trackers

Sleep trackers are the latest among the devices that can help keep track of the amount and quality of sleep that a person has. They work just like actigraph but they have more features. Aside from monitoring movements during sleep, as actigraphs do, sleep monitors can also keep track of a person’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and snoring.

Sleep trackers are non-invasive devices. Most sleep trackers are placed in a bedside table. There are also sleep trackers that one can place under the mattress. The good thing about sleep trackers is most of them come with applications that can provide a person with a report on the quality and quantity of sleep that they got. Most sleep trackers can be connected to a smartphone. The smartphone acts as a storage for the data collected. A person who uses a sleep tracker can just show the data collected to a sleep specialist who can interpret it for them.

There are also intuitive sleep trackers available in the market. These sleep trackers go beyond just monitoring sleep. Based on the data they collect they can provide information on what the user can do to improve the quality of their sleep.

How can Shift Work Sleep Disorder be treated?

Although there is no treatment for Shift Work Sleep Disorder, there are ways to avoid its symptoms. A sleep specialist can recommend an approach that will work best depending on the diagnosis of the patient.

Light Therapy

Light therapy can be of great help in some cases. A doctor or a sleep specialist can determine if light therapy is an appropriate treatment for the patient. This therapy is often recommended if other forms of treatment did not work for the patient.

In light therapy a person is made to sit near a special light box. This gets done for a certain amount of time each day. The light emitted by the box mimics outdoor light or natural light. Natural light is vital in regulating the body’s sleep and wake cycle. Light therapy can help adjust a person’s Circadian Rhythm.

For light therapy to be effective it should be consistent and properly timed. Light therapy can be integrated into the person’s daily life. A patient can perform some daily activities  while sitting in front of a light box such as reading, writing, watching TV, or using a computer.

Light therapy boxes are available for purchase in physical stores or online. There are also some cases where the said equipment gets covered by insurance. A doctor can help the patient select the best kind as well as the right light intensity. The doctor can also decide on the best treatment plan depending on the diagnosis of the patient.

Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the human body. Its main job is to regulate the Circadian Rhythm or the sleep-wake cycles. Darkness tells the human body to produce more melatonin. The increase in the production of melatonin then signals the body that it is time to rest and sleep. During the day there is an abundance of natural light. This results in a decrease in the production of melatonin and tells the body to prepare to wake. The rationale is that the additional melatonin from supplements can help people sleep.

Melatonin can be made synthetically in a laboratory and used as a medicine. Melatonin supplements are available in pill form or in forms that can be placed in the cheek or under the tongue. The latter forms allow the direct absorption of melatonin into the body. This means that the effects of melatonin are felt faster.

Medications

Medications should be the last resort and taken only when all non-medical treatments for SWSD have failed. There are two types of medications for SWSD. The first one can help a person fall asleep. There is also medication that can help a person stay awake.

Medication for alertness

If the constant change in work shift affects a person’s productivity, there are medications that can increase wakefulness. These can also help make a person stay alert and productive while on the job. Modafinil and Armodafinil are examples of such medications. A person should only take these medications if that person still feels sleepy at work even after implementing changes in his sleeping habits. It is also important to consult a doctor before using medications as an option.

Sleep Aids

A doctor might suggest the use of sleep aids if a patient has difficulty sleeping during irregular hours. Some of the most common sleep aids include benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, antihistamines, and antidepressants. A doctor can prescribe the best medication to take based on the symptoms experienced by the patient as well as the patient’s medical history.

What can be done to minimize the impact of Shift Work Sleep Disorder?

People who work for companies or organizations that operate 24 hours cannot avoid getting graveyard shifts. Short of getting a new job that has normal working hours, there are steps that can help a person minimize the impact of a shifting schedule.

Try to manage a shifting schedule

If possible, request for a clockwise rotation of shifts. A clockwise rotation means that the new shift will have a start time that is later than the previous shift. This will make it easier to adapt to the new shift compared to a new shift that is earlier than the last one. The human body can find it easier to stay up late than go to bed earlier.

Plan ahead

Most of the time a new schedule gets announced in advance. This means that a person has a few days to prepare for the new shift. Altering the sleep schedule ahead of time can help the body easily cope with the new schedule. Let’s say that the previous work schedule starts at 8 PM while the new schedule starts at 12 AM. A few days before the new work schedule takes effect, the sleeping time can be moved an hour at a time. If a person sleeps at 8 AM because of his current work schedule, he can start sleeping an hour later at 9 AM. The 9 AM sleeping time can then be moved to 10 AM the following day. This can be done until he reaches his desired sleeping time for the new work schedule. This way his body can gradually get used to the new sleeping time instead of immediately shifting to a new sleeping time in just one go.

Take a nap

Naps can be refreshing and can help restore much-needed energy. A shift worker should take naps during a break at work as much as possible. A portion of the lunch schedule can be used for a nap. Even a short nap of just 10 to 20 minutes can help a person improve his alertness while on the job. If a person is not yet accustomed to a new work schedule and wakes up a few hours too early, he can try and take a short nap before heading for work to ensure that he can be alert and focused once he gets to work.

Use caffeine wisely

Caffeine is the usual way for someone to stay awake while on the job. It helps keep them alert. However, a person should monitor caffeine intake so it doesn’t disrupt his sleep once it is time to go to bed. Coffee should not be consumed towards the latter portions of the shift. The effects of caffeine can be felt up to 6 hours after drinking. The same goes for other caffeine-rich beverages like energy drinks.

Keep a consistent schedule

Keep the same schedule on work days and days off as much as possible. This will help the body know when to sleep and when to be awake. This might be difficult since it can interfere with a person’s social and family life but it can eliminate the need to readjust once the days off are over.

Manage light exposure

Keep exposure to sunlight at a minimum if there is a need to sleep during the day. Sunlight is a cue for the body to remain active and can make sleeping difficult. If going outside cannot be avoided, dark sunglasses should be worn to minimize the intake of sunlight.

Inside the bedroom one can also wear a sleep mask to ensure that he is not exposed to any sunlight while sleeping.

Sleeping Environment

Sleeping during the day can be challenging since the human body is not used to sleeping during the daytime. There are ways to make sleeping during the day easier. Try to make a room as dark as possible. Darkness activates melatonin which signals the body to go to sleep. Blackout curtains can help make a room as dark as possible even during the day. There are also blackout curtains that can help deflect the hot rays of the sun. Temperature is also another factor that can make sleeping during the day difficult. Days are often hotter than nights. A curtain that can block both light and temperature can be a great help in keeping a room more conducive for sleeping.

Creating a good sleeping environment should not be limited to just the bedroom itself. Make sure that the other people in your home are aware of your work schedule. This will let them know when you will be sleeping so they can minimize the noise and avoid disrupting your sleep.

Relaxation Exercises

Exercises are not just for strengthening the body. There are also exercises that can help a person get more relaxed as preparation for sleeping. There are guides available online. Most relaxation exercises are focused on clearing the mind of any stressors so that the person can concentrate on going to sleep. Breathing exercises can also help relax the body and prepare it for sleep.

Below is a simple relaxation exercise:

This exercise should be practiced when you’re laying down and about to go to sleep. You can also do this if you wake up and find yourself unable to get back to sleep. The idea behind this exercise is to redirect your attention to your breathing. This will draw your attention away from any stressor that is occupying your mind.

The first step is to find a comfortable position in your bed. You need to relax and start noticing your body and all of the sensations you feel. It is vital that you release any tension in your body and soften all of your muscles. Remember that your mind should be completely focused on your body. If you find your thoughts wandering to other things redirect it back to your body and your breathing.

Draw a deep breath into your lower belly. You should feel your abdomen expand with the air you breathed in. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then release it. You will notice your belly rising and falling as you do this. You can repeat this a few times. Try to imagine the air that you breathed in filling up your abdomen and navigating your airways.

Do this for a few minutes. Make sure that you focus your mind on your body and your breath that’s coming in and out.

After a few minutes, scan your body while still laying down. Take notice of any part of your body where you can still feel the tension. Review your entire body starting from the top of your head and continuing down to the tips of your toes. Wherever you notice any tension, relax that part of the body until the tension gets relieved.

Once you have completely scanned your body continue with the simple breathing pattern and keep repeating it until you feel your body completely relaxed and ready for sleep.

Sleep hygiene

One’s behavior during the day and before bedtime have a major impact on the quality of his sleep. They can either promote healthy sleep or lead to sleeplessness. Aside from one’s daily routines, how one spends the hours leading to bedtime can also dictate the quality of his sleep.

This is why it is important to have good sleep hygiene. The slightest adjustments can mean the difference between a sound sleep and hours of tossing and turning. A completed two-week sleep diary can help a person understand how his routines affect his sleep.

Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe a series of healthy habits that can help a person successfully fall asleep and stay asleep. These habits form the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is the most effective long-term treatment for those who suffer from chronic insomnia. CBT can help a person address the thoughts and behaviors that prevent them from getting quality sleep. It also has techniques that can help a person reduce stress and relax. CBT can also help a person effectively manage his sleep schedule.

Here are some tips that can help a person establish healthy sleep habits:

Make room for enough sleep

Make sure that you set your bedtime early enough to get at least 7 hours of sleep. When a person sets a bedtime that allows for less time to sleep, he is already robbing himself of the chance to give his body enough time to rest and recuperate. Sleep is not just a time for the body to rest. It is also the time when the body can heal itself from injuries.

If there are tasks that need one needs to complete, prioritize the most important ones. Leave the tasks that can wait and do them after waking up. This way the body is well-rested with still enough time to complete essential tasks.

Postpone going to bed until sleepy

A person should not go to bed unless he is really sleepy. This minimizes the risks of spending time in bed while still awake. If more than 20 minutes have passed and sleep still doesn’t come then get out of bed. A person should only do relaxing activities until the time that the person feels he is ready to sleep.

An established relaxing routine can signal the body that it is time for bed. The relaxation exercise mentioned earlier is an example of such a routine.

Limit the use of your bed for sleep and sex

The bed should only be used for sleeping and having sex. This way the body gets trained that those are the only activities one should be doing when he lies down. Other activities like doing work on a laptop or watching movies should be done elsewhere.

Reduce fluid intake before bedtime

Less fluid in the body also means reduced chances of getting up to go to the bathroom. Most of the time it can be difficult to get back to sleep after waking up to go to the bathroom. This can lead to interrupted sleep and less time allotted for sleeping.

Turn off electronic devices before bedtime

Power off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Electronic devices emit blue light that can signal the brain to release melatonin. This can lead to the body staying alert even when it is already time to sleep. Cellular phones also emit blue light. Since it may be impractical to power down a cellular phone for emergency situations, it is best to place it away from the bed. Keep mobile phones hidden in the drawer of a nightstand where its blue light is shielded but where it is also within easy reach if needed. Aside from cellular phones; laptops, television sets, and e-book readers also emit blue light that can interfere with the sleeping process.

Avoid consuming alcohol in the evening

Although some consider alcohol as a sleep aid  because it can make a person drowsy, it is not an ideal sleep aid. Alcohol-induced sleep is not lasting. The effects of alcohol will wear off after a few hours. Studies have also shown that sleep caused by alcohol consumption is non-REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep is the deep stage of sleep. This is the stage of sleep where a person feels rested. This is also the stage of sleep where the body starts its healing process.

Alcohol consumption can also cause a person to have to relieve himself in the middle of sleep. This means getting up to go to the bathroom and interrupting sleep.  

Maintain a cool bedroom temperature

A temperature that is just right can help usher in sleep faster. An ideal temperature is one that is not too cool yet not too warm. Having a room that is too warm can make sleeping uncomfortable. It can also make a person sweat while sleeping which can wake him up. Studies have shown that increased body and room temperature can decrease the quality of sleep. The study also revealed that these increases in temperature can increase wakefulness.

A room that is too cool, on the other hand, can lead to a person needing to relieve himself. As what was already mentioned several times, getting up to go to the bathroom leads to a night of interrupted sleep.

Control food consumption

Consuming heavy meals can have a negative effect on the quality of one’s sleep. This can also trigger the natural release of HGH and melatonin. One study showed that a meal that is rich in carbohydrates consumed four hours before bedtime can help people fall asleep faster, however.

Consume only light snacks close to bedtime if eating can not be avoided.

Hot showers

Taking hot showers or baths can help a person fall asleep. However, it is important not to take one that is too close to bedtime. When the body is too warm or sweating, it can make falling asleep difficult. Taking a hot bath around an hour prior to going to bed will give the body enough time to cool down.

Avoid cuddling with pets

Having a pet can help relieve stress brought about by work or personal problems. However, it is better not to let a pet sleep on the same bed as its owner. A pet that is large enough can occupy too much space. This will leave the owner with less bed space to sleep in a relaxed and comfortable position. Pets can also disturb their owner’s sleep if they move around too much.

There is also the possibility of developing allergies because of pet dander. Pet dander is the dead skin that pets shed off. If a person develops an allergy to pet dander, it can make sleeping difficult. It can also lead to frequent sleep interruptions because an allergy can cause a person to have sneezing bouts.

Use natural sleep supplements

Aside from melatonin, there are other natural supplements that can help a person get improved sleep. Other sleep-promoting supplements include:

  • Valerian Root – an herb native to Asia and Europe. It is also used as an herbal treatment for depression and anxiety.
  • Magnesium – This is a mineral involved in a multitude of processes in the body. Magnesium is important for brain function and heart health. This mineral also has a calming effect on the mind and body thus making it easier for a person to fall asleep. Magnesium has the ability to regulate melatonin. It also appears to have the ability to increase brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which in turn calms the body.
  • Lavender – This is a plant found in almost all continents. It has purple flowers that get dried and has a variety of uses. The soothing fragrance of lavender is said to be calming and can enhance sleep.
  • Passion Flower – This is also known as maypop. It is a popular herbal remedy for insomnia. One study showed that the effects of passion flower tea is comparable to those of a placebo tea made from parsley leaves.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

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