What is the Best Natural Sleep Aid? – 9 More Reasons for Better Sleep

coffee-cup-bed-bedroom

Insomnia combined with nervousness, stress and anxiety can make you lead a miserable life. Getting at least seven hours of?high quality sleep can allow our bodies to heal and rejuvenate naturally. However, some of us either can?t sleep at all or can?t remain asleep for the recommended amount of time. If sleeplessness has plagued you for years, then there are several measures you can take to restore your sleep naturally. A huge number of people are battling with insomnia, and many of them use pharmaceutical aids. Hard as it is to believe, sleeping pills and the like may actually worsen your sleeping disorder (especially for persons with sleep apnea). Have you ever tried going natural? Let’s take a look at 9 other ways you can get your sleep on–medication-free!

1. Melatonin

melatonin_prescriptionMelatonin is produced by the pineal glands located in the central part of human brain. Melatonin regulates our circadian rhythms or your sleep-wake cycle. Scientific research shows that melatonin helps in cutting the time you take to fall asleep (also known as ‘sleep latency’). Additionally, melatonin increases the duration of your sleep thus enabling you to remain asleep for the required eight or more hours. Healthy individuals can also take melatonin as it reduces effects of jet lag particularly for those that travel for long distances.

Research shows that taking as little as 0.1-0.3 mg of melatonin is sufficient to induce sleepiness in an individual. However, it is recommended that melatonin should only be taken for three or fewer months as it is safe in the short-term. Long term use can cause depression or grogginess.

2. Valerian Root

valerian-root-for-great-sleepValerian is an herbal extract and is the leading supplement for treating insomnia and anxiety. Several studies have been done on the effects of valerian on sleep. Valerian is beneficial in reducing the time you can take to fall asleep. Unlike most insomnia remedies, valerian is safe and does not pose any adverse side effects. Further studies confirm that taking valerian for an extended period gives you an edge in fighting insomnia and restoring your sleep naturally. Therefore, poor sleepers will benefit more by taking this natural herbal supplement.

A word of caution however to pregnant women: while valerian root is a pretty safe solution, foetal effects have not yet been evaluated. As a result, it is important that you consult your physician before taking this natural sleep aid.

3. Essential Oils

aromatherapy oils for sleepIf you feel jet-lagged or tend to experience frequent awakenings, then essential oils might save your night. One unique thing about essential oils is that they don?t cause any undesirable side effects. Based on a study that was conducted on cancer patients with serious sleeping troubles as reported in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, aromatherapy by the use of essential oils can significantly treat insomnia. The patients were given aromatics for 13 weeks, and a 94% success rate was reported!

Lavender and Bergamot oils are the best essential oils in fighting insomnia. Other essential oils you can consider include frankincense and sandalwood. All these are useful in inducing sleep naturally without posing any adverse side effects. Go ahead and toss a few drops into a warm bath…you may be surprised at the results.

4. Magnesium

food sources of magnesium

No shortage of choices to get your magnesium!

Did you know that magnesium can make you a deep sleeper? Several studies have shown that magnesium deficiency can take a toll on your sleep life. According to the studies done in the Biochemistry and Neurophysiology Unit at the University of Geneva, magnesium helps promote better and consistent sleep. Magnesium has been found to have a calming effect that soothes you to rest. The best natural sources of magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, goat milk and dark chocolate and much more. It’s a great solution, especially for the elderly!

Magnesium combined with calcium can significantly affect your rapid eye movement or REM. Calcium has been found to help brain cells create melatonin by the use of tryptophan. Calcium and magnesium should be consumed together for better sleep results.

5. Chamomile

loose-chamomileChamomile has been a traditional remedy in helping sleep-troubled individuals doze off and recover their sleep naturally. Chamomile is an excellent muscle relaxant. It contains a substance called apigenin that can bind to special neural receptors, hence influencing your central nervous system. Without getting too much into the science, chamomile is very good at being a mild sedative or tranquiliser. Additionally, this natural herb is also enriched with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There are several types, and the common ones are German and Roman chamomile. German Chamomile can be taken as?tea while Roman chamomile can best be taken as a tincture.?Personally, I use chamomile as a tea fairly frequently. I find after a rough day it really helps me to unwind so that my mind doesn’t end up racing and preventing me from falling asleep.

6. Kava Root

kava kavaKava root is also called kava kava. Kava is great in curbing anxiety and stress. It is an exclusive sleep remedy that works differently unlike most pharmaceutical insomnia treatments. Kava works by inducing relaxation while not influencing your memory or brain functioning. Due to its soporific and soothing effects, Kava has been used for quite an extended period in the South Pacific. It also alleviates anxiety and improves mood, both of which can promote you?having a peaceful night rest.

It must be said however that despite the Kava root’s effectivess, investigations into dosage toxicity have not been completed. It is recommended therefore that you consult your physician before taking up this option.

7. Lemon Balm

loose-chamomileFor many centuries, lemon balm has been used in treating sleeplessness. It is even referred to as a ‘treat-all herb.’ Lemon balm is a good relaxant that promotes a positive mood and calms your body and mind. It treats depression, promotes positive mental and physical health, and can contribute to reducing the debilitating effects of insomnia. Several studies have been conducted to confirm its calming effects and how it can help fight insomnia.

Lemon balm is available in several forms: as pills, teas, tinctures or even topical agents. This all depends on your use case however. Normally, for managing ?your sleep you may want it as any of the first 3. As a bonus it can also help to manage matters of bloating and indigestion, which can make for a restless night!

8. St. John?s Wort

st johns wortJust like many other natural herbal remedies previously mentioned, St. John?s Wort has been used for decades in fighting depression and anxiety. It works by supporting?serotonin levels in the brain which translates to increased melatonin meaning more and better sleep quality. There are several ways you can take it. Some prefer taking it as a capsule while others use it to prepare strong tea. It is a great sleeping aid that can improve your night.

9.?Background Noise

background-musicBet you didn’t expect this one! While other people prefer sleeping in an entirely silent room, others need a bit of noise to fall asleep. This is why some would prefer some soft music while they sleep. This can help to soothe you to sleep pretty well. Music fills out the silence that may otherwise makes your mind a bit overactive. If you can?t sleep in a room with graveyard silence, then you can give soft background music a try. I’d even recommend using?white noise?as this can also be very effective.


So…of the 9 natural sleep aids we just checked out, which one is the best? The answer is, it depends. There’s no one size fits all, and it ?ultimately comes down to what your specific situation requires. Some persons may try just one of these and have great results, whilst for others it may take a combination to get the desired effects. If you are unsure, it may be worth mentioning these to?your physician for an opinion regarding what you can try out first. I think we can all agree though, that while sleeping pills may provide a fair amount of relief, they do have the potential to worsen?sleep disorders in the long run. Natural sleep aids are therefore recommended for anyone that wants to sleep soundly once again. Sleep is beneficial for a sound mental, emotional and physical health, so the more we can do to improve its quality, the better off we will be.

Did you find the above informative? What about other sleep aids you may have tried? Please share your experience in the Comments area below–I’d love to hear from you!

Sleep well until next time.

–Josh

4 Comments

  1. Craig

    Hi Josh,

    Nice read. Just what I was looking for. A friend of mine recommended I search for natural products to help me sleep.

    I can barely sleep for 5 hours at night. I’m sure it’s linked to anxiety brought on by work, but who knows.

    I am particularly interested in the Valerian Root but I have no idea how to use it. Should it be brewed like tea?

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hey Craig, thanks for reading. You are correct, valerian root is usually prepared as a tea. You should ideally brew this without using boiling water since some of the beneficial phytochemicals released are very sensitive to heat. Be aware however that you should avoid strong infusions, since in excess it could cause drowsiness and headache. Start small and work your way up.

      Additionally, since valerian root influences a specific neurochemical which is associated with anxiety, it may help you to fall asleep faster and to rest more deeply. Please give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  2. Brian

    Hi Josh,

    Thank you for this post. It is very important to stress that some of the most well known sleeping medications (also an antihistamine) e.g. Diphenhydramine marketed as Benadryl in the US (Benadryl in the UK is something different), have been shown in several studies to be linked to dementia in old age.

    All the more reason to find a more natural option! I normally have no problems sleeping, but I do get woken up regularly by noise so I wear ear plugs most nights!

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hi Brian, thanks for your comment. I’m indeed aware that there was a study done about anticholinergic drugs (eg antihistamines and antidepressants) and their effects on long-term learning and memory. I’m really not a big fan of those in any case, especially since their mechanisms of action may be poorly understood. That, along with the fact that many of them also carry a sedating effect, are just a few of the reasons why I’d stay away. May natural options prevail!

      PS: Good choice on the ear plugs by the way.

      Reply

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