Sleep is one of the most important things for your overall health. We need rest to function well mentally and physically. Good sleep quality encourages better cognitive functioning and protects us from age-related cognitive declines¹.
Furthermore, insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease².
But many of us struggle to get enough sleep each night.
Natural sleep remedies are the best, safest ways to promote better sleep. Read on to learn about the top natural sleep remedies available.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine that Acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles into acupoints on the body. For years, it has been used as a treatment for insomnia in China. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture was an effective treatment for insomnia³. While further studies are needed, the evidence suggests that the most effective intervention includes combining acupuncture with other therapies.
Acupuncture promotes sleep by relaxing the mind and body, allowing you to release anxiety. It also stimulates melatonin production, which is the body's natural sleep chemical. Additionally, it reduces pain, which is a common cause of restlessness.
Light therapy involves sitting near a special kind of lightbox each day for a set time. The light stimulates natural outdoor light, which helps to regulate circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm is the body's internal clock, and it tells us when to be awake or asleep.
An HHS Public Access Author manuscript explains that "health care providers treating older persons would benefit from considering light therapy as an alternative for selected patients with sleep disorders or depression⁴."
Music therapy is another natural remedy that may help improve sleep quality. Compared to other treatment methods, music therapy is very inexpensive and unintrusive. The idea is to listen to soft, soothing music during bedtime or naptime to enhance sleep quality.
An Alternative Therapy Health Medicine study examined the effect of music therapy on sleep quality⁵. The study found that music therapy improved the sleep quality of students. It served as an easy, safe, and affordable treatment option free of side effects. Another study also found that music therapy increased sleep quality and helped participants achieve longer sleep time⁶.
The key to music therapy is to listen to slow, calming music. Choose music with a slow rhythm, and consider sounds that simulate nature.
Your sleep schedule is critical for ensuring consistent, quality sleep. Without a proper sleep routine, you will struggle to put down the worries from the day and get a good night's sleep. Here are some ways to optimize your sleep schedule:
Healthy adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Being consistent is the key to optimizing your sleep. Think about the times you've gotten in a routine for the week to get wildly off track come weekend. How well do you sleep come Sunday night? A study that examined university students in Taiwan found that students with an irregular bedtime experienced low sleep quality⁷. The study also found that frequent/prolonged daytime naps, alcohol consumption before bedtime, and staying in one's bed for non-sleep-related activities were other poor sleep hygiene behaviors that inhibited sleep. It's ideal to go to bed and get up around the same time every day and minimize the difference in your sleep schedule.
What and when you eat and drink can impact your sleep. Two of the . According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine can cause issues falling asleep even 10-12 hours after some people's consumption⁸. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant linked to insomnia. Avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
Spicy and acidic foods may also cause heartburn, disrupting sleep efforts, so avoid them near bedtime. In general, being hungry or too full before bed is not a good idea, and can cause discomfort that keeps you awake.
Create an environment that welcomes sleep. Keep the room a cool, comfortable temperature. Make sure that it is sufficiently dark and quiet. To do this, you can use blackout curtains and earplugs or a white noise device. You should also make sure that your bed and sleeping arrangement is comfortable for you. One study found that "two components are significantly associated with insomnia symptoms: a pillow rated as moderately comfortable to very uncomfortable and a bedroom that was rated as not completely quiet⁹."
Avoid screens too close to bedtime. An author manuscript found that over 60 studies and two meta-analyses suggest that screen time among children and adolescents linked to delayed bedtime and shorter sleep time¹⁰. Many studies have also found that greater screen time leads to reduced sleep quality, longer sleep onset latency, and more daytime tiredness. Literature suggests limiting screen time 30-60 minutes before bedtime offers clear benefits for sleep.
High levels of stress and anxiety will keep your head spinning all night long, preventing you from getting adequate sleep. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America explain how stress and anxiety are linked to several sleeping problems¹¹. Clearing your mind before bed is critical for improving your sleep.
Focus on stress management. Stay on top of your priorities and keep organized. Instead of letting your to-do list pile up in your mind, jot it down before bed and set it aside. Incorporate other relaxation and stress management techniques into your daily routine like:
Daily exercise also helps promote better sleep, as long as you don't work out too close to bedtime. There is a longstanding association between exercise and better sleep, and exercise proves to be an effective natural remedy for disturbed sleep¹². The relationship is bidirectional, so poor sleep may also contribute to low physical activity. Taking the extra effort to focus on being active can help you get back on track.
Exercise does not have to be rigorous to have a significant impact on sleep. A study in the Advances of Preventative Medicine Journal found that exercise increased sleep efficiency and duration regardless of its mode or intensity¹³! Some easy ways to exercise:
Combining several of the natural remedies above can help improve sleep quality. However, many people will require a little extra help in the form of these natural sleep-promoting supplements:
Your body naturally produces melatonin as a sleep hormone. It influences your circadian rhythm, regulating sleep-wake cycles. When the sun goes down, and the light goes away, it triggers melatonin production, which tells your brain to induce night-state physiological functions to prepare for sleep¹⁴.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, melatonin is incredibly helpful in addressing jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, sleep disorders in children, anxiety before/after surgery¹⁵. Melatonin supplements improve sleep quality and are safe for short-term use for most people.
Valerian root, an herb native to Europe and Asia, is a very commonly used sleep-promoting agent. Several studies have indicated that Valerian root can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and promote better sleep quality¹⁶. Valerian promotes GABA production, which is a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety while increasing relaxation.
According to the American Family Physician, people taking Valerian felt improved sleep experiences after one to two weeks¹⁷. It is a safe option for patients with mild to moderate insomnia.
Chamomile is a soothing herb that helps relax the mind and muscles, often added to bedtime beverages like tea and candles and essential oils. A study in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion evaluated oral chamomilla effectiveness on older people's sleep quality¹⁸. The study found that chamomile emitted sedative properties and enhanced the sleep quality of the participants.
It is widely known as a "mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer" with the sedative properties attributed to the apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and GABA receptors¹⁹. Both receptors are associated with a sedative effect.
Passion flower is another excellent natural sleep remedy. The Passiflora incarnata is native to North America, but it is cultivated worldwide. A Sleep Science study examined the effects of passion flower on sleep and found it was an appropriate sleep inducer²⁰. It was shown to help people fall asleep quicker and sleep better through the night. Another study found that consuming low doses of Passion flower produced better self-reports of sleep for healthy adults²¹. Passion flower also modulates GABA by binding to GABA receptors, inducing a calming effect.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is particularly useful for relieving sleep disturbances when combined with Valerian, and it's known to help people fall asleep quicker and sleep better. Lemon Balm is a calming herb that has been used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress/anxiety and improve sleep.
WebMD states that "taking lemon balm (Cyracos by Naturex SA) twice daily for 15 days improves sleep in people with insomnia²²." combined with other ingredients, it can improve sleep quality and restlessness. It also increases calmness and helps people handle anxiety and stress linked to poor sleep.
While the natural sleep supplements above have some excellent benefits on their own, they are an even more powerful sleep aid when combined. The best natural sleep supplement incorporates all of the supplements above into one that works with your body's sleep-wake cycles to promote healthy, natural sleep. Sleep easy with Mellodyn, the scientifically formulates, quality-assured sleep supplement. Take 1-2 capsules one hour before bedtime to enjoy the natural benefits of all of the sleep supplements listed above.
Sleeping is crucial for all Eight Areas of Wellness, and you should do everything you can to get the best sleep quality possible. The natural sleep remedies listed above are some of the easiest, simplest, and least invasive ways to get better sleep more consistently. Improve your sleep today with the natural sleep remedies, including the powerful supplement solution Mellodyn.
(1) Sloane, PD; Figueiro, M; Cohen, L (March 2008) Light as Therapy for Sleep Disorders and Depression in Older Adults
(2) Scullin, MK; Bliwise, DL (January 2015) Sleep, cognition, and normal aging: integrating a half century of multidisciplinary research
(3) Grandner MA, Alfonso-Miller P, Fernandez-Mendoza J, et al (September 2016) Sleep: important considerations for the prevention of cardiovascular disease
(4) Cao, H; Pan, X; Li, H; Liu, J (2009) Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials
(5) Kavurmaci, M; Dayapoğlu, N; Tan, M (July 2020) Effect of Music Therapy on Sleep Quality
(6) Huang, HW; Huang, CB; Chang, YH; Wu, YP; Wu, CJ; Wu, SY; Pai, YC (September 2012) A study of the relationship between music therapy and sleep quality in old patients
(7) Kang, JH; Chen, SC (July 2009) Effects of an irregular bedtime schedule on sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue among university students in Taiwan
(9) Desaulniers, J; Desjardins, S; Lapierre, S; Desgagné, A (September 2018) Sleep Environment and Insomnia in Elderly Persons Living at Home
(10) Hale, L et al. (April 2019) Youth Screen Media Habits and Sleep: Sleep-Friendly Screen Behavior Recommendations for Clinicians, Educators, and Parents
(11) Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Sleep Disorders
(12) Kline CE (November - December 2014) The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement
(13) Dolezal, BA; Neufeld, EV; Boland, DM; Martin, JL; Cooper, CB (March 2017) Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review
(14)Zisapel N (January 2018) New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation
(15) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (October 2019) Melatonin: What You Need To Know
(16) Bauer, B (February 2018) Valerian: A safe and effective herbal sleep aid?
(17) Hadley, S; Petry, J (April 2003) Valerian
(18) Abdullahzadeh, M et al. (June 2017) Investigation effect of oral chamomilla on sleep quality in elderly people in Isfahan: A randomized control trial
(19) Srivastava, JK; Shankar, E; Gupta, S (November 2010) Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future
(20) Guerrero, FA; Medina, GM (July - September 2017) Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep
(21) Ngan, A; Conduit, R (February 2011) A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality
(22) WebMD. Lemon Balm