11 Natural Sleep Remedies for better sleep
Do you have a tough time getting to sleep or staying asleep? You are not alone as one in three people in the US face the same problem.
Natural sleep aids can help you go to sleep, give you more restful sleep, and, hopefully, ensure that you wake up rested and ready to face another day.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is important for good health as the body uses the time to rest physically and repair cells. If you don’t sleep well, you will wake up cranky and suffer from
- Cognitive problems
- Inability to focus
And if you take coffee or caffeine-laden beverages to stay awake and improve your attention span (and do so throughout the day), you are setting yourself up for a greater crash when the effects wear off. They will also keep you awake at night, so the process will be part of a vicious cycle.
Sleep deprivation can also be a contributory factor to many long-term and serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, lifestyle diseases, and others. It can also have emotional and psychological consequences that can impair relationships and lead to dissatisfaction.
Using natural sleep aids
Did you know that you can use one of many natural sleep aids or remedies to help you get the sleep you need? These have few, if any, side effects, are easier to get hold of since you can usually get them online, and are not addictive.
Whether you need to use a remedy for insomnia temporarily or for a longer time frame, you can try these natural aids.
Among the supplements and herbs available are melatonin, valerian root, passionflower, lavender, magnesium, cannabinoids, kava, chamomile, tryptophan, L-theanine, GABA, and some supplements that contain multiple ingredients.
Let us discuss in greater detail how these help so you can decide which one may work for you.
Melatonin has become popular as a sleep aid. It is actually based on a hormone that helps you regulate your sleep cycle and aids sleep. Studies show that melatonin may work if your sleep cycle has gotten disrupted. This may be due to late nights at work, jet lag, working in shifts, or any kind of temporary issue that is keeping you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
This natural hormone signals the brain that it is time for you to sleep. So take it just a little before bedtime, once you are done for the day. Individual supplements containing melatonin will give you more exact instructions. You can take between 3 and 10 mg in a dose to ensure it works.
This herb is used in Europe, South America, and Asia and is known for its calming properties. Many small research studies have pointed to its effects in promoting healthy and restorative sleep.
If you are suffering from short-term or long-term anxiety, psychological issues like depression, or hormonal disruptions like menopause, you can try valerian root for its relaxing and calming effects. Once you are in a relaxed state of mind, you are more likely to fall asleep faster. You should take between 300 and 600 mg of this herb in a single dose.
Known as passiflora incarnata, this is a flower that grows all over the globe. As a sleep supplement, it may be available as a tea, often combined with other substances that have calming effects. Just like conventional remedies, passionflower also targets GABA in your brain. This helps reduce anxiety and relaxes you, prompting you to sleep better.
While studies are not definitive regarding its effects, it has long been used since ancient times to promote restful sleep. Apart from tea, it is also available as a homeopathic remedy with the same name (passiflora incarnata) that should be diluted (it is a tincture) according to the label in the instructions. This should be taken half an hour before sleeping.
Lavender has long been known for its calming properties and it is used a great deal in aromatherapy. Essential oils in this flower are used to make perfumes. It is available as a potpourri and also as an oil and its fragrance is relaxing.
In fact, it is now widely used under the bed sheets to help with restless legs, which are a factor in sleeplessness as well. It is only sometimes used orally, as it works on the smell receptors. The soothing power of lavender has been known for centuries, and research has backed up the theories.
Magnesium is a mineral that works in many ways in the body. It helps with muscle, bone, and nerve repair, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar, and may help with some neurotransmitters in the brain.
If you have a magnesium deficiency, then taking a magnesium supplement of 200 mg before bedtime may help. It can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. It may also aid with restless legs syndrome. In fact, a supplement containing both magnesium and calcium will also be beneficial as a sleep aid.
CBD and CBN
Both CBD and CBN supplements of different kinds help promote sleep. They work on anxiety and stress and help keep you calm.
CBD and CBN are cannabinoid products that may be worth trying, especially if you are constantly battling insomnia. You can take these as edibles, tinctures, capsules, or any other available form. Learn more about CBD and CBN.
Kava root is available as a tea and as a supplement. It originates in the South Pacific islands and the natives use it for sleeping.
However, it has mixed reviews and has been prohibited in certain countries because it has been linked to liver damage. So, if you want to use kava, use it with caution.
Available as an essential oil for aromatherapy, its smell is soothing. Chamomile is more popular as a tea and a bedtime beverage and has relaxing effects. It helps reduce stress and anxiety and so promotes better sleep.
If it suits you and it works, you can make a cup of chamomile tea a part of your winding-down, bedtime ritual. Research on this for sleep is minimal and not conclusive.
You may have memories of having a glass of warm milk (plain or with cocoa or chocolate) before bedtime to help you sleep when you were a kid to help you sleep. Well, milk contains tryptophan. This helps produce melatonin which improves sleep quality.
Tryptophan is available in a few foods and not in sufficient quantities. You may try a tryptophan supplement instead to get over your insomnia. While the regular dose is 60 mg. most people report taking up to 1500-2000 mg. for it to work. Most supplements, in any case, are available in the range of 500 mg.
An amino acid that works in different ways in the body, L-theanine also helps with sleep. In small doses, it causes drowsiness and may enable you to go to sleep faster.
When combined with other substances like GABA or magnesium, it has a greater efficacy since the two work in tandem. You can get this in 200 mg. doses.
GABA is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter and is found in foods as well. It works on the nervous system and reduces excitability, stress, and anxiety. As these keep you from getting restful sleep, GABA supplements are often used as a sleep aid.
You can use 200 mg. of GABA in a supplement before bedtime and see if it helps you sleep better.
What else can you do for better sleep?
You must practice good sleep hygiene, to begin with. Establish a bedtime ritual that may start half an hour to one hour before bedtime. You should
- Have comfortable bedding
- Dim lights in your bedroom or blackout curtains
- Keep the temperature in the room even and not too warm or too cool
- Wear loose night clothing
- Do your make-up removal, tooth brushing, and perhaps a warm bath
- Avoid all screens at least half an hour before trying to sleep
- Listening to relaxing music or meditating may also promote sleep
All these should be routine and a daily practice whether you take sleep aids or not. These will signal to the brain that you are ready to go to sleep.
Ensure that you eat a healthy and nutritious diet and get some exercise and some sun regularly. While complex carbs in your diet help with sleep, avoid simple sugars like desserts and alcohol that will only spike sugar levels and prevent you from sleeping.
And if these sleep hygiene practices are not sufficient, then try natural sleep aids. Just remember, each person is an individual and what works for one, may not work for another. Do consult a medical professional if you are constantly sleep-deprived to get at the root of the problem.