If you can relate to the 70 million Americans who have trouble sleeping and have to rely on a little outside help to induce sleepiness, there are certain supplements that work with your body’s natural processes to help you unwind and feel more tired around bedtime. Common pharmaceutical sleeping aids like Advil PM or Ambien may seem appealing at first glance, but long-term use can lead to unwanted side effects and can even compromise a person’s health.
However, if you’re an individual who takes other non-sleep related medications, like seniors or post-op patients, you should consult your doctor before trying any natural supplements. While they are a healthy alternative to sleeping pills, it’s possible that certain supplements can disrupt and alter the effects of your other medicine. With that being said, here are five natural sleep supplements you can take to help lull you to sleep at night.
Melatonin is a chemical that’s naturally produced in the body, and it’s responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. In other words, it helps keep you awake and alert during the daytime and sleepy during the night. There are several external factors, though, like caffeine, alcohol, and light, that causes our melatonin levels to remain low during the night, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night. So if you have more problems with dozing off than you do with staying asleep, it’s possible that your body isn’t producing enough of this sleepy chemical.
Taking melatonin supplements help boost the natural levels in your body back up to normal and are especially beneficial during times where your circadian rhythm is thrown out of whack. For example, when you’re suffering from jet lag, night-shift workers, or parents with young children.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in about 300 of our bodily processes, including the regulation of melatonin production in your body. Many individuals have low levels of this essential mineral, and research has shown that there’s a link between poor sleep and low levels of magnesium. In an 8-week study where researchers gave 46 participants either 500 mg of magnesium or a placebo, they found that the group who ingested magnesium reported higher sleep quality than those who took the placebo. Accordingly, magnesium supplements may be what you need to help calm your mind before bed and receive better quality sleep.
3.) Valerian Root
The root of the sweet-smelling valerian flower has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid and can be traced back to the time of the ancient Romans and Grecians. Turns out they were on to something there, as valerian root is one of the most scientifically proven methods for inducing sleep. It’s commonly used to make herbal tea before bedtime but can be just as effective in supplement form as well. According to board-certified sleep specialist Michael Breus, PhD., “Valerian primarily functions as an anxiolytic—an anxiety reliever with calming, sedative effects.”
Multiple studies show that valerian improves the overall quality of a person’s sleep and can even reduce the time it takes to fall asleep in the first place.
Otherwise known as 5-Hydroxytryptophan, this compound is made naturally in the body like melatonin and magnesium. It’s a by-product of L-tryptophan and it helps your body produce serotonin, the “happy chemical” in your body that improves your mood. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard tryptophan before, it’s the component in turkey that makes you feel sleepy and is the likely culprit for every post-Thanksgiving nap you’ve ever taken.
If you attribute your poor sleep to anxiety or depression, and you’re constantly struggling to fall asleep because late-night stressful thoughts keep your mind racing, 5-HTP might be one of the best possible sleep supplements for you. The compound converts to serotonin and helps promote feelings of relaxation to combat stress and anxiety.
CBD a.k.a. Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient present in marijuana that’s found in the stems, is a popular remedy for a range of different health problems including poor sleep. While the THC compound in cannabis makes users feel high, CBD has the ability to soothe anxiety and promote more restful sleep, without making you feel drowsy or groggy. This is another viable supplement option for people who struggle to fall asleep due to anxiety or stress. The one catch about CBD is that it may be hard for some people to get their hands on. CBD derived from marijuana plants isn’t legal in all 50 states, and some states like North Carolina only allow patients with severe epilepsy to consume CBD.
Additional Sleep Tips
Practicing healthy sleep hygiene can work hand-in-hand with natural sleep supplements to improve results, so here are a few tips that can help you to fall asleep even quicker at night.
- Turn off electronics before bed – Electronics like your phone, TV, and laptop emit blue light that has been proven to be harmful for melatonin production and our circadian rhythm. Health professionals suggest you turn your phone off an hour or an hour and a half before bed to prevent disruptions to your sleep.
- Practice a relaxing nighttime routine – Think back on your current nighttime routine. You probably brush your teeth, wash your face, or you take your dogs out one last time before retiring for the night. Adding relaxing activities like reading a book or taking a bath can help both your body and mind wind down for bed so you’re able to fall asleep quicker and remain asleep.
- Avoid coffee or alcohol before bed – Back in the day, a pre-bedtime alcoholic nightcap was thought to help promote a good night’s sleep, but we have since realized alcohol actually has a negative effect on your natural sleep functions.
You should also stay away from caffeine too close to bedtime. In fact, research has shown that coffee drinkers should have their last cup of coffee before 3 p.m., or else you may have an overabundance of energy when bedtime rolls around.
Also, read about: Sleep Hack: Keep Your Feet Outside Your Covers
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