Natural sleep aids provide a safe alternative to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Although OTC medicine is effective in combating issues pertaining to sleep, they often come with a large list of side effects. In addition to the negative side effects, OTC medicine can create dependency in some users. While use of natural sleep aids should also be kept in check, risk involving dependency and side effects are far lower.
Natural sleep aids vary in their uses, often taking the form of supplement capsules, tea, or essential oil products. Most natural sleep aids have other benefits on health in addition to having a positive affect sleep. Different aids will have different consumption recommendations that should be consulted to ensure you are receiving its maximum benefits.
The following is a list of the 5 most effective natural sleep aids.
5 of the Most Effective Natural Sleep Aids
Chamomile is a herb that is most frequently consumed through its inclusion in herbal teas. Chamomile is also commonly included in tinctures, essential oils for diffusers, or candles.
Chamomile is considered a “mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer” that is effective in contributing to better sleep. Here is an excerpt from a summary of studies that demonstrate how chamomile effects the body: “inhalation of the vapor of chamomile oil reduced a stress-induced increase in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels … compounds, other than apigenin, present in extracts of chamomile can also bind BDZ and GABA receptors in the brain and might be responsible for some sedative effect.” Essentially, it calms the mind and brings it to a state of relaxation ideal for sleep.
In addition to its stress relieving and relaxing properties, chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, can promote heart health, strengthen the immune system, and can also help with digestive health.
Chamomile and most herbal teas have a wide array of health benefits they can bring. For a list of benefits other herbal teas may bring, visit this article from our website.
Product Recommendation: Forager Health Sleep Tea
Similarly to chamomile, lavender is often found in herbal tea blends and is commonly included in tinctures, essential oils for diffusers, or candles.
Lavender is an effective natural sleep aid in combating insomnia. A study was conducted that demonstrated lavender improved sleep quality in healthy students, heart disease patients, and midlife women with insomnia. The study went on to say “oral lavender oil preparation (80 mg/day) showed a significant beneficial influence on quality and duration of sleep and improved general mental and physical health … in 221 patients suffering from subsyndromal (mixed) anxiety disorder,” and acknowledged that patients with mild insomnia, women, and younger participants were the groups positively affected by the greatest amount.
Lavender also has a calming effect on the brain. Lavender has been successfully proven to alleviate anxiety in patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and improve the mental health of those diagnosed with depression when lavender was given in certain preparations (an oral oil or tincture).
Lavender is a safe and easily accessible product that can positively affect sleep quality in addition to reducing the effects of certain mental health conditions.
Product Recommendation: Anatomē Signature Lavender - Recovery + Sleep Essential Oil
Passionflower can be found and consumed in predominantly teas and tablets. Though there are different kinds of passionflower, the most effective as a natural sleep aid is passiflora incarnata.
Research on its effects are fairly preliminary, but studies on mice seem to indicate that it increases deep sleep, reduces REM sleep, increased the duration of sleep, and had the mice fall asleep sooner. The question now is whether or not it will have as impactful or meaningful results on human subjects, although non-scientific studies seem to suggest results will be similar.
The same study shows that passionflower also contains properties that better regulate mood and calm the brain by increasing GABA levels which in turn temper excitement. This increase in GABA can help to reduce anxiety and promote more relaxation.
Although safe to consume, it is recommended pregnant women speak to their doctor before consumption. If it will be taken as a supplement with other anxiety or sleep medication, it is also recommended to consult your doctor.
Product Recommendation: Blooming Blends Herbal Sleep Tincture
Magnesium is an important mineral to our bodies and is found in plenty of food products, but when it’s taken as a supplement in addition to your diet, it can help improve sleep quality.
In a study where participants took 500mg daily, researchers determined that “supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia such as ISI [insomnia severity index] score, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, and early morning awakening.” Magnesium binds to GABA receptors that are responsible for the nerve activity in the brain. By magnesium regulating this process, it helps relax the brain and nervous system.
In addition to improving sleep, magnesium is also effective in supporting the immune system, regulating blood pressure, contributing to healthy bone formation, and more.
Consult with your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement to determine upper/lower limits of intake based on your diet and/or medications.
Magnesium deficiency is proven to contribute to a poorer sleep quality and numerous other unhealthy symptoms, so even if supplements are not sought out, it is important to ensure your diet contains the recommended intake amount.
Product Recommendation: Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium Jar
Ashwagandha is difficult to come by in passing with common foods, so a conscious effort must be made to buy and consume it. It can usually be found as an ingredient in herbal products or as a supplement itself.
While the extent of research is still preliminary, findings have indicated that ashwagandha has “sleep-inducing potential, well tolerated, and improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily,” but continued to say further studies are needed to determine its full effects in regards to improved sleep for those with anxiety and insomnia.
In addition to being a natural sleep aid, ashwagandha has been proven to reduce stress and cortisol levels, and there are studies being conducted into its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory and contributing to heart health.
Although safe to consume, it is recommended pregnant women speak to their doctor before consumption.
Product Recommendation: Wild Nutrition KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus
These natural sleep aids have undergone clinical trials that have determined they are effective. As research continues, there will surely be a growing list of safe OTC alternatives.
Although all of the options listed are safe, it is recommended that you buy your products from a reputable source to ensure the product you receive is as promised. Big companies will often dilute their product, reducing its effectiveness, in order to lower the cost of production. Be sure to check the ingredients before purchasing any products.
For extra caution, always consult your doctor if you have concerns about the consumption of any new sleep aid product.
Healf offers a selection of products from reviewed and authentic brands to improve sleep quality for contributing to daily healthy living.