In general there tend to be multiple counterparts to a problem. And usually all of them have to be addressed in order for the problem to be fixed. This includes a sleeping issue. If you have trouble sleeping, take a moment to think about what your daily life entails and whether or not it is optimal for healthy sleep:
- Do you spend at least 15 minutes in the sun everyday?
- Do you get enough exercise?
- Are you eating plenty of plant foods?
- Are you dealing with your stress?
- Do you overeat?
- Do you sit at a desk/in a chair most of the day?
Those are just a few of the factors that can make or break a great night's sleep. Addressing your body as a whole is the only way to adopt a healthy sleep pattern long-term. But sometimes we all need a little extra help drifting off to sleep, even if our health and lifestyles are in top shape. The list of natural sleep aids below might be just the thing you need to get a great night's sleep.
Studies have shown that valerian can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep + enhance the quality of sleep. Valerian increases the level of GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) in your brain, resulting in sedation. Unlike prescription sleeping pills, valerian's chances of side effects or post morning drowsiness are highly unlikely.
Try: Sleep'n Restore
Sleep 'n' Restore contains Valerian, Vitamin E, Melatonin, Grape Seed Extract, and L-Glutamine. It helps promote a deep, restful sleep, while supporting your body's restoration process.
Magnesium can help slow down our racing minds and make it easier to drift off to sleep. As we age, our circadian rhythms shift due to decreased nutrient consumption/lower nutrient absorption (including magnesium) which can put lots of us at risk for insomnia.
These are the current recommended doses for magnesium depending on age and gender:
- Infants–6 months: 30 milligrams
- 7–12 months: 75 milligrams
- 1–3 years: 80 milligrams
- 4–8 years: 130 milligrams
- 9–13 years: 240 milligrams
- 14–18 years: 410 milligrams for men; 360 milligrams for women
- 19–30 years: 400 milligrams for men; 310 milligrams for women
- Adults 31 years and older: 420 milligrams for men; 320 milligrams for women
- Pregnant women: 350–360 milligrams
- Women who are breastfeeding: 310–320 milligrams
Try: Natural Calm
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Diffusing lavender before and during sleep helps greatly improve the overall quality of sleep. It's soothing, balancing, normalizing, and has a slight sedating effect.
4. Chamomile (Tea & Essential Oil)
Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime will set you up for a night of deep sleep. Molecular Medicine Report notes:
“Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and CNS [central nervous system] depressant effects respectively…10 cardiac patients are reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep lasting for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea.”
And chamomile essential oil also has relaxing properties that encourage healthy sleep and ward off insomnia. Inhalation of chamomile reduces a stress-induced increase in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone levels.
When used occasionally and at the correct time, melatonin is a great means of encouraging sleep. But ironically, with prolonged use, it can actually amplify insomnia. So be sure to use only for a short period of time or on occasion.
Doing yoga before bed can help calm a racing mind, lower stress levels, and relieve tension.
Try: Asana Rebel
This app is amazing and free! I use it for working out, before bed, and anytime during the day when I need a good stretch-out.
Meditating before bed enhances the brainwaves of sleep, keeps tomorrow's worries at bay, boosts production of melatonin, and enhances your REM cycle.
8. GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid)
Your body uses the neurotransmitter GABA to slow nerve activity in your brain, leading to feelings of calm and relaxation. GABA also helps regulate nerve cells and even helps lower blood pressure. However, there two different types of GABA in supplement form: a synthetic variety and a natural variety made through fermentation. Make sure you choose the natural option!
9. Eating enough carbohydrates
In order to make enough serotonin and melatonin, you need to eat enough carbohydrates. High-glycemic carbs are more effective than low-glycemic carbs. A recent study found that high-glycemic Jasmine rice reduced the time needed to fall asleep significantly in healthy volunteers compared to lower-glycemic Mahatma rice.
10. Getting enough exercise
Just 10 minutes of exercise makes a dramatic difference in your quality of sleep. Exercising can also reduce your risk of restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. We should all aim for at least an hour of exercise every day.