While you already know you need to get enough high-quality sleep to keep your brain and body optimally functioning, sometimes, it eludes you. Sometimes sleep is so elusive that you vow to try anything to help you sleep well.
First, you might try to limit caffeine. Then you try avoiding screens and their harmful blue light late in the evening. Perhaps you even attempt a relaxing meditation routine before you hit the hay.
These are all excellent ways to help you achieve your goal of sleeping better, but sometimes you need more than a few changes to your routine. Lucky for you, you have options! While it’s not recommended you jump straight to asking for sleeping pills from your doctor since they come with some pretty nasty side-effects, you could consider over-the-counter natural sleep aids.
*Please Note: We are NOT doctors. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any medications, even natural supplements!
Check out our list of natural sleep aid possibilities. But, as with everything it seems, they all have possible side effects, so note those too.
This is the good ‘ol reliable of natural sleep aids. It’s a great choice to help you sleep well because your body already produces it. Your body increases the production of melatonin to help you feel tired. When your circadian rhythm is in check, you should start feeling sleepy as your day begins to wind down.
Of course, individual feelings of sleepiness depend on several factors, one being your chronotype. (Excuse me.....my what?) Read more about your chronotype on one of our recent blogs.
Melatonin has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and help sleep longer. This sleep aid is considered safe for both children and adults over short and long periods. (But again, check with your doctor on your proper dosage!)
Possible side effects of melatonin:
This pretty little purple plant also has a pretty scentserves as a soothing natural sleep aid. Studies reveal that smelling lavender oil before bedtime, or using it in a diffuser as you sleep can improve your sleep quality.
While it’s soothing aroma is pleasant, ingesting lavender could cause stomach pain, so we say, stick with smelling it rather than eating it.
3. Valerian root
The root of the valerian plant (which is a very delicate white flower) is touted as being a highly effective herbal sleep aid because it is said to reduce anxiety and depression while instilling a sense of calm. Studies reveal it’s especially beneficial to menopausal and postmenopausal women and their sleep.
Valerian root can be taken as a supplement or used in tea, but this natural sleep aid is definitely something you want to run by your doctor since there hasn’t been a ton of research on it yet.
Possible side effects of valerian root include:
You’ve probably heard about the calming effects of chamomile. Lots of people drink a cup of chamomile herbal tea at night to help them fall asleep faster. You can also use chamomile essential oil on your skin or in a diffuser. Its smell and taste is pretty mild and quite pleasant.
There aren’t many documented side effects of chamomile, but since it is in the daisy family, if you have allergies to ragweed and other plants, check with your doctor before sipping a cup or two of this natural sleep aid.
As another pretty purple herbal sleep aid on our list, the passionflower plant contains naturally-occuring chemicals that help calm your nerves. However, unlike chamomile, passionflower is more potent, even though it is a natural sleep aid.
It’s so potent, that it was used in a 2016 sleep study spanning over four weeks. The study’s participants had previously-diagnosed sleep disorders and found that at the end of the study, these symptoms were greatly-reduced. They even said their overall anxiety levels were lower.
Chamomile can’t do that.
This is one herbal sleep aid you absolutely need to be cautious about. (Have we mentioned checking with your doctor first yet?) It is recommended you not take passionflower for more than two months at a time, because it does have some not-so-fun side effects after long-term use.
Possible side effects of passionflower include:
Loss of coordination
Inflamed blood vessels
Involuntary muscle actions
Passionflower interacts with some medications, so please be careful. And if you’re pregant or breastfeeding, this natural sleep aid is NOT an option for you.
Well, that doesn’t sound very “natural”, now does it?
How about tryptophan? Does that ring a bell?
It’s that amino acid associated with turkey - the one that makes you sleepy
5-HTP is merely a derivative of tryptophan and has been shown to increase serotonin, which is your happy hormone. Your body naturally produces more serotonin as you drift off to sleep, helping you feel calm and relaxed.
This natural sleep aid also improves sleep duration, especially when combined with another natural supplement called gamma-aminobutyric acid.
But you don’t gave to gorge yourself on turkey every night to help you sleep well. You can take 5-HTP in pill form, but you shouldn’t take it for longer than six weeks at a time.
The possible side effects of 5-HTP include:
Loss of appetite
That sounds a little like post-Thanksgiving dinner, doesn’t it?
7. Weighted Blankets
While we’re not suggesting you ingest weighted blankets or make a nice tea out of one, weighted blankets are still a natural sleep aid. They have been shown to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer thanks to the Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS)they deliver.
Because DPS causes your body to make more melatonin (hey, that’s familiar!) and serotonin (hey, that too!), while simultaneously decreasing the stress hormone cortisol, you’ll sleep well under a weighted blanket - guaranteed.
Don’t Forget to Talk to Your Doctor First
We know, we know. We harped on this. But seriously, you should definitely be cautious with herbal sleep aids. Even plants have side effects.
The only item on our list here that you can purchase without having to talk to your doctor (although you certainly can) is a weighted blanket. Here at Weighted Evolution, we use only the highest-quality materials that are certified as non-toxic. And we believe in our blankets so much, we’ll let you try it for 100 nights, risk-free.
Ready to sleep better without having to drink a lot of herbal tea? Get yourself a high-quality weighted blanket, risk-free.