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Roundup of Natural Sleep Aids

Getting good-quality sleep is essential. (Not just for your overall health, but for your weight as well!) But what if it’s not happening? If you’ve tried other recommended remedies – like exercising and avoiding blue light before bed – it may be time for additional help.

Natural sleep aids can be a reliable remedy without picking up a heavy prescription or doctor’s bill. By altering hormone levels, relieving stress, and promoting relaxation, herbal supplements, extracts, and oils may be your best bet! Take a look at these popular natural sleep aids and see if there’s one that’s right for you.

Melatonin – Though it doesn’t actually make you fall asleep, a rise in melatonin puts the body in ‘quiet’ mode, which sets the tone for falling asleep. Most people’s bodies produce enough melatonin – at the right time – to provoke a healthy day/night sleep cycle. When this pattern gets thrown off (either from traveling, hormones, or other body changes), taking 1-3mg of melatonin a couple hours before bed may help. (And, no, more is NOT better when it comes to melatonin!)

Tart Cherry – This tasty drink is packed with melatonin and tryptophan (which helps the body produce melatonin). Studies show that tart cherry juice has additional health benefits too, like improving memory and lowering blood pressure. Experts recommend drinking about 16 ounces per day to get better sleep. But beware – drinking tart cherry can be tough on the tummy if you’re not used to it! Ease into the 16 ounces over the course of a few days, or opt for tart cherry extract altogether.

Magnesium – On average, adults need about 300-420mg of magnesium each day. Though it’s present in leafy greens, nuts, yogurts, and other foods, it is also available in tablet form. Researchers aren’t sure exactly what magnesium does when it comes to sleep, but studies show that people who aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet often struggle with insomnia, meaning a close link does exist.

Lavender Oil – A powerhouse in the world of aromatherapy, lavender oil is a well-known remedy used for fostering relaxation, thanks to its powerful scent profile. Rather than taking this as a supplement, a few drops of lavender oil can be rubbed on the temples or palms immediately before lying down.

Valerian Root – Studies about valerian root have mixed results, but in some cases, it seems this herbal supplement can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Because researchers are still trying to pin down the exact dosage and effectiveness of valerian root, it’s no surprise that side effects are occasionally reported, including headache, dizziness, and stomach pain.

Chamomile – An excellent sleep aid, chamomile is most commonly consumed as a tea. This floral herb has a calming effect which can help with falling sleep, as well as soothing digestive issues and headaches. Chamomile isn’t recommended for those with certain allergies or hormonal imbalances.

It’s Your Body – Stay in the Know!

The big box brands know that there’s a huge consumer base looking for natural products. With that said, the ‘natural’ label is popping up everywhere now! Be sure to inspect ingredient lists closely and/or consult your doctor before trusting a new product with total confidence.

There are so many benefits to trying natural sleep aids – including better sleep quality! Keep in mind, however, that these are not intended to be used as a long term solution. Rather, they are best when used as extra help alongside other healthy habits.

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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