Sleep Aid: Natural, Safe Remedies For Better Sleep

Your Best Shot At Peaceful, Nourishing Slumber

Sleep aid, what is it? Let us start by putting things into context.

When someone texts or tells you goodnight, how good is your night really? Do you sleep right away? Or do you have to linger in bed counting sheep and looking at your ceiling as you await slumber to take you away? If you are experiencing insomnia and often have a tough time getting to sleep, do not worry about it. You are not alone.

Studies suggest that 30% to 40% of American adults experience insomnia and over 4% of adults twenty years and above use prescription sleep aids.

Yes, there is a solution to your sleepless nights that do not involve counting sheep or some other old fashion methods to sleep. Before we tackle this, and if you are not up to read this to the very end, let us give you a brief into how to biohack your sleep.

  1. Ensure you exercise regularly. Exercising regularly improves sleep quality as well as decreasing sleep latency. Sleep latency refers to the period you stay awake before falling asleep.
  2. Eat healthy foods at least an hour before you sleep. Drop the habit of going to sleep immediately after you eat or eat, then go to sleep. Allow your body ample resting time and for the food to settle before you go off to bed.
  3. Be in a clean and organized room. Ensure that your bedroom, as well as your relaxing area, is clean and organized. Sleep hygiene encourages sleep and makes you sleep faster as the brain is in a relaxed and organized environment.
  4. Catch some sunlight. Sunlight is healthy for you. And believe it or not, getting an unhealthy amount of sunlight will actually disrupt your sleep.
  5. Sleep for eight hours. Do we have to explain this?

This article presents to you the best remedy for insomnia and how to use them. Read on. 

What Are Sleep Aids?

what are sleep aids

Sleep aids treat and provide remedies for insomnia. There are over-the-counter, prescription drugs, and natural sleeping medicine that will help in your quest for a good night’s sleep. They all work differently. Some help you fall asleep faster, while others ensure you stay asleep. We strive to bring you the best natural sleep aid 2021 later in this article and hope it will help you.

Is Sleep Aid For You?

Sleep aids come highly recommended by doctors countless times over the years. They are useful in making you sleep longer and also improve the quality of your sleep. When you want to try out a sleep aid, there are a few things to consider:

  • Do behavioral changes and other non-medical treatments work for you? Before you get on a sleeping aid, try other non-medical solutions to cure your insomnia.
  • Is your insomnia short-term? Insomnia is normally coming as a result of a temporary change in schedule, jet lag, or other forms of anxiety that may result in sleep loss. If it is so, work on this first before you get on to a sleep aid.
  • Has your doctor diagnosed and recommend a favorable sleep aid for you?
  • Develop good and healthy sleep habits as a solution to long-standing insomnia.
  • Sleep aids, while effective, should not replace healthy sleep habits.

While over-the-counter sleep aids will be effective for some people, they might not be as effective as others. We recommend a sincere discussion with your doctor about the best types, right doses, and right plans for you.

How To Safely Use Sleep Aid

Before you start on a sleep aid, consider the following:

  • Seek your doctor’s advice on the right dose, type, and treatment plan that will work with you without having any adverse side effects on you. This is mostly in the case of underlying health problems.
  • Prioritize non-medical approaches. If you decide to take a sleep aid, use non-medical approaches such as cognitive-behavioral management, relaxation drills, and other healthy tips to cure your insomnia. Using multiple approaches works well to facilitate and maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.
  • Do not use sleep aids indefinitely. Instead, do not use them for the long-term, preferably for a short period to offset any sleep irregularities you might have.
  • Know and follow all the safety precautions associated with the sleep aid you use.

All-Natural Sleep Aid

all-natural sleep aid

If you are after some shut-eye, you will need a sleep aid, and what a better one than a natural sleep aid? They are safer than OTC and prescription drugs, and what is even better, some even work better. They have low risks of side effects complications and do not lead to dependency when used correctly. Before you get into any of them, we strongly recommend consulting your doctor about it. You should also work on developing a healthy sleeping habit rather than seeking a sleeping aid.

9 Science-Backed, Natural Sleep Aids

A large number of people avoid using medication and opt for non-prescription and natural sleep aids. These will relax you, ease your anxiety, and promote your sleep and improve digestion as well. We advise you to work on your sleeping patterns, diet, and routines before trying any of them. If you have tried all these and your insomnia still persists, then try non-medical approaches first. Here, we have review 9 of the best natural sleep aid 2021 with scientific backing and approval for use.

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is part of the essential minerals for the body and helps in numerous brain and heart functions. It is also responsible for regulating the production of melatonin, which in effect induces sleep through relaxed muscles, mind, and body.

Studies have also shown that magnesium will treat insomnia regardless of its cause when combined with melatonin and Vitamin B.

2. Melatonin

Melatonin, one of the pillar hormones naturally produced by the human body, signals the brain when it is time to sleep. This hormone’s production follows the time of day, and its levels reach the maximum in the evenings and drop in the mornings.

Melatonin supplements are most useful to people whose cycles are irregular due to work, jet lag or those who require sleeping during the daytime like shift workers. Research has also shown that melatonin works by reducing the time one requires to fall asleep and increases sleeping time. Therefore, it improves both the quality and quantity of sleep.

3. Valerian root

valerian root

Valerian root is a native herb useful in treating anxiety, depression, and menopause. It improves sleep quality and treats sleep disorder symptoms.

While this herb has been in use for years by Europeans and Asians, studies into it remain inconsistent. Consequently, we recommend that you keep its intake at a minimal rate.

4. Passionflower

also known as passiflora incarnata or maypop, passionflower is good for treating insomnia since anciet times. there is scanty research on passionflower extracts and supplements, but it is effective and safe with adults. it increases total sleep time, reduces sleep latency, and improves your wake up time.

5.Glycine

This is an amino acid that closely works with the nervous system and improves sleep.

While its working is under research, glycine seems to lower body temperature and ready it for sleep, and reducing sleep latency. Glycine will not only help you sleep faster but improves the quality of sleep, which will increase your daytime performance the next waking day.

6. Tryptophan

This is yet another vital amino acid supplement with a high recommendations from scientists. A 1-gram a day dosage will improve the quality of sleep and will help you sleep faster.

7. Lavender

lavender

Lavender produces purple flowers, which undergo drying before making a few products, including lavender oil. Its sweet-smelling and soothing fragrance enhances sleep and is highly recommendable to women and young individuals with mild insomnia.

While lavender aromatherapy increases sleep quality and treats sleep disorder symptoms, oral intake of lavender is not safe. It will leave you nauseous and cause stomach pain in some people.

8. L-theanine

This is an amino acid good for improving sleep and relaxation.

It is most effective if you take it daily and combined with GABA (read on for more GABA information and how it works).

9. Ginkgo Biloba

You should take this natural herb at least 30-60 minutes before bed. It enhances relaxation, reduces stress, and improves sleep quality, reflecting in a better daytime performance the next day.

Before you try any of these natural sleep aids, we advise that you seek your doctor’s input and ensure that it has the backing of tons of research. Always use a sleep aid with caution when you are biohacking sleep.

All Natural Sleeping Pills

all natural sleeping pills

There are two types of natural sleeping pills; plant-source sleeping pills and hormone-source sleeping pills – melatonin. Due to their low side effects complications, they make the best sleep supplements. We cover these different forms of sleep aids below.

Active Ingredients In Sleeping Pills

The GABA hormone is a chemical messenger in the brain, and its primary role is attaching to neurons to reduce their activity. This slows down the nerve transmission and prevents anxiety by producing a calming and relaxing effect that fosters sleep. Sleeping pills contain benzodiazepines, which can bind with GABA and amplify its action as a neurotransmitter and increase the chloride channel; thus, allowing more chloride ions to go into the neuron. This, in turn, reduces neuron activity immensely, which will make the brain relax more and make one fall asleep easier and deeper.

Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Benzodiazepine is effective in inducing and maintaining sleep. Melatonin is also useful as a tablet to induce sleep due to its low side effects and works well to induce sleep when the cycle has interruption from jet lag, work, etc.

The huge downside of sleeping pills is that they tackle insomnia symptoms rather than the causes themselves. The treatment and solutions they offer also bring about huge risks and side effects, which make them unattractive to many people. So much unattractive they have become that most doctors opt to recommend other forms of treatment that do not involve sleeping pills at all. So, while sleeping pills will work, it is time to consider natural remedies if you really want to fight insomnia objectively without the fear of harmful side effects.

Are Sleeping Pills Safe?

are sleeping pills safe

Sleeping pills are generally safe, but long-term use has side effects that pose a potential threat to your health1. Benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines have, for instance, been found to cause daytime grogginess, which can cause judgment problems2.

This leads to accidents with grave statistics of 20 deaths and 46 non-fatal but severe injuries due to the effects of sleeping pills. Long-term use has a connection with sleep-related disorders such as sleepwalking. The FDA, therefore, cautions at all times while on this medication. It needs no saying that you consult with your doctor to give you a safe and individually tailored dosage that will not result in any complications.

Some other precautions that we recommend are:

  • Avoid sleeping pills if you are 65 years and above. In these individuals, sleeping pills tend to impair cognition, mobility and driving skills, and other mobility problems.
  • Do not take these drugs while pregnant or breastfeeding as they will put your child at risk.
  • In case you have liver or kidney problems, seek your doctor’s guidance before taking any sleeping drugs.
  • Avoid combining sleeping pills and other medications or alcohol, resulting in efficiency complications and harmful reactions.

All-Natural Sleep Medicine

all-natural sleep medicine

If your body does not agree with over-the-counter sleeping pills, you might give all-natural herbal sleep medicine a shot. While they are effective, do not swap these sleep aids for smart sleeping habits but instead, use them to complement these habits. We also urge that you consult with your doctor before using them to ensure that they are safe for use. Here’s a look at some:

Chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea finds popular use as a relaxation herb for centuries and works well as a mild sedative calming the nerves, reducing anxiety, and easing insomnia. Experts recommend going for two or three tea bags for a good kick of it.

California poppy.

For people who do not want to feel sluggish and lethargic, this might be your drink. Boil the bright orange leaves in steaming hot water for about ten minutes and take the concoction to ease your anxiety and get you ready for bed.

Passionflower.

This flower, popular in the tropics, is a mild sedative and has an excellent taste. Add a teaspoon of it to boiling water, and let it boil for ten minutes for a deep slumber.

We encourage using these natural sleep aids as they do not have far-reaching side effects compared to their med counterparts.

All Natural Melatonin

Melatonin hormone is manufactured in the pineal gland. It helps regulate sleep and signals when the right time to sleep has come.

Natural melatonin is made from animals’ pineal gland. While it is effective, we discourage consuming this type of melatonin as it could be contaminated with a virus or other forms of diseases from the animal.

All-Natural Sleep Vitamins

all-natural sleep vitamins

Vitamins are important components of the body, and their intake will influence your sleep pattern and quality of sleep. If you are treating insomnia, there are vitamins that will therefore be useful in your efforts and work as sleep aids. We have listed for you three of the best natural vitamins there are:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C works with your immune system and will help prevent cardiovascular diseases. The vitamin, which can be obtained from fruits like oranges, kiwi, pineapples and veggies like kale, cauliflower, among others, has been found to ease sleep and make you sleep deeper. Also, they improve your wake up time when taken for a long time.

Vitamin D

Obtained from fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, Vitamin D also occurs in beef liver, egg yolks, whole foods, and beverages. Its receptors have been found in parts of the brain responsible for regulating sleep and giving you quality sleep. High Vitamin D levels in your body result in less disturbed and quality sleep. It can also be obtained from the sun; hence an occasional sunbath is recommended.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one vital addition to the body’s secretion of melatonin. This vitamin can be obtained from meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and other animal products. We expressly encourage vegans and vegetarians to consume a lot of Vitamin B12 supplements to help tackle insomnia as they can only be found in animal products rather than plants and vegetables.

Amino Acids for Deep Sleep

amino acids for deep sleep

Amino acids are the organic compounds typically made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen and are used in the body’s metabolism. They also tend to be called the protein building blocks and are major components in a significant number of biological functions and processes in the body.

An amino acid deficiency will result in fatigue, which is likely to reduce the quality of sleep and increase the amount of time you take before falling asleep. Let us look at some amino acids that have been linked to improved quality sleep, decreased sleep latency, and are efficient sleep aids:

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)

If you have been using natural supplements or prescription drugs to treat your insomnia, then you might be familiar with GABA. It is the most researched amino acid and functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. It will therefore promote brain health and dampen nerve activity, which in turn reduces anxiety, improves sleep and calms the brain. This increases the overall amount of time you spent in deep sleep, reduces sleep latency, and improves sleep quality. GABA can be obtained from yogurt, Korean kimchi and Japanese miso, among other fermented food preparations.

L-Glutamine

Glutamine is not anywhere near an essential amino acid or a major remedy in treating insomnia. But its use has been linked to improved immune systems, better appetite, digestive health, brain and muscle functions. They result in increased focus and alertness and increased dopamine production, which has been linked to improved sleep quality. Glutamine is abundant in dairy products, beans, leafy green vegetables, among other food sources, and a lot of its ingestion is encouraged as the body uses up its reserves when you are under a lot of stress.

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is another amino acid that most of us consume unawares. It is a major component of tea and is responsible for making it a refreshing and relaxing beverage. As a sleep aid, it relieves anxiety, stress, and restlessness. All of these are important in maintaining sleep.

Green tea contains minimal levels of this amino acid compared to coffee and tea, and we recommend these beverages or other supplements if you are allergic to caffeine.

Glycine

Glycine is similar to GABA in its working; it works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glycine will normalize your sleep patterns as most of the amino acids we have discussed above do and will also relax and calm you down, improving your general being. It is a common amino acid present in gummy candies, cosmetics, antiperspirants, and antacids, and analgesics. It has a sweet taste and is highly recommended.

Tryptophan

You ever notice how full and satisfied you feel on Thanksgiving Day when compared to other times you eat? You also sleep better and for longer, right? While carbohydrates make you feel sleepy, tryptophan – contained in Turkey – is a major cause of that overall full feeling. It has high serotonin levels, which keep us calm and happy, and is excellent at managing stress levels and anxiety, aiding in your sleep.

Unfortunately, the human body is unable to generate this amino acid. Therefore, the only way to obtain it is through consuming healthy diets with eggs, dairy, seafood, and other foods that contain it. If you can obtain it, through supplements or in your diet, consume as much of it as you can as the body needs it at all times.

Best Food Supplement For Insomnia

best food supplement for insomnia

Before you rush to take a sleeping pill, you could try some nutritionist-backed insomnia remedies that may be sitting around your kitchen. There are some foods that are excellent sleep aids and will do a great job when you are biohacking sleep. We have reviewed five of the best below:

Walnuts

These crunchy nuts are great for your heart and contain high melatonin content, a hormone that helps regulate and create a healthy sleep cycle and pattern. For best performance, snack on a handful of these about 20 minutes before bed to ensure you have a restful and deep sleep.

Vitamin B6

To fall asleep, serotonin levels rise while adrenaline falls. Serotonin is partly made up of tryptophan and is activated by Vitamin B6. Foods that impact the level of tryptophan and make it readily available and increase its abundance in the body are, therefore, useful in falling asleep. It can be obtained from potatoes, whole foods, fish, chicken, bananas, peanut butter, and many vegetables.

Bananas

Bananas are super fruits when it comes to treating insomnia. It contains magnesium, serotonin, and melatonin – components that are super helpful in helping you fall asleep. The banana will also reduce cortisol levels in the body – a hormone that interrupts and hinder deep sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

Cherry juice contains melatonin, flavonoids, and other compounds that help get a deep sleep and treating insomnia. Since it contains a lot of sugar, we suggest keeping its consumption at a minimum. You can also add it to a smoothie or take a small serving before sleep part of your biohacking supplements.

Drink a glass of milk

Well, this might seem monotonous, but that glass of milk your mum always bugged you into drinking before sleeping might actually be what you need to get a good night’s sleep. Milk contains a considerable amount of calcium, which regulates melatonin levels in the body, and is also a good source of melatonin itself. It also contains a massive amount of tryptophan, which, like melatonin, has a calming effect on the body.

Best Herbs For Sleep

best herbs for sleep

Before the inception of modern medicine, herbs worked just fine in treating insomnia and a host of other ailments. FDA has approved some herbs in the treating of insomnia and biohacking sleep. Here is a look:

Valerian root.

The root from the valerian plant, scientifically called Valeriana officinalis, is useful in helping reduce sleep latency and increasing deep sleep and wake-up time. However, there still lacks enough research to conclude on its safety and effectiveness. It is also possible for this herb to interfere with other medications. Therefore, we advise that you keep away from it while under medication or while pregnant or breastfeeding. Children are also discouraged from using it.

Chamomile

This FDA approved herb is considered a safe remedy for treating insomnia. Individuals sensitive to ragweed and chrysanthemums are advised against taking it as it could lead to allergic reactions and complications.

Some other herbs that are effective include passionflower, lemon balm and hops. Extra precautions should, however, be observed while taking these herbs.

Sleep Aid FAQs

sleep aid faqs

To ensure that you have a great understanding of sleep aids, we collated some of the most frequently asked questions for you below:

Are Sleep Aids Addictive?

Both new and old sleep aids that are used in treating insomnia are addictive and toxic in overdose. They will also lose their effectiveness when used regularly. When taking them, one should also avoid alcohol as, among other problems, it will affect machinery operation, performance, and lead to accidents.

Individuals carrying the burden of addiction history, as well as addictive personalities, should take extra precautions when using sleep aids.

What Is The Best Over The Counter Sleep Aid?

While there is no particular “best” OTC sleep aid, the most popular ones include:

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Aleve PM etc.), is a sedating antihistamine. Its side effects include daytime drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, and blurred vision.
  • Doxylamine sccinae (Unisom sleeptabs).it is also a sedating antihistamine and has similar side effects to diphenhydramine 
  • Melatonin. It is good in treating jet lag and reduces sleep latency. Its side effects are not limited to headaches and daytime sleepiness.

Is It OK To Take Sleep Aid Every Night?

is it ok to take sleep aid every night

No. Regular use of sleep aids will wear down their performance and induce daytime sedation just as nighttime sedation. This will affect waking and working performance. Older people are also advised to use them cautiously and at lower doses as they have been seen to cause cognitive confusion and impair memory.

What Is The Most Effective Natural Sleep Aid?

From this article, I know you can already tell which the best sleep remedy for insomnia is. We highly recommend melatonin but strongly caution against supplements made from other animal products. In any case, remember that these sleep aids are only supposed to complement other healthy sleeping habits and not replace them.

Learn more about biohacking here >>>

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4634348/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/sleeping-pills/art-20043959