Did you know that 9 million Americans are using prescription sleep aids just to get a good night’s rest? Although there are over-the-counter sleep aids available to those with insomnia or going through sleepless nights, using prescription sleep aids or OTC versions long term can be harmful to you.
Rather than relying on sleep aids that could cause addiction and serious health problems, why not opt for some natural sleep aids? They often have a calming effect on your body and won’t leave you hazy in the morning. They are safe to take and it’s easy to stop once you feel you don’t need them any more to help you fall asleep.
So, what are the top 5 best natural sleep aids out there?
Melatonin is a popular sleep aid for many children and adults. It’s used when your sleep/wake cycle is out of sync, resulting in sleeping at unusual times. This usually occurs during traveling when you have jet lag or if you have shift work.
So don’t think of Melatonin as a sleep inducer. Think of it as a sleep signaler to your body to get ready for sleep.
The best time to take Melatonin is about 3 hours before bedtime. This is the time your body is gearing up for sleep and could benefit from having Melatonin in your body.
Taking Melatonin is completely safe for you and your children and there are no side effects. It is, however, recommended that pregnant women should avoid Melatonin as well as those with serious mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia.
As well, Melatonin isn’t a long term supplement for easier sleep. It should only be a short term solution to help you with falling asleep at night. If you find you can’t give up Melatonin, then consider seeing a doctor for more help.
2. Valerian Root
This is also a popular natural sleep aid, but it does not work for everyone. This herb mimics many sleeping pills but it is not addictive and will not leave you groggy in the morning.
The one thing to consider when using Valerian root is that it acts as a mild sleeping aid. It only really helps with relaxing you. If you find that you have a bigger sleeping issue, than Valerian root might not be beneficial.
If you decide to take Valerian Root, take it an hour before your bedtime. It can take months to actually work and shouldn’t be used for more than 3 months at a time.
Side effects include indigestion, headaches and dizziness. Since this herb seems to affect medications and alcohol consumption, make sure to speak to your doctor about taking Valerian root for sleep.
3. Relaxing Activities
One of the best things to do before sleep is to incorporate some relaxation time. I know many families are busy right around dinner time and then spend the next few hours watching TV, doing homework or cleaning up the house.
If you suffer from sleep issues, these actives could very well be interfering with your sleep cycle. When you start to relax, your brain starts to relax as well.
Here are some activities to do an hour or so before sleep:
- Yoga poses
- Mediation and visualization
- Relaxing in the tub
- Read a book
- Listen to soft music
How does exercise fit into sleep aids? I know. I just mentioned to try some relaxing activities before you hit the sack, but did you know that exercise also helps you have a better night’s rest?
If you simply exercise for 30 minutes two or three times a week, you will be able to sleep better and more soundly. Now I don’t mean exercise till exhaustion. That actually revs up your body and releases adrenaline, causing you to stay awake.
To get a better night’s rest, try doing moderate exercises like:
- Going on the treadmill
- Riding a stationary bike
Any one of these exercises, if done weekly multiple times will naturally help your body become sleepy. Often times, excising will release any extra energy you may have pent up and over time it will naturally make you tired. Just remember not to exercise close to bedtime as this will energize you and make it hard to fall asleep.
5. Watch Your Diet
One of the biggest things to do for your diet is to cut down or completely eliminate caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and has a half life of around 5 hours. This means that after you’ve had your late afternoon cup of coffee or diet coke, the caffeine stays in your system for 5 more hours.
If you can’t or won’t eliminate caffeine then at least stop drinking it around noon. That way, by bedtime, you won’t have the effects of caffeine disturbing your sleep. You could also try having tea instead. Tea has many wonderful antioxidants that’s great for our health and it tastes good too!
Another thing you can do, is try to eat foods with tryptophan. Having a warm glass of milk or even a slice of turkey can help you become sleepy.
Other foods that induce sleep are carbs. Maybe you want to have a snack before bedtime. Why not try a couple of crackers and cheese? Or a slice of toast and honey.
No More Counting Sheep In This Bed
Tossing and turning each night can give you a headache in the morning. Missing out on sleep really doesn’t do well for your mind, skin and hair.
If you think you could benefit from some natural sleep aids, why not try some? It doesn’t hurt to cut back on caffeine or to exercise a few times a week.
Let me know what natural sleep remedies you use for a good night’s sleep.