Do you spend hours at night lying in bed waiting to fall asleep? Cause let me tell you -that ain’t fun. You might want to take the “easy” way out and purchase sleeping pills, but forget reaching for pills and try the natural way instead. Here are 6 natural sleep remedies that will help you fall into a deep and beautiful slumber.
Most widely known for it’s anti-anxiety capabilities, valerian root is actually a great sleep aid. Valerian can be found as a tincture, tea or in tablet form. However I have found that many people prefer the tea before bedtime. Valerian causes sedation by promoting the production of gamma aminobutryic acid (GABA) that helps regulate the action of nerve cells to induce a calming affect. After 2-3 weeks of consistent use, results usually show. With that being said, it shouldn’t be taken daily for more than a month at a time. Be aware that this is not an option for pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children. Do not mix valerian with other sleeping drugs or antidepressants. I have even read that since it is a sedative, it can become addictive.
Believe it or not, scent can be a powerful tool to indicate it is time to get to bed. Smell sends messages to your brain that triggers certain emotions or memories and even physical reactions. So you can essentially use smell to trigger mental and physical calmness before bed. Try aromas like lavender, lemon, bergamot, jasmine or sage. There are many ways you can use aromatherapy – you can use a diffuser, room or pillow spray, candles or roll the oils on your body.
St. John’s Wort
This stuff sounds kind of odd huh? Well, I thought that too until I was whisked away into a drowsy dreamland. I have only ever had it in tea form, but it is available in capsule and tinctures. St. John’s Wort contains properties that stimulate the GABA receptors in your brain, making you sleepy. You already know enough about GABA to know that stimulating it is good for sleep. St. John’s Wort also helps to lessen symptoms of depression, ease anxiety, lessen pain and help with PMS. WARNING: watch your dose with this stuff! It can actually lessen the effectiveness of certain medications and is not good in high doses. Do not use it during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Not only can the ritual of having a cup of tea bring you tranquility, the stuff in the tea can actually make you sleepy. In fact, growing up I used to drink a cup of orange pekoe with milk before bed and it helped me sleep! Chamomile is the classic choice as a sleep aid, but it is not the only good one out there. My favourite sleepy-time tea is called “Peace Tea” which contains herbs harvested from the Boreal Forest. This stuff makes me seriously sleepy (probably because many of the ingredients help stimulate GABA function) like no other tea I have tried before. It contains blue vervain, lemon balm, catnip, oat straw, bergamot, chamomile, hops, motherwort, valerian skullcap and St. John’s wort. Even if you can’t find this tea, find inspiration in its powerful ingredients. I once drank two cups throughout the day and I couldn’t function properly…so only drink it when you’re sleepy or anxious.
Tart cherry juice
This is my favourite suggestion of them all just because it’s so damn tasty, in addition to being effective. According to a fascinating study done at Louisiana State University, cherry juice increased the subjects’ sleep time by 85 minutes compared to those consuming the placebo. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy and sleep more deeply. Try drinking some tart sugar-free cherry juice or eating a few cherries (it’s okay and delicious to eat them all) an hour before bed. If you don’t like cherries, grapes (especially their skins) contain melatonin too!
This is not something that will make you zonk out immediately, however taken consistently over time it is an effective sleep aid. According to nutritional therapist, Marek Doyle, “Having sufficient magnesium in your body does not necessarily guarantee that you will go into a deep sleep quickly and stay there, but insufficient stores of the mineral guarantee that you won’t. And almost everyone I see is short of magnesium.” Many of the foods we eat are low in magnesium, so supplements are an easy way to make up for this.
If you wake up before your alarm, feel cramp-y, have clammy or cold hands and feet, urinate frequently, experience eye switches or muscle tightness, you might consider taking magnesium. Doyle claims, you will notice the most difference in your quality of sleep. Magnesium helps GABA transmitters function, helping you “turn off” your brain before sleep. Doyle suggests taking 400 – 500 grams before bed – those with digestive issues can use transdermal spray instead. It’s certainly worth a try – I hear it helps with anxiety too.