Natural Sleep Aids: What Works?

1) Unwind with a cup of warm milk:

Many of us have heard our mothers say that a glass of warm milk will help you sleep better. While there isn’t any scientific evidence to support this, there is some data that suggests calcium and tryptophan can make it easier for people to fall asleep [R].

The hormone melatonin might be what’s responsible for the calming effect of dairy on sleep [R]. Calcium intake has been associated with lower body weight and fat percentage in children [R], fewer sleep problems in adults [R], and less insomnia in older women [ R ]. However, while some studies find that more calcium is linked with worse sleep, others find no association.

The estrogen in milk might also play a role. Estrogen can decrease body temperature, which may make it easier to fall asleep [R].

2) Get ZZZQuil Quirkiness Relief:

ZzzQuil has been around for quite some time (since the 1970s). It’s popular for its “knock-you-out-like” effectiveness. But one thing people don’t realize is that there are ingredients in here that would make your average chemist scratch their head [R]. For instance: do you know what Flurazepam and Doxylamine succinate do? Me neither! They’re both tranquilizers and antihistamines — classic sleep aids — but we don’t know how they work.

And that’s just one thing that doesn’t add up.

3) Drink Chamomile Tea:

Do you know what else would make your average chemist scratch their head? The main ingredient in chamomile tea, apigenin, might be the way it helps you sleep. Apigenin inhibits an enzyme called PDE4 (Phosphodiesterase 4), which has been linked to alertness and sleeplessness [R].

Interestingly, this same enzyme is inhibited by caffeine (the opposite of what most people think). So while drinking a cup of caffeinated tea will help you sleep better than drinking decaffeinated tea! Apigenin can also act as an antihistamine, increasing serotonin levels in the brain; which could be responsible for calming you down.

Another compound in chamomile tea, luteolin, might also play a role. Luteolin inhibits an enzyme called PDE3 (Phosphodiesterase 3), which has been linked to anxiety and panic attacks [R].

While there’s very little research on luteolin it still sounds like something that would help your anxiety without side effects! There are plenty of other compounds in chamomile that might be responsible for its sleep-inducing abilities as well. For instance, apigenin is the most common flavonoid in the plant world [R], and while more research is needed we do know that flavonoids have been shown to have some awesome health benefits [ R ].

4) Have a Relaxing Bedtime Drink:

Sometimes people don’t realize that the foods and drinks they eat and drink before bed will affect their ability to fall asleep. For instance, many people complain that eating sugar at night keeps them up because it increases inflammation in the body. The same goes for caffeine; if you drink coffee or tea late in the day your sleep quality could suffer as well [R].

When you eat late at night your metabolism will be revved up (because there’s more energy being used), which is bad news for anyone who wants to sleep peacefully through the night! That said, some late-night meals are worse than others.

Specifically, high carbohydrate/sugar meals can keep you up later by increasing your blood sugar levels [R]. And if you find yourself craving carbs late at night, carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (bread, cereal) should be avoided while carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (whole grains like oats or barley) should be consumed instead [R].

5) Listen to Soothing Music:

Soothing music can help people fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. It reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body while also increasing serotonin and melatonin levels [R]. And while listening to music before bed is relaxing for some people it might not work for everyone; that said there are plenty of other things you can do to relax your mind before bedtime.6) Try Some Meditation:-

Meditation has been shown to help many people fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. And just like soothing music, meditation also reduces cortisol levels in the body while increasing serotonin and melatonin [R]. It’s been shown that meditation can improve sleep quality by 57% [R]!

7) Have a Lavender Bath:

It sounds cliché but taking a lavender bath before bedtime can have some major benefits. For instance, lavender aromatherapy increases relaxation and reduces anxiety in stressed individuals [R]. Scientists believe that the reason for this is a compound in lavender called linalool.

Linalool produces an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect on the brain similar to benzodiazepines, which are often prescribed for anxiety [R]. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines can be addictive and have side effects like mental impairment and drowsiness – making lavender a better alternative to these medications. That said, there’s no need to buy a special lavender bath product. You can easily make your own by adding 10-20 drops of lavender oil in whatever bath salts you already use (instructions here).

8) Get Some Sunlight:

Sunlight is essential for regulating our sleep-wake cycles. Since humans evolved in the sunlight, being exposed to it daily helped us determine when it was time to go to sleep and when it was time to wake up [R].

That said, getting too much sunlight can be harmful so you’ll want to limit your exposure while trying to get better sleep. A good way of doing this is by taking a 10-minute walk during the day right before sunset (when UV rays are minimal). Plus if you live somewhere cold or cloudy chances are your body isn’t feeling very energetic either! This will make falling asleep easier because low energy equals low cortisol levels [R].

9) Meditate Before Bedtime :

Meditation is scientifically proven to improve sleep quality. Meditation also reduces cortisol levels in the body while increasing serotonin, an important hormone for healthy sleep [R]. Simply close your eyes and try to focus on your breathing or listen to soothing music before heading off to bed. This will teach you how to calm down in any stressful situation so it’s very useful when dealing with insomnia too!

10) Practice Yoga:

The health benefits of yoga are countless, but few are more apparent than improved sleep quality. Though science hasn’t figured out exactly why practicing yoga makes people fall asleep faster it appears that slow breathing exercises play a key role [R]. Yoga can also help lower blood pressure which affects restful sleep by increasing oxygen levels [R].

11) Keep a Dream Journal Nearby:

It’s easier said than done but keeping a dream journal near your bed can help you remember your dreams and fall asleep faster. Since we lose muscle tone when we sleep, dreaming is very common while falling asleep. Plus if you stay in bed for more than 30 minutes without falling asleep it’s likely because the brain is thinking about something else [R]. Keeping an open mind to this experience might be essential the next time you need to get better sleep.

12) Drink Chamomile Tea :

Chamomile tea has been shown to improve sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety [R]. One of the main active ingredients in chamomile called apigenin has even been shown to enhance the calming effects of other sleep-inducing ingredients like melatonin [R]. Still, this doesn’t take away from chamomile’s other beneficial qualities. For instance, drinking chamomile tea before bedtime can also help relieve indigestion and prevent acid reflux – both of which are common problems for those having trouble sleeping.

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