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Best Natural Sleep Remedies

Tyler Joseph (TJ) Thomas

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Is it that time of the day when the whole world seems to be in deep slumber while you’re struggling to doze off? Well, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 35% of American adults are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep every day.

While sleep disorders are not rare, sleeping poorly on a regular basis can lead to several health consequences. Several nights of sleeplessness can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Research shows that lack of sleep could result in health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

To avoid the unpleasant side effects of sleeplessness, we suggest starting with natural sleep remedies and consulting with a doctor if your concerns grow more serious. All-natural remedies for sleep can improve sleeping habits without the drawbacks that come with many over-the-counter and prescribed sleep medications.  In our guide, we’ll talk about our favorite natural sleep remedies and how they improve sleep to help you decide which is most fitting for your unique needs.

1. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin; a hormone produced in the body to cause sleepiness and regulate your sleep cycle. It also contains an amino acid called tryptophan to assist with melatonin production. Research shows drinking tart cherry juice around bedtime can increase melatonin levels in your body and help you sleep longer. Plus, tart cherry juice does not have any known side effects.

2. Valerian Root

Valerian root is often used to ease anxiety and stress since it contains Valerenic acid, isovaleric acid, and several antioxidants (which may aid in sleep). Valerenic acid helps to regulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, and this improves sleep by easing anxiety and enhancing calmness.

Low GABA levels are associated with feelings of stress, where increased GABA levels are linked with improved relaxation. While Valerian root’s effect on anxiety is mostly unclear, there is some research stating it may cure mild to moderate insomnia because of its sedative effects.

Using this herb for a couple of weeks shows better sleep results than using it for just a night or two. However, it’s important to note that users of this natural sleep aid sometimes report dizziness. While Valerian root is entirely safe to use, we do advise against driving or operating any heavy machinery after using this sleep aid.

3. Lemon Balm

Most people use Valerian root and lemon balm together to improve the quality of sleep. While you don’t need lemon balm to reap the benefits of Valerian root, those with a particularly hard time sleeping may enjoy the benefits of both.

Specifically, women experiencing menopause appreciate the effectiveness of lemon balm on kicking sleep troubles to the curb. A recent study found that using lemon balm and Valerian root before bed can prevent frequent hot flushes to promote undisturbed sleep and improve sleeping patterns.

Lemon balm is also used as an essential oil to treat bile and liver ailments as it is known to stimulate bile production and improve general liver function.

4. Passionflower

Passionflower, also known as wild apricot, is another herb traditionally used as a sedative. Its sedative effects make it effective at relieving anxiety and curing sleep disorders. To reap the sleep-enhancing benefits of passionflower, we suggest trying passionflower tea before bed. Plus, having a warm cup of tea before bed is calming in itself. If you find passionflower works for you, you can incorporate bedtime tea into your nightly routine.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile is known for its tranquilizing properties because it contains an antioxidant called apigenin that works in your brain to reduce sleeplessness. Research has shown chamomile to have significant effects on depression and sleep quality because of its ability to promote calmer, happier moods.

In a study, elderly people with sleep disorders experienced a significant increase in sleep quality with the consumption of chamomile extract. Another study showed postnatal women feeling less stressed and getting better when they drank chamomile tea for two weeks. Chamomile can help cure sleep disorders by decreasing anxiety and helping you relax.

6. Magnolia Bark

Magnolia-bark has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for decades due to its antiepileptic properties. Magnolol, an active ingredient of the bark, can activate the GABA receptor to induce relaxation, and as a result, promote better sleep.

A study shows that magnolia bark administered to mice reduced sleep latency (time taken to fall asleep) and increased non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While more research on magnolia bark’s effect on insomnia in humans is awaited, it is definitely worth a try to sleep sooner and better.

Before Starting These Remedies

Most natural sleep remedies are free of side effects. But, it’s worth your while to do some research on each remedy—especially if you’re unfamiliar with the specific herb—as there is a chance you could be allergic to some of its ingredients. We also suggest researching online platforms and sellers before ordering supplements and herbs.

Tips for Better Sleep

Natural sleep aids are most effective when paired with a healthy sleeping routine and bedroom environment. If you intend to opt for one or more of these natural remedies, make sure you’re practicing good sleep hygiene.

The following are some simple tips you can follow to create a good sleeping environment and develop a perfect bedtime routine.

Keep Your Bedroom Dark 

It is important to make sure your room is dark when trying to fall asleep. This will help increase the melatonin levels in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle and brings about sleepiness.

Avoid Blue Light

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and most other devices you may use emit blue light, which delays your sleep and alters your sleep-wake cycle. Blue light can contribute to a lack of melatonin production in your body. It’s good to turn off all your devices two hours before your bedtime.

Adjust the Thermostat

As you try to fall asleep, your body temperature decreases. To facilitate this, it’s a great idea to keep your room temperature anywhere between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Setting a curfew and following through can help you maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Following a regular bedtime routine and sticking to set sleep and wake times is a good way to reinforce your body’s natural rhythm. This trains you to fall asleep and wake up at a particular time each day, and sooner or later, your body will begin to grow tired around this time.

Take Up a Bedtime Activity

Consider journaling, reading, or taking a hot bath to ease your worries and help you relax before bed. If you’ve decided to read or journal, it’s good to go with old-fashioned paperbacks. Audiobooks work too, but if you prefer e-readers, choose an e-ink reader like Kindle Paperwhite to avoid blue light.

Get Daily Exercise

Exercising regularly and about six hours prior to your bedtime might help you in establishing a sleep cycle.

Schedule Naps 7 Hours Before Bed

Avoid taking naps too close to your bedtime. Sneaking in some shut-eye right before bed can make it hard to get good sleep come bedtime. Try to nap about 7 hours prior to your bedtime or avoid napping altogether.

Eat Sleep-Inducing Foods at Dinnertime

Eat foods that are low in fat and sugar and are easily digestible for your supper and nighttime snack. It’s best to finish eating a couple of hours before going to bed. Carrots and mushrooms are some vegetables you can include in your meals to improve your sleep.

You can also consider adding glycine and magnesium-rich foods to your diet.

  • Glycine-rich foods: Glycine is an amino acid that plays a key role in the nervous system. It can also enhance sleep quality. It’s a great idea to add glycine-rich foods such as eggs, dairy, and legumes to your diet.
  • Magnesium-rich foods: Magnesium helps in relaxation and sleep. This is the reason magnesium deficiency often leads to anxiety and stress. Consuming magnesium-rich foods such as almonds, cooked beans, and tofu may help enhance your sleep quality.

Note: Tips in this article don’t replace the advice of a medical professional. It’s best to seek your doctor’s help with your sleep disorder especially if you have underlying medical conditions.

FAQs

What is an ideal sleeping environment?

An ideal sleeping environment is one that is dark, cool, and quiet. As is obvious, a quiet place void of disturbances is great to give you quality sleep.

The hormone melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Decreased exposure to light increases the production of melatonin in your body. For this reason, it is important to ensure your room is dark during bedtime.

Generally, your body temperature goes down as you doze off. Maintaining your room temperature at 60-65 Fahrenheit facilitates this drop in temperature and aids you in getting sleep soon.

Why should I avoid sleeping pills?

If you want to fall asleep naturally and sleep peacefully for the long term, sleeping pills are not the way to go. Sleeping pills can reduce the quality of your sleep and usually have unpleasant side effects. Plus, most people who try sleeping pills report experiencing frequent daytime fatigue and grogginess. Sleeping pills work as a band-aid to fix sleep troubles, but they don’t address the core issue and usually don’t lead to better sleep.

Why shouldn’t I watch TV before going to bed?

Watching TV at night can delay your sleep cycle because the blue light it emits can reduce melatonin production. It’s best to sleep in total darkness to promote healthy melatonin production and prevent middle-of-the-night sleep disturbances. If you can’t fall asleep immediately after heading to bed, we suggest reading a paper book or magazine instead of watching TV or scrolling on your cell phone.

What is blue light and how does it affect my sleep?

Blue light is produced by most electronic gadgets such as cell phones and laptops, and it decreases the production of melatonin—the sleep hormone. Melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle and its production is reliant on darkness. The emission of blue light can lower the production of melatonin and delay your sleep cycle.

 What are some simple ways to relax at night?

To relax at night, we suggest recording your day in a journal, reading a book, or taking a hot bath before going to bed. This could help you get your mind off your worries and help you relax and hence sleep sooner.

Are natural sleep remedies safe?

Natural sleep remedies and supplements generally come with zero to minimal side effects. That said, it’s always smart to be aware of what you’re consuming. Since these supplements are not regulated by the FDA, their dosage may not always be correct and their side effects may not always be listed. It is wise to do some research on the product and the seller before buying any supplements.

Conclusion

Sleeping soundly is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need, we suggest trying all-natural remedies for sleep before delving into more serious treatment options. Simple changes in your day-to-day, like avoiding blue light in the hours before sleep and drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before bed, can transform restless sleep into blissful shut-eye.

Remember, these remedies for better rest only have a chance at being effective if you remain dedicated to practicing good sleep hygiene. By pairing good bedtime habits with herbs and supplements to improve sleep quality, you can wake up each morning feeling rested and ready to take on the day.

If natural remedies and a better sleep routine don’t help your sleep troubles, we suggest talking with your doctor about your concerns. Poor sleep and daytime fatigue are nothing to dismiss. Your doctor can help you tackle sleep troubles to get healthy rest.

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