The short is answer is yes – natural sleep aids do work. They work when the natural sleep aid helps deal with the real issue affecting your sleep. So the real question to ask yourself is, “why can’t I sleep”? A very complex question that is as individual as you are. If you want to know which are the top selling natural sleep remedies and which one will be more likely to be effective for you, read on! Bear in mind that your individual chemical make-up plays a role in how these sleep aids (as well as foods, drugs, etc.) affect you.
The most well-known sleep aid is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone (not an herb, vitamin or mineral) produced by the pineal gland that helps the body keep a regular sleep cycle. So if you are a shift worker or traveling for instance, melatonin will help tell your body when it is time to sleep. It won’t however, increase your need for sleep. Finding the correct dosage of melatonin for you though is key to it’s effectiveness.
“According to our research (MIT), the physiological dose of melatonin of about 0.3 milligrams restores sleep in adults over the age of 50,” said Wurtman, lead investigator in the study. “The adults who would normally wake up during the second and third part of the night were able to sleep through the night with the 0.3 milligram dosage.”
The study goes on to state that the normal dosage of melatonin when used for promoting sleep, is .3mg to 1mg, taken about 60-90 minutes before bed. Melatonin is a very inexpensive supplement and if you would like to give it a try, you can buy melatonin here in strengths from .3 Mg to 20 Mg, in sublingual form, sprays, capsules and tablets.
Melatonin probably isn’t going to help you sleep if your mind is racing or you’re wound up. Valerian, another popular sleep aid, however is well-known for it’s sedating effects. When you have trouble falling asleep because you are tense and irritated after a busy, stressful day, valerian may just be the answer. Valerian root has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety, tension, irritability and stress. Buy valerian here when you need to relieve anxiety or irritability to help you sleep. Dosage varies from 200 Mg to500 Mg, about one hour before bed.
Depending on your level of stress, valerian alone may not do the job. There are combination herbal sleep formulas with valerian that address not only tension, but may also help to modulate elevated cortisol levels and “turn off” racing thoughts. Combination formulas typically include some or all of the following herbs known to help with insomnia: chamomile, skullcap, hops, ashwagandha, passion flower, california poppy, and/or kava kava. One of these best-selling valerian herbal formulas Sleep Blend, Sleep Thru, and Tranquilnite may be the one that puts an end to your sleepless nights.
For some, the answer can even be taking valerian and melatonin at the same time! Sleep Factors, Sleep Optimizer, Sleep Aide and Best Rest Formula all contain valerian root and melatonin (and a variety of other herbs).
Chronically elevated cortisol levels (from long-term stress and/or endurance training) though may require a more direct approach. The Natural Medicine Journal article on The Role of Cortisol in Sleep, provides support that
“Reducing cortisol levels and stabilizing HPA axis dysfunction can be a very effective approach to addressing sleep disturbances, while also reducing the long-term risks associated with elevated cortisol levels.”
Phosphatidylserine is one of the more popular “go-to” supplements for helping to reduce cortisol. Seriphos and Cortisol Manager both contain phosphatidylserine from soy lecithin. Seriphos is commonly taken during times of the day when cortisol levels are elevated, which may be during the day.
A common side effect of high cortisol levels, is belly fat. If you are chronically stressed, have trouble sleeping and find it impossible to lose that belly fat, high cortisol might be your problem. Check it out with your healthcare practitioner and try Seriphos or Cortisol Manager to help with all three health problems!
Tryptophan is also a popular sleep aid – though it really could be called a mood-enhancer. Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases serotonin – the mood-regulating hormone. Serotonin can be converted to melatonin in the body. In addition to better sleep, you’ll find that you deal with difficult situations much easier and just feel happier. Bonus! You can buy L-Tryptophan supplements and you can also increase your intake with these foods high in tryptophan: turkey and chicken, seafood, nuts and seeds, dairy, baked potatoes, bananas, legumes, spirulina and best of all, chocolate! Remember though, chocolate also has caffeine in it!
Other Natural Sleep Remedies:
Drinking herbal teas can even provide some sleep support. One of our best sleep teas is Peace Blend Tea with chamomile and other calming herbs. Dr. Oz also recently talked about the benefits of Lemon Balm and California Poppy which are worth considering as well. Rescue Sleep Spray from Bach is an entirely different sleep aid providing support for calming your restless mind and providing fast, natural relief of occasional sleeplessness caused by stress and repetitive thoughts. Kavinace is an extremely popular sleep aid that contains taurine and 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid – the reviews speak loud and clear!
A long-term strategy usually involves adrenal support as ideally, natural sleep aids would be used on an occasional basis rather than daily. One of my personal favorites includes Power Adapt from Natura Health Products – great endocrine, adrenal and hormone support. Proper adrenal function supports hormones like melatonin, and better sleep quality.
If you have a natural sleep remedy that works for you, please comment below! I am certain other readers who can’t sleep would love to hear about it!