Sleep! Something we all need and something that everyone seems to struggle with at some point in their life. Especially as you get older, sleep seems more elusive and more difficult to obtain or maitain. I have never had a problem falling asleep. Lights go out and so do I, but there is that 3 or 4 hour window that invariably opens and there you are awake at 3 or 4am and there seems to be no end to the night. Of course what you eat and drink in the hours before going to bed will always have an effect. Sleeping is more complicated than you think. When you drift off to catch some ZZZs, your brain goes through different, critical phases of activity. But like millions of adults with occasional sleeplessness, your plate may also be too full with professional and family pressures and to do lists to de-stress, stay asleep and relax into each phase. To wake feeling refreshed, you need to go through all the phases of sleep repeatedly each night (especially stage three, as you’ll soon find out). To make that happen, consider turning to sleep aids to help you reach stage three — and beyond. Stage One: You’re Still Alert The first light phase of sleep is when you have that delicious feeling of drifting in and out of wakefulness. To reach this stage, melatonin can help reset sleep-wake cycles and should be taken within 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to help support restful sleep. Melatonin, a natural hormone released in your body when the room darkens, helps us fall asleep. Stage Two: Your Brain Waves Slow Down If you reach the second stage, you’re on the brink of falling asleep. Your brain waves and breathing begin to slow down, your muscles relax and your body temperature drops. If you find that stress prevents you from reaching this stage because you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling, there’s a solution. Sleep aids like Nature Made Melatonin + L-theanine softgel and Nature Made Good Sleep Gummies, provide a combination of melatonin for sleep support and L-Theanine, a natural amino acid found in green tea, which helps relaxation by helping put your mind at ease. You’ll spend much of your time in this stage during repeated sleep cycles, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, so it’s important to help your body get there. Stage Three: Your Delta Waves Slow Down At this stage you start to enter deep sleep mode and the brain begins generating slow delta waves. This period of deep sleep is necessary for you to wake refreshed, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. During this essential regenerative stage, your body repairs and heals itself. Stage Four: You’ll Have Deeper Delta Waves Now, you’ve reached the REM, or rapid eye movement stage. You’re in a very deep sleep at this stage and your brain produces delta waves. You’ll be tough to awaken, unless you’ve managed to pop awake from your everyday worries and stresses. It’s during these occasional times that it helps to know there are capable sleep aids ready to help. Stage Five: Your Brain Activates During this last stage of REM sleep, your brain becomes more active and processes information and emotions from the day before, many times through vivid dreaming which you may not even remember. Though your brain and breathing may be more awake-like, your muscles are atonic, or unmovable, so you don’t act out your dreams. Each of these sleep stages serve an imperative purpose to your daily health. Melatonin or melatonin and LTheanine sleep aids, like those from Nature Made, can help support a good night’s sleep. In addition to sleep aids, make sure you’re not exposed to any light while falling asleep. Light stimulates your nerve pathways leading to your hypothalamus, the part of the body that controls the internal signals that make you feel sleepy or wide awake.