Natural Remedies For Better Sleep
- It's common to sometimes have trouble sleeping. When it happens often enough to get in the way of daily life, it’s called insomnia.
- Many people turn to natural remedies for insomnia. Some have observed them to be useful. Some researchers have some evidence that isn't conclusive.
- If your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks or worsen, consult your doctor. Persistent insomnia may be the result of an underlying health concern.
- If left untreated, insomnia can increase your risk for anxiety & depression.
Disturbed sleep is more than an inconvenience that leaves you drained the next day: it can affect your emotional and physical health. It negatively affects your memory, concentration and mood, and it boosts your risk for depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Thankfully, there are easy, natural home remedies for better sleep. Insomnia can be temporary—or it can be long-term. But regardless of how long you have had to deal with it for, it can be rather challenging.
At some point or another, most of us will experience a short, unpleasant bout of insomnia. Often, it’s the result of stress or a change in routine (like a new work schedule or having a baby), or medications that mess with sleep like antidepressants, blood pressure meds, allergy meds, and corticosteroids. The good news is that usually, once you find a way to deal with the situation, your sleep pattern will get back to normal.
But other times, insomnia can become a long-term thing. Sometimes, that can happen as the result of a more serious health condition, like depression, anxiety, or sleep apnea. Other times, insomnia can stem from terrible sleep habits, like eating a lotof heavy snacks before bed, sleeping in an uncomfortable environment, or staying glued to your smartphone or tablet all night long. Either way, missing out on sleep leaves you feeling exhausted, irritable, and generally unable to function during the day. And over time, it can put you at risk of health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
But no matter how long your insomnia lasts for, there’s usually a way to deal with the root of the problem and start sleeping better. And fortunately, there are plenty of options to consider.
What are Natural Home Remedies for Sleep
Natural home remedies for sleep are natural practices that can help you sleep better. Natural remedies also include over-the-counter supplements intended to help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep throughout the night. They are usually plant-based vitamins or minerals already present in our diets, or supplemental amounts of something produced by the body. Oftentimes, these natural remedies for sleep turn out to be synthetically derived, such as melatonin.
However, people usually prefer natural sleep supplements because they tend to have fewer side effects than prescription sleep medications. They also appeal to people who prefer natural products or are concerned about the addictive potential of prescription sleep aids.
What are the Best Natural Remedies for Sleep
There is a staggering array of natural remedies for sleep available, all of which are rumored to offer the sleep you need. However, since the FDA does not review if supplements are safe or effective, finding the most effective natural remedies for sleep can be difficult. Learning about the evidence supporting different supplements, as well as their potential effects and side effects, can make it easier to decide which natural sleep aid might be best for you.
However, it is important to consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. Natural does not always mean safe for everyone. Many supplements should not be taken by people who are allergic to the product, have certain conditions, or take certain medications.
Using Sunlight to Promote Healthy Melatonin Production
The sun might force you to awake in the morning, but it’s also essential for helping you achieve restful sleep at night. That’s because your body relies on natural light to figure out what time it is, and determine whether to pump out energizing hormones or ones that leave you feeling relaxed and sleepy, like melatonin.
In other words, daylight helps your body’s natural clock—which is dictated by the 24-hour cycle of day and night—know when to feel awake and when to feel tired. When our pineal gland is triggered by light, especially sunlight, it sends signals and releases wake-promoting hormones. When your hypothalamus—the gland responsible for regulating sleep and energy levels—senses a change in light, it tells your body to ramp up or ramp down its production of the sleep hormone melatonin. During the day, you feel energized and alert because you don’t produce much melatonin. At night, you produce more, so you feel sleepy.
One way to keep everything on schedule is by flooding your body with light as soon as you get out of bed, which sends a clear message to your body that it’s time to wake up. Try opening your blinds & exercising outside.
Making Time for Exercise
In case you missed the memo, being physically active is essential for sleeping well. Mounting evidence shows that people who exercise regularly tend to snooze better than their couch potato counterparts—especially when it comes to those with chronic insomnia. Not convinced? Consider this. One study concluded that people who get 60 minutes of exercise five days per week have more normal REM sleep than non-exercisers. But you might not need to sweat it out for quite that long to reap the benefits. Other findings show that insomniacs who engage in 30-minute spurts of exercise just three or four times a week sleep for nearly an hour longer than sedentary folks and wake up less frequently during the night.
Exercise boosts overall health. It can enhance your mood, give you more energy, aid in weight loss, and promote better sleep and can be a perfect natural remedy for sleep.
Participants in a 2015 study exercised for at least 150 minutes per week for six months. During this time, researchers found that the participants experienced significantly fewer symptoms of insomnia. They also showed reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
To receive these benefits, you should engage in moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes per day. You may add in some strength training or vigorous aerobic exercise a few times per week. Find the time of day that best suits your needs and that has the most positive effect on your sleep.
Massage Therapy for Sleep
Researchers in a 2015 study found massage therapy for sleep to benefit people with insomnia by improving sleep quality and daytime dysfunction. It may also reduce feelings of pain, anxiety, and depression.
If professional massage isn’t an option, you can do self-massage. Allow your mind to focus on the feelings and sensations of touch as your mind wanders. Research online for tips and techniques.
While massage therapy for sleep is generally safe, check with your doctor if you have any specific health concerns that may impede the benefits. If your skin is sensitive to creams or oils, be sure to do a skin patch test before use. Massage stimulates serotonin production, which can later be converted to melatonin. It can balance hormone regulation, leading to a thirty percent reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Many studies show that massage therapy can help improve circulation, relax soft tissues, and trigger the release of hormones like serotonin. However, these effects extend further than a healthy glow and more happy hormones, they can translate to a better attitude, better attention span, better pain management, and best of all, better sleep.
Massage can facilitate a relaxation state where your heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases, and the production of stress hormones tapers off. Because stress is a key element in a variety of health concerns, this relaxed state could help decrease the physical symptoms of psychiatric disorders, insomnia, digestive disorders, sexual dysfunction, and many other conditions.
Lavender is used to improve mood, reduce pain, and promote sleep. Taking it orally is thought to be a more effective natural remedy for sleep.
Results of a 2014 study showed that lavender oil capsules were beneficial in improving sleep patterns in people with depression when taken with an antidepressant. People also showed lowered levels of anxiety, which would seemingly allow for better sleep.
Take 20 to 80 mg of lavender orally each day, or use as directed. You may wish to add lavender essential oil to a diffuser or spray it onto your pillow. Lavender tea is also an option.
Lavender is usually safe to use. Taking lavender orally may cause headache, constipation, or nausea.
The pungent valerian plant — its smell has been compared to gym socks — has been used for sleep problems since the 2nd century. Though further research needs to be done, valerian appears to help people fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up less often. In some studies, patients taking valerian were 80% more likely to report sleep improvements than those taking a placebo. Because experts have not located a single active compound, they speculate that valerian’s effect may be due to several compounds working together, or the amino acids GABA or glycine.
The roots and stems of the valerian plant are made into teas, tinctures, capsules, extracts, and tablets. While each type of preparation has its fans, the tea can have an unpleasant odor, and researchers generally use liquid extracts or capsules in their research. Valerian is usually recommended for people with insomnia or general problems with sleep quality. Most people report that it is more effective once they have been taking it for several weeks. However, further research is needed to determine how effective valerian is in treating insomnia.
Valerian is generally considered to be a safe natural remedy for sleep in adults. Side effects are rare and tend to be mild but may include headache, dizziness, itching, and an stomach upset.
Chamomile is a popular herbal sleep remedy that's been used for centuries. This herb also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
German chamomile is best taken as a tea. Roman chamomile has a bitter taste and may be taken as a tincture. Both types may have a calming effect, which can help people feel relaxed and more prepared for sleep.
After a long and tiring day, soaking yourself in a warm bath will not only relax you but will also help induce sleep. Taking a warm bath two hours before going to bed gives a chance to your body to cool off and also triggers sleep at night.
Herbal Tea for Sleep
Brew some herbal tea before going to bed at night. Having herbal tea reduces the time taken to fall asleep and calms your body. You can also try passionflower tea and chamomile tea at night.
Why you Should Steer Clear of Sleep Meds
Sleeping pills and other sleep-promoting pharmaceuticals can offer a short-term solution to a temporary bout of insomnia. And plenty of people use them. But often, prescription sleep aids come with unpleasant side effects like headaches, sore muscles, constipation, dry mouth, daytime fatigue, trouble concentrating, dizziness, and more. Add them all up, and they’re about as bad—if not worse–than your garden variety sleep deprivation.
However, even if you’re one of the lucky few who don’t experience side effects from taking sleeping pills, you likely won’t benefit for long. Most people quickly build up a tolerance to the sedative effects of sleeping meds. This either means that you have to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect, or they stop working altogether.
Tips & Tricks for Better Sleep
- Avoid chemicals that disrupt sleep, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Eat lighter meals at night and at least two hours before bed.
- Stay active, but exercise earlier in the day.
- Take a hot shower or bath at the end of your day.
- Avoid screens one to two hours before bed.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool, and try to use it only for sleeping.
- Get into bed only if you’re tired.
- Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes.
Many natural remedies of sleep, when taken in the proper dosage by healthy adults, have few side effects. But this does not mean that all-natural sleep aids are safe for insomnia. Massage therapy for sleep is a great option. Herbal tea can calm you down and help you relax.
As a precaution, adults should talk to their doctor or pharmacist before taking a natural sleep aid. Adults should also stop taking natural sleep aids if they notice any abnormal health changes or side effects. Some natural remedies for sleep may be safe for use in children, though sleep hygiene should be encouraged before sleep aids are considered. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be careful when opting for natural remedies for sleep.