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Uncovering the reality behind popular sleep supplements, from magnesium to melatonin



Struggling to fall asleep at night is a common issue that many people face. While it can be tempting to reach for a sleep aid to help you catch some Z’s, experts warn against relying on these shortcuts too heavily. Using substances like melatonin, magnesium, alcohol, or cannabis may help you fall asleep in the short term, but they can have negative impacts on the quality of your sleep in the long run. Joshua Tal, a clinical psychologist, explains that using these aids can create an association that makes it harder to fall asleep without them, leading to a cycle of dependence.

In addition to creating dependency, tolerance can also become a factor when using sleep aids. Jeremy A. Weingarten, MD, points out that over time, the effectiveness of the sleep aid may decrease, leading individuals to take higher doses and potentially experience side effects. This can further complicate the sleep situation and create additional health problems. Relying on quick fixes for sleep can ultimately make it more difficult to achieve quality rest, leading to a vicious cycle of poor sleep.

Alcohol and cannabis are two common substances that people turn to for help with sleep. While they may initially help you fall asleep, they can actually disrupt your sleep cycle and lead to poor sleep quality. Alcohol, in particular, can interfere with the different stages of sleep, including slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, which are essential for refreshing the body and processing emotions. Cannabis, on the other hand, may reduce REM sleep, impacting the overall quality of rest.

Despite the popularity of using cannabis for relaxation and sleep, its impact on sleep is complex. The psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, is thought to be responsible for its effects on sleep. While it may help you feel less anxious, it can also interfere with REM sleep, leading to a less restful night. Research supports the notion that THC can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, making it a less than ideal option for those seeking quality rest.

Overall, while it may be tempting to use sleep aids to help you fall asleep faster, it’s important to consider the long-term effects they may have on your sleep quality. Developing healthy sleep habits and addressing any underlying issues that may be affecting your ability to fall asleep are key to achieving restful and rejuvenating sleep. Avoiding quick fixes and focusing on creating a conducive sleep environment can lead to more sustainable improvements in your sleep patterns. Remember, there is no magic pill for better sleep, but with time and effort, you can train your body to fall asleep naturally.

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