SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE // natural supplements to help you sleep

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Sleep is a natural human function, so second nature you don’t even think about it, right?

I used to be a world-class sleeper. I could nod off anywhere, anytime, in any position. It used to drive OH mad on flights, as I’d be asleep before the plane even left the tarmac, leaving him bored and alone for the rest of the flight. I remember waking up one time to hear the pilot announcing our descent… the last thing I remembered was buckling myself into the seat and thinking: ‘I’ll just close my eyes for a second…’

I was ‘that person’ who could drink coffee at 11pm and still nod off for a solid 10 hours. And once I was asleep, that was it – I’d wake up the next morning in exactly the same position, nary a hair out of place on my head. I was quiet as a mouse too – no snoring or heavy breathing. So much so, OH used to shake me every now again to make sure I was actually still alive.

Then – almost overnight – it all changed. I used to think it was solely the fault of a particularly awful work contract I had at the time, the stress of which almost certainly provided the flame that lit the touch paper, but I now understand that the problem was much more complex.

It was a combination of many factors – fluctuating hormones played a huge part, exacerbated by work stress and a very hectic home life (whose idea was it to start a family half a world away from my support network, and every single member of my family?!). Almost as soon as the biological sleeplessness set in, psychological insomnia joined the party to give me a lovely one-two punch: the more I worried about not being able to sleep, the more it came true.

There were two types of insomnia: the one where I just never seemed to get tired enough to even go to sleep, and the one where I’d fall asleep easily, but jerk awake half an hour later (you know that horrible falling sensation you sometimes get just as you’re drifting off? That, but 10, 20, 30 times a night).

At my worst, I’d slump on the sofa all night watching mindless television simultaneously feeling wide awake, yet exhausted beyond belief. It was like I was stuck on the edge of slumber, but never quite able to tip over. The frustration was unbelievable. It was such a lonely feeling too – knowing everyone else was deep in sleep, dreaming and recharging, while I sat there, trying not to freak out about how little time there was until the alarm went off.

I tried EVERYTHING over the next few years – soothing sounds of crashing waves, meditation downloads, aromatherapy sprays, screen bans before bed, an actual NEW BED (which, to be fair, did help as the mattress was amaaaaazing!). I tried over-the-counter sleeping aids, a sneaky glass of wine before bed, staying up so late I literally passed out where I sat. I would’ve sold my soul for a solid eight hours a night. 

I was determined not to start taking sleeping pills, so resigned myself to my ‘new normal’ and the fact insomnia was just something I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life.

But this year I was thrown a lifeline. After a (slightly desperate) chat with my doctor I was prescribed combined hormones to bring my levels back in line. ‘The progesterone should hopefully make you sleep better,’ she said. I was dubious, but prayed she was right as I’d exhausted (no pun intended) all my other options.

For the first few weeks they made me feel really anxious – to the point where I wondered if I’d simply replaced one problem with another. But it made me do something important, and that was take stock of my life and prioritise some self care.

I realised I also had to make some lifestyle changes to reduce unnecessary stress and prevent myself from getting to that point where I was physically and mentally overwhelmed.

So it was great timing when Link Nutrition got in touch to ask if I wanted to try their Relax vitamins. A blend of magnesium, botanicals and B vitamins, these vitamins offer the ‘missing link’ between nutrients absorbed naturally through your diet and supplements traditionally taken to balance out deficiencies. While many supplements are created synthetically these are food based, which means they’re derived from real food and a much more natural way to introduce the extra boost of nutrients your body needs.

The Relax blend is particularly valuable at this time of year, when life cranks up a notch and gets even busier than usual. There are festive drinks and ramped-up work deadlines and Santa lists and school concerts to squeeze into the schedule, and I always find the run up to Christmas fun, but very intense.

The Relax formula naturally soothes away stress and fatigue, leaving you more refreshed and focused. Because it also contains the amino acid l-theanine (which provides a calming effect for up to 10 hours) it’s great for slowing your mind before bedtime, allowing you to drift off more naturally and easily. 

After speaking with Emily about supplements to help you sleep, and my reluctance to take any prescription medicine for my insomnia, she agreed that the Relax capsules would be a great option for me, and also recommended teaming it with Link Nutrition Magnesium supplement.

Relax already contains this important mineral, which – among other things – helps us regulate sleep, but this was a more concentrated dose. While the Relax formula offers immediate stress relief, Emily explained, the Magnesium tablets build up over time to level out any deficiencies. This, in turn, improves the quality of your sleep and lessens anxiety. Music to my ears! 

So, I started taking one of each in the morning – check out the video to hear my thoughts…

• this is a paid feature, but these are my genuine thoughts and experiences; and my supplements were provided for the purpose of review

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