When it comes to health in general and weight loss in particular, there’s a lot of attention placed on nutrition and exercise – and rightfully so. But there are other essential components to living a healthy life at your optimal weight – and one of the crucial components that is often overlooked is sleep.
I’ve already written about sleep deprivation linked to weight gain. Put simply: improving your sleep should be on your radar. Chronic lack of sleep can make you fat, unmotivated and your journey towards health and wellness a seriously uphill battle. And it may not be a coincidence that 2/3’s of the American population are either overweight or obese and it’s estimated that 70% of Americans are sleep deprived.
With the unprecedented rise of stress in our culture, it can be challenging to stop the thought train full of worries before going to bed. In addition to meditation and the other natural ways you can improve the quality of your sleep, which I highly recommend, here are a few of my favorite all natural sleep aids to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
My Top 5 Favorite All Natural Sleep Aids
Valerian is an herb commonly used for sleep disorders and is usually made from the root of the plant. It’s a mild sedative as well as pain reliever and is also used for stress, anxiety, headaches as well as menstrual cramps. The effectiveness of this all natural sleep aid makes it a great alternative to pharmaceutical options. It’s known to help you fall asleep faster (which can be hard to do when incessant thinking takes over) and improve the quality of sleep.
I’ve tried several valerian products available and by far, I like Ojio’s Valerian Extract.
I’ve been making awesome bedtime elixir-concoctions with valerian and fresh coconut milk (and other herbs) and its helped immensely. I also don’t wake up feeling groggy – which is essential for me.
According to WebMD, you can take 400-900 mg valerian extract up to 2 hours before bedtime for as long as 28 days. There’s some indication that valerian might be more effective after you use it for at least a week.
Magnesium is an essential mineral in our body. It’s responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of our tissues. This mineral is essential to our functioning on so many levels. The body must have it in every cell to make energy – crucial right? On the flip-side: magnesium helps muscles relax and can be used as a powerful all natural sleep aid.
Many people are deficient in magnesium and don’t know it. Some (of the many) symptoms that may manifest include chronic fatigue, IBS, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, irritability and inflammation.
According to Dr. Hyman, you can take 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate (these forms are more absorbable) before bed. I recommend the Solgar Chelated Magnesium Tablets, Natural Calm, or Ionic Magnesium liquid.
Great whole food sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, almonds, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, figs, avocado, parsley and buckwheat.
This all natural sleep aid helps put the body into sleep mode by regulating the natural rhythms of the sleep-wake cycle influenced by light and darkness. Many of us are thrown off our natural cycles because we’re exposed to artificial lighting unlike ever before. Starring at a computer screen late at night can definitely throw the body off its natural sleep cycles and also applies to the many individuals who have to bare the long hours of shift work.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the body’s pineal gland. As it get’s dark out, melatonin in the body rises and you get more sedated until eventually you fall asleep. When it’s light out, melatonin starts to fall and you go about your day with alertness.
Following a regular sleep cycle can certainly help improve your sleep. Supplementing with melatonin has shown to be safe and effective. A typical dose is anywhere from 1 to 4 mg of melatonin and can usually be found in your health food stores. I recommend Source Naturals Melatonin Liquid or Source Naturals Melatonin tablets.
4. 303 Natural Muscle Relaxant
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness or muscle pain, I highly recommend trying these all natural sleep aid and muscle relaxant. It’s active ingredients are valerian, magnesium and passion flower (another plant sedative used to help promote sleep.) You can order these effective sleep aids here on Amazon.
5. Rescue Sleep Bach Flower Remedies
I’ve long been a fan of Rescue Remedy as an aid to stress relief. I recently started experimenting with their Rescue Sleep Liquid Melts and feel this is another effective alternative to conventional sleeping pills. It’s another unique homeopathic Bach flower recipe that provides relief from occasional sleeplessness caused by stress and repetitive thoughts.
Please Remember: You Are Your Own Best Guide
Always use your best judgment when trying new herbal remedies. Even with herbs there can be contra-indications. Alcohol as well as certain medications, including sedative medications may adversely react with some of these plant medicines. If you’re feeling like you want to try one or several plants for all natural sleep aids, do your research before taking anything or consult with a naturopathic doctor.
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,
Laura Dawn, Founder of Happy & Raw