The Best All-Natural Sleep Aids

By Gina DeMillo Wagner


Nothing can feel more frustrating than tossing and turning all night. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try – going to bed early, eliminating technology from the bedroom, avoiding caffeine – continues to elude us.

Prescription and Over The Counter (OTC) Sleep Aids may offer a quick solution, but the potential side effects can be daunting. And for some people, like pregnant women or those with dependency issues, the risks are too high.

Thankfully, there are several natural alternatives to help you get more shuteye. Here are some tried and true remedies you can find at your local natural foods store or vitamin shop. (If you have any medical concerns, discuss these remedies with your doctor first.)

> Magnesium and calcium: There’s a reason Grandma always enjoyed a glass of warm milk before bedtime. Calcium plays a role in the deep sleep cycle and REM. Also, studies show that a magnesium deficiency results in agitated sleep and frequent waking. So doctors recommend you increase your calcium and magnesium (through diet or supplements), if you want to sleep sounder. []

> Homeopathic remedies: Available at most natural foods stores, homeopathic remedies are a safe alternative for those looking to overcome insomnia. Users report that they calm your nerves and settle the mind without making you feel groggy. Hylands ( offers a non-habit-forming blend called Calms Forte, which induces sleep without making you groggy.

> Herbal teas: Chamomile has been used for centuries to induce sleep and relieve anxiety. Whether you enjoy it as a bedtime tea, in extract form or as a supplement, it is safe and mild. Bedtime tea blends often include chamomile, lemongrass, and mint – all of which are soothing.

> Hops: No surprise to craft beer fans, hops have a calming effect on the body. As a sleep aid, however, skip the alcohol and take a hops supplement in the form of valerian-hops capsules. A 2005 study published in the journal Sleep supports that taking valerian-hops supplements supports better sleep. []

> Essential oils: Research in the UK shows that lavender oil can help you sleep better. Just be sure to use products that contain real lavender or lavender oil. Lavender massage oil, sprays, aromatherapy, or lavender filled pillows are all great sleep aids. Other oils that may help you snooze include: vetiver, chamomile, sandalwood, and eucalyptus.

> Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone in your body that induces sleep, and many swear by the powers of melatonin supplements in resetting your circadian rhythm, especially when traveling. Experts caution against using it long-term, however. Try a low dose (0.3 to 0.5 milligrams) before bed.

> Exercise: Perhaps the most reliable sleep aid of all, regular exercise. Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce snoring, relieve anxiety, and help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night. The benefits kick in after just one exercise session, studies show, but the most benefit comes with a regular schedule of moderate exercise (30 minutes per day).


Tags:  Sleep

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