Are you struggling with insomnia? Fighting to fall asleep? Waking in the night for no good reason? Perhaps you would like to learn about some natural supplements that support good sleep patterns. Not everyone wants or needs to use medication to help them get the sleep they need, but many of us need a little boost of nature’s best to hasten and prolong our shut eye time.
Here are some over-the-counter supplement ideas to try if this sounds a lot like you!
1. Valerian root
This herbal extract is made from the root of a tall grassland plant with pink and white flowers. Its official name is Valeriana officinalis. It has been widely studied primarily for its function of helping with insomnia, but results are varied as to its efficacy and safety. It has a mild sedative effect on some people and is often consumed as a tea.
This is a hormone that our bodies naturally produce at regular intervals in our sleep cycle. Melatonin levels tend to rise in the evening as darkness descends and peak during the night. If you are struggling with falling asleep, try inducing higher melatonin levels by reducing the amount of artificial light that you encounter in the hour or so before you want to fall asleep. It is possible to take supplemental melatonin as well, although it is only recommended to do so in small doses and for a short time. It is far more preferable to simply train your body to produce more of the sleep hormone by carefully guarding this cycle of darkness and light.
3. Vitamin D
This is the vitamin associated with receiving adequate amounts of sunlight. Deficiencies of Vitamin D can lead to disrupted sleep and insomnia. Make sure you are getting plenty of sunshine during the day, eat a diet rich in Vitamin D, and supplement only if necessary. The nice thing about this vitamin is that when you are actively trying to get more of it with time outdoors, this practice tends to help you stay active in the daytime, which in turn also promotes restful sleep at night.
This herb comes from a beautiful daisy-like flower. Most generally the petals are dried and steeped in hot water to produce a wonderful tasting tea. Drinking this infusion promotes restfulness and relaxation. Though not specifically considered supplemental for sleep, the calming effect of this herb tends to work nicely for people who just need something soothing to induce a peaceful state. I like to add a touch of honey and sip while still warm about half an hour before bedtime.
Not just for cats, this herb is used as a sleep tonic for humans, too! It’s scientific name is Nepeta cataria. It is a hardy perennial herb of the mint family. It is known for having mild sedative properties and is sometimes drank as a tea or used concentrated as an extract. It is very soothing and has a minty taste that sometimes tastes slightly bitter on the tongue. Fairly cheap and simple to use, catnip is a fun alternative to try if you are feeling adventurous and ready for something new!
This important mineral is a building block for the production of certain substances in our bodies that help us get to sleep and stay asleep. It pretty much goes like this: Calcium is necessary for the production of the amino acid called tryptophan, which in turn is necessary to produce the hormone called serotonin (the feel-good chemical). Serotonin then helps our bodies make the the sleep hormone that we talked above, melatonin. So, in a roundabout way, that warm glass of milk you’ve always heard about having before bed really might just do the trick!
Another mineral that is crucial to the production of melatonin is is magnesium. Not only will proper levels of this mineral help you get to sleep, it will help you sleep deeper and stay asleep longer. It does this by regulating the neurotransmitters in your brain that send and receive messages to and from your nervous system. It also helps to calm your nerves and keep you feeling settled. If you feel that you may be lacking in this mineral, you could try supplementing 1-2 hours before bedtime to help balance your levels.
Getting in sync with your circadian rhythm is an important part of improving your sleep quality, so consider the whole picture when making decisions about natural supplements that support good sleep. Please remember that it is important to talk to your doctor before starting any regiment that might include over-the-counter preparations of herbs or other supplements, including vitamins and minerals.
Feel free to have a look at our list of beneficial herbs for better sleep, some of which were mentioned here.
Melanie is mom to five energetic kids, including a sweet little toddler. She enjoys homeschooling her children from a peaceful parenting perspective and traveling with her family whenever she can.