11 Natural Ways for a Better Night’s Sleep

Sleep is an essential part of our lives.  Most of us don’t think about just how important it is until we experience sleeplessness.  The effects can range from annoying to down right life altering.  They include anything from feeling foggy headed and grumpy to hallucinations if the sleep is disturbed long enough.  I came across an interesting article online with 8 natural sleep remedies. I’ve listed them below with some others that were not mentioned.

1. Magnesium and calcium

Magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective. Plus, by taking magnesium, you cancel out any potential heart problems that might arise from taking calcium alone. Take 200 milligrams of magnesium—lower the dose if it causes diarrhea—and 400 milligrams of calcium each night.

2. Wild lettuce

If you’ve suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. It’s also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety—and may even quell restless legs syndrome. When using a wild-lettuce supplement, take 30 to 120 milligrams before bed.

3. Hops

Beer fans will no doubt be familiar with the calming effect of hops, the female flowers used in beer making. For sleep purposes, though, this extract has been widely used as a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia. Take 30 to 120 milligrams before climbing under the covers.

4. Aromatherapy

Lavender is the trick here, as studies have proven that it aids in sleep. It’s also a cheap, nontoxic way to slip into a peaceful slumber. Find a spray with real lavender and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime. Or buy a lavender-filled pillow.

5. Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that controls sleep, so it’s no wonder that it naturally induces sleep. Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are more effective. Plus, there’s concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as well as raise the risk of depression or infertility. Take 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed.

A note from Dr. Court – Taking melatonin keeps your brain from making it.  Because of this, I don’t recommend people take it for long periods of time.  If you need it in a pinch or for a week or two of high stress it’s ok, but you should look for something else if you think you will need assistance for longer than that.

6. Yoga or meditation

Choose gentle yoga or stretching, not vigorous power or ashtanga yoga, which could energize you instead. Try easy yoga stretches in bed followed by simple meditation. Close your eyes and, for 5 to 10 minutes, pay attention to nothing but your breathing.

A note from Dr. Court – When I can’t sleep I like to use something called square breathing.  Tip your head back and breath in for two seconds then tip your head forward and breath out for four seconds.  Repeat until you are asleep.  It works wonders for me.

7. L-theanine

This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night. However, green tea doesn’t contain enough L-theanine to significantly boost your REM cycles.  You will have to take a theanine supplement to get enough of the stuff to help you sleep. Take 50 to 200 milligrams at bedtime.

8. Valerian

Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall quality of sleep. However, it’s most effective when used over a longer period of time. One caveat? About 10% of the people who use it actually feel energized, which may keep them awake. If that happens to you, take valerian during the day. Otherwise, take 200 to 800 milligrams before bed.

9. 5-HTP

This substance is an amino acid that is used to make serotonin in the body.  Serotonin is critically important for being able to get to sleep and stay asleep.  5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan.  While tryptophan is readily available in the diet in such things and turkey and milk, 5-HTP is not.  I usually recommend people supplement with about 100-200 mg before bed.  The supplement is readily available through any health care practitioner who specializes in functional medicine.

10. GABA

GABA is technically another amino acid, but it is not so in the traditional sense.  It is not incorporated into proteins like other amino acids.  GABA is one of the main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain and deficiencies in GABA can lead to anxiety, insomnia and even seizures.  GABA can be taken orally as a supplement to help you sleep.  As a matter of fact most of the pharmaceutical aids for sleeping act on GABA.  To obtain a supplement with GABA in it you should definitely see a qualified doctor who specializes in functional medicine.  I routinely recommend this for my patients and it works great.  I recommend 600-800 mg before bed.

11. Hydrolyzed Milk Proteins

Remember when Mom would give you a glass of warm milk to help you sleep?  As it turns out there is some science behind why that was so effective.  Many nutrition companies use products with these proteins in them as sleep aids.  I use a product from Biotics Research call DeStress. It works wonderful for sleeplessness.  I don’t know of any available over the counter but ask your health practitioner if they have any sources they are aware of.

This list is by no means all inclusive, but it’s a good start.  There are many reasons that you might not be sleeping, but I would certainly try a natural remedy before resorting to more powerful pharmaceuticals which have a high rate of dependency.  Here’s to a better night’s sleep!

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3 Comments

Filed under Brain Health

3 responses to “11 Natural Ways for a Better Night’s Sleep

  1. Pingback: Finding The Best Sleep Aid: How To Choose And Test Your Herbal Sleep Aid | Your Best Sleep Aid

  2. mary wentz

    This is the best list of sleep suggestions that I have seen in a long time! I am trying 5HTP. Is it advisable to take something else like the GABA along with the 5HTP?

    I have also tried CPAP, but am having problems because of chronic inflammatory sinusitis. My REM disturbance was significant. Thanks for the info! Mary Wentz

    • Hi Mary –

      I usually advise people try one remedy at a time. That way when one works (or you have adverse reactions) you know for sure what helped (or did not). Thanks for reading.

      Dr. C

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