Sleep is extremely important for proper brain and body function. A solid night’s sleep can help in decision making, learning, and memory. Conversely, insufficient sleep can increase the risk of numerous health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Despite this, many people suffer from lack of sleep as well as poor sleep quality and with the increased stressors and busyness of life, it can only be expected that more and more people will experience sleep problems.
Sleep/Insomnia related issues in Malaysia- a cause for worry
Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash
Sleep issues such as insomnia are actually quite common in Malaysia.
According to a community-based sleep survey conducted in 4 Malaysian states, 33.8% of the general population reported insomnia symptoms while 12.2% presented with chronic insomnia.
Of those who were suffering from insomnia in this research:
- 40.9% had perceived poor health status.
- 19.1% reported loss of concentration,
- 17.2% said they felt exhausted.
- 12.7% said they were feeling depressed.
- 9.2% cited that they had poor memory.
- 6.4% reported a decrease in work productivity.
Additionally, Malaysia’s Health Ministry reported that 40-50% of people above 60 years in this nation suffer from insomnia.
Malaysia sleep statistics
Adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. However, a 2016 survey reported that Malaysian adults only average 6.4 hours of sleep per day.
With 1.6 hours short of sleep every day, Malaysians are building up a sleep debt of 11.2 hours every week. This is indeed quite worrisome as long term sleep loss can increase the risk of health problems.
In another survey, Statista reported that 20% of Malaysians do not consider themselves to be getting enough sleep while 34% neither agree nor disagree with this statement. This means that at least 2 in every 10 Malaysians who were surveyed felt that they were short of sleep.
The Star newspaper reported that up to 50% of Malaysians had average sleep quality while 20% experienced sleeping issues 3 to 4 times a week.
What are natural sleep supplements?
There isn’t actually any formal definition for natural sleep supplements. As such, the term can be understood by breaking it down into the following phrases:
- Natural: Natural usually refers to substances that are derived from plants or those that are synthetically manufactured in a lab, but are found in the body. For example, valerian root is a herb used to promote sleep while melatonin is found naturally in our bodies.
- Sleep supplement: Sleep aids or supplements are used to help alleviate minor to major sleep issues such as jet lag and insomnia. The mechanism of sleep supplements can vary greatly depending on the ingredients it contains.
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
Why use natural sleep supplements?
There are three main reasons to use natural sleep supplements as compared to prescription sleep aids.
Firstly, of course, is that they can be just as effective as prescription sleeping pills. Secondly, they are generally considered safer because they are manufactured using natural ingredients that your body is able to process without any issues.
Third, they have fewer side effects as compared to prescription sleep medication. There are natural sleeping aids that do not cause drowsiness while promoting sleep. You are also far less likely to build a tolerance or get addicted to natural sleep supplements.
Sleep aids available in Malaysia
There are numerous natural sleep aids in Malaysia, including:
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is commonly found in green tea. It has certain health benefits including:
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Improve sleep
- Promotes relaxation
- Increase cognitive function
- Increase immunity
- Blood pressure management
- Anti-tumor effects
- Weight loss
Taking L-Theanine supplements before bedtime can help you to relax and wind down while you prepare to sleep.
For more information on L-Theanine, read ‘L-Theanine: Health Benefits and Cognitive Function’.
Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate (Lactium®)
Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate (Lactium®) is a milk hydrolysate that is made by processing milk proteins.
It is a natural ingredient that can help one to manage emotions, as well as promote relaxation. Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate is recommended for sleep problems, as well as stress and anxiety management.
The best characteristic of this natural ingredient is that it does not present with any side effects. It does not cause addiction nor have any sedative effects, even when taken in high doses.
For more information on Alpha-s1-casein tryptic hydrolysate, read ‘Lactium Sleep Aid in Malaysia: Can it Help You With Stress and Sleep Issues?’
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced naturally by our bodies that work to tell our brains that it is time to sleep. Melatonin supplements are quite popular as they can help with disrupted circadian rhythms.
Research on melatonin demonstrates that it can improve sleep quality, reduce the time needed to fall asleep (sleep latency) and increase the total quantity of sleeping time.
Common side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness might occur when you take melatonin. Less common side effects of melatonin include abdominal cramps, confusion, mild tremors, short lasting feelings of depression, irritability, and hypotension.
Melatonin can also interact with certain types of medication so it should only be taken on your doctor’s recommendation. While melatonin is considered safe for short term use, more research is needed with regards to its long term safety.
Valerian is a herb that can be found in Asia and Europe. The root of this herb is said to be able to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety as well as menopause.
A randomized study on the effects of valerian on menopausal and postmenopausal women show an improvement in sleep disorder symptoms as well as sleep quality.
Research also shows that taking 300 to 900 mg of valerian before bedtime can help to improve one’s quality of sleep. However, the long term safety of this ingredient is still uncertain and should therefore be only taken as prescribed by a physician.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in regulating melatonin production. It is known to be able to help relax muscles and promote sleepiness. In fact, Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia and poor sleep quality. Thus, supplementing magnesium may help to improve both sleep quality and quantity.
Aromatherapy using lavender oil from the lavender plant is believed to be able to enhance sleep. Studies on the effect of this soothing fragrance show that smelling lavender oil just before sleeping can help reduce symptoms of those who are experiencing mild insomnia.
Do note that lavender oil is usually used for aromatherapy and oral ingestion can cause stomach pain and nausea.
Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash
Ginkgo biloba is a well-known herb in Malaysia and can be purchased in many medicinal shops and pharmacies. It is believed that taking this natural herb about an hour before going to bed can help promote relaxation and sleep in addition to reducing stress.
How to choose the best sleep supplement in Malaysia?
Finding a safe, dependable and effective natural sleep aid can be a challenge with so many options available in the market.
As such, it’s important to look at the ingredient list of the product carefully. Keep in mind that terms such as ‘verified’ or ‘certified’ may not always be for defined, or regulated methods.
Be sure to do some research on the safety of the product. You can contact the manufacturer and make inquiries about testing, safety and documentation.
Additionally, it’s also important to remember that products that work for others might not work for you, for whatever reason. Thus, you will need to discover what works best for your body.
One of the best sleep supplements in Malaysia is Rilax®.
Rilax® is a natural sleep aid that is designed to improve sleep quality and promote relaxation so that your body is able to get the restorative sleep that it needs.
It is clinically tested, safe and effective, and contains Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate (Lactium) and L-Theanine, both of which are natural ingredients recognized as safe by the FDA.
Natural sleep supplements can help you if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep. Because sleep is an important part of life and sleep deprivation can lead to a myriad of other physical and psychological issues, it is imperative that you seek help for your symptoms.