Natural Sleep Aids that Help Cure Insomnia
Can OTC sleep aids really cure insomnia naturally or do you need a prescription to nip sleeplessness in the bud? Unfortunately, the answer is both yes and no – because it’s truly dependent on the individual person. However, it is highly desirable to try several natural remedies before considering BIG PHARMAS solutions – which can become addictive – have many adverse side effects - and are never meant for long term use.
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I never used to have problems falling asleep until I slept with someone who snored. After my divorce, my sleep patterns got much better but as I’ve grown older, I'm having problems again. Insomnia is no fun. Tossing and turning in bed trying to shut down those voices in your head sucks. Why do all of those ‘to do lists' pop into your head when you’re trying to get some shut-eye? Geez!
Persistent insomnia is no laughing matter. However, most prescription sleep aids vary in safety and efficacy and are rarely meant for long-term use. There are wiser and more effective natural sleep aids that you may not have heard about! Your Mother provided an abundance of resources that may work to your advantage!
Food as Sleep Aids
TART cherry juice (buy organic) is a natural source of the hormone melatonin and the animo acid tryptophan. The ruby red pigments (called proanthocynaidins) in tart cherry juice contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan – allowing it to work in your body longer.
If you don’t like cherries, try eating two kiwi an hour before bed – which contain melatonin and can increase sleep time by 13 percent and decrease mid-sleep waking periods by 29 percent after just four weeks.
Known as Nori (a wrap for sushi) and kelp, seaweed is also chocked full of melatonin and is almost calorie free. Seaweed is also high in omega 3 DHA, which according to a recent study at the University of Oxford, helped children get an extra full hour of sleep. You can buy seaweed (kelp) powder or capsules or try mixing fresh seaweed into your favorite dinner dishes.
Other foods that either contain melatonin or trigger it’s production naturally and are considered to be good sleep aids are: walnuts, raspberries, bananas, hummus, and pineapple.
Herbs as Sleep Aids
Most people know that beer contains hops, the female coneflower used in beer making. The extract has been widely used as a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia but newer studies suggest taking hops along with valerian root for the best sleep results. Hops is an herb and is generally recognized as GRAS (generally recommended as safe) by the US FDA. You can buy it as a tea, tincture, oil, and in capsules.
Other notable herbs that can be used to help induce sleep are valerian root, chamomile, lemon balm, and St. Johns Wort.
OTC Sleep Aids that Help Cure Insomnia Naturally
Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles. Production is triggered by darkness and levels remain elevated throughout the night until suppressed by the light of morning.. However, production of melatonin decreases as people age and some people experience irregularities in production based on the season of the year.
Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are generally more effective. Plus, there's concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as well as raise the risk of depression or infertility. Take 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed.
Most people experience very few side effects and are able to go about their regular schedules the day after taking melatonin. It’s a natural supplement that may help regulate your body’s clock without interfering with your ability to function the following day.
*I have been taking Natrol Melatonin Liquid for the past month. The first night I took 4 droppers full 20 minutes before bed as directed - and was very drowsy the following day – but I did sleep well. The next night I took 2 droppers full about two hours before bed. I had a hard time falling asleep and was groggy in the morning again. Since then, I've taken 2 droppers full about 3 hours before bed. I've been sleeping very well and don't feel drowsy the next day. I expect you'll have to experiment a little too in order to find how much you'll need and what time you need to take it.
Tryptophan is a basic amino acid used in the formation of the chemical messenger serotonin, a brain substance that helps induce sleep. L-tryptophan (a common byproduct of tryptophan), is converted by the body into serotonin. Some studies have shown that L-tryptophan can help people fall asleep faster but it differs from person to person. Foods that are high in tryptophan include: nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs. You can also buy L-Tryptophan supplements.
Doxylamine is the active ingredient in Unisom. Although it’s an anti-histamine-based sleeping pill like Kirkland, the active ingredient is different. Unisom relies on diphenhydramine hydrochloride and is available in either 25 mg or 50 mg doses. It’s best known for it’s very gentle effect and might be a good place to start if you’re new to taking something for sleep. According to what I’ve read, you’re far less likely to experience day-after grogginess when taking it regularly.
It’s important to be aware that many people develop a tolerance to Diphenhydramine hydrochloride fairly quickly, so prolonged use may not be effective. Nonetheless, many users report excellent results when Unisom is appropriately used.
Made with herbal ingredients such as L-theanine, valerian root, chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, hops flower, L-taurine, and melatonin, plus magnesium, LUNA Natural Sleep Aid is the #1 Natural Sleep Aid on Amazon – reportedly helping thousands of American’s get restful sleep every night. Many people swear by this product’s effectiveness and potency.
It has no known side effects and is completely natural – a safe alternative for vegans. Luna has been found to be superior when compared to Melatonin alone. Just like Unisom, the product is very gentle to the body.
Somnis is a mix of L-tryptophan, melatonin, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is 100% all natural with ZERO side effects. It’s also non-habit forming unlike some prescription sleep aids. According to the reviews on Amazon, it can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. It is also said to help you feel energetic the next day without drowsiness.
Kirkland Sleep Aid is perhaps the strongest of the OTC sleep aids available. It is an anti-histamine based sleep aid and works against the histamine produced by the body’s central nervous system. This in turn, makes you feel drowsy.
Many people who have used this product report feeling both physically and mentally drowsy shortly after ingestion. Since most people don’t build up a tolerance to Doxylamine as quickly as other common sleep aids, it will probably work best for long-term insomniacs.
Since this drug can stay in your system for many hours, you’ll want to allow plenty of time before any scheduled events the next day. This may be one of the best OTC sleep aids if you’re got several hours to get sleep - well into the morning.
Lavender is one of the oldest and most widely used aromatherapy oils in use. It's a cheap and nontoxic way to get the rest you need. Fill a spray bottle with a few drops of lavender and a carrier oil and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime or make a lavender-filled sachet to fit into your existing pillowcase.
The REAL problematic sleep aids today are the benzo’s. Benzodiazepines are over-prescribed, highly addictive – including physical and mental addiction, create horrible withdrawal symptoms when you quit taking them, and seem to create more problems than they’re worth. The hangover effect may be even worse than the sluggishness you feel from actual sleep deprivation. And even if the medication is effective, insomnia returns once you stop. Please find an alternative solution if you are presently taking benzodiazepine’s.
IF you feel like you need a prescription drug, ask your physician to prescribe Promethazine (name brand Phenergen). It is fairly safe and is primarily used to help control nausea and cold symptoms. It’s main side effect is sleepiness. It is safe for pregnant women and children 2 and up and is used in hospitals everywhere. In fact, after I delivered my son, I couldn’t sleep. So I asked the nurse for something and although my doctor hadn’t prescribed anything, they were allowed to give it to me. You can find out more about it here.
What you decide to put into your body on a daily basis matters. If you’re going the natural route – and I highly suggest that you do – you will have to try several types of sleep aids before you find the one that delivers the best results for you. You will have to experiment a little to get the dosage right. That’s because everyone’s weight and system are different. Don’t give up! A restful, peaceful sleep can go a long way to a perfectly, productive day!
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