natural sleep

These Natural Sleep Aids Will Help You Catch Some Much-Needed Z's

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Jan. 12 2021, Updated 1:01 p.m. ET

Adequate sleep is fleeting in this day and age, with the average adult requiring a minimum of 7 hours of slumber per night, but as per the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. Clocking less than seven hours a night is linked to an increased risk in various chronic health conditions, and while many turn to over-the-counter medicines to help with their insomnia, there are some natural sleep aids out there that can be efficient in helping you fall asleep faster and get better sleep overall. 

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Natural sleep aids are generally less wasteful, meaning you can find many of them in reusable or recyclable containers, in bulk, or just naturally without packaging. Drugstore sleep aids generally contain many side effects such as confusion and falls in older people, daytime drowsiness, are associated with dementia, and can be habit-forming or addictive. Therefore, by using all-natural sleeping aids, you are lowering your potential health risks.

Glycine

While the science and complexity of how glycine works is not entirely known, studies do show that it is important to improving sleep quality. Researchers believe it owers the body temperature right around bedtime, sending messages to the brain and the rest of the body to start getting some rest. In a 2007 study, participants who took 3 grams of glycine before bed showed improved sleep quality and fell asleep faster than those who took the placebo.

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Glycine is made by our bodies naturally, but your levels could be off. Taking glycine in a pill form or powder (diluted in water) can help get your body and natural levels of glycine back on track. If you’d prefer a holistic approach, there are many foods rich in glycine out there, such as: bananas, beans, bone broth, cabbage, eggs, fish, kale, kiwi, poultry, and spinach.

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Lavender

Lavender aromatherapy can catapult you into the deepest, most relaxing sleep of your life, and you don’t even have to “take” anything. The lavender plant contains a soothing fragrance that has been shown in studies to improve the quality of our sleep, remedy mild insomnia, and even reduce symptoms associated with anxiety disorder. All you have to do is smell lavender oil for 30 minutes before bedtime.

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Proven to be as successful as conventional sleep meds, the smelling of lavender essential oil before bed has significantly less side effects than the conventional stuff (if any at all). To reap the amazing calming and sleep-inducing benefits of lavender, you can buy a 100 percent pure essential oil and diffuse it in an essential oil diffuser 30 minutes before bedtime.

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Magnesium

Because magnesium is important to our energy levels and metabolism, you can see the clear link here to how magnesium helps us fall asleep. Included in the 600 enzymatic reactions that magnesium oversees may be the production of melatonin, the hormone that signifies to the body that it’s time to sleep. Low levels of magnesium in the body are associated with difficulty sleeping and insomnia.

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Studies have shown that a dosage of 500 mg of magnesium daily made for better sleep quality. In a separate study, a supplement containing 225 mg of magnesium, 5 mg of melatonin, and 11.25 mg of zinc also improved participants’ sleep quality. As for doses, the recommended doses of magnesium supplements are generally anywhere from 200 to 400 mg per day. Read the back of the bottle for more specific instructions and dosing specific to your brand of magnesium.

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Melatonin

Melatonin is well-known for its sleep-inducing properties, as it's a natural sleep-inducing hormone in the body. Generally, melatonin levels rise in the evening to help you sleep at night, but if your melatonin levels are off, supplements could be the right all-natural choice for you. It’s been shown that melatonin improves sleep quality and reduces the amount of time it takes someone to fall asleep. All in all, it also keeps you more deeply asleep for longer.

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Melatonin comes in liquid form, pills, and even in gummies – in both natural and synthetic forms. The natural form of melatonin is made from the pineal gland of animals, so if you are vegan or vegetarian, you might prefer a synthetic form of melatonin. Doses of up to 12-milligrams have been studied and seem safe if you would prefer a higher dose. For treatment of delayed phase syndrome (trouble falling asleep), a dosage of 0.3 to 5-milligrams is recommended.

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Valerian root

Valerian root is an herb native to Asia and Europe that is commonly used to treat symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, menopause, and lack of sleep. Short-term usage of valerian root seems to be safe according to the studies that have been done, but studies of its sleep-inducing capabilities have made for some inconsistent results. 

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While valerian root might not be for everyone, the anecdotal evidence is strong. In more recent studies, people reported that 300 to 900 mg of valerian right before bed improved their sleep quality. As for long-term usage, not enough is known about the long-term effects of using valerian root to treat insomnia.

Happy sleeping!

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