With today’s hustle and bustle lifestyles, stress levels, and everything else that messes with our circadian rhythms, sleep troubles are on the rise. Indeed, 68% of American adults have trouble falling or staying asleep at least once a week.
If you fall into this 68%, there is a wide range of sleep aids on the market that maybe you are just now starting to look into. Or, maybe you’re looking for something new to get better sleep.
Trying to find the sleep aid that’s right for you can be overwhelming with the number of sleep supplements out there, the FDA blackbox warnings on OTC and prescription sleep aids, as well as the fear of building a tolerance. Many sleep aids may claim to be safe, but they can come with some side effects worth considering.
Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids have a broad range of side effects including dizziness, drowsiness, daytime sleepiness, double vision, nausea, constipation, and dry mouth, just to name a few. They can also be habit-forming and make you dependent on taking them to feel sleepy.
So if you’re considering a sleep aid, prescription or not, you may want to try a natural alternative first for restful sleep.
There are many effective, natural sleep aids available to help you get a good night’s sleep without the side effects that often come with prescription sleep medications and antihistamines.
If you’re wondering which are the best natural sleep aids, here are some of the most common.
Valerian root has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy and is known to calm anxiety and tension.
Valerian is a plant native to Europe and Asia and supplements are made from its roots and stems. These supplements come in teas, tinctures, capsules, and tablets.
Valerian has compounds that are known to increase an inhibitory neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA works to calm the nervous system, having a relaxing effect on the body. Valerian root supplements inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in feelings of calmness and tranquility.
Valerian root supplements are not habit forming. It’s also central to the Remrise personalized formulations because of its well established reputation as a reliable and natural sleep aid. Valerian root complements the other ingredients in the formulations. Learn more...
Magnesium is one of the body’s most essential minerals and has many functions including regulating stress and promoting sleep.
It can be found in foods like leafy greens, a variety of vegetables, dairy, nuts, and seeds, but many people do not get enough of it through diet alone. Since our bodies don’t produce magnesium, it needs to come from outside sources. When diet alone isn’t giving you enough, magnesium dietary supplements may be a good option.
Magnesium helps alleviate sleep problems by supporting the calming effect of GABA.
But finding the right magnesium supplement can be confusing because there are many different types of magnesium supplements available. Magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium glycinate, are some of the most commonly available.
There are so many different types of magnesium out there and the dosages even vary between manufacturers. Since there are many uses for magnesium supplements, you want to make sure you’re taking the right one for sleep and at the right dosage.
At Remrise we use magnesium glycinate, which has been demonstrated to be the most effective for good sleep. Learn more about how we use magnesium glycinate in our personalized sleep rotations.
Another thing to look for is whether it contains calcium or not. Some magnesium capsules come with added calcium, but you may want to consider taking them at two separate times over the course of the day to help with absorption.
Magnesium supplements are non-habit forming but can have side effects, especially if consuming too much.
Passionflower is an herbal remedy that’s been around for hundreds of years and used for sleep and anxiety.
Passionflower is another sleep aid that boosts the production of GABA, which calms the mind and helps you relax. It comes from the leaves and flowers of the passionflower vine and supplements come in the form of teas, tinctures, and capsules.
There are studies that show passionflower to be effective at improving sleep quality in healthy adults.
Passionflower is another non-habit forming sleep aid.
Ever wonder why you’re so tired after a Thanksgiving meal? Tryptophan (aka L-tryptophan) is likely at least partially to blame for your post-feast food-coma. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that works with certain hormones in your body that promote sleep.
L-tryptophan works to elevate serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin not only helps to regulate mood, but it also is needed for your body’s own melatonin production, which plays a huge role in making you feel sleepy.
Studies have shown that L-tryptophan can boost sleepiness and lessen the time it takes to fall asleep.
L-tryptophan is not produced in the body, which means we need to get it from the foods we eat. It can be found in plant and animal proteins, as well as in supplements.
Tryptophan is also non-habit forming as a supplement but can come with some side effects. and has been used in a variety of research and clinical settings safely for over 30 years.
L-Theanine is another amino acid that is not produced in the body and has been shown to be an effective sleep aid. 9 It can be found in certain foods, including some mushrooms, but it is mostly found in tea.
In its tea form however, you also have the competing caffeine. So, if you want to get the sleep inducing benefits of L-theanine, there are supplements available that do not have caffeine.
L-theanine works on some of the chemicals in the brain to produce its sedative properties. GABA, serotonin, and dopamine to name drop a few. All of these have been shown to increase when consuming L-theanine. These chemicals, or neurotransmitters, all work to make you feel relaxed so you can fall asleep more easily.
L-theanine is generally safe, non-habit forming, and has few known side effects.
Melatonin is a hormone made naturally in your body. It plays a central role in regulating our sleep-wake cycles by triggering the sensation of being tired. Certain life circumstances can suppress the production of this hormone, which can give rise to sleeplessness.
There are melatonin supplements you can take if you’re having trouble sleeping. Melatonin pills are produced in a lab and there are various levels of quality on the market. Studies have shown it works well for jet lag and for the elderly. It won’t put you to sleep but it might make you feel ready for bed. Be aware of the next-day melatonin hangover though before you start taking it.
At Remrise we’re not the biggest fan of melatonin, since its long-term use is not a good solution for improving your sleep. With melatonin, your body can build tolerance quickly and the hangover often leaves you feeling drowsy in the morning.
What to look out for when buying natural sleep aids
Even though you are buying a natural product, some manufacturers may include additives to avoid.
Always read the label to make sure you’re getting a clean product and avoid things like soybean oil, cornstarch and corn maltodextrin, sugars as well as sulfites, nitrates, artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.