After a long day at work, everyone dreams of going to bed and falling asleep quickly so that they can wake up fresh and rested in the morning. But not everyone has a satisfactory sleep in terms of quality and quantity, many suffer from insomnia, sleep lightly at night and do not feel rested. This affects the ability to work, mood and even health. Is it possible to improve sleep by taking sleeping pills, will they be dangerous? How effective are pills containing an analogue of the natural hormone melatonin? What foods can help improve sleep?
Human sleep: why is it important?
Along with food intake and physical activity, sleep is one of the vital physical needs of a person. During sleep, the body rests, and the brain, although it does not completely stop working, is engaged in those activities for which it does not have enough time during the day. This is the systematization of information, checking all organs and systems for “combat capability”, memorizing important information and unloading the cortex from incoming data. For an adult, in order to maintain health and performance, you need at least 6 hours of sleep per day, and ideally — about 8–9 hours, depending on age and type of activity. A constant lack of sleep, its unsatisfactory quality threatens with mental disorders and diseases, leads to neurosis and depression.
The role of hormones in sleep
All processes in the body are closely related, they are under the influence of the neuroendocrine system, which regulates sleep and wakefulness, appetite and satiety. The processes of falling asleep are controlled by the hormone melatonin, which is released in the pineal gland — the pineal gland. In addition, he is in charge of changing the phases of sleep and wakefulness according to the time of day. The secretion of the hormone is subject to circadian rhythms, and often people who often change time zones or work day and night shifts experience desynchronosis and sleep disorders. Taking sufficient portions of melatonin helps to fall asleep and then rest normally during the sleep period.
In turn, sleep itself also affects hormones and the functioning of the nervous system, metabolism. Constant lack of sleep, sleep disturbance lead to the fact that the hormones of many peripheral glands go astray. This is due to the fact that many of them are also characterized by diurnal fluctuations in activity. This is typical for the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland, their hormones are most active in the morning, they help to wake up.
Maybe a pill?
Today, melatonin is synthesized in the laboratory, and its effects on sleep are still being actively studied. For those people who are forced to adjust to a new rhythm due to frequent changes in time zones, or those who suffer from desynchronosis with sleep disorders, melatonin is used in tablets to normalize physiological processes. Although they can be of great help to many patients, these pills are not perfect and may not always solve sleep problems. If the problem is an irregular work schedule, often going to bed after midnight, such pills can be a way out. If insomnia is just one of the symptoms of serious neurological or somatic diseases, there will be no effect from taking such pills at all, or it will be temporary and weak.
Sleeping pills are the way out?
There is a group of drugs that, by inhibiting the work of different departments in the nervous system, form a state that is close to the natural processes of sleep. In small doses, sleeping pills have a sedative (sedative) effect. However, do not think that such drugs are harmless and can be used without a doctor’s recommendation. The group of drugs that have a hypnotic effect includes barbiturates, as well as benzodiazepine derivatives. There are also groups of drugs of a different chemical structure. In mild cases, if sleep disorders are caused by stress or overstrain, emotions, a group of sedatives (sedatives) is used, they eliminate anxiety and tension, which helps to facilitate the process of falling asleep.
Barbiturates, due to the large number of side effects, are practically not used today. For benzodiazepines, addiction is not so pronounced, but these drugs are by no means harmless. An overdose can threaten with severe poisoning up to death, and in some patients they also form an addictive effect.
Sleeping pills, although they make the body sleep, do not eliminate the causes of insomnia. In addition, they are characterized by a violation of circadian rhythms — changes in sleep and wakefulness, suppression of certain phases of sleep. If a person is used to sleeping only under the influence of pills, his body no longer synthesizes its own compounds that cause sleep in natural conditions so quickly. Therefore, the abolition of drugs provokes even more pronounced insomnia. Among other things, sleep under the influence of drugs is artificial, it is not so deep and calm, so it does not give a good rest to the body and brain.
Medicines in this group may be contraindicated in patients with heart disease, respiratory disease and psychosis. But they will not bring benefits to healthy people, especially since chronic sleep problems are not typical for them.
Nutrition to improve sleep, non-drug effects
The effect of non-pharmacological agents and dietary changes on improving the quality and duration of sleep is known. So, increasing the amount of physical activity, long walks in the fresh air before bedtime, or avoiding foods rich in caffeine and stimulant additives, drinking alcohol help to sleep better. An interesting book and the rejection of TV and gadgets can help to relax and tune in to sleep.
You can change your diet or some of your habits to improve your sleep. A glass of warm milk or tea with soothing injuries, taken shortly before bedtime, helps. Those substances that are contained in sleeping pills, although in lower concentrations, also contain nutrition. For example, tryptophan-rich foods are turkey meat, bananas, cheeses, sesame seeds, or dates.