If you’re dreading going to bed – ready for another long, sleepless night of tossing and turning, you’re not alone. Sleeping pills are a multi-billion dollar industry for good reason and pharmacists have every incentive to keep you coming back for more.
However, if you would prefer not to rely on brain-affecting chemicals or prescriptions that may be habit forming and expensive, consider these natural remedies. Natural remedies have been around for hundreds of years.
Even though these remedies are generally considered safe, they may not be for everyone. Accordingly, as with any medicine – whether natural or by prescription – there can be unexpected side effects so be sure to research the side effects before starting on a new program and consult with your doctor.
Our favorite natural sleep remedies include various herbs. Since herbs, like most remedies, can lose their efficacy after repeated use, we like to alternate our herb for optimal sleep or combine herbs in soothing and calming teas or capsules. Below are the herbs that top our list for a good night’s rest.
CHAMOMILE – An all time favorite relaxant, chamomile is frequently found in baby bedtime remedies and adult teas and tinctures.
HOPS – Does drinking beer make you sleepy? It may be due to the hops. Well known as a key ingredient in the making of beer, hops is a traditional herbal sleep remedy. It is available as a liquid or in capsules. It is sometimes available in sleep remedy teas; however, for more efficacy, try adding a few drops of the liquid to warm tea.
CAT NIP – Yes – this is the same herb that will make your cat go crazy and get super excited so if you sleep with your cat, you may want to skip this one! Cat Nip seems to react differently in people and can often help promote and prolong sleep. It is available as a tea or can be made into a tincture. It is also available as a capsule either alone or combined with other sleep promoting herbs.
MELATONIN – Melatonin is produced naturally by the body and contributes to our ability to sleep. Melatonin production may be impacted when we’re
exposed to too much light so if you watch a lot of television or have a bright room, you may not produce as much melatonin as you need for a sound sleep. Melatonin supplements are available In tablets, liquids and even as part of sleep remedy teas.
VALERIAN – Valerian is a flowering plant long used for lessening anxiety and promoting sleep. It is a common ingredient in many natural sleep remedies. Unfortunately, we apparently react to Valerian slightly differently than most people because it actually makes us slightly jumpy and anxious for some reason; however, many people swear by it.
SLEEP INDUCING FOODS
MILK – If your Mother used to suggest you drink a glass of milk before bed when you had trouble sleeping, she was on to something. This old wives tale actually has some truth to it. Studies show that milk contains the enzyme Tryptophan which promote sleep. Tryptophan is also available in some natural sleep remedies.
COMFORT FOODS – Obviously, it is not recommended to eat late at night, especially right before bed; however, if sleep eludes you and you can’t take your mind off of a topic that has you tossing and turning, try a light snack of comfort foods. Comfort foods can sate your unease and make you feel less anxious, helping you to fall asleep more quickly.
SLEEP INDUCING ACTIVITIES
READING – If it works for Bill Gates, it may just work for you. However, choose a book that doesn’t get your heart racing or that you will become engrossed in and lose track of time. The intent is to make yourself drowsy so books on topics of interest but that are educational or a little dry work best for me. If I choose a novel with an interesting plot twist and can’t put the book down until 1 a.m., I might sleep better when I finally shut off the lights; however, the benefit is moot since I stayed up way too late anyway.
EXERCISE – Just about everything I read says not to exercise right before bed. This makes perfect sense since it can rev you up and make you feel motivated instead of rested. However, for me, bedtime exercise actually makes me very sleepy. It calms my mind, makes me feel productive regardless of what else I’ve accomplished during the day and increases oxygen level – all of which helps me to drift off much more quickly. If you can’t sleep, can’t get your mind of something or you’re feeling stiff and restless, consider doing a few setups, stretching or walking for 10 minutes or so on the treadmill. You may find that exercise was just the ticket for a great night’s sleep.
MIND OVER BODY GAME – When all else fails and you’re lying in the dark wide awake thinking about topics that you shouldn’t be, play a trick on yourself. This technique has been used by people all over the world and is actually very effective. First, get comfortable and cozy in bed. Then starting either at the top of your head or the bottom of your toes, concentrate on each body part in succession progressing from one body part to the next until you reach the other end of your body (if you’re still awake). In other words, if you start from your toes, wiggle your toes and imagine them being heavy and tired, then move to your ankles. By the time you get to the other end of your body, you’ll likely be asleep or well on your way to dreamland.