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Growing dependence on technology mixed with long office hours or shift work is wreaking havoc on the modern body clock, as difficulty sleeping continues to plague a large proportion of the population.

A survey by the Sleep Health Foundation found one in three Australians are sleep deprived which not only damages health and relationships, but also the economy. The Foundation quotes estimates of up to 5 billion dollars a year being lost due to flow-on effects of sleep disruption.

We all know the feelings of exhaustion and moodiness that follows a poor night of sleep but not getting enough of both Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep also means you miss out on vital body processes.

During sleep our body has time to recuperate and reset. Research shows that sleep helps our immune T cells to attach properly. Put simply, this means our immune system needs rest to be able to fight off viruses.

In recent decades this escalating issue of sleep deprivation has seen increasing reliance on potentially harmful sleeping tablets and opioids, leading to issues with addiction and countless other unwanted and sometimes detrimental effects.

The main risk of sleeping pills is that you become dependent on them. This means they become less effective, you can’t sleep well without them, and you may feel unwell or worse become unable to sleep at all when you try to stop.

Sleeping pills can also make you unsteady, dizzy and forgetful. They can make it harder to concentrate as you can feel groggy or tired the next day. These side effects may also increase your risk of having accidents and falls, especially in older people.

But we are seeing a positive trend away from sleeping tablets, reports Peta Teuma, the Chief Naturopath with premium New Zealand supplements brand, GO Healthy, which has been operating since 2008.

A 1000-person survey conducted by Research Now on behalf of GO Healthy found one in six Australians were now turning to sleep-inducing supplements to aid their rest.

Responding to the public interest, experts have been looking at what works best for a sound sleep, drawing on a mix of traditional eastern and western medicines to create a safe way to support falling and staying asleep for longer.

One unlikely hero to emerge in this war against wakefulness is the dried fruit flesh of sour cherries, which can be paired with natural sedative passionflower to help restless minds. Sour cherry is a traditional herbal remedy for sleep as it is naturally high in melatonin, a regulator of sleep hormones.

“Passionflower is a herb I recommended frequently as a naturopath as it is traditionally used as a mild sedative and anxiolytic or anxiety aid,” Peta explains. “I find it valuable to reduce mild agitation for people who become frustrated easily and find it difficult to calm down and relax.”

Zizyphus is another herb to regain popularity recently. It is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine used as a mild sedative and a way to reduce core body temperature for those afflicted by night sweats.

But there’s one supplement that tends to reign supreme when it comes to both sleep and general wellbeing – magnesium.

It is estimated that almost two thirds of the western world’s population are not getting adequate daily levels of magnesium in their diets, which may lead to problems with anxiety, muscle spasms, cramps and restless legs, and long-term more chronic diseases.

“If you ask any naturopath, they will be very passionate about magnesium and its health benefits. I have recommended it for numerous client conditions from low energy, sore muscles to anxiety and acute stress. It’s definitely worth having a chat to your health practitioner if you think you may benefit from this essential mineral,” explains Peta.

Studies have shown that long term sleep deprivation compounds the problem by reducing magnesium stores. One study showed elderly people given magnesium for 14 days significantly improved their sleep and reduced cortisol levels, Peta says.

Magnesium is also a GABA agonist, which means it works with the nervous system’s receptors to produce a sedative affect, helping to promote relaxation.

“With magnesium involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, it may also help to relieve the discomfort of night-time cramps which can disturb people’s sleep. Nocturnal cramps can be quite distressing and disruptive to the sleep cycle.”

Statistically speaking, there’s a good chance your body isn’t getting the magnesium it needs.

It is estimated that almost two thirds of the western world’s population are not getting adequate daily levels of magnesium in their diets, which may lead to problems with anxiety, muscle spasms, cramps and restless legs, and long-term more chronic diseases.

Magnesium plays a necessary role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, it is an absolutely crucial mineral for your brain, muscles and heart.

“The very best way to consume magnesium is of course through your diet – so include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, avocados and some oily fish. But you do need a considerably large volume to get adequate intake, and many foods contain less magnesium than they used to thanks in part to changes in soil and agricultural methods, so supplementation has become a popular choice,” she explains.

Evidence suggests that magnesium which dissolves well in liquid is more completely absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms which is behind the rising interest in powders, she adds.

Consumers should look for organic forms of magnesium citrate and amino acid as they have been shown to have better absorption than oxide.  These are terms used to describe what the magnesium is mixed or bonded with – so if supplementing just look for the terms citrate or amino acid chelate on the bottle.

GO Healthy stays on the cutting edge of research and looks to constantly challenge the status quo. New Zealand’s No.1 Selling Supplements brand in pharmacies selectively sources the best ingredients from around the world and its comprehensive testing guarantees quality and purity.

GO Healthy products are available at leading pharmacies nationally.  For more information or to find a stockist, visit gohealthy.com.au

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