Natural Remedies Help You Fall Asleep
These 15 natural sleep supplements have been studied and recommended by experts to help you get restful sleep throughout the night. You can supplement your body for sleep with minerals, hormones, amino acids, and herbs or plants.
Good magnesium levels (magnesium is a mineral)
Proper hormone levels (especially true for women)
Amino acids (which help create proper hormone levels)
And if you’re dealing with high cortisol or a lot of stress…
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals on earth and is present in many foods. It’s essential for human health and is used in over 600 cellular reactions throughout your body, including sleep. For you to fall asleep and stay asleep, both your body and your brain need to relax. That’s where magnesium comes in. How can magnesium help improve your sleep?
Magnesium helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system to make you feel calm and more relaxed.
Magnesium regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body. Magnesium also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors – the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down nerve activity. When your nervous system is calm and relaxed, it can be easier for you to fall and stay asleep. In one study published in the Journal of Research and Medical Sciences,4 older adults who were given 500 mg of magnesium had better quality sleep compared to the placebo group. They also boosted their renin and melatonin levels – two hormones that help regulate sleep.
How much magnesium should you take in a day?
According to The Institute of Medicine,5 a daily dietary intake of 310–360 mg of magnesium for adult women and 400–420 mg for adult men can help improve sleep.
Melatonin, also called the sleep hormone, is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It’s responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm to manage your natural sleep cycle, helping you sleep better at night. Normally, the body makes more melatonin at night. This signals to the body that it’s time to sleep. However, its level drops in the morning when the sun comes up. Some people don’t make enough melatonin at night (they can even be genetically predisposed to low melatonin production), and it’s harder for them to fall and stay asleep. People who have insomnia often take melatonin pills to help them sleep.
Melatonin production in the body is usually affected by different factors, including:
• Exposure to too much light at night, including blue light
• Not getting enough natural light during the day
• Shift work
That’s why experts suggest taking a melatonin supplement to help boost your melatonin levels so you normalize your internal clock.
How can melatonin help improve your sleep?
Melatonin binds to receptors in the brain to help reduce nerve activity. It also reduces dopamine, a hormone that keeps you awake so your brain can relax and doze off to sleep faster, especially at nighttime. In fact, one study in 50 people with insomnia showed that taking melatonin two hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster and enhanced their overall sleep quality.
Another big analysis of 19 studies in adults and children with sleep disorders found that melatonin reduced the amount of time it took for them to fall asleep, increased their total sleep time, and improved their sleep quality overall.
How much melatonin should you take in a day?
Melatonin can be taken in doses of 0.5–10 mg per day. Some people start taking lower doses of melatonin and increase it as needed until they find the amount that works for them. Taking melatonin pills 30 minutes before your bedtime can also improve sleep quality. However, if you’re using it alongside good sleep hygiene practices to establish a healthy sleep schedule, taking melatonin 2-3 hours before bed could help.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called progestogens. It is produced by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that the female body produces after ovulation. In menopausal women, the adrenal glands become the primary source of a woman’s progesterone production. However, if you are in the perimenopausal period, progesterone drops due to decreased ovarian function – and unlike estrogen, once progesterone levels drop, they never recover.
During perimenopause, cortisol levels also rise, which affects progesterone. This results in most women developing poor sleeping schedules that often last the rest of their lives So, if you’re in perimenopause, boosting your progesterone levels can help you rest and sleep. I have found bioidentical progesterone to be a crucial supplement (along with estrogen) to help me sleep.
How can progesterone help improve your sleep?
Progesterone is a natural sleep aid. It is considered a “calming, soothing” hormone, as it makes a metabolite called allopregnanolone that interacts with GABA, a receptor in the brain. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter. In fact, in one study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism | Oxford Academic (oup.com), healthy women who were given 300 mg of progesterone for 3 weeks maintained their normal sleep. Test subjects were also able to easily get back to sleep even after waking in the wee hours. Overall, progesterone can help women with sleep problems, especially during perimenopause.
How much progesterone should you take in a day?
Women who suffer from poor sleep are said to benefit from taking 200 to 300 mg of oral micronized progesterone capsules at night. Work with your doctor to optimize your dosing.
Estrogen is one of two main sex hormones abundant in women. Apart from helping in the development of the female reproductive system and maintenance of female characteristics such as pubic hair and breast growth, estrogen also helps control the menstrual cycle. During perimenopause, your ovaries produce lower amounts of the key hormones progesterone and estrogen.
As these hormone levels decline, symptoms of menopause surge. One of these symptoms is insomnia. It affects your body’s sleep-wake cycle, making it lose its consistency… so you don’t fall asleep and stay asleep as you should… leaving you exhausted from inadequate sleep. This is where supplementing estrogen comes in. How can estrogen help improve your sleep?
Estrogen plays a role in the metabolism of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that affect our sleep-wake cycle. Estrogen also helps keep our body temperature low at night, making our body more conducive to restful sleep. With less estrogen, women may experience higher body temperatures (night sweats, anyone?), lower quality sleep, and poorer mood.
Estrogen also has an antidepressant effect, which helps you stay relaxed during the day and ready for bed at nighttime.
How much estrogen should you take in a day?
A study at the University of Vienna showed that taking 2 mg of estrogen helps improve sleep quality for postmenopausal women with insomnia. Make sure that your doctor is prescribing bioidentical estrogen in a base like a coconut oil (versus a petroleum base) if you’re using a cream.
Glycine is an amino acid that your body uses to produce proteins for two reasons:
• For growth and maintenance of tissue.
• For the production of important substances, such as enzymes and hormones.
Glycine also offers impressive health benefits, especially when it comes to sleep. Studies show that higher levels of glycine in the body can help you…
• Fall asleep faster
• Stay asleep longer
• Reduce symptoms of insomnia
• Improve sleep quality by promoting deeper and more restful sleep
How can glycine help improve your sleep?
1. Glycine helps lower body temperature. Our bodies are designed to begin cooling down for sleep. That begins in the late afternoon and continues until the evening. This process of lowering the body temperature (something baths are popular for) helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. As morning nears, a rising temperature signals the body to move into a state of alertness. If this happens in the evening, it can affect your sleep quality.
This is where glycine comes in. Glycine helps boost blood flow to the body’s extremities, which helps the body to reduce its core body temperature, helping you fall asleep more quickly and spend more time in REM sleep. A slight drop in body temperature is a key part of our progression toward sleep; thus, this drop in temperature is important to achieve a solid night’s rest.
2. Glycine increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is the precursor to melatonin, the famous sleep hormone that most people use to get over insomnia or jet lag. In people who can’t sleep, those who supplement with glycine boost their serotonin levels, which helps maintain their healthy sleep patterns for a more restful and refreshing sleep.
How much glycine should you take in a day?
According to studies, 3 grams of glycine before bed improves the time it takes to fall asleep, enhances sleep quality, lessens daytime sleepiness, and improves cognition.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. Your body uses it to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that helps regulate mood, appetite, and other important functions, including sleep. Low serotonin levels trigger sleep disorders. Therefore, people take 5-HTP to increase their body’s serotonin production and help maintain a healthy sleeping cycle.
How can 5-HTP help improve your sleep?
There are two ways in which 5-HTP can help improve your sleep.
1. 5-HTP produces serotonin.
This serotonin is then converted into the hormone melatonin, which has an important role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels rise in the evening to promote sleep and drop in the morning to signal the body to wake up. With more melatonin produced during nighttime, it’s easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Similarly, boosting serotonin levels through supplementing with 5-HTP can decrease your levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. This helps your mind and body to relax prior to bedtime, promoting better sleep.
2. 5-HTP combined with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) makes you fall asleep faster. Studies also show that those people who take 5-HTP with GABA improve their sleep quality and increase their sleep duration.22 Therefore, you sleep faster and longer.
How much 5-HTP should you take in a day?
Studies have shown that taking 100–300 mg of 5-HTP 30–45 minutes before bed improves the time it takes for users to fall asleep.
L-theanine is another supplement that can help you enjoy quality sleep. It is an amino acid, which occurs naturally in green tea and black tea. However, it can also be taken through supplements. Most known for helping people relax, research shows that supplementing L-theanine helps you sleep through the night. How can L-Theanine help improve your sleep? L-theanine boosts serotonin and dopamine to healthy levels in the brain. Both of these chemicals influence sleep, mood, emotion, and cortisol levels.
Balancing these chemicals can help improve your mood and stress levels, thus helping you sleep more easily and deeply. In one study, Australian researchers discovered that taking between 250 mg and 400 mg of L-theanine can boost sleep in both animals and humans. It reduced the test subjects’ resting heart rate, making them feel more relaxed. As a result, the test subjects slept faster and stayed asleep until morning.
How much L-Theanine should you take in a day?
L-theanine is usually available in the form of 200-mg tablets. However, there’s no specific dosage recommendation for how much you should take. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with your practitioner for the best L-theanine dosage for your needs.
GABA suggested dose and gradually increase as needed. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, is a naturally occurring amino acid produced in the brain. It works as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells. However, low GABA activity is linked to disrupted sleep and insomnia.
In fact, in one study, people with insomnia showed 30% lower GABA levels than those who had a healthy sleep cycle. In other words, low GABA levels can result in restless, wakeful sleep. That’s why boosting your GABA levels is necessary to enjoy restful sleep every night.
How can GABA help improve your sleep?
When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as the GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. This process helps reduce feelings of anxiety, fear, and stress that can disrupt your normal sleep cycle. Similarly, GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter, as it blocks and reduces certain brain signals. It decreases neuron activity in your nervous system, which helps you feel more relaxed and calm, puts you in a better mood, and allows you to enjoy a restful sleep.
How much GABA should you take in a day?
Based on existing research, taking 100-200 mg or higher doses of GABA can help with sleep. However, individual dosage may still vary. In general, it is recommended that you start with the lowest suggested dose and gradually increase as needed.
Tryptophan is one of the many amino acids found in foods that contain protein. It’s called an “essential” amino acid because the body can’t make it. You must get tryptophan from foods or through supplementation.
How can tryptophan help improve your sleep?
Tryptophan is converted into a molecule called 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). If you read about 5-HTP earlier, you’ll already know that this amino acid helps produce serotonin and melatonin in the body, both of which are important in achieving healthy sleeping patterns. As you also already know, serotonin affects several organs, including the brain and intestines. In the brain, serotonin influences sleep, cognition, and mood. Once tryptophan produces serotonin, it can be converted into another important molecule — melatonin.
Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, influences the sleep-wake cycle of the body. Healthy levels of it can help you fall asleep by relaxing your body and signaling to your system that it’s time for rest.
How much tryptophan should you take in a day?
A review of 40 controlled studies over the past 20 years has shown that taking 1g or more of tryptophan can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. However, take note that your health, age, and body condition can also determine the appropriate dosage of tryptophan.
Glutamine is an amino acid that offers many health benefits in the body, including improving your sleep quality. However, several studies have shown that concentrations of glutamine in the body are diminished during times of stress. As a result, you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep when it’s time. That’s why boosting your L-glutamine levels is necessary if you want to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly at night. How can L-glutamine help improve your sleep? L-glutamine’s multi-purpose role makes it one of the most important and abundant compounds in the body.
As an amino acid, L-glutamine serves as building blocks for proteins. Apart from its role in stabilizing the immune system, taking L-glutamine helps boost dopamine production in the body. Low levels of dopamine are associated with sleep disorders. Glutamine has a calming effect and counteracts symptoms of stress; it can be the key ingredient missing if you are feeling wired and can’t relax or nod off to sleep.
Glutamine increases the production of GABA, an important inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts as a natural sedative in the brain. If the body has enough glutamine available, the brain will release GABA, which helps promote sleepiness and allows a person to rest. Apart from helping with restorative sleep, people who supplement L-glutamine have said that they experience peace of mind, balance in stressful situations, and improved concentration.
How much L-glutamine should you take in a day?
According to Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, taking 14 grams per day of L-glutamine is a safe level for supplemental L-glutamine in healthy adults. Children are generally given a dose of no more than 0.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg/day).
Cannabidiol, famously known as CBD, is one of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system, which helps your body maintain homeostasis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD isn’t psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you “high.” Instead, CBD has a range of amazing health benefits, including helping you
sleep through the night.
How can CBD help improve your sleep?
There are many different reasons why some people can’t sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, poor sleep or insomnia can be because of:
• Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression
• Taking medications that affect your sleep-wake cycle
• Chronic pain or restless leg syndrome
• Caffeine, especially when consumed late in the day
The good news is, growing studies have shown that CBD can help with the above factors so you can sleep better! Joseph Maroon, M.D., a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says that CBD can help with pain and anxiety. Another 2017 review published in the Current Psychiatry Reports also hints that CBD interacts with certain brain receptors, affecting your sleep and wake cycle. Overall, CBD can help you sleep through the night by improving your anxiety and pain levels.
Fortunately, I don’t struggle much with sleep these days, but a couple of years ago, I was dealing with nighttime awakenings around 2-3 am, and for some reason, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I took CBD and it nipped the issue … after a few months, I got my bioidentical estrogen dosing dialed in and quit experiencing nighttime awakenings altogether.
How much CBD should you take in a day?
There’s no universal dosage of CBD to take. While taking between 20 and 1,500 milligrams (mg) of CBD per day can help, the amount of CBD you should take depends on different factors including…
• Your body weight
• Your body chemistry
• The concentration of CBD in each pill, capsule, drop, or gummy
So, before trying CBD, talk to your doctor or practitioner about the appropriate dosage and any potential risks.
Maca, scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii, is a plant native to Peru. It is traditionally used to improve sex drive and fertility. However, today, a growing list of studies has shown that it also offers a variety of health benefits, especially for menopausal women. When women reach menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate drastically, affecting both the sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms.
This is accompanied by a range of unpleasant symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, and poor sleep. That’s why some women supplement with maca to help them fall asleep and sleep through the night. How can maca help improve your sleep? Maca has adaptogenic properties that can help the body with stress. In fact, in an extensive review of 17 studies on maca for menopausal symptoms, scientists found that supplementing maca can help boost the body’s estrogen and progesterone production while keeping healthy levels of cortisol.
As we know, cortisol affects the sleep cycle. Maca keeps your cortisol levels balanced, helping your body relax so you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Other studies have also shown that supplementing maca can significantly reduce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, which helps with many menopausal symptoms that can affect sleep, including anxiety and
How much maca should you take in a day?
There’s no specific dosage of maca for medicinal use. However, most studies show that taking 1.5–5 grams of maca root powder per day shows promising results in users.
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, meaning “sleep-inducing” in Latin. Today, ashwagandha is a popular supplement to improve sleep quality. People with insomnia also use the herb to help them sleep through the night.
How can ashwagandha help improve your sleep?
There are two ways in which ashwagandha can help improve your sleep.
1. Ashwagandha leaves contain the triethylene glycol compound, which promotes sleep induction. According to a study from the Department of Molecular Sleep in Japan, triethylene glycol compounds increase non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
When you are in NREM sleep, your breathing and heart rate are slow and regular, your blood pressure is low, and you keep relatively still.
2. Ashwagandha helps maintain healthy cortisol levels. As we all know, cortisol is released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. Unfortunately, cortisol levels may rise and can result in several health issues, including sleeplessness and insomnia. This is where ashwagandha comes into play. Ashwagandha promotes healthy cortisol and healthy inflammatory processes that help in stimulating the stress response.
In fact, according to researchers from California State University, ashwagandha can block the stress pathway in the brain by regulating chemical signals in the nervous system. Thus, it can help you relax, which is important for a good night’s sleep. Similarly, in another study with 64 people, those who took
ashwagandha for 60 days showed improvement in their anxiety and insomnia levels by up to 69%.49
How much ashwagandha should you take in a day?
According to a study published in the Indiana Journal of Psychological Medicine, a daily dose of 125 to 500 grams of ashwagandha for 1-3 months can help improve cortisol levels by 11- 32%. Similarly, taking 500–600 mg of ashwagandha per day for 6–12 weeks can help you sleep through the night, as it can maintain healthy stress and anxiety levels.
Holy basil, also called tulsi, is considered “the queen of herbs.” It has been part of traditional Hindu medicine for over 3,000 years and is known for its many health benefits. Two of these benefits are its stress-relieving and general calming properties, both of which are important for getting restful sleep. When you are under stress, your adrenal glands release cortisol that may affect your sleep. This could be one reason why you toss and turn or wake up in the middle of the night. The good news is that holy basil can help you with your sleep problems.
How can holy basil help improve your sleep?
All parts of the holy basil plant act as an adaptogen. As an adaptogen, it has pharmacological properties that can help your mind adapt to stress. This means it can help maintain healthy cortisol levels so you will feel more relaxed, thus helping you sleep when it’s time. According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, holy basil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. In one study, test subjects who took 500 milligrams (mg) of holy basil extract each day had improved stress levels. They felt less anxious and depressed and they became more social.
How much holy basil should you take in a day?
If you’re using holy basil to help you sleep through the night, studies show that taking 300 mg–2,000 mg of holy basil extract can be useful. Holy basil supplements are also available in capsule or pill form.
Always consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.
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