Exercise early. It’s no secret that exercise improves sleep and overall health. But a study published in the journal Sleep shows that the amount of exercise and time of day it is done makes a difference. Researchers found that women who exercised at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes each morning, 7 days a week, had less trouble sleeping than women who exercised less or later in the day. Morning exercise seems to affect body rhythms that affect sleep quality.
One of the reasons for this interplay between exercise and sleep may be body temperature. Your body temp rises during exercise and takes up to 6 hours to drop back down to normal. Because cooler body temperatures are linked to better sleep, it’s important to give your body time to cool off before bed.
Keep your slumber surroundings tranquil. Your bedroom should feel like a sanctuary. Piles of clothes thrown on your bed, stacks of bills staring at you, or other random clutter will hamper you emotionally and may lead to sleep problems. A tranquil and organized space will help you feel more relaxed. To create the perfect sleep environment, try the following:
- Wear pajamas to bed. This can be your birthday suit, but it signals your mind that it’s bedtime.
- Don’t let your bedroom get too hot or too cold. Sleep can be disrupted at temperatures below 54 F or above 72 F.
- Make your room dark. Consider installing room-darkening shades. Or wear eye covers to block light from the street or LED displays.
- Buy a good mattress. You spend 1/3 of your life in your bed, so it’s worth the investment.
- Use a pillow that supports your head and neck. Give the pillow the bend test: If you bend it in half and it stays in position, it’s too floppy.
- To filter unwanted sounds, use a white noise machine. Your brain still hears things when you sleep.
- Sleep on breathable linens. They will reduce sweat, body odor, and skin irritation, all of which can disrupt sleep.
Natural sleep remedies can do wonders for the occasional bout of poor sleep. They shouldn’t be used for chronic sleep problems, though, Harris says. If you have insomnia that lasts for a few weeks or more, talk to your doctor.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule (same bedtime and wake-up time), seven days a week.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Restrict vigorous exercise to the morning or afternoon. More relaxing exercise, like these yoga poses to help you sleep, can be done before bed.
- Get plenty of natural light exposure during the day. Open your blinds first thing in the morning and get outside during the day. You can even try using a light box first thing in the morning during dark winter days to help your brain wake up and regulate your body’s rhythms.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed.
- Do relaxation exercises before bed, including mindful breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Make sure your sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. Your bed should be comfortable, and your room shouldn’t be too hot, too cold, or too bright. If necessary, use earplugs and an eyemask. Be sure your pillow is comfortable.
- Associate your bed with sleep and sex only. Don’t work, eat or watch TV in bed.
- Go to bed when sleepy, and get out of bed if you’re tossing and turning.
- Turn your clock around so you can’t see the time.
- Turn off the alert for texts and emails on your phone.
- Keep a “worry journal.” If something’s on your mind as you’re trying to fall asleep, write it down on a pad of paper so you can revisit it the next day.
- If you’re unable to fall asleep after about 20 minutes, leave bed and do something relaxing (like reading); return to bed later.
- Download free screen-dimming software for your computer. Two popular programs are f.lux and Dimmer. These nifty programs help you avoid the stimulation of bright light if you’re using your computer late at night. Better yet: Put the computer away an hour before bedtime!
- Don’t ingest caffeine after noon. This includes coffee, tea, iced tea, energy drinks and soda.
- Don’t have that second glass of wine with dinner. While alcohol is known to speed the onset of sleep, it also disrupts sleep–especially causing arousal during the second half of the night, when the body should be entering deep sleep.
- Don’t take other stimulants close to bedtime, including chocolate, nicotine and certain medications.
- Don’t eat a large, heavy meal close to bedtime.
- Don’t watch TV, use the computer or spend long periods on a mobile device before bed. These activities stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall alseep.
- Don’t use your phone, laptop, or other mobile device in bed.
- Don’t give in to the urge to nap during the day; it can disturb the normal sleep/wakefulness pattern.
- 6 Science-Backed Sleep Remedies
- Thank you!
- 11 Natural Insomnia Aids That Will Give You Sweet Dreams
- 25 Home Remedy Sleep Treatments
- The End the Insomnia
- No More Snoring
- Solutions for Restless Sleepers
- Feeling Fatigued?
- Herbs and Natural Remedies for Insomnia
- Sleep Hygiene
- Herbs for Insomnia
- Herbal Formulas for Insomnia
- Top 4 Natural Ways to Beat Insomnia and Have a Good Night’s Rest
- 1. Avoid Alcohol and Stimulants
- 2. Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule
- 3. Reduce or Eliminate Naps
- 4. Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
6 Science-Backed Sleep Remedies
Sleeping pills are big business: About 1 in 25 adults has taken a prescription sleep medicine in the last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. And according to Consumer Reports, Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015—a number that’s expected to reach $52 billion by 2020.
But plenty of people are looking for natural solutions, too. Use of melatonin supplements, for instance, more than doubled in the United States from 2007 to 2012. And while scientific evidence for many herbal and alternative insomnia treatments is thin at best, there are some drug-free remedies that have been well studied by scientists.
If getting to sleep or staying asleep is an ongoing problem, it’s important to figure out and address the underlying cause, says Dr. Daniel Barone, neurologist at New York-Presbyterian and Weill-Cornell Medicine. In the meantime, these alternative remedies may help you get back to sleep sooner.
See TIME’s complete Guide to Sleep
“By far the most common thing I recommend to patients is to take melatonin,” says Barone. The hormone, which is produced by the brain in preparation for sleep, is also available in pill and liquid form, which you can get at any health food store or pharmacy—good news because some modern behaviors can interfere with its natural production. “When we’re exposed to TVs, computers and phones with backlit displays, that tricks the brain into thinking it’s light out and it doesn’t make as much melatonin as it should.”
Getting natural melatonin production back on track is the most sustainable scenario, Barone says, but taking an over-the-counter brand might do the trick short-term. Barone recommends taking between 1 and 3 milligrams 30 to 60 minutes before bed if you have trouble falling asleep, and immediately before if you have trouble staying asleep.
If melatonin doesn’t work or patients don’t want to take it, Barone suggests trying valerian root. A 2015 review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded that “a few high-quality studies report modest benefits of valerian for insomnia patients,” adding that while the overall evidence remains mixed, the safety of valerian is well-established.
Like all supplements, however, valerian can have side effects—and you should get clearance from your doctor before taking it, since it can interact with some drugs. “The main thing to consider with all of these substances is how you feel in the morning,” says Barone. “Some people feel fine, but some people feel groggy and hung-over.”
A 2016 study published in the journal Explore found that college students who inhaled a lavender-scented patch before bed reported better nighttime sleep and more daytime energy, compared to those who inhaled a placebo patch. Studies in other populations, including middle-age women and heart-disease patients, have also suggested that lavender can improve sleep quality.
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This may be due to lavender’s relaxing effects on the body. In a 2012 study in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, people who inhaled lavender oil had significant decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, compared to those who inhaled a base oil without lavender.
It’s marketed as a before-bed beverage for a reason: The herb chamomile has been used as a sleep aid for thousands of years. While good research on chamomile’s effect on sleep is sparse, one 2016 study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that new moms who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported fewer symptoms of sleep inefficiency and depression.
Plus, says Barone, the feeling of sipping on a warm beverage alone may elicit relaxation and sleepiness. “This type of remedy is not going to hurt and it might help,” he says, “so it’s certainly worth a try.”
“I’m a strong advocate of mindfulness and meditation for relaxation,” says Barone, who recommends shutting off electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bed and sitting quietly, focusing on soft music or deep breathing. “And if someone wakes up in the middle of the night, I tell them to do a 10- to 15-minute session of meditation then, too.” If you’re new to meditation, Barone recommends finding a mobile app, audio program, or online video to guide you through some exercises.
In fact, better sleep may be a byproduct of increased mindfulness, even if it’s not directly addressed in practice. In a 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, adults who spent two hours a week learning meditation and mindfulness techniques for six weeks (but who never discussed sleep) reported less insomnia and fatigue than those who’d spent that time learning basic sleep hygiene.
A noise machine
Research published earlier this year in the journal Scientific Reports found that listening to sounds from nature, like a rainforest soundscape or a babbling brook, can trigger a relaxation response in the brain. Soothing background sounds can also cover up manmade sounds like voices or traffic, which were shown in the study to have the opposite effect.
Look for a noise machine or app with nature-inspired settings, or opt for one with a “pink noise” option: Another recent study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, suggests that pink noise—a mix of frequencies that sounds more natural and balanced than white noise—can also improve sleep.
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11 Natural Insomnia Aids That Will Give You Sweet Dreams
On the rare night when you actually crawl into bed at a decent hour, you stare at the ceiling, eyes wide open, mind racing, with a good night’s sleep feeling more like a distant dream with every passing second.
You’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a third of all American adults report experiencing one insomnia symptom a night. And about 10 percent of people suffer from chronic insomnia, which means they find it difficult to get enough shut-eye at least three nights a week, for at least three months.
Although some medications and health issues such as depression and hyperthyroidism can cause insomnia, a person’s anxiety, stress, diet, and age are also factors.
If you experience frequent insomnia, you’ve probably already tried the basics, like cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. Maybe you’ve also turned to the medications, luxury mattresses and pillows, white-noise machines, and other remedies that make up the $41 billion Americans spent on sleep aids and remedies in 2015, according to a report from BCC Research. But you might be wary, understandably, of relying on drugs.
Sleep medications, which are most useful for short-term sleeplessness, do require some caution, because they can result in hangovers the next day, or, even worse, lead you to eat, amble about, and even drive while asleep, with no memory of having eaten, ambled about, or driven. The FDA suggests that if you take Ambien, in particular, and at certain dosages, you shouldn’t drive the next day, or take part in other activities that necessitate your being completely awake, because the drug can remain in your system at levels that may affect your functioning.
But there are natural sleep remedies — such as lifestyle changes — you can turn to that are safe and effective. And experts say that behavior modifications are the better strategy, even if they may take time to have lasting effects.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, research has shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction, and other relaxation techniques, such as music-assisted relaxation, can be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) has also been shown to help — a study published in November 2017 in the journal Sleep that followed more than 500 women with insomnia found that CBT was significantly more effective than other treatments, including drugs or even yoga.
Looking for more home remedies? Read on to discover 11 tips that experts recommend for sounder sleep.
25 Home Remedy Sleep Treatments
Drugging yourself to get to sleep? Pumping caffeine to stay awake? No more! These all-natural remedies will have you sleeping through the night and waking up feeling refreshed.
The End the Insomnia
1. Hit the Juice Aisle
Tart cherry juice is packed with melatonin! Try drinking 8 ounces an hour before bed to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep.
2. Nod Off with Nuts
If you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day, try eating more nuts! Rich in sleep-promoting nutrients such as magnesium and selenium, nuts are a healthy, drug-free way to help you get that much-needed shut-eye. In research, peanuts and pistachios have been the biggest standouts for bringing on deeper sleep.
3. Snooze with Seafood
Serve up more dinners from the sea! Cod, tuna, snapper, halibut, and shrimp contain levels of sleep-promoting tryptophan comparable to those found in turkey.
4. Blue Lights Out
Melatonin is a hormone the body produces to help you sleep. Research has shown that staring at a screen that gives off blue light (such as a TV, computer, or smartphone) will decrease the amount of melatonin your body is producing. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, be sure to set aside the TV, laptop, and video game after dinnertime. Or spend as little as $8 for a pair of blue light–blocking glasses.
5. Make Pink Your Favorite Color
You’ve probably heard of white noise—like the constant hum of a fan to cover up harsher background sounds that could stir you in your sleep. So what’s pink noise? It has more variation, coming out louder and more powerful at the lower frequencies. Think of rain falling on pavement or waves crashing on the beach. And it’s been shown to lead your brain waves into deep sleep. Try a color test to see whether white or pink works better for you—free apps such as Simply Noise offer both.
6. Skip the Nightcap
Alcohol can make you feel really sleepy…at first. But you’ll pay for it at 3 a.m. when the alcohol is metabolized and that effect wears off and wakes you up. It’s smart to limit alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
7. The Scents of Sleep
Mix a few drops of lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang essential oils and water in a spray bottle and give your pillowcase a spritz. These scents activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation. You’ll be ahh-sleep before you know it!
8. Invite Fido In
But not on your bed! Surprisingly, a recent study out of the Mayo Clinic found that people sleep better when their dogs are in the bedroom. So take advantage of the comfort and security but not your dog’s rustling. Help him settle in a sweet spot on the floor or set up a dog bed nearby.
9. Use a Pillow Prop
Back pain keeping you up? Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. Or if you can only sleep on your side, slip a pillow between your knees. It helps support your lower spine and a good’s night slumber.
10. Keep Your Socks On
You may think you want to go sockless to keep cool. But keeping your socks on will actually accomplish that for your whole body! Warming your feet widens the blood vessels there and helps regulate temperature more evenly across your body. The result: overall cooling, which is a ticket to better sleep.
11. Make Your Bed
I now have a science-backed reason to nag the boys to make their beds: It helps you sleep better! The simple way it works, according to the study’s researchers: It creates positive vibes around bedtime.
No More Snoring
12. Give a Snoring Partner the Brick
Hold the throws! Slip a couple of bricks under the legs at the head of your bed. This little adjustment will elevate your snoring culprit’s upper torso to prop open airways and stop the snoring. An extra pillow can give you some elevation as well, although it’s not as effective as the brick trick.
13. Sing in the Shower
Go ahead, belt out those tunes! Amazing but true: In a research study, regular snorers who sang for 20 minutes a day snored significantly less once they started singing. It may work by firming up flabby muscle in the upper airways. However it works, it’s worth a try to snag better sleep!
14. Accessorize with a Tennis Ball
Take a basic T-shirt and sew a pocket on its back. Place a tennis ball inside the pocket. Or you can try duct tape to attach the ball to the shirt. Wear the shirt to bed and the hard ball will keep you off your back—the prime sleep position for snoring. Over time, you probably won’t need the shirt anymore—you’ll train yourself to sleep in a better position.
15. Help from a Humidifier
Many bedrooms are warm and dry, which can cause airways to dry out and bring on a rattle. Keeping your nasal passages moisturized may be a super-simple way to stop the snoring. Set up a humidifier in your bedroom. You can run it as you sleep to give yourself and any bed partner relief. Live, leafy plants also help raise humidity levels.
16. DIY Snore Relief Gel
You can add sleep-smart scents to a DIY gel air freshener. Boil 1 cup water, then mix in 1 packet unflavored gelatin, 1 tablespoon salt, 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil (to relieve nasal congestion), 10 drops lavender essential oil (to induce relaxation and sleep), and several drops food coloring (to look nice on your nightstand). Once the gelatin dissolves, pour it into a glass cup or jar to set. Cover with a lid once set and not in use. Uncover each night to release the scent (for a month or more!) and lull you into sleep. Keep away from kids and pets.
Solutions for Restless Sleepers
17. Try a Tonic
Get a creepy-crawly feeling in your legs at night that keeps you or your bed partner awake? Drink a 6-ounce glass of tonic water before bed until symptoms go away. Tonic water contains quinine, which stops repeated muscle contractions.
18. Take Two
Experts can’t say why it works, but taking two aspirins before bedtime can reduce symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS) in some people.
19. What You Knead
There’s good evidence that massage eases the tingling, restlessness, and sleep interruption that come with RLS. Don’t want to go to a pro? That’s fine—just try a gentle rub yourself. Or treat your legs to a foam roller, a cool fitness tool that places gentle pressure wherever you need it just by rolling over it.
20. The Stocking Solution
Wearing compression stockings (you can find at any drugstore) for just an hour before bed can soothe those restless legs. In one study, a third of the people who tried it got complete (drug-free!) relief from their RLS symptoms, and the rest reported big-time improvement.
21. Keep Restless Sleepers in Place
Whether you have a child who falls out of bed or a spouse who likes to kick, you can limit their nighttime moves with a clever trick. Place a pool noodle under your fitted sheet just where you need it. It will stay tightly tucked as a barrier to limit the places they go.
22. 6 Easy Ways to Rev Your Energy
Grab gum. Chewing gum increases heart rate, which increases blood flow to the brain. Peppermint and cinnamon rise to the top when you’re looking for flavors to boost energy. In research, just their scents can energize! But you get a double benefit when you sniff and chew.
23. Press Your Body’s Energy Buttons
Putting pressure on certain points on your body has been proven to increase energy. A few spots to apply very firm pressure with your thumb or index and middle fingers:
- The base of the skull, one finger-width to the side of the spine
- The rim of the ear
- The pad between the joint of the thumb and index finger
- The outside of the leg bone, 3 inches down from the kneecap
Hold each press for 3 minutes, massaging in both directions.
24. Get Herbal Help
Check health food stores for rhodiola. One study found that people who took rhodiola reported less mental fatigue and more physical energy and coordination. A typical dose is 100 mg twice a day, but check with your doctor first.
25. Step into the Light
Exposure to sunlight is a wakeup call to your brain. Feeling sluggish? Try to sneak outside for even a few minutes to capture a little natural light.
At the end of a long day, you look forward to pulling back the covers, fluffing the pillows and slipping into bed.
It’s so important to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s not always as easy as closing your eyes and drifting off.
Everyone needs a little help every now and then.
When counting sheep doesn’t work, the best natural sleep aid is probably just around the corner in your kitchen.
Many of our favorite natural sleep remedies have been passed down over hundreds of years. Every culture around the world has dozens of home remedies for insomnia. Some are well-known herbs that help you sleep, and others like sea slug entrails and dormouse fat are curious holdovers from old folk tales. The best solutions for peaceful slumber are simple and natural, and they work with our body’s sleep hormones.
Essential Ingredients for Sleeping Well
Chronic insomnia is a serious problem that affects 30 percent of adults , but almost everyone has trouble getting to sleep from time to time. Our busy lives keep us on the go with schedules that stay full at work and at home. We don’t always eat as well as we should or exercise regularly. It all takes a toll on the body’s ability to produce and balance the natural compounds and hormones that help us fall asleep.
There are countless sleep remedies available over the counter, but these medications are often expensive and can be addictive. If you want a home remedy that naturally eases you into relaxation before bedtime, make a quick trip to the kitchen. Your pantry is an ideal source for a variety of non habit forming sleep aids that deliver these essential ingredients for a sound slumber.
• Melatonin – Vital hormone that makes you feel drowsy and helps you sleep through the night.
• Serotonin – Important neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, memory and sleep.
• Tryptophan – Amino acid necessary for the production of both melatonin and serotonin.
• Magnesium – Mineral produced by the body that helps control stress hormones like cortisol.
You can buy supplements that aid your body in maintaining these essential sleep-building blocks, but they quickly add up to a big investment sitting on your medicine cabinet shelves. What you eat or drink in the evening can often be much more effective. Home sleeping remedies and herbal sleep aids are affordable, they aren’t habit forming, and they’re much more enjoyable than a pill or powder.
Home Remedies for Sleeplessness: 10 Natural Aids for a Good Night’s Rest
It’s always a comfort to know you have more than one solution to a problem. Our list includes a few familiar sleep remedies and other sleep aids that may surprise you. They all contain sleep-building blocks and compounds, and they’re all easy to find at the grocery store.
Enjoy a cup of tea before bed. Relax the next evening with a small bowl of yogurt. Treat yourself to a better night’s rest with one of these 10 natural sleep remedies that really do work.
1. Sip a Cup of Chamomile Tea
Of all the herbs that help you sleep, chamomile is easily one of the most popular. Its medicinal qualities have been valued for centuries, and it’s one of the oldest herbs in our gardens. A cup of chamomile tea before bedtime delivers a soothing combination of natural sedatives, and its aroma is considered very calming. Add flavor to your cup with a touch of honey and cinnamon.
2. Brew Up Banana Tea
This surprising evening elixir is simple to brew, and it’s a delicious source of amino acids that elevate the body’s serotonin levels. Banana tea sends you off to dreamland with tryptophan and dopamine while it improves overall health by delivering potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. These minerals improve bone density and are also considered excellent digestive aids. Bananas boost your immune system too with vitamins A and C.
3. Relax with Passionfruit Tea
The passionflower also has a long history as a favorite herbal sleep aid. Its round passionfruit berries brew up an aromatic tea that’s well-known for its deeply relaxing effects. The tea helps relieve anxiety while it soothes tense muscles. As you unwind with a fragrant cup, you’re also boosting your immune system. Passionfruit tea is an excellent source of antioxidants.
4. Enjoy a Glass of Tart Cherry Juice
A small glass of tart cherry juice delivers a powerful combination of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and sleep-enhancing melatonin. The dark red drink is a healthy, tasty choice for sipping just before turning in. Its natural compounds promote sound sleep throughout the night. Tart cherry juice is also considered beneficial for reducing muscle pain and improving circulation.
5. Have Fresh Fish for Dinner
Fresh fish is a healthy source of tryptophan, so it’s a dinner dish that actually helps you produce melatonin and serotonin later in the evening. Salmon is an especially good choice because it’s rich in vitamin D. Low vitamin D serum levels are frequently linked to a number of sleeping problems, but a serving of salmon helps your body generate and maintain this important vitamin.
6. Bring a Bowl of Yogurt to Bed
This is one of the few home remedies for sleep that lets you enjoy a snack before bedtime. Plain yogurt is an ideal sleep aid because its high levels of tryptophan increase your body’s natural production of melatonin and serotonin. As these sleep hormones gently turn on and relax you for a good night’s rest, you’re also enjoying the positive effects of a snack loaded with vitamins B2 and B12.
7. Unwind With Whole Grains
The complex carbs found in most whole grains fortify your body’s tryptophan levels, and they boost melatonin production with healthy doses of vitamin B6. A small bowl of whole grain cereal before going to bed helps you get to sleep, but you can also get ready for a peaceful night with a serving of brown rice. Every grain is naturally loaded with tryptophan and serotonin.
8. Curl Up with a Kiwi
This fuzzy, little fruit is a surprisingly powerful sleep aid. It delivers high levels of serotonin, and it’s full of antioxidants too. Recent studies of the kiwi fruit note its value in aiding individuals who have trouble falling asleep and resting soundly through the night. Its delicate flavor is a combination of tart and sweet that makes it a perfect bedtime snack.
9. Have a Handful of Almonds
Almonds earn their place on our list of home remedies for sleeplessness because the nuts are an excellent source of melatonin. In addition to this important sleep-regulating hormone, almonds are also full of magnesium. Just 1 ounce provides 19 percent of your body’s daily needs for this stress-busting mineral. A handful of almonds also helps you rest better by increasing calcium levels that peak during deep sleep.
10. Slip Off With Warm Milk
It’s a time-honored, bedtime tradition for good reason. A glass of warm milk is simple and comforting, and it usually makes you feel drowsy right away. The science behind its effect still isn’t completely understood, but milk does contain tryptophan, the amino acid that aids in serotonin and melatonin production. A teaspoon of honey turns your glass of warm milk into a sweet, healthy nightcap.
Creative Bedtime Snacking Ideas
Once you settle on the best natural sleep aid for your taste and lifestyle, try mixing and matching different flavors and textures. Get creative in the kitchen with the ingredients on our list, and come up with your own non habit forming sleep aid. Put a little variety into your bedtime snack routine with these ideas.
• Add sweet-tart flavor to your plain yogurt with slices of fresh kiwi fruit.
• Make whole grain cereal even better by preparing it with warm milk.
• Toss your handful of almonds in the cereal bowl for a crunchy goodnight snack.
• Blend a ripe banana with warm milk for the ultimate late-night smoothie.
• Try jasmine rice for a change of taste in your menu of whole grain goodies.
• Stir a little nutmeg into a glass of warm milk as a sleep-inducing flavor enhancer.
Heading to bed is easier when you know you have all kinds of delicious options that can help you drift off. Keep the pantry stocked with your favorite natural sleep aids, and practice good sleeping habits too. Enjoy the wonderful feeling that comes from getting the peaceful rest you deserve night after night.
Your Trusted Online Mattress Store
We have to mention that all our home remedies for sleep work their best when you snuggle down on a comfortable mattress. When you turn in on a bed that suits your personal sleeping style, it’s even easier to drift off and enjoy deep slumber. A quality mattress made in the U.S.A. is the one non habit forming sleep aid you can always count on even when you’re counting sheep.
When you’re ready for a new bed, our Sweet Zzz team looks forward to matching you up with the perfect mattress. Whether you prefer the cool comfort of a quality memory foam or the supple support of an innerspring hybrid, we can help. We’re always here and always happy to be at your service as your most trusted online mattress store.
Herbs and Natural Remedies for Insomnia
Sleep is one of the most deeply healing and revitalizing experiences known. When we can get enough restful sleep each night, the entire world looks brighter. Insomnia is a lack of healthful, restful sleep and is a common problem experienced by as many as 20% to 30% of American adults at various times in their lives. Statistics report a fifth of American adults and half of American seniors have difficulty falling asleep on any given night (Reiter and Robinson, 1995). The most prevalent sleeping disorder is chronic insomnia, which is experienced by 15% of adults.
Until recently (1993), when the US Congress mandated a National Center on Sleep Disorders, insomnia was not considered a significant or disabling medical condition. Today, it is recognized as a disease which is produced by a wide variety of causative factors, including emotional disorders and upset, physical imbalances, age, environmental factors, and a genetic component.
During my years of clinical experience as a practicing herbalist, I have worked with many patients suffering from sleep disorders most of whom have a lifestyle and/or emotional component accompanying their illness. These might include the loss of a loved one or a divorce, loud unaccustomed noises during the night such as barking dogs or sirens, biological rhythm upsets such as changing one’s working schedule to the night shift, or stimulating drugs like coffee or amphetamines, all of which contribute to and intensify insomnia.
Insomnia can be based on or aggravated by a neurotransmitter imbalance. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow nerve impulses to travel from one nerve cell to another, and include serotonin, acetylcholine, GABA, and the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Sleep disorders and such symptoms as depression are especially linked with an imbalance in the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is manufactured by the body from the amino acid tryptophan. Herbs and foods high in tryptophan that help restore proper serotonin levels in the brain are St. John’s wort, quinoa, spirulina, and soy products.
Holistic treatment for insomnia is multifaceted and incorporates many techniques including herbal medicine, vitamin and mineral supplements, lifestyle changes, improved sleep hygiene, massage therapy, behavioral therapy, meditation, diet, exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, relaxation, guided imagery, and homeopathy. A treatment approach is aimed at precluding all the potential causes of insomnia rather than simply providing symptomatic relief. Table 1 reviews some important practical ways to improve sleep.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Arise at a specific hour each morning, regardless of the previous night’s sleep to help set your biological clock. To consolidate and deepen sleep, restrict the amount of sleep to only as much as needed to feel refreshed during the following day. Exercising regularly helps deepen sleep; however, strenuous exercise should be completed three-four hours before going to bed. Arrange the bedroom so that it is a comfortable setting. Insulate it against sound and light by using carpets and curtains; ear plugs and eye masks may be helpful.
Keep the room at a cool to moderate temperature. Excessive heat disturbs sleep.
Avoid liquids before going to sleep to minimize nighttime trips to the bathroom. If liquids are not a problem, try drinking a small hot beverage (dairy, rice, or soy milk) at bedtime.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeinated beverages (especially in the evening). Note: Although alcohol may help a person fall asleep, it causes subsequent sleep to be fragmented.
As far as possible, work out family or job related problems before going to sleep.
Use the bedroom for sleeping and sexual activity only. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t get angry at yourself; get up, leave the room, and engage in another activity like reading or stretching. Hide the clock if you find yourself waking up to see the time. Avoid napping longer than one-hour or after four pm. Turn off the telephone. Try a relaxation technique, such as, biofeedback, meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or massage to prepare the mind and body for sleep.
(Adapted from Rakel, 1996)
Some of the major herbs for insomnia are discussed below.
Herbs for Insomnia
The following herbs can be used during the day, or try using 20-30 minutes before bedtime.
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb which can be safely used by children and adults alike. Chamomile tea is commonly used in Europe, South America, and Mexico for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, particularly in children. Chamomile oil can also be put in bath water (5-6 drops) to soothe overwrought nerves, diluted to 2% to make an excellent massage oil, or used as an inhalant.
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30 drops 3 x daily.
Hops (Humulus lupulus): In the early 1900s, Eclectic physicians used hops as a sedative specifically for insomnia due to worry or nerve weakness (Bell, 1925; Ellingwood, 1983). Hops, a major flavoring component of beer, has a long history of use for sleeplessness, nervousness, and restlessness. Hops pillows are sometimes used for mild insomnia.
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30-40 drops 2-3 x daily.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis):
Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to a bath before bedtime are recommended for persons with sleep disorders. Additionally, the oil may be used as a compress or massage oil or simply inhaled to alleviate insomnia.
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Essential oil–oil may be inhaled, massaged into the skin (use 10 drops essential oil per ounce of vegetable oil), or added to baths (3-10 drops).
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata):
Herbalists consider passion flower an important herb for insomnia caused by mental worry, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. In England it is an ingredient in forty different commonly-sold sedative preparations. Passion flower is used for minor sleep problems in both children and adults (Bruneton, 1995). It is an excellent sedative with no side effects even when used in large doses (Spaick, 1978).
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 3 x daily; Tincture, 30-60 drops 3-4 x daily.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis):
In the United States, herbalists use valerian extensively for its sedative action against insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness. It is recommended for those type of people who have a hard time falling asleep, because it shortens sleep latency. It also reduces nighttime waking. Valerian is an excellent herbal sedative that has none of the negative side effects of Valium and other synthetic sedatives. It works well in combination with other sedative herbs, such as California poppy, skullcap, hops, and passion flower.
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup as needed; Tincture, 2-5 droppersful 2-3 x daily.
Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa):
Wild lettuce is a mild sedative and nervine used for restlessness and insomnia. It may be found in a variety of formulas for the treatment of acute and chronic insomnia. It is used homeopathically for restlessness and insomnia (Boericke, 1927). Because of its safety of use and calming effects, wild lettuce is a good children’s remedy.
- Dose: Tincture, 2-3 drpfls 3-4 x daily.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica):
California poppy is my favorite sedative and sleep-promoting herb which can currently be found in a variety of herbal remedies sold in the United States for promoting sleep, helping one to relax, and easing mild anxiety. Because of its mild sedative and analgesic properties, it can be given safely to children. Clinical and laboratory work on California poppy has clearly demonstrated the plant’s sedative and anti-anxiety properties; it has been shown to improve both sleep latency and quality (Bruneton, 1995).
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30-40 drops 2-3 x daily.
- Note: Since the tea is mild, a tincture is recommended when a stronger dose is desired.
Kava kava (Piper methysticum):
Kava is the national drink of Fiji and is popular throughout the South Seas. It imparts a calm feeling, relaxes the body, and sometimes enhances communication and dreaming. This sedative herb is often used for sleeplessness and fatigue.
- Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 3-4 droppersful 2-3 x daily.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum):
This common yellow-flowered weedy herb from Europe is quickly becoming an important part of modern herbal therapeutics. It has a long history of use dating back to ancient Greek times. Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. Because this herb can sensitize the skin to sunlight, if you are taking a full dose, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight.
- Dose: Tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 2-3 x daily; powdered extract, 1-2 tablets or capsules 2-3 x daily. Allow 2-3 weeks for the full therapeutic effect to develop. If you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant symptoms, reduce or discontinue the St. John’s wort and consult a qualified herbalist for a total program.
Melatonin is a human hormone that is increasingly popular as a supplement to promote sound sleep, especially in people who travel between time zones or who work odd hours. People report mixed success with this product; some people find real benefit and others feel nothing from its use, while a smaller percentage of users experience side effects such as nervousness and increased insomnia. Whether you have benefited from the use of melatonin or not, one or more of the sleep hygiene tips, as well as safe and natural herbs and formulas covered in this article are likely to help you get a deep refreshing sleep, without side effects.
Herbal Formulas for Insomnia
A Calming Tea Blend:
- Valerian (30%)
- Linden (20%)
- Kava kava (20%)
- Chamomile (20%)
- Catnip (10%)
For either formula, blend the loose herbs, place in a quart jar for future use, and store out of the direct sunlight in a cool place. Use 1 tsp/cup to make a tea. Make 1 quart at a time, adding 1 extra tsp ‘for the pot.’ Add the herbs to boiled water and cover. Let steep for 20 minutes, strain and store in the quart jar in the refrigerator. This blend will keep for 3 days. Pour out 1 cup, warm it, and drink several times daily or before bedtime as needed.
A few drops of essential oil of lavender added to a foot bath or regular bath can have a nice, calming effect. Finally, sleep pillows made of equal parts of hops, lavender, and chamomile and bath salts containing relaxing essential oils both help promote sleep and are available in some health food stores
© 1998 Christopher Hobbs
Top 4 Natural Ways to Beat Insomnia and Have a Good Night’s Rest
As anyone who has ever experienced insomnia might tell you, it is extremely frustrating to lie awake at night while desperately trying to get to sleep. Whether you live on your own or in a household with other family members, insomnia can make you feel as if you are the only one still awake while the rest of the world sleeps. To make matters even worse, you may have difficulty functioning the next day as you feel the effects of insufficient sleep. Rather than relying on sleeping pills or other medication, try out these 4 natural ways to beat insomnia so that you can have a restful night:
1. Avoid Alcohol and Stimulants
If you have trouble sleeping, you should avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. While alcohol may initially act like a sedative for the first few hours after consumption, it can lead to frequent arousals during the night and disrupt your rest. The effects of caffeine can be even more significant as they can last for up to 24 hours, making it extremely difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. If you happen to be on any medications that act as stimulants, consult your doctor to find out when they should be taken to reduce any effects on your sleep habits.
2. Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule
Another natural way to beat insomnia is to maintain a regular sleeping schedule. While it can be tempting to lay in bed for hours after a difficult night of sleep, you should attempt to break the insomnia cycle by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. This includes getting up on weekends at the same time that you would get up during the week for work, school and other activities. This will train your body to to wake at a consistent time, and you will be more tired at night, so you can get to sleep easier.
3. Reduce or Eliminate Naps
After a terrible night of sleep, it can be tempting to lay down on the couch for an afternoon nap. While naps may sound like a proper way to catch up on your missed sleep, this is not always the case. Since you need to train your body to establish and maintain a regular sleep pattern, it is important to associate sleep with a consistent bedtime and darkness. If you take naps during the day, this can affect the quality of your sleep at night.
4. Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
One of the best natural ways to beat insomnia is to create a comfortable sleeping environment that is free from distractions such as cell phones, laptop computers and televisions. You should also control the temperature, lighting and noise in your bedroom to make the environment more conducive to falling asleep. If you still find yourself lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and go into another room. Try meditating, drinking warm milk or reading a few pages of a book until you feel sleepy enough to get back into bed.
Now that you are familiar with the top natural ways to beat insomnia, learn more about how Mac’s Pharmacy can help you address any of your other healthcare needs! We are dedicated to improving your health and well being, and we look forward to assisting you!