At WellBe, we know that sleep is really, really important for your health. But we also know that if you’re having trouble getting enough shut-eye, prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids are not the way to go. We already discussed all the health risks of sleep aids (gut issues, IBS, intestinal bleeding, impaired cognitive function…the list goes on and on), so we skip OTC and Rx sleep remedies. But what about natural sleep aids?
If you’re spending most nights tossing and turning, watch (or read) part two of our guide to sleep aids to learn more about your options.
First, there are a few natural sleep aids to consider. The two most popular are melatonin and valerian root. Here are the deets on each:
Melatonin: This is a hormone that helps the brain and body prepare for sleep, usually taken in capsule form. If you have trouble falling asleep, take between 1-3 mg around an hour before bed; if your problem is staying asleep, take it immediately before bed.
Valerian root: This plant has mild sedative properties that can help with sleep. It can be taken either as a tea or in a capsule.
Both of these are generally considered safe for short-term use. However, even these natural sleep aids can have some side effects like headaches, drowsiness, or stomach problems — and likely others that we don’t know about yet. Plus, if you’re relying on a sleep aid to fall asleep at night, you’re just putting a band-aid on the problem rather than solving it.
In other words, the best thing to do is to find more holistic solutions to your sleep issues, rather than trying to treat them with a pill. If your insomnia is chronic, it’s probably a good idea to talk with a functional or integrative doctor about it. You might have an underlying issue that’s keeping you up at night, such as heartburn, diabetes, kidney issues, breathing problems, or anxiety, among others.
If you have situational insomnia (a big meeting the next day, jet lag) try one (or all) of these natural ways to treat insomnia.
Natural Sleep Aids
Lavender essential oil (Spray it on your pillows, use it in a diffuser, or combine it with coconut oil in a bath.)
Meditation (Try the Calm or Headspace apps for guided meditations.)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT for insomnia has been found to be extremely effective when it comes to long-term improvement. Try the Sleepio app.)
Magnesium (Take it as a supplement, or eat more leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.)