What’s The Best Natural Sleep Aid?
Are you struggling with a peaceful, good night’s sleep? If yes, you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that more than 60 million Americans are suffering from poor sleep quality. It is essential to get a decent amount of sleep for your body and brain function properly. Furthermore, a good night’s sleep helps improve your memory, learning, decision-making, concentration, and mood. Insufficient sleep can lead to various mental and health problems, including depression, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
With the number of people experiencing poor sleep at an all-time high, it’s time to practice good sleeping habits. Fortunately, there are easy, natural remedies that can improve your sleep. This article discusses seven natural sleep-promoting aids and supplements that will help you get a good night’s sleep.
Let’s get to it.
Why Use Natural Sleep Aids?
Sleeping disorders are now a common occurrence among people of all ages. For some people, difficulty falling asleep is a temporary issue, and in many cases, this problem can be corrected by making changes to your sleeping habits. This includes:
- Restricting daytime napping to not more than 30 minutes
- Exercising for at least 10 minutes per day
- Avoiding caffeine before bedtime
- Not eating heavy, fatty, or fried foods before bedtime
If your sleeping problems are infrequent, you can take over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills to fall asleep. But some people think that taking over-the-counter medications can be addicting, so they tend to shun it in favor of natural remedies.
Non-prescription or non-medicinal sleep aids are considered natural as they’re derived from naturally occurring elements. Natural sleep aids also help in relaxation, reduces depressions & anxiety, and promote sleep. Furthermore, natural sleep aids also provide other health benefits like pain relief and improved digestion.
Getting more sleep or improving your sleep may be as easy as making changes to your daily routines, work schedule, and diet. And if these don’t provide the results you’re hoping for, you can try natural sleep aids.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Beneficial And SafeThan Traditional Sleep Aids?
Typically, many OTC and prescription drugs come with many unwanted side effects, which is non-existent in natural sleep aids. Generally, natural sleep aids are considered safe compared to OTC drugs.
We already mentioned that some people avoid taking prescription medications thinking they would become dependent on the drugs. Besides, if they decide to stop taking it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, including finding it more difficult to fall asleep than before.
Natural sleep aids usually don’t lead to dependence, and there are little to no side effects or complications, at least for a short time. Some herbs are traditionally used as natural sleep aids, and many of them aren’t regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, if you’re planning to use them for a short time or a long time, use them with caution or consult your doctor about any potential complications.
7 Best Natural Sleep Aids To Help You Sleep Better
1. Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is a hormone that signals the body to sleep. This hormone is produced naturally in the human body, and its production and release is induced by the time of day. It means that our bodies’ melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening and decrease in the morning. This is why we feel sleepy during the night and stay active in the morning.
If your melatonin production and releases cycle has been disrupted from doing night shift work or traveling over different time zones, commonly known as jet lag, you can experience poor sleep.
Taking melatonin supplements can help overcome this impediment, and because of its relative effectiveness, it has become a popular sleeping aid.
Moreover, taking melatonin supplements may also improve overall sleep quality in individuals diagnosed with sleep disorders. Melatonin also reduces the time to fall asleep and increases the total amount of sleep. Melatonin is also shown to boost immunity and relieve inflammation.
Melatonin supplements are also safe in adults with no documented side effects regardless of short or long term usage. However, some people may experience irritability, stomach cramps, and depression. To get the most from this natural sleeping aid, we generally recommend taking 3–10 mg of melatonin before bedtime.
2. Valerian root
Valerian root is a popular supplement that is used for mitigating sleep disorder symptoms and improving sleep quality. There haven’t been any empirical studies on its effects during long-term use, but it has been effective in some people.
Valerian is an herb that originates in Asia and Europe. Its roots are popular for treating anxiety, depression, and menopause. Moreover, Valerian root is also highly used as sleep-inducing herbal supplements in the US and Europe. Many women report sleeping problems during menopausal and postmenopausal transitions, and their sleep disorder symptoms have been reduced after taking valerian.
Additionally, many menopausal and postmenopausal women admitted their sleep quality has improved after taking valerian. However, some additional research is required. Valerian may also help lessen menstrual pain and stomach cramps, joint and muscle pains, depression, and headaches.
According to some studies, the recommended dosage is reportedly 300–900 mg of valerian, taken before bedtime.
Magnesium is a trace mineral that is proven to relax muscles and promoting sleep. It is also important for improved brain function and healthy heart function. Also, magnesium helps in calming your body and mind, which helps you fall asleep quickly. Studies have shown that magnesium’s relaxing properties derive from its ability to regulate melatonin production.
One study shows that a combination of magnesium, vitamin B, and melatonin was effective in treating insomnia. Furthermore, various studies report being deficient in magnesium correlated to insomnia and a host of other sleep disorders. Taking supplements to increase your magnesium intake may help you improve your sleeping time and quality.
Chamomile is an herb that promotes relaxation and sleep as it has calming properties. A 2016 study found tea made from chamomile herbs helps in improving the sleep quality in postnatal women. Besides, this herb has also been shown to reduce depression. Although there aren’t any recommended dosage for chamomile, you can take in the following ways:
Tea made from dried chamomile flowers
Inhale chamomile essential oil
Apply diluted chamomile essential oil to your skin
Take in tablet or capsule form
Chamomile also aids in improving digestion, relaxing muscles, and relieving headaches. It’s mentionable that some people may be allergic to chamomile. In such cases, you shouldn’t use chamomile in any form, whether tea, essential oils, or tablets or capsules. If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, don’t use chamomile.
If you’re taking chamomile capsules or tablets, don’t exceed the recommended dose. Exceeding the recommended dose can cause nausea and vomiting. Only take diluted chamomile oil with olive oil. If you’re unsure whether the oil suits your skin, do a patch test. Do this by rubbing a little oil on your forearm. If there isn’t any irritation within 24 hours, it probably safe for you.
Most of us know hops are used to flavor beer and other beverages. But did it occur to you that it is used in herbal medicines? Hops have been proven in aiding sleep. A study reported that university students who consumed nonalcoholic beer with hops have seen their quality of sleep improved.
Hops have also been shown to reduce cholesterol, relieve irritability, and ameliorate digestive issues. On the other hand, hops have labeled to worsen certain types of depression. Therefore, if you’re suffering from depression and anxiety, you shouldn’t take hops. If you’ve any kind of hormone-sensitive impediment, taking hops or drinking beer to sleep better may not be a good idea.
Efficacy of hops increases if it’s combined with herbs like valerian. The recommended dosage is a hops liquid extract of 0.5ml to 2ml daily. Hops extracts are also found in powdered form, and you can take up to 1 gram three times daily. If this seems complicated to you or can’t find hops extract that is liquid or powdered, you can always drink nonalcoholic beers containing hops.
Lavender is a fragrant plant widely used for scenting medicines, powders, perfumes, and essential oils. Similar to chamomile, lavender has calming effects that aid in sleep, especially in postpartum women. Its soothing fragrance is effective in improving both the time and quality of sleep. Additionally, lavender helps in pain relief, including headaches, improving blood circulation, eases abdominal discomfort, and alleviates respiratory troubles.
Using lavender for improving the quality of sleep can be done in the following ways:
Putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow
Adding a few drops of lavender oil to a diffuser where you sleep or your bed
Rubbing diluted lavender oil onto your forehead
Rubbing diluted lavender oil around the nose or nasal area
Drinking tea made from dried lavender
Like chamomile, lavender oil can cause some irritation or allergies if used on the skin. If you’re taking lavender essential oil with olive oil, make sure it’s diluted. If you’re unsure whether the oil suits your skin, do a patch test. Do this by rubbing a little oil on your forearm. If there isn’t any irritation within 24 hours, it probably safe for you.
Ginseng is widely used in the preparation of several herbal medicines and remedies. So, naturally, it is also popular for promoting sleep. Several studies show that red ginseng extracts do help people with sleep problems. Individuals expressed that after taking red ginseng extracts for a week, they experienced better sleep.
The recommended dosage is 800 mg to 2 grams of powdered ginseng daily. You can also take 10 drops of a tincture not more than three times per day. You won’t get any instant results as it can take up to three months for the effects of ginseng to kick in.
Ginseng is also said to promote stamina & energy levels, alleviate stress, and treat impotence. Taking an excessive amount of ginseng may cause side effects such as headaches, upset stomach, dizziness, heart, and menstrual problems. If you’re experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms despite taking the recommended amount, discontinue use. If these symptoms still persist, consult your doctor.
Precautions and Underlying Risks
Natural sleep aids are safe and typically don’t have any serious side effects if used as per the allowed dosages. But it is always better to take precautions. Below are circumstances you shouldn’t use natural sleep aids to avoid any potential complications.
Don’t use sleep aids without consulting your doctor if:
- You’re pregnant
- You’re breast-feeding
- You’re taking sedatives
- You’re on antidepressants or other prescription drugs
- You’ve got an upcoming medical procedure like surgery
- You’ve a pre-existing health condition
- You’re a child or a senior citizen
What Is The Best Natural Sleep Aid?
Sleep troubles are more common than ever before, and there isn’t “The One” natural sleep aid that will treat your sleep disorders once and for all. The first step in treating your sleep problems is to find the underlying cause. It’s important that you find what the root cause of your insomnia is.
Is your lack of proper sleep or poor sleep caused by anxiety, depression, stress, noise, physical pain, or an existing health condition? Maybe your bed mattress or pillow is causing discomfort. Maybe it is from work-related stress, night-shift job, or jet lag. Keep a sleep journal and track your sleeping habits, and pinpoint areas for improvement.
Natural sleep aids are a short-term solution to your sleep problems. If your sleep problems continue and aren’t lessened after taking these sleep aids, it may be a medical concern. Remember, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate or monitor natural sleep aids or remedies, so use them with caution. Even though most natural sleep aids are safe, side effects are still possible, even with reputable products. In those circumstances, consult your doctor.