6 Natural Sleep Aids
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When it comes to sleep, we’re all pretty much lacking and we tend to turn to sleep aids. Some of them are unsafe, therefore, it’s best to go with something more natural. Getting a decent amount of sleep is incredibly important to your overall health.
Sleep helps your body reset for the night. It’s a re-charging of your battery of sorts.
What’s more, getting sufficient sleep has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.
Despite all these benefits, sleep quality and quantity are at an all-time low, and people increasingly suffer from poor sleep. Unfortunately, many people either can’t sleep or don’t get enough sleep, which is where natural sleep aids come in.
By MEDICAL definition, a sleep aid is:
Any drug used to help sleep. Most prescription sleep drugs are sedative-hypnotic agents. They include Valium, Xanax, Restoril, Ambien, and Sonata.
I’m not a huge fan of prescription drugs to help you fall asleep. Most sleeping pills, especially when taken over long periods of time, can have multiple side effects. They’re filled with fillers and synthetic products. AND some make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck and hung over in the morning. I prefer to go with a more natural sleep aid as to not cause any hidden side effects to my overall health.
Thankfully, good sleep hygiene combined with natural sleep aids can make all the difference in getting some a restful nights sleep.
Natural Sleep Aids
1. Food is Medicine
I say this all the time but, it starts with food. It’s a well-known fact that having a heavy meal just before bed can cause you to have a poor night of rest, and has also been known to cause some crazy dreams.
There are actually some foods that could help you sleep better. Did you know that? Now, I’m not saying to go and eat a full meal before you go to bed but, incorporating some of these foods into your dinner or as a small after-dinner snack may help as a natural sleep aid.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that can help the brain get into a relaxed state, similar to serotonin and melatonin. You can obtain tryptophan and serotonin from carbohydrates, particularly 100 percent whole grain oats, brown rice, corn or quinoa.
Tryptophan is present in most protein-based foods or dietary proteins. Some foods that contain tryptophan are:
- dried dates
- cottage cheese
- red meat
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
2. Magnesium as a Natural Sleep Aid
If you have trouble sleeping, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of processes in the human body and is important for brain function and heart health. It helps quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.
Studies show that magnesium’s relaxing effect may be partly due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that guides your body’s sleep-wake cycle. (1)
On the other hand, increasing your magnesium intake by taking supplements may help you optimize the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Here are a few snacks to consume for getting a good night of sleep: (2)
- Half a banana with a few almonds
- Crackers with almond butter
- Gluten-free oatmeal with honey and dark cherries
- A small glass of warm goat’s milk kefir with turmeric and a dash of cinnamon
- Chamomile, passion flower, and valerian tea
3. Essential Oils for Sleep Aid
Yep. Hippie juice. I know many people are against these oils, but if used correctly, they may help as a great natural sleep aid. Diffusing them is a great way to drift off into sleep.
Some great oils used as natural sleep aids are:
- bergamot oil
- lavender oil
- Roman Chamomile
I’ve found one that is specifically formulated and designed to restore harmony, balance, energy, mood, stress relief and sleep patterns. Furthermore, it contains a combination of the natural sleep aid oils above.
4. Passionflower is a great Sleep Aid
Passionflower has many calming and anti-anxiety benefits. It can provide the calming effect needed to help stop that vicious circle of thought, ya know, those nights where your brain just can’t seem to shut off.
Passionflower is one of the most powerful anti-anxiety natural sleep aids that doesn’t cause lingering tiredness the next day. It can be consumed as a supplement or as a tea. I’ve found the liquid form that not only contains passionflower but, it has a few more relaxing adaptogenic herbs in it like, Yazu, Lemon balm, and Chamomille. I have honestly never slept better.
5. Valerian Root
Valerian is an herb native to Asia and Europe. Its root is commonly used as a natural treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and menopause. It is often used for its relaxation and sedative effects. It’s most commonly found in combination with chamomile in a tea.
Valerian root contains a chemical called linarin, which creates a sedative effect. Valerian extract can cause sedation by increasing your brain’s GABA level. There’s a study that suggests that valerian extract may cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings and then block GABA from being taken back into nerve cells. In addition, valerian’s valerenic acid inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA, another way that valerian can improve your GABA levels and promote a great night’s rest. (3)
6. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort May Help Provide Sleep Through Less Depression. Depression is a common characteristic that can lead to lack of sleep. Depression may affect many aspects of sleep, from getting to sleep to staying asleep. By treating depression using St. John’s wort, you may be able to get that full nights sleep that you’ve been looking for.
Final Thoughts on Sleep Aids
I’m always going to suggest a natural remedy over a synthetic option. Those quick fix options out there can be dangerous. Furthermore, these drugs can be addictive too — and that’s not a good thing.
I do recommend, however, if you have been on prescription medication for sleep or any other medication, please consult your doctor first. Sleep is a crucial part of our health and healing. If you can’t get your sleep under control, I highly recommend looking for someone who follows a more holistic or functional medicine approach to work with you in finding a natural sleep aid that works best for you.
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