Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of your everyday productivity and general wellness. The amount of sleep a person gets can affect hormone levels, mood, weight, and cognitive functioning, among other things. Sufficient sleep is also an important safeguard against heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Because sleep is such a basic necessity, it can be a frustrating and seemingly insurmountable task when you find that it isn’t coming as easily as it should. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome are all too common, and they are difficult to manage. Fortunately, there are a number of natural sleep aids that are widely available to consumers, and these alternative remedies may help you fall asleep more readily, as well as foster better sleep habits for improvement in the long term.
Melatonin — Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which tells the brain when you’re ready to sleep. The body generally produces more melatonin in the evening, and less in the morning. However, jet lag and other factors can disrupt this cycle. Melatonin supplements can help you fall asleep faster and increase the length of time you’re asleep, but they also may make you feel groggy when it’s time to wake up in the morning.
CBD — CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabis compound that helps regulate various bodily functions, including the modulation of hormone levels that correlate with sleep. CBD interacts with receptors in the body to promote balance of sleep-wake cycles, and studies also show that CBD can be a beneficial aid when treating insomnia and other sleep issues. CBD products come in all shapes and styles, so you can choose any application method that you prefer.
Valerian — Valerian is an herbal extract that can be very effective when used to manage anxiety and insomnia. Users have found that valerian can reduce the time needed to fall asleep and improve sleep quality. It has promising short term effects on the sleep cycle, and may promote better, healthier sleep in the long run as well.
Magnesium — Magnesium is a nutrient that the body uses to decrease restlessness and muscle tension. It also promotes the rise of natural melatonin in the body. This can have a relaxing effect and act as a sleep promoting agent for the user. Magnesium comes in different forms, and products like magnesium citrate are highly absorbable, which will result in quick relief.
Lavender — A well-known natural relaxer is lavender, and the essential oils from this flower have been found to enhance sleep when used before bedtime. The scent of lavender is known to calm the mind, and has the potential to decrease heart rate and blood pressure while putting you in a relaxed, sleep-ready state. Many people use lavender as a sleep aids through an essential oil diffuser, or by ingesting a lavender-filled capsule.
Chamomile — Chamomile is an herbal sleep remedy that is often found in tea, tinctures, and other products. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, chamomile also has a calming effect that can make you feel more relaxed and prepared for sleep. When taken consistently as a sleep aid, it may calm the body and ease other symptoms that might disrupt sleep.
Passionflower — Passionflower is another natural sleep aid and sedative that is used for insomnia and to mitigate symptoms associated with other conditions. Some users have found that it helps them drift off and promotes generally healthy sleep. It is commonly available in tea, or as an oil or capsule.
Finding the natural sleep aid that’s best for you
If you’re having sleep issues, it’s important to see a medical professional and discuss ways to get your sleep schedule back on the right track. You should also talk to your doctor about possible side effects that might arise if you take any of these supplements with an existing medication. If taken by themselves at the appropriate dosage, however, they should be able to improve sleep without any adverse effects. Some sleep aid products you’ll find may even consist of two or more of these substances, like lavender oil with added melatonin.
Do some of your own research into brands and products that cater best to your needs. Different types of sleep disorders may be easier to manage with one supplement than another. If one isn’t working, it may be time to adjust your dosage, or regroup and test out a different supplement.
The addition of a sleep aid into your nighttime routine should also be joined by some consideration of your current sleep habits and patterns. Try implementing more consistency with your sleep and wake times, or consider making certain lifestyle changes—like a better diet or regular exercise—which may go a long way in helping to regulate your sleep cycle.