Wondering what is the most effective natural sleep aid? Read our guide to find out.
Most people find it hard to fall and stay asleep. It’s a common occurrence and can be solved by improving sleep hygiene including:
- Reducing your daytime naps by about 30 minutes or even less
- Taking 10 minutes a day to exercise
- Avoid taking stimulants and caffeinated drinks an hour or two before bedtime
- Avoid heavy meals such as fried and fatty food before going to bed
You can use home or over the counter remedies to help you catch some sleep if it doesn’t happen frequently. Some people prefer using natural alternatives as opposed to taking prescribed medication.
Non prescribed sleeping aids are usually considered as natural remedies. They help ease anxiety, promote sleep and encourage relaxation. Most of these natural sleep aids are associated with different healthy behaviors such as pain relief and improved digestion. Getting quality sleep can be quite easy if you change habits, routines and diet. You should always try natural methods first before resorting to any type of medication.
Natural Vs Traditional Sleep Aids
Generally, natural sleep aids are said to be safer than other prescribed and over the counter medications since they have very few side effects. Most people worry that prescribed medications can be addictive therefore resulting in withdrawal symptoms when one discontinues using it. Besides, when you stop using these prescriptions falling asleep gets harder.
However, you will not be dependent on natural sleeping aids after using them for a short while. The risks of complications and side effects are usually lower with this method of treatment. Using natural herbs to help with your sleep problems especially those that are not regulated by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) calls for caution.
Consult the doctor about possible interactions between your medical condition and the natural herb you plan on using.
What is the Most Effective Natural Sleep Aid?
Here are some of the most effective natural sleep aids:
Chamomile is known to have a calming effect on the body promoting sleep and relaxation. A recent study shows that chamomile tea helps improve sleep quality especially for postnatal women and also reduces signs of depression. Use this herb in the following ways since it doesn’t have a typical dosage.
- Make tea using dry chamomile flowers
- Readily available steep tea bag available in stores
- Apply essential chamomile oil on the skin or inhale it
- Apply chamomile essential oil as topical plant infusion
- Take it in capsule or tablet form
- Improves digestion
- Heals and soothe the skin
- Tends to relax muscles
- Relives headache
Those with rag allergies and hormone-sensitive conditions should not use chamomile. Consult an allergist or doctor before use. If you are taking chamomile tablets or capsules, only take the prescribed dose to avoid vomiting or getting nauseated. Dilute the chamomile oil with carrier oil like olive oil and apply on a smaller area around the forearm before using it all over your body. If it doesn’t irritate the skin in 24 hours, then it’s safe and you can apply it elsewhere.
If you experience any unusual symptom, discontinue use and see a doctor if the symptoms persist. Don’t take essential oils orally.
Valerian is made from plant’s roots. Scientists are still doing research on this herb but serves as a sedative. Consult a doctor before use since it can interact with different medications. According to a recent study, Valerian helps improve sleep quality by making you fall and stay asleep.
You can combine Valerian with lemon balm, hops, and other different herbs. It’s recommended to increase your dosage with time and discontinue after about six weeks when you notice some improvement.
If you take Valerian tea, use a teaspoonful three times a day. For those who prefer using capsules, check the label for recommended dosage. Reduce your dose slowly if you want to stop using it. Ending use abruptly can cause anxiety and withdrawal symptoms.
Valerian also eases:
- Stomach and menstrual cramps
- Joint and muscle pains
Valerian can cause:
- Stomach upset
- Impaired thinking
Stop using Valerian if you notice any unusual symptoms and seek medical attention if they persist.
The hop plant has female flowers referred to as Hops. They are usually used to add flavor to beverages such as beer and also doubles up as herbal medicine. Hops help improve sleep. A study conducted in 2014 shows that most students who took non-alcoholic beverages containing hops had quality sleep at night.
You can combine hops with different natural herbs such as Valerian and consume the liquid extract daily. You can also take a gram of the extract in powder form three times a day or non-alcoholic drinks with hops.
Hops can also help:
- Lower cholesterol levels in the body
- Improve digestion
- Relieve irritability
- Usually have some antibacterial properties
However, hops can worsen depression therefore shouldn’t be taken by those with hormone-sensitive conditions. Discontinue the use of hops if you notice unusual symptoms and consult a doctor if it persists.
Melatonin is found in the pineal gland and controls the circadian rhythms. Melatonin supplements will help you fall and stay asleep and also improve the quality of sleep. The supplements are useful sleeping aids.
One to about 1.5 milligrams is the recommended dose usually taken before bedtime. Stop using melatonin supplements after two weeks and consult a doctor if your sleep problems persist.
Melatonin can also:
- Boost immunity
- Fight inflammation
- Relieve jet lag symptoms
- Stomach cramps
Discontinue use if you experience unusual symptoms and consult a doctor if the symptoms persist.
5. Passion Flower
Passion flower plant contains different chemicals with a calming effect. Passion flower tends to bring about sleepiness and relaxation feelings. Besides, you can combine it with other blend of herbs. It will help alleviate any sleep disorders and reduce anxiety levels when taken consistently for about a month.
Use the herb in your tea or in capsule form and take before going to bed. The passion flower extract recommended dose in liquid is about 30 drops on the maximum and 90 milligrams in capsule. However, taking the passion flower for more than two months is harmful to your health.
Passion flower also helps relieve:
- Menopause symptoms
- Muscle spasms
Passion flower can cause:
- Inflammation of the blood vessels
- Muscle action to be irregular
- Lack of coordination
- Altered consciousness
Passion flower is not ideal for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Plus, it can interact with different medications making blood thinners and sedatives stronger. Passion flower is also not recommended for those on antidepressants. Just like all the other herbs, discontinue when you start to experience unusual symptoms and seek medical attention.
Lavender is usually used for its fragrance in making oil, perfume and medicine. It helps boost your well-being, overall health and has a calming effect that induces sleep. Lavender will help improve sleep quality especially in women postpartum. Inhale the lavender scent before bedtime for about two months.
Use lavender in these ways:
- Make tea and scented bags with dried lavender
- Put some drops of the lavender essential oil on the pillow
- Add some drops of the essential oil to the diffuser close to your bed
- Dilute the essential oil then rub it on your forehead and nose
Lavender can help to:
- Relieve headache and pain
- Alleviate any respiratory problems
- Disinfect the skin and scalp
- Improve circulation of blood in the body
- Relieves abdominal discomfort
Remember to dilute lavender with carrier oils or water and test on a small area before applying it on the skin. Rub a drop of the diluted oil around the forearm to do the patch test. If it doesn’t irritate the skin in the course of the day, it’s safe to use. However, you should discontinue if you experience unusual symptoms and consult a doctor if it persists. Lavender essential oil is for external use only.
Ginseng is normally used in most herbal medicines. It improves immunity and quality of sleep. The FDA in U.S doesn’t regulate or monitor herbs, which means they should be used with caution. Consult a doctor before using to assess the risk of complications and side effects.
Ginseng has a positive impact on those with sleeping problems. It helps improve the quality of sleep when you take the extract for 7 days. The recommended dosage of powdered ginseng per day is about 800 milligrams – 2 grams. You can alternatively take a few drops of tincture two times within 24 hours.
Ginseng can help:
- Reduce stress
- Treat impotence
- Increase energy levels
Ginseng can cause:
- Stomach upset
- Menstrual cramps
- Heart problem
Stop using Ginseng if you experience unusual symptoms and seek medical attention if the symptoms persist after discontinuation.
8. 5-Hydoxytryptophan – 5HTP
5-Hydroxytryptophan is a tryptophan derivative. It’s an amino acid usually used in raising serotonin levels. When used along with gamma-aminobutyric acid, it helps promote and increase hours of sleep. 5-HTP comes in capsule form with recommended dose of 150 to 400 milligrams a day for less than 6 weeks. However, ensure you check the instructions on the label before use.
5-HTP helps improve:
5-HTP can cause:
- Bloating or gas
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loss of appetite
Warnings and Risks
Don’t use natural sleeping aids under the following circumstances:
- When you are scheduled for a surgery
- When you are breastfeeding or pregnant
- When taking antidepressants, sedatives or any prescribed drugs
Those with underlying health conditions should consult a doctor before using any sleep aids. They can be hazardous for the elderly and children. The physician can also advise you of any side effects, potential risks and confirm the dose.
What to Do
Try finding the underlying cause of your sleep problems before you begin any treatment. Ensure you get to know the triggers of insomnia such as discomfort, stress and noise. Keeping a record of your sleep routine will also help assess sleeping habits and improve where necessary. Natural sleep aids are only recommended for short-term use.
Persisting sleep issues and severity can be signs of underlying health conditions. In this case, you need to seek medical attention and carry along your sleep journal while at it. The doctor can make a diagnosis using the observations. Keep in mind potential risks and side effects even when using natural products. Always use reputable brands and air your concerns with the doctor.
If you are not prepared to use any sleep medications, get into the habit of relaxing and unwinding nightly. Taking a sleep aid of your choice at a particular time will remind you to unwind, slow down or get ready for a restful night.