While focusing on both your body and brain, choline is an important nutrient. Due to its role in acetylcholine production, it helps boost cognitive abilities, while supporting cell membranes, liver function, and more. Choline is a water-soluble nutrient, which belongs to the B-complex vitamin family.
Not only does it play an important role regarding the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, but it also promotes sleep. You can source choline from your diet, however not everyone is consuming enough. For this reason, choline supplements are available.
Why Do We Need Choline?
While focusing on our sleeping patterns, choline helps maintain smooth, healthy sleep-cycles. We naturally produce choline in our bodies, which helps to regulate our internal clock. This is known as our circadian rhythm, which is directly linked to our wake-sleep cycle. Choline can also target symptoms of depression, nerve injuries, and even PMS.
As mentioned, choline is used to make acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter plays numerous roles within our brain and body. Since neurotransmitters influence communication between various systems, they help regulate anything from hunger, to sleep, to mood.
Acetylcholine specifically, is involved in both consciousness and memory. Not only does it help induce sleep, but it promotes dreaming. When you’re asleep and dreaming, acetylcholine levels tend to be high.
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Why Sleep Is So Important
On average, we spend about 25 years of our life sleeping. Although this may seem alarming, sleep is essential for overall health and cognitive functioning. In fact, many do not get enough sleep. This is why many are looking for ways to increase their quality of sleep. Sleeping pills are not generally ideal, so more natural solutions are being explored.
While we sleep, our body goes into a state of repair. Our bodies do a lot for us during the day, which is why this time is required for daily maintenance. Although possible, repairing our bodies while we’re awake is more difficult. Some of the key processes during this time, include eliminating toxins, consolidating memories, utilizing nutrients, and resetting neurotransmitter levels.
Think about when you do not sleep for even a night. You typically feel the effects, whether you feel tired, confusion, or grumpy; lack of sleep can really affect you. When individuals are continuously deficient in sleep, this can lead to significant health concerns. You will feel increased levels of fatigue, which can disrupt your mood, and make you more susceptible to illness.
If you cannot sleep, you could be experiencing a number of issues. One possibility is the potential for chemical imbalances. Our hormones drop and rise based on external factors and the time of day. Melatonin for instance, increases when your body is preparing for sleep. If you suffer from imbalances, you may struggle to maintain consistent sleeping patterns.
How Is Choline Linked to Sleep?
We now know that sleep is important for various processes and maintenance of positive health, but what does choline have to do with all this? While taking choline supplements, users are often attempting to target their brain health or memory. However, choline may also be linked to REM sleep.
As we sleep, we go through different stages. The fifth, deepest stage of sleep, is known as REM sleep (rapid eye movement). It is believed that choline is directly linked to this cycle, which is viewed as the most vital sleep state. Research supports the idea that REM sleep is responsible for processing learned information.
Choline is also associated with our ability to avoid distractions. Our stimulus barrier allows us to focus on one task, avoiding external cues while awake. The same is believed to be true for sleep. While we’re asleep, our stimulus barrier helps filter out noise, so that we can achieve REM sleep.
In terms of dreaming, choline can increase dream activity. When we process memories, acetylcholine plays a role while we sleep. When memories are processed, it creates dreams. For some, choline supplements allow individuals to remember their dreams more effectively.
Although choline has been linked to sleep, it is not recommended that you take a dosage before bed. This can actually lead to higher stimulation, forcing you to stay awake. Take your dose early in the day, as this is not meant to be a sleep-aid taken directly before bed.
Choline and Lucid Dreaming
It is believed that choline increases overall dream activity. In some cases, when users take choline supplements, they can remember their dreams more vividly. Choline supplements have also been reported, in terms of making dreams more exciting. Lucid dreams are often experienced when taking choline supplements.
When you’re in a lucid dream, you tend to be more aware. Although you will be asleep, you can become slightly conscious in terms of your dream’s content. This level of consciousness, could potentially allow you to control the circumstances of your dream.
Although we have learned so much, there is still a lot we do not fully understand. This has created some skepticism on lucid dreams. Some say that lucid dreaming may not be a state of sleep at all. Instead, it is a brief moment of wakefulness.
Regardless of conflicting views, many find lucid dreams enjoyable. For some, it allows them to visualize potential goals. While taking choline supplements, it is believed that lucid dreams become more achievable. Some great options are Alpha GPC or Citicoline.
Although this sounds like an exciting adventure, there are precautions. If you take a choline supplement late at night, it can lead to very vivid nightmares. Once again, consume your choline supplements early in the day. At this point, research suggests that choline supplementation is a potential short-term treatment for sleep. There is no evidence at this point, suggesting that it’s effective long-term. If you have any questions, please consult your healthcare provider.
There are many plant-based supplements out there, all with their unique properties and benefits. Valerian root is no exception, as it is known to improve sleeping habits, while reducing insomnia. Not only is it beneficial for sleep-related issues, but panic attacks as well.
Many users are beginning to use this supplement, in order to help them relax; by reducing stress levels and enhancing one’s mood. Since this root comes in various forms and methods of administration, it is important to know which benefits you’re looking to seek.
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How Can Valerian Root Benefit Me?
Valerian root is not a new remedy, considering it has been used for over 2000 years. It is most commonly used as a mild, natural sedative. Now that it is becoming more popular in Western society, medicinal research is being conducted. Existing studies have already reported the effects of valerian root, in terms of regulating stress and improve one’s ability to sleep.
Other than the mental complications associated with stress, physical health problems also arise. Increased stress can affect sleeping patterns, while poor sleep patterns can increase stress levels. It is essential to your health, that you get enough sleep. For those that have a hard time falling, then staying asleep, valerian root may be the solution.
While focusing on anxiety, valerian root activates one’s GABA receptors. Since GABA is responsible for stress prevention, it can reduce symptoms of anxiety. Basically, GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm us down when we’re anxious or stressed.
How Does Valerian Root Compare to Prescription Sedatives?
When you take prescription medications for sleep (or anti-anxiety drugs), these prescriptions target your GABA receptors. Unfortunately, these drugs are often associated with numerous side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. Valerian root is believed to have much milder effects, in comparison to prescription drugs.
When people take prescription drugs, they often experience sleepiness or fatigue throughout the following day. Valerian root does not create these effects, which is why it’s being recognized as an effective solution for sleep disorders.
How to Take Valerian Root
As mentioned, valerian root comes in many forms. It is not believed that one form is superior over others, however, depending on the circumstances, one form may be more beneficial than others. This will depend on the circumstance, the benefits that the user is looking to achieve, and the user themselves.
When purchasing valerian root, you want to ensure the highest possible levels of natural root extract. It is the root itself, that contain majority of the active ingredients. Although you may find them cheaper, formulas that are made from the stems, flowers, and leaves; may require larger doses.
It has been recommended that you avoid purchasing products that contain either liquid or dried leaf. When left for extended periods, it’s believed that these products can become toxic. Like any new supplement, make sure that you are well aware of what you’re taking. If you have concerns or questions, speak with your healthcare professional.
Is Valerian Root Safe to Take?
At this time, the exact mechanism of action is not known. Clinical trials and research are being conducted, in order to discover the full effects that this root has on the human body. As mentioned, this root has been used for thousands of years. Any studies conducted thus far, have not found any serious side-effects.
Although more testing is required, users have stated that they have successfully taken this supplement without experiencing any serious side-effects. The general consensus is that valerian root is safe. In rare cases, some users have experienced a skin rash after using this extract. This is not common with oral administration, but has occurred when valerian root is used topically.
The effects are generally mild, taking up to a week to notice results. If you do not notice any effects within the first week, it is recommended that you do not continue taking this supplement, until your have spoken with your physician.
Like any new supplement, speak with a healthcare provider regarding your desired use. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and for those that are currently on any other medications. It is important to ensure that no interactions will occur.
Recommended Dosage of Valerian Root
If you purchase extract drops, you can mix your dose into a herbal tea before bed. You can also ingest a capsule, providing you with beneficial doses of valerian. The best time to take your dose, is around an hour before bed (it is not recommended that you consume this root more than two hours before bed). It can cause you to be drowsy, which is why you should avoid taking valerian root during the day.
With that being said, some users take small doses before a stressful event. For instance, some individuals become highly anxious before they write an exam or give a public speech. These effects are still being researched. DO NOT take valerian root for the first time, before an important event.
If you do not know how it will affect you, you should not experiment before one of these related events. While at-home, start with the smallest possible dose. From there, you can increase the amount you take, until you find the dosage that is best for you.
The amount of valerian root you take, can directly determine its effectiveness. If you plan on taking valerian root for a short period of time, then 500 to 700 mg each night is recommended. At this dosage, you should discontinue usage after a month. If you would like to take this root extract for a longer period of time, then a dose between 200 and 300 mg is recommended.