Natural Sleep Remedies

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren


Sleep Well

A good night’s sleep brings important benefits to every aspect of our lives. From our mental health to our memory – getting enough shut-eye leaves us ready to take on the day. Despite its importance, many of us struggle to get enough sleep every night which affects our day-to-day routine. If you find it difficult drifting off, here are six natural sleep remedies that should help you get more sleep.  

1. Melatonin  

Your body naturally produces melatonin – signalling to your brain that it’s time to sleep. This hormone cycle is influenced by the time of day, with levels rising in the evening and falling in the morning – helping us keep to a regular sleeping pattern. There can be instances where our melatonin cycle is disrupted or becomes a problem, for example, when we are jet lagged or doing shift work. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping post-holiday or your working schedule demands you sleep different hours to the norm – melatonin supplements will help you doze off. Scientific findings show that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and can even improve the quality of shut-eye we get. Speak to your doctor to determine the right dose for you.  

Natural dietary supplements are unregulated and untested for long-term human use. But Melatonin is considered safe for short-term use (three months or less). If you’re looking for more long-term natural sleep remedies, there are plenty of other options listed in the article you could try.  

2. Magnesium  

Magnesium promises a range of effects that can help relax the mind and body before it’s time to hit the hay. Our bodies need magnesium to function properly, working alongside melatonin to help calm your brain ready for sleep. It regulates the neurotransmitters that keep your brain and nervous system active – helping you drift off into a wonderful slumber.  

Studies done by the University of Pavia show how magnesium not only helps you settle for bed, but it helps you fall into a deeper sleep leaving you fresh for the morning. There are numerous benefits of taking magnesium – stretching further than just sleep. Magnesium: 

  • Relieves broken sleep and limits the effects of the stress hormone cortisol 
  • Helps your muscles relax 
  • Lifts your mood and reduces stress 

Here are a few methods of taking magnesium that you may find improves your night’s sleep: 

  • Apply a spray to your skin  
  • Take a warm bath treated with a magnesium solution (ideal for sensitive skin) 
  • Massage lotion into your skin 

If you’re unsure of your dosage, according to Public Health England adults and children older than 15 should take a daily dose of 300mg, rising to 400mg for pregnant women.  

3. Valerian Root 

The Valerian Root is a natural remedy for insomnia, as well as treating symptoms of depression and menopause. Native to Asia and Europe, the root is said to improve self-related sleep quality. Although it cannot be comprehensively said that valerian helps you sleep, as one of the leading natural supplements for managing anxiety and insomnia it can a great help if you find it difficult relaxing before bed.  

Researchers believe the valerian root subtly increases the levels of a chemical known as GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), which lowers activity in the brain and helps you relax. Other common prescription drugs for anxiety and insomnia such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are said to have the same effect. 

It’s recommended you take 300-600mg of valerian root 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed. You can do so by soaking 2-3 grams of dried herbal valerian root in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Just like Melatonin, long-term effects are unknown. Both are effective natural remedies to help sleep – but they might not be a long-term solution.  

4. Lavender  

Lavender’s soothing fragrance is commonly used as a sleep aid. Several studies state that sniffing lavender oil for 30-minutes before bed improves the quality of your snooze. If you find you struggle to relax or suffer from stress – the herb is known to help you unwind and settle for sleep.  

Psychologists at Wesleyan University in Connecticut performed a sleep experiment on 31 men and women. One night the participants sniffed lavender before bed, the next they sniffed water. After monitoring sleep cycles, researchers found lavender increased slow-wave sleep, essential for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. All involved reported a sounder night sleep and feeling energetic the following morning.  

There are plenty of ways you can use lavender to help you achieve that elusive good night’s sleep. Try some of the following: 

  • Have lavender oil by your bed 
  • Dab a drop of essential oil on your temples, wrists or neck before bed 
  • Dab a few drops on a tissue and place it under your pillow 
  • Use a lavender diffuser throughout the night 
  • Take a warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil added 
  • Put lavender flowers in a bowl by your bed 

Trying some of these home remedies could be the answer to your sleeping problems. 

5. Chamomile Tea 

Chamomile tea is one of the long-standing natural sleep remedies. Similar to valerian root, it’s calming effects have been used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Chamomile is regarded as a mild tranquillizer; the relaxing feeling that helps you to drift off to sleep has been attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin which binds to specific receptors in your brain that may lower anxiety and improve sleep. Although not conclusive, a relax on the sofa with a warm mug of chamomile tea could be just what you need for that precious shut-eye. 

To prepare the tea – follow these simple steps: 

  1. Place your tea bag or infuser in the bottom of your mug and fill with boiling water 
  2. Allow it to steep for at least 3 minutes, no longer than 10 
  3. Add a flavouring of your choice (we recommend honey!) 
  4. Enjoy just before you head up to bed 

While studies return mixed results, chamomile is the most popular of the natural remedies to help sleep and is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. With the right flavouring, it can also be very tasty, why not give it a try and see if you wake feeling fresh and ready for the day? 

6. Passionflower 

Passiflora incarnata is one of 500 known species of passionflower. The family of plants are known for their medicinal purposes, with P.Incarnata being used specifically to treat insomnia and anxiety. Like the valerian root, it’s said to boost GABA in your brain – helping you drift off into a lengthy, relaxing snooze.  

Other names for P.incarnata include purple passionflower and maypop. A trial published in Phytotherapy Research, a daily dose of herbal tea was provided to participants with researchers following their sleep patterns. There were reported improvements in the quality of sleep, concluding that purple passionflower could help manage mild sleep irregularities.  

Like many natural methods to help sleep, passionflower can be created into a herbal tea. Head down to your local health food stores where you can find dried passionflower or pre-packaged tea. If a hot beverage doesn’t take your fancy, there are alternatives such as liquid extracts, capsules and tablets.  

With passionflower, it’s worth having a chat with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks before turning to the plant for treatment.  

Finding sleep tricky isn’t something to be ignored. Sleep improves your day-to-day life in several ways: it’s instrumental for your focus, mental health, memory and much more. If you’re having trouble drifting off each night, trying one of these natural sleep remedies could be the solution. If they don’t provide an answer, it’s recommended you consult a doctor.