If you're like many people in the U.S. who often find sleeping difficult, you might wish to learn more about how to sleep better without having to use prescription medications. While there are a number of alternatives like tinctures, herbal teas, and supplements, you'll want to consult with your physician before starting them.
Even natural sleep supplements could come with certain side effects, and the FDA doesn't check many of them for quality and safety. Therefore, it's important you learn all you can about any you decide to try. With that said, here are some natural sleep aids you might want to consider.
Melatonin is a natural hormone in your body made in your pineal gland. It helps to control your circadian rhythms. Taking a melatonin supplement might help you fall asleep more quickly, and enhance your quality of sleep.
A 2016 study shows supplemental melatonin may be beneficial as a natural sleep aid. In the study, shift workers who took a three milligram dose of melatonin fell asleep faster, and stayed in each sleep cycle longer.
One to five milligrams before you go to bed is the recommended dose. Melatonin supplements are easily found in your local grocery store and vitamin shop. However, you'll want to stop using them after a couple of weeks. If you continue experiencing sleep issues after using melatonin supplements for two weeks, consult with your doctor.
Melatonin supplements might also:
Valerian is a type of herbal medicine made from the plant's root. It's been said to work like a sedative, but there still needs to be more research on this herb. Valerian could interact with other medicines, so you'll want to talk with your physician before you start using it.
A study in 2011 showed valerian could be a useful insomnia treatment, and could improve sleep quality in postmenopausal women. The study's participants took valerian extract in 530 milligram doses twice a day for four weeks.
You can find Valerian supplements easily at your local grocery store or vitamin store.
Valerian might also help with:
Glycine is a type of amino acid that plays a significant role in your nervous system. Some studies suggest it might help enhance sleep. The way in which it works isn't known, but glycine is believed to work by lowering the temperature of the body before bedtime, which signals it's time for sleep.
During a study, individuals that suffered with poor sleep took a placebo, or three grams of glycine, immediately before they went to bed.
The individuals in the glycine group said they experienced less fatigue the morning after, and their clear-headedness, peppiness, and liveliness were higher as well.
In another study, glycine's effects in those suffering from poor sleep was investigated. Researchers took their brain wave, breathing, and heart rate measurements while they slept.
Those who took three grams of glycine before retiring to bed showed enhanced objective sleep quality measurements compared to those who received a placebo. Those who took glycine supplements were also able to fall asleep quicker.
You can purchase glycine as a powder you dilute in water or in pill form.
You can also consume it by consuming glycine-rich foods like:
This is actually a derivative of the tryptophan amino acid. It helps boost your body's serotonin. It's also a melatonin precursor. Melatonin, as you've learned, helps regulate your sleep cycles.
Some research found 5-HTP might help ease anxiety and depression symptoms, but there isn't sufficient evidence to back it's use for insomnia. Research does show it might help with pain, and controlling appetite.
Kava is an herbal remedy used for anxiety, stress relief, and insomnia. It's said to help induce relaxation, without hindering motor function or memory. While there are some sedative properties to kava, it's not considered that safe. In Europe, some reports of over 20 cases of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure suggest its use could lead to liver toxicity.
Individuals often wonder about using cannabis for sleep. An easy and effective way of harnessing the sleep-promoting, relaxing properties of cannabis is CBD. CBD is showing up all over as a potential therapy for improving mental focus and reducing anxiety.
CBD, also referred to as cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid in cannabis. It's one of the most stress-reducing and calming cannabinoids, as well as the one most useful for sleep. CBD, however, doesn't get you "high" like the other well-known cannabinoid, THC.
Studies show CBD can substantially decrease symptoms of insomnia. It can also raise your overall sleep amounts. CBD, in particular, has been shown in some individuals suffering from chronic pain to reduce insomnia. In smaller doses, it reduces daytime sleepiness, and stimulates alertness, which is essential for the consistency and strength of your sleep-wake cycle, and for daytime performance. Newer research shows CBD can help relieve anxiety, without disrupting your healthy sleep-wake cycles.
It's essential you know in some cases, sleeplessness is a short-term issue with an identifiable reason like physical injury, or jet lag, for instance, that's keeping you awake. With these cases, your physician might feel it's worth trying a natural sleep aid. But, if you're struggling with long-term sleep problems, it's essential to identify what's causing this issue.
Your physician might ask you about your sleep habits, the number of hours you're sleeping on weekends and weeknights, and what the environment of your bedroom is like. For instance, is your mattress comfortable? Are you sleeping on a latex mattress? Is your bedroom cool and dark? They can use this information to make certain recommendations for enhancing your sleep quality in the long-term, instead of relying on natural sleep aids' short-term relief.