“I can’t sleep.”
“I’ve been really stressed out lately.”
“I fall asleep but I can’t stay asleep.”
These are just a few of the concerns that Michelle Gray and her team at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy get asked most about these days. With day to day life turning up the pressure for most families, it seems sleep and stress are affecting just about everyone.
“Sleep and stress are two of the most common complaints we get asked about. In some cases they’re two unrelated problems but often they go hand-in-hand,” Gray says. “While it’s important that people start with their doctor for health concerns, there are a few readily available supplements that are fairly safe for most people to add to their daily routine that can help lessen the impact of stress and sleep-related issues.”
When someone approaches the pharmacist with a sleep- or stress-related concern the first step is discussing what they’ve tried so far, Gray says.
Have they spoken to their doctor? Are there underlying health concerns that need to be addressed first?
“There are quite a few things we need to know before being able to provide guidance on what supplements could be beneficial,” Gray adds. “We also need to address what type of stress or sleep issue they’re facing. Some people have trouble falling asleep, others fall asleep just fine but wake up multiple times a night.
“A common one is what I like to call being ‘tired but wired’ – essentially you feel exhausted but as soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind is racing at 100 km/h and won’t slow down long enough for you to fall asleep.”
This is one of these cases where sleep and stress are both contributing to a problem.
Racing thoughts or that feeling of being ‘wired’ are typically from a cortisol boost – the result of being overly-stressed out. To resolve the problem both issues need to be addressed, Gray says.
Adaptogens and other supplements, like GABA or 5-HTP, have grown increasingly popular and can be very effective in helping our bodies manage stress. In doing so, they can also help improve our sleep as well, Gray says.
Depending on what type of stress and sleep challenges you’re facing, a wide range of supplements could prove beneficial, but it’s important to work directly with a pharmacist familiar with adaptogens and supplements to ensure you’re finding the right combination and dosage for you.
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