Natural Sleep Aids & Supplements
A man sleeping on his bed.

Natural Sleep Aids & Supplements

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A lot of Americans have trouble sleeping and if you are one of them, you may have already tried herbal teas, tinctures, and other supplements to help you get better rest. It’s always important to speak to your doctor first about everything you take, because natural sleep aids can cause side effects or interfere with how other medications work.

Here are some natural sleep aids and supplements to help you get the rest you deserve.

Melatonin – This hormone tells your body when to sleep and wake. Melatonin supplements can ease sleep issues like jet lag and trouble falling or staying asleep. Melatonin is safe for healthy adults if taken for only a few weeks or months. Side effects include headache, dizziness, and nausea (1).

Lavender – Sniff this purple flower before your bedtime. Its scent slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure and skin temperature. Grab this scent as an essential oil and drop some on your pillowcase before bed (2).

GABA – GABA is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It’s a chemical in the brain that boosts relaxation and sleep. Some sleeping pills work by helping GABA work better (6).

Valerian – This plant has been used as a sleep aid for hundreds of years. It may raise the levels of GABA, which boosts relaxation. Valerian is thought to be safe in the short term, but it sometimes may give you headaches and stomachaches (3).

CBD Oil – CBD is a compound in marijuana and hemp plants and is considered an effective anti-seizure medication. CBD isn’t intoxicating or psychoactive, and is generally well-tolerated, with drowsiness as a side effect. Fatigue and nausea are also side effects, and with lack of quality standards on CBD formulations, caution is warranted when using this substance over-the-counter. (7)

Kava – This plant is taken for anxiety. It may ease insomnia caused by stress. But kava supplements have been linked to a risk of serious liver damage. (8) Talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about taking kava. It’s thought that supplements made from only the root, not the stem or leaves, may be safer. (9)

Glycine – This tiny amino acid can have a big impact on your sleep. It may raise the amount of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects slumber. It also helps your blood flow and drops your body temperature, both of which encourage you to nod off (4).

Chamomile – This daisy-like plant has a calming effect thanks to an antioxidant called apigenin. It works on certain brain cell receptors that help you relax and fall asleep. In the form of an aqueous extract, it has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems (10).

Magnesium – Low levels of this mineral may make it harder for you to fall or stay asleep. Studies show that magnesium supplements may improve slumber in older people and those with restless legs syndrome. Too much magnesium can lead to cramps and nausea (5).

Tart Cherry Juice – Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a key sleep hormone. Early research shows that drinking tart cherry juice raises the amount of melatonin in your body. It also helped people sleep more soundly and for longer.

Magnolia Bark – Chinese medicine uses this to treat anxiety and depression. The polyphenols in magnolia bark (honokiol and magnolol) have also been found to help induce and improve sleep. (11)

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