A 2010 survey conducted by the Journal of Sleep Research found that up to 40% of adults experience some form of insomnia. The sales of prescription and over-the-counter sleep remedies continue to soar as adults try to find ways to relieve insomnia or poor sleep habits.
Though you may have found a pharmaceutical treatment to help you sleep, there are natural remedies and supplements that have been proven to help promote good sleep. These natural remedies may be safer and have fewer side effects than traditional pharmaceutical treatments. They may impart other benefits to your overall health, as well.
Below is a list of common natural remedies that may help you sleep soundly. We’ve also included some lifestyle changes and tips that may help you establish a better sleep routine just through small choices you make each day. As always, we recommend you discuss any medical advice with your doctor before you change, add to, or discontinue any treatment or supplements.
Nature’s Relaxing Remedies
- Valerian – One of the most well-known herbs available to help you sleep, valerian supplements work by calming the nerves and relaxing the muscles. It can be taken in a tincture formula or in a capsule, and is not known to have many side effects for the average person. For a few (1 in 10 individuals), it can have a stimulating effect, so try it on a weekend to make sure it works properly for you.
- Melatonin – In your body, melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep, and it is well-proven for its ability to induce sleep. Supplements are available over-the-counter and side effects are virtually non-existent (though, follow the dosage instructions on the package, as too much melatonin may cause toxicity in the body).
- Herbal Teas – Some teas, such a chamomile, are known for their ability to help you prepare your body to drift off to sleep. While some of the herbs may be helpful in inducing sleep, it’s also possible that establishing a nighttime routine with a mug of tea and a calming moment of relaxation also helps to prepare your body for bed.
- Magnesium and Calcium Supplements – These supplements, when taken separately, can both help increase the quality of your sleep, but when taken together, they are even more effective. While helping your sleep, they also are effective dietary supplements for many other conditions, such as heart problems and osteoporosis.
- Wild Lettuce – Suggested as a helpful supplement for those with Restless Leg Syndrome, wild lettuce is thought to have a calming and anxiety-reducing effect. It may help you fall to sleep, especially if you have trouble drifting off due to anxiety or restlessness.
- Hops – Probably best known for their involvement in the beer brewing process, hops are the female flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant. Taken in supplement form, though, these flowers have effects as a mild sedative and anxiety-reliever.
- Aromatherapy with Lavender – Studies have proven lavender’s ability as a sleep aid, and many people use aromatherapy and essential oils to help with a variety of conditions. Spritz lavender spray on your bed linens, right before bedtime, or buy a lavender-filled pillow.
- L-theanine – This compound is the same amino acid found in green tea, and while it promotes alertness during the day, it also encourages a deeper sleep at night and can boost the quality of REM cycles during your night. Unfortunately, you cannot get enough L-theanine from drinking tea alone; instead, find a pure L-theanine supplement at your local health food store.
Healthy Habits for Better Sleep
- Yoga or Meditation – Not only does yoga provide proven health benefits, including a huge boost to your overall flexibility, it can also provide a great relaxing transition before bedtime. Be sure to choose gentle poses so as not to energize yourself with vigorous exercise before bed. Follow your routine with a few minutes of meditation for the most relaxing experience.
- Dietary Changes – Don’t eat close to bedtime, cut out caffeine (especially during the evenings), avoid excess sweets, eat magnesium rich foods, and help eliminate the desire for afternoon naps by choosing smaller, and less carbohydrate-heavy, lunches.
- Exercise – Participating in vigorous exercise, during the day, 3-5 times per week not only helps establish a strong sleep routine, it also helps with your overall health in a big way. Find a sport or exercise routine you can love, and stick with it. Be careful not to exercise vigorously too close to bedtime, as it might keep you from easily falling asleep.
- Be Comfortable – It’s important to make sure you love your surroundings when you sleep. Many people consider their bedrooms to be their personal sanctuary, and understandably so. Ensuring you have a comfortable bed and good mattress will not only help you get to sleep, it can also prevent or help morning back pain.
- Have a Routine – A strong nighttime routine is key to good sleep. Your body follows certain signals to prepare itself for nighttime and sleep. Following a similar, preferably calming, routine each night will ensure you drift off to sleep easily.
- Get Outside – Soak up some sunshine during the day! Our bodies run on complex circadian rhythms that were developed long before indoor lighting. It’s important to absorb the natural light cues that nature offers by getting sun during the day and decreasing lights as nighttime approaches. Also, soaking up sunlight increases your Vitamin D level, and important component in your overall body and bone health.