What are natural sleep aids?
Natural sleep supplements contain natural, dietary and herbal ingredients that have been shown to aid in relaxation or sleep. They are distinct from both over-the-counter sleep aids, which are usually antihistamine medications, and prescription sleeping pills, which are doxepin and zolpidem drugs requiring a prescription.
Natural sleep supplements are similar to OTC sleep aids in that neither has been proven effective as a long-term treatment for insomnia. Both are designed as a temporary solution to treat short-term sleeplessness, such as that experienced during jet lag. Prescription sleep medication, on the other hand, is prescribed for chronic insomnia. It has the strongest—at times dangerous—side effects, which is why these sleeping pills require a prescription.
Many people prefer natural sleep supplements over OTC sleep aids because they have a lower chemical content and a lower risk of overdose or dependence. For example, it’s not possible to overdose on melatonin, although if you take too much you will experience uncomfortable side effects, such as headaches or stomach cramps. Natural sleep aids are also considered safe to use for a wider range of people than OTC sleep aids, simply because they have less chemicals.
Natural sleep aid ingredients
Natural sleep supplements contain naturally-sourced ingredients that induce sleep. When you shop for natural sleep aids, you may find the below ingredients available as individual supplements, or combined with others as part of a formula.
Melatonin is the so-called “sleep hormone.” Your brain naturally produces melatonin in the evening, as a signal for your body to start falling asleep.
However, because we spend so much time flooding our brains with artificial light (through indoor lighting and tech devices), exercising late at night, and doing other, non-sleep-promoting activities, our natural melatonin production can become delayed.
This is a particular problem for shift workers, who have to sleep during a time their brain recognizes as daytime. Delayed melatonin production is a common side effect of jet lag, too, as we travel across time zones and our body become out of synch with our external environment.
A melatonin supplement helps correct these circadian disruptions, by giving your melatonin production a boost. A meta-analysis of 35 studies involving melatonin deemed it effective for relieving temporary insomnia, especially related to jet lag. Another meta-analysis of 19 studies found that melatonin is effective for decreasing the amount of time falling asleep (sleep onset latency), increasing the total amount of sleep time, and improving sleep quality.
Melatonin supplements are generally regarded as safe, given that you follow dosage guidelines. Dosage varies between 0.1 to 5 mg depending on the severity of the individual’s sleeplessness, their age, and other health conditions.
Valerian root is an herb that’s been popularly used for decades in the US and Europe to help with sleep.
Despite its popularity, conclusions are mixed as to its effectiveness. A 2006 review of 16 studies and a later 2010 meta-analysis both found that while all studies had participants who rated their sleep onset and quality as improved, these assessments were subjective. Whether this sense of sleep improvement is caused by a placebo effect or the valerian root itself is unknown.
If an individual experiences side effects from valerian root, they are generally minor, like dizziness.
Magnesium has been shown to have calming effects, which make it easier for restless minds and bodies to fall and stay asleep. Like melatonin, the human body naturally produces magnesium (50% of it lives in our bone) and the mineral is present in many of the foods we eat.
Beyond its calming effects, the reason magnesium is effective as a sleep aid is due to its effect on two other elements in the brain. It seems to have a stabilizing effect on melatonin, and it also increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) messengers in the brain, calming the brain.
Studies of individuals with magnesium deficiency have noted the presence of insomnia, while other studies have documented sleep improvements in sleep-troubled older adults by providing them with magnesium supplements.
Plant extracts and herbs
Melatonin, valerian root, and magnesium are the most common ingredients you’ll find in natural sleep aids. Beyond that, many sleep aid formulas include a variety of the below plant extracts to promote calm and relaxation.
- Lavender is commonly used to treat insomnia as an aromatherapy oil. It’s the most effective essential oil for sleep, with multiple studies proving its efficacy to be on par with traditional sleep medications and 14-24% improvements over a placebo. Lavender also helps relieve anxiety, which itself often goes hand in hand with insomnia. However, lavender in supplement form is still being evaluated for both safety and effectiveness. For some, side effects have included nausea and stomach pain, and for boys, prepubertal gynecomastia when the oil was topically applied.
- Passion flower is another plant that’s associated with better sleep. However, like lavender, its supplement form appears to be less effective than other versions (passion flower tea, for example, provides a mild subjective improvement in sleep quality). No adverse side effects have been noted, and it appears safe, although it may have more of a placebo effect on sleep.
- St. John’s Wort is a herb. As lavender helps relieve comorbid anxiety, St. John’s Wort appears to relieve comorbid depression. St. John’s Wort also stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, facilitating calmness and sleep. The side effects of St. John’s Wort include dizziness, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal distress.
- Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that’s often consumed as a bedtime tea. It relieves both anxiety and depression, and varying studies have found it to either improve daytime functioning or hasten sleep onset.
- Ginkgo biloba is a natural herb that relieves stress through a calming effect. While one study didn’t find objective improvements, participants subjectively reported better sleep quality. And another study found objective improvements in sleep among those with depression.
- Lemon balm is a minty plant that may have a positive effect on the GABA receptors in your brain. It tends to perform especially well when combined with valerian root.
- Kava, or kava-kava, is a plant extract from the Pacific islands. While kava has been shown to relieve stress-related insomnia and shorten sleep onset, side effects range from mild dizziness to liver damage, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Avoid sleep aids that contain kava, unless your doctor has specifically prescribed them.
Amino acids are organic compounds that aid your body’s natural processes, such as sleep. Natural sleep aids include these to help facilitate melatonin production.
- Glycine is an amino acid that may play a role in sleep onset by lowering your body temperature at night. Like melatonin, people may take glycine supplements to begin this process earlier. Studies have shown 3 gram glycine supplements to both improve daytime alertness and quicken sleep onset. To naturally boost your glycine levels, you’ll find it as an ingredient in many sleep-promoting foods.
- Tryptophan is another amino acid. It’s involved in serotonin production, the happiness hormone, as well as melatonin. Small doses of tryptophan have been shown to both boost mood and help people fall asleep faster.
- L-Theanine is an amino acid that relieves anxiety and promotes relaxation conducive to sleep. One study found that a 400mg dose was effective in improving sleep quality among boys with ADHD.
Most commonly, natural sleep aids are available as swallowable pills or tablets. You’ll also find powders or chewable tablet options.
More recently, some sleep aid manufacturers have produced supplements in gummy form. These will have a natural flavor, so they’re sweeter-tasting and fun to chew, but you will get some extra calories and sugars as a result of taking these supplements.
Side effects of natural sleep aids
Besides sleepiness, which is the desired effect, natural sleep aids may cause some mild side effects. Alternately, some people may find that while the sleep aids appears to help them fall asleep faster, they still have trouble staying asleep.
Arguably, one of the largest risks of taking natural sleep aids is the dependence that can develop. Although not as extreme as can happen with over-the-counter sleep aids or prescription sleeping pills, if you fall into a habit of taking natural sleep aids on an everyday basis to help you fall asleep, you may develop a dependence on the sleep aid.
Over time, you may not be able to fall asleep without them. When you try to stop taking natural sleep aids after an extended period, you may experience a rebound insomnia. Natural sleep aids are most effective when used on a short-term basis, such as when you’re coping with jet lag or the discomfort of temporary congestion from an illness.
The effectiveness of certain sleep aids depends on the individual sleep aid as well as the individual. Further, some sleep aids require a significantly higher dosage than others, which is why it’s essential that you always read and follow the dosage guidelines provided by the sleep aid manufacturer.
Because they have fewer side effects than prescription sleeping pills and even over-the-counter sleep aids, it can be safe to take natural sleep aids for a longer period of time. For example, it’s generally considered safe to take valerian for up to 6 weeks at a time, and some believe it’s actually more effective when taken over a longer period of time.
However, natural sleep aids are not designed to be a long-term solution to insomnia. If you have a chronic inability to fall or stay asleep, you may have a sleep disorder. Taking natural sleep aids will prevent you from getting the treatment you need as long as you continue using the sleep aids as a band-aid solution.
Important Shopping Considerations for Natural Sleep Aids
You may have additional questions about safely using natural sleep aids. Review the below for answers.
Are natural sleep aids safe?
Fortunately, a large body of research has been conducted regarding both the effectiveness and the minimal side effects of using natural sleep aids to relieve temporary insomnia. However, we don’t yet have evidence on the effects of long-term use of natural sleep aids.
And because natural sleep aids are classified as dietary or herbal supplements, they’re not regulated by the FDA the same way medications are. That means manufacturers are under no obligation to meet safety or effectiveness regulations, or that a word used on one label means the same thing as when it’s used on an another.
Because there is less regulation, and a lot of manufacturers who want to take advantage of a consumer need, it is up to you to research natural sleep aids before purchasing them. Fortunately, you are already doing that by reading this guide.
Many people prefer to use natural sleep aids because they have less artificial ingredients and help one live a clean lifestyle. Generally, natural sleep aids have fewer and less extreme side effects than OTC sleep aids and prescription sleeping pills.
However, just because a sleep aid is natural does not mean it is guaranteed to be safe for you. Some herbal supplements can have adverse side effects for some people, as we outlined above under each natural sleep aid.
In particular, some groups of people need to take extra caution with natural sleep aids, such as pregnant women, children, and anyone taking other medication. For example, melatonin can interfere with the effectiveness of certain antidepressants or blood pressure medications. If you fall into one of these risk groups, you should talk to your doctor first before taking a natural sleep supplement. Based on your medication and health condition, they will advise you on whether or not a particular sleep aid is safe for you, and how you may need to adjust the dosage.
To be as safe as possible, always review the ingredients of any natural sleep aid you purchase and follow the instructions for safe use. Avoid natural sleep aids if you fall into one of the risk groups above, and speak to your doctor if you have any questions. Finally, never combine natural sleep aids with other sedative medications or alcohol.
Can you take natural sleep aids while pregnant?
Because a baseline of studies has not yet been performed to determine how melatonin affects a pregnant woman or fetuses, it’s generally not recommended that you take melatonin while you’re pregnant. Instead, try implementing the behavioral techniques we discuss below, and review our guide to sleep tips during pregnancy.
Are natural sleep aids safe for children and babies?
Children under 3 should not take melatonin or other natural sleep supplements. Past age 3, the question of safety varies with each supplement. Certain supplements are developed with lower, safer doses ideal for children. Others will explicitly state on the label whether or not they’re safe for children under 18.
As with adults, older children should start with the lowest recommended dosage and increase it gradually, under a doctor’s guidance.
Regardless of which natural sleep aid you are using for your child, your best bet is to speak with your doctor first, even if you’re planning to use the supplement for temporary relief from jet lag-induced insomnia.
Natural sleep aids like melatonin can help children with certain sleep disorders and issues, but you want to ensure you get the underlying condition diagnosed first—especially if you believe your child has insomnia. Sometimes behavior that parents view asan issue is totally normal. For more guidance about what’s considered “healthy” sleep for kids, review our Parent’s Guide to Healthy Sleep.
And, as we’ve stated above, to date there are no studies proving the efficacy or safety of using natural sleep aids on a long-term basis. For that reason, it’s best to speak to your doctor first before giving your child a natural sleep supplement, and to plan to use it on a temporary basis, unless otherwise prescribed.
What time should I take natural sleep aids?
For the best time to take your particular natural sleep aid, review and follow the instructions on the label. Typically, the recommendation will be to take the dose sometime between 30 minutes to 2 hours before you’d like to fall asleep.
How can I use natural sleep aids safely?
You’re already on your way to safe use by reading this article and educating yourself about the safest natural sleep aids. Below are five more quick tips for using natural sleep supplements safely.
- Start by consulting your doctor. They are equipped to advise you whether you may experience side effects due to another health condition or other medications you’re already taking. They may also have other advice you can follow to naturally improve your sleep.
- Read the label carefully and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The label will provide you with the best information about the supplement’s active ingredients, any potential side effects, dosage recommendations, and lists of people who should avoid the medication (such as children or pregnant women).
- Start with the lowest dose possible, and take it at the recommended time (usually no earlier than 2 hours before bedtime). You don’t know how a sleep supplement will affect your system. You can always adjust the dosage later if needed.
- Don’t drink, drive, or take other sedative medication when using your sleep aids. You are taking a sleep aid to fall asleep. Combining it with other sedatives, such as drugs or alcohol, can have adverse side effects. Likewise, if you are trying to fall asleep, you should not go out and start driving, especially when you’ve just put yourself in a situation where you plan to be drowsy. Avoid drowsy driving, and you’ll reduce your risk of a drowsy driving accident.
- Plan to use the sleep supplement as a temporary solution. Unless you have underlying sleep disorder or health condition causing your sleep issue, most sleep problems are effectively resolved with behavioral techniques. We’ll cover these in the next section.
How else can I improve my sleep naturally?
Often, the best way to improve your sleep is to implement a variety of behavioral and lifestyle changes. Many of us don’t realize how our daily habits have a negative impact on our sleep.
Try the following tips to naturally relieve your insomnia.
In your bedroom:
Keep things dark, quiet, and cool to create the ideal environment for sleep. A cool temperature somewhere in the low to mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit is best for sleep, as is keeping things as dark and quiet as possible.
Limit the activity in your bedroom to sleep and sex only, to prevent your brain from associating it as a place of stress or overly exciting leisure or work activities.
During the day:
Get plenty of natural sunlight, especially early in the morning, to help regulate your natural sleep-wake cycles. Exercise, too, to physically tire your body, but avoid doing so at night, as it wakes up your nervous system and gives you an ill-timed energy boost.
Drink well and hydrate throughout the day, and take care to avoid heavy meals, alcohol, or caffeine in the early evening.
Stop using electronics at least 1 hour before bed. The blue light in these tech devices physically wakes your brain up, and the stress, intensity, or emotional excitement of your favorite TV show, social media notification, or work email can emotionally wake you up.
Instead, occupy that last hour before bedtime with a calming bedtime routine, where you go through the same set of relaxing activities in the same order each night. Activities may include deep breathing, meditation, or aromatherapy.
Finally, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, to train your mind and body to a regular sleep schedule.
Best Natural Sleep Aids – Dr. Kotb’s Top 7 Picks
Utzzz’s Stay Asleep by Utzy Naturals – Editor’s Choice
Utz’s Stay Asleep has won a 2017 Better Nutrition award for Supplements, and it’s easy to see why. This natural sleep aid packs in a specially-formulated variety of the top natural sleep aids into one dose, including magnesium, multiple amino acids like tryptophan and L-theanine, and plant extracts like chamomile. The ingredients combine to not only help you stay asleep longer, but to have a calming, more restorative sleep while you’re at it.
Another reason why we’ve recommended Utzy Naturals as our top pick is because the company provides detailed ingredient information on their website, including how all ingredients are tested for quality, purity, strength, and composition.
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Chewable Tablet with Melatonin – Best Natural Sleep Aid for Kids
Instead of being a pill that’s literally tough to swallow, Zarbee’s Naturals is a chewable tablet, making it more palatable for kids. Zarbee’s Sleep is also available in both grape and mixed fruit flavors, to suit discerning tastes. Despite the sweet taste, parents will appreciate that it’s gluten-free and made without high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Zarbee’s Naturals was founded by a pediatrician who wanted to create more USA-made natural, healthy options for kids. Depending on your child’s age and their pediatrician’s recommendation, they can take between 1 to 3 tablets, which are all 1 mg each, to help them sleep.
OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy Supplement – Best Adult Gummy
Adult vitamin brand Olly understands that gummies aren’t just for kids. This sweet-tasting sleep supplement has a “blackberry zen” flavor so you look forward to taking your sleep aid. OLLY advises that people with medical conditions or mothers who are pregnant or nursing seek medical advice before taking their gummies.
The Olly Restful Sleep supplement includes a standard 3 mg melatonin dose, along with l-theanine amino acid, and chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm extracts to aid in relaxation and soothe anxiety.
Nature Made Melatonin – Best Melatonin Only
For just a straightforward melatonin supplement, Nature Made’s Melatonin is a solid option. It’s available in a 3 mg tablet, which is an average dose for most adults experiencing jet lag. There are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or color added. From their decades-long tenure in the supplement industry, Nature Made is trusted to reliably source their products and ensure the quality of their ingredients.
Unless specifically prescribed by a doctor, Nature Made does not recommend their melatonin supplement be used by pregnant or nursing mothers, or individuals with hypertension, diabetes, endocrine, autoimmune, depressive, breeding, or seizure disorders.
Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin – Best High-Dose Melatonin
Vitafusion Extra Strength Melatonin should be used in cases where you have been advised to take a higher dosage, or you are dealing with an extreme case of jet lag. The gummy has a natural blackberry flavor, and is free of gluten, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors.
Note that at 5 mg, Vitafusion’s gummy is one of the highest recommended doses of melatonin. You should definitely not start out with this, unless you have been advised to take a higher dosage. If that describes you, this is a more affordable way of getting your sleep supplements from a single bottle, as each individual dose packs a larger punch. Of course, you can also halve the dosage by only taking 1 gummy instead of 2.
Micro Melatonin by Utzy Naturals – Best Low-Dose Melatonin
Sleep experts consistently recommend starting with the lowest dose. There’s no need to overdo it on a natural sleep aid. Sometimes all you need is a small boost of melatonin, and several studies show that doses as low as 0.1 to 0.3mg are effective for inducing sleep.
At 250 mcg, Utzy Naturals Micro Melatonin falls right in that sweet spot. By selecting a low-dose melatonin, you avoid having to invest in a pill cutter and awkwardly chop down smaller doses. The small tablet also allows for more precise dosing, in 250 mcg increments.
The sour cherry in the quick dissolve tablet isn’t just there for flavor, either. According to research, tart cherry juice promotes your body’s natural melatonin production.
Luna Natural Sleep Aid by Nested Naturals – Best Valerian Supplement
The Luna sleep aid by Nested Naturals packs a large punch. This natural sleep aid includes both melatonin and valerian root, magnesium, amino acids GABA and L-theanine, as well as sleep-promoting herbs like chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, and hops. This combination will not only calm your nerves and relax your body, inducing sleep, but it will also help you stay restfully asleep for longer.
However, it should be noted that many of the amounts of the ingredients are on the higher side, such as 6 mg melatonin, so a half dose of 1 capsule may be a better place to start. The Luna capsules are vegan, non-GMO, gluten- and soy-free, and made in the USA.
Snippet 1 = Essential Oils for Sleep
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Anyone who’s smelled fresh cookies baking in the oven knows that scents have a strong influence on how we feel. When we smell something, our olfactory nerve sends signals directory to our limbic system and amygdala, the parts of our brain responsible for our memory or mood. That’s why certain scents can instantly make us feel brighter, or recall a favorite memory.
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that relies on the powerful sense of smell. Practitioners use the essential oils from plants to heal the mind, body, and soul. Essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes, from boosting mood to relieving migraines, but in this article we’ll focus on how they can be used to calm and relax the mind and body, preparing you for sleep.
How do essential oils help sleep?
Choosing scents that promote relaxation can help get our bodies into a restful state ready for sleep. Essential oils also just smell nice and can be a pleasant way to enhance the sleeping experience. Making essential oils part of your bedtime routine can also help train your mind to associate the specific scent with falling asleep.
Many people prefer to use essential oils because they’re natural and don’t create the common side effects associated with many sleep medications, such as daytime drowsiness or more serious health risks. For example, a 2010 study found smelling jasmine to be just as effective at calming the nerves as a sleeping pill or sedative, but without any adverse side effects.
Many essential oils are adaptogens, which means they adapt to the person taking them and have different effects on different people. For instance, vetiver oil relieves insomnia for some people, while creating a feeling of refreshment and alertness for others during times of exhaustion. Of course, some oils are known precisely for their activating effects, like energizing tangerine or lemongrass, and should be avoided as a sleep aid.
The best essential oils for sleep fall into two main categories: oils that stave off insomnia by calming the mind and reducing anxiety, and oils that alleviate snoring and sleep apnea by clearing the airways.
Overall, more research is still needed regarding essential oils and sleep. However, the studies done thus far do suggest that using essential oils before bedtime can help alleviate mild sleep problems.
How to use essential oils for sleep
There are many ways to use essential oils for sleep. Some of the most common include:
- Diluting essential oils with an air diffuser
- Massaging a few drops onto a specific part of the body, such as the forehead, neck, chest, wrist, hands, or toes
- Rubbing a few drops into your hands and taking a few deep breaths
- Mixing the oil with epsom salt or baking soda to add to a hot bath while you’re filling the tub
- Creating a spray to spritz into the air or on your pillow
- Adding a few drops to a pot of boiling water, and then sitting with your face over the pot and a towel over your head to create a tent effect (this is known as facial steaming and can provide relief for sleep apnea or nasal congestion)
Topical application of essential oils can be especially beneficial, since the oils will actually permeate your skin due to their transdermal properties. As a result, not only will you smell them through your olfactory nerve, but they’ll also enter your bloodstream more quickly. However, if you have sensitive skin or allergies, you should avoid applying topically altogether, or otherwise diffuse the oil with a carrier oil such as organic coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil. Children also should avoid topical application, use more diluted amounts than adults, and shouldn’t begin using essential oils until they are at least 6 months old.
Where to buy essential oils for sleep
You can buy essential oils at pharmacies, health food stores, online, and large retailers.
It’s key to purchase oils that are advertised as “pure” or “100%” essential oils and list the oil’s botanical Latin name. Ones that say “perfume oil” or “fragrance oil” often use synthetic ingredients, so while they smell nice, they don’t provide the same benefits and may even contain other additives more likely to irritate your skin. If possible, look for organic oils with a non-GMO or “Therapeutic grade” label, meaning they don’t have toxins and only use pure chemicals.
Best essential oils for sleep
Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender calms the nervous system by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature – all processes which take place during the body’s natural transition to sleep. Lavender essential oil alleviates mild insomnia and reduces anxious thoughts by altering your brain waves in order to produce a more relaxed state. Well-tested and affordable, this Lavender oil from Plant Therapy is among our top choices for essential oils to help you sleep.
Healing Solutions Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian root is often taken as a sleep aid, and is a common ingredient of many sleepytime or bedtime herbal teas. The essential oil contains valerenic acid to produce the sedative effects the root is known for. Multiple studies have shown it improves sleep quality.
Eden Gardens Clary Sage Essential Oil
Although they’re related, clary sage is different than regular sage and better for sleep. Additionally, One study found clary sage essential oils had antidepressant effects for menopausal women. Together with its sleep-inducing properties, the rigorous testing and sustainable production of this Eden Gardens products places this oil among our favorites.
Healing Solutions Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil
Once a staple fragrance of upper-class ladies, sweet marjoram is one of the most pleasant and classy scents around. There are multiple forms of marjoram, sweet marjoram being recommended specifically for insomnia due to its calming qualities. This oil from Healing Solutions is distinguished as a top pick by its sustainable and natural production.
Aviano Botanicals Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
There are several types of chamomile, but Roman Chamomile oil is known as the best for relieving insomnia and anxiety. Research has even shown that the light floral oil can reduce nightmares. This, coupled with its versatility and quality, puts this Aviano product among our top picks for best essential oils for sleep.
NOW Solutions Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot is a citrus fruit that got its start in Italian folk medicine. Unlike most citrus oils, which are stimulating, bergamot is calming. Multiple studies have found bergamot essential oil both induces the physiological changes that accompany sleep – like reduced heart rate and blood pressure – as well as reduces the thoughts that keep people up at night, like feelings of stress and anxiety. However, bergamot is photosensitive and makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, so topical applications should be avoided before going outside.
Best Essential Oils for Sleep Apnea
NOW Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is anti-inflammatory. Before bed, rub a drop on the bottom or inside part of your nose, or try steam inhalation. This product is quality, undiluted and free of synthetic ingredients, making it among our favorites.
Best of Nature Olive Essential Oil
You’ve probably heard of the versatile range of great uses for olive oil. This product is marketed for your hair and skin, but is also great for relieving sleep apnea. Drinking a few sips of this olive oil can moisten and relax the muscle tissues below the palate, allowing air to flow freely and reducing symptoms of snoring.
Best essential oils for Baby Sleep
Aviano Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Roman chamomile essential oil reduces insomnia, relieves anxiety and depression, and can even minimize symptoms of colic. This oil is probably the most traditional oil to aid babies to sleep, its use dating back at least centuries. Further, we love the quality and purity of this product from Aviano.
Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil
In addition to being one of our top picks for sleep in general, we also chose Plant Therapy’s Lavender Oil as one the best essential oils for baby sleep. This product can be easily diluted for use with kids. Plus, it Lavender is known to reduce Colic, a type of pain often suffered by babies.
How to safely use essential oils with children
Only using pure essential oils free of additives or synthetic ingredients is especially important when using essential oils to help your baby sleep. Check both the oil and the carrier oil’s lists of ingredients to ensure they don’t contain anything your baby is allergic to, such as peanut oil. Although it can be safe for adults, you should never apply undiluted essential oils directly to your baby’s skin or allow them to ingest the oil.
You should not use essential oils before your child reaches 6 months, and you should always consult your pediatrician first. Before regular use, apply a small dime-sized or smaller amount to your baby’s arm or leg and wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction. If there is, don’t use the oil.
Essential oils for babies should always be diluted using a carrier oil. The carrier oils help ensure the essential oil doesn’t irritate your baby and is more evenly distributed. Just as adults react differently to different essential oils, so do babies, but on the whole they are more sensitive. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends a dilution ratio of .5 to 2.5 percent, and avoiding some oils overall.
Snippet 2= Teas That Help You Sleep
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Tea is the most popular beverage worldwide after water. In the United States alone, 80 percent of people drink tea, and 50 percent do so on a daily basis.
Americans love their tea. It offers similar boosts in alertness to coffee, but with less caffeine, so it interferes less with sleep and can be enjoyed later in the day than the typical 2pm cutting off point for coffee drinkers.
But can tea actually help you sleep? Do so-called “bedtime” and “sleepytime” teas really work? Keep reading to find out – or jump straight to our reviews.
|Sleepytime and bedtime teas are caffeine-free, herbal teas made of many of the same materials that are found in sleep supplements. It’s not the tea, but rather the ingredients, that help you sleep. Although, tea is often a much more pleasant way of ingesting these ingredients, and can be a calming activity in and of itself.By combining multiple pro-sleep, anti-anxiety herbal ingredients, bedtime teas create an overall calming bedtime experience that promotes sleepiness at the same time. Some sleepytime tea ingredients have a sedative effect, like chamomile or valerian, while others, like lavender and lemon balm, reduce the stress and anxiety that plague insomniacs. Still others, like spearmint, alleviate indigestion so the body can relax for sleep.|
Do bedtime teas really work?
Drinking tea before bed soothes many people. There is a calming aspect to sipping a warm liquid in your favorite mug before nodding off. It may mimic the effect of taking a warm bath before bed. Even though the bath or tea water is hot, it ends up cooling you down. As your body dries off and the extra water evaporates from your skin, the corresponding drop in body temperature signals to your brain that it’s time for sleep.
Of course, caffeinated teas, such as black tea, white tea, and caffeinated green tea, should be avoided late at night, but there is some evidence that drinking certain herbal teas before bed can help facilitate sleep.
Sleepytime and bedtime teas are caffeine-free, herbal teas made of many of the same materials that are found in sleep supplements, including valerian root. It’s not the tea, but rather the ingredients, that help you sleep. Although, tea is often a much more pleasant way of ingesting these ingredients, and can be a calming activity in and of itself. For instance, ingredients like valerian root are quite stinky when taken alone, and taking a supplement with a quick swig of water is not nearly as relaxing an experience as drinking a full cup of warm tea.
By combining multiple pro-sleep, anti-anxiety herbal ingredients, bedtime teas create an overall calming bedtime experience that promotes sleepiness at the same time. Some sleepytime tea ingredients have a sedative effect, like chamomile or valerian, while others, like lavender and lemon balm, reduce the stress and anxiety that plague insomniacs. Still others, like catnip in the mint family, alleviate indigestion so the body can relax for sleep.
While many of these teas have a mild effect, if any at all, the placebo effect of knowing it’s a sleepytime tea may be enough to get you to fall asleep. As with most things, your reaction to the tea will depend on your personal sleep issues and taste preferences, and even what else you ate or did that day.
Best teas for sleep
Below we review the best tea ingredients for sleep. You’ll find many bedtime teas actually contain multiple of these ingredients.
Chamomile is oft cited as the best tea for sleep. The perennially popular herbal tea has been used for centuries to stave off insomnia, stress, anxiety, and upset stomachs. Chamomile has positive effects on individuals with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder, and it also has antidepressant qualities. The tea works as a mild tranquilizer, relaxing the nerves and muscles.
Multiple small studies have found chamomile to provide various benefits, although the results are still inconclusive regarding sleep. One 2011 study split individuals with insomnia into two groups: one group took a placebo while the other took a chamomile extract twice a day for four weeks. While the chamomile had no effect on sleep onset, quality, or overall length, it did show some improvement in daytime functioning. However, a 2005 study of rats found chamomile extract helped them fall asleep much quicker.
Why do we believe chamomile helps induce sleep, despite not having any conclusive evidence? Like many of the teas on this list, chamomile has a calming effect that promotes relaxation. And we believe it helps us sleep – that may be the most important part of all.
Chamomile can induce an allergic reaction, and should be avoided by pregnant women or anyone about to have surgery due to its blood-thinning properties. For best results, steep this sweet and flowery tea for 10 minutes before drinking.
While chamomile is the most popular tea for sleep, there’s a stronger option preferred by those who really need help falling asleep: valerian tea.
Unlike chamomile, studies have proven moderate improvement of insomnia symptoms in drinkers of valerian tea.
As a strong natural sedative, valerian root has been used since the second century to help people fall asleep faster, reduce symptoms of insomnia and anxiety, and increase overall sleep quality. It works so well, that some people use it instead of melatonin supplements. Plus, valerian tea helps sleep without causing many of the side effects associated with other common sleep medications.
However, valerian root can become addictive or interfere with other medications, so check with your doctor before taking it. Valerian also takes a few days to a few weeks for the effect to kick in. For best results, steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking.
Decaf green tea
Green tea is always a healthy option, and serves as a nice bedtime tea alternative for those who don’t like the taste of herbal teas.
The decaf version includes theanine, which reduces stress and improves sleep. A sponsored study of young men in their 20s found that those who took a pure L-theanine supplement before bed enjoyed better sleep efficiency, and a more energized mental state upon waking. However, a cup of tea doesn’t really have sufficient amounts of theanine to get you to fall asleep, so individuals really having trouble sleeping might want to get a pure L-theanine supplement instead.
Other benefits to green tea include potential weight loss, increased cognitive performance, deeper sleep, better digestion, and reduced cancer and diabetes risk.
Lavender reduces stress and anxiety, which comprise many of the thoughts that keep insomniacs up at night. It may be the smell of lavender that promotes sleep, rather than ingesting it: a 2005 study found that smelling lavender oil before bed increased the time spent in deep sleep, and resulted in corresponding feelings of restoration and higher energy levels the following morning.
Lavender tea may have stronger effects for women. In one study of new postnatal mothers, the participants who drank one cup of lavender tea for two weeks had lower rates of depression and fatigue, an effect which went away when they stopped having the tea.
Lemon balm tea
As far back as the Middle Ages, insomniacs have been relying on this calming herb to reduce stress, anxiety, and indigestion. As a member of the mint family, lemon balm has a minty yet lemony taste. There are lemon balm teas available, or you can steep lemon balm leaves in a cup of hot water.
For best results reducing insomnia, lemon balm should be combined with other herbs. In one study, 81 percent of participants with mild sleep issues slept better with a combo of lemon balm and valerian than those who took a placebo. Lemon balm may interact with the GABA receptors in your brain, the activation of which reduces stress and helps induce sleep.
Passionflower tea is beloved by people with anxious and obsessive thoughts. The floral tea calms the mind as well as the stomach, since it also alleviates indigestion.
Passionflower relaxes the nervous system, and a 2011 study found that it at least improves sleep quality in the short-term.
More sleep tea ingredients
The herbs above are the most popular bedtime tea flavors. Many sleepytime teas also include one or more of the following ingredients to promote sleep:
- St. John’s Wort tea: Commonly used to treat depression, St. John’s Wort can help insomniacs who also have comorbid depression. Like lemon balm, researchers believe it stimulates the GABA receptors, which kickstarts the sleep process.
- Catnip tea: While it makes cats go crazy, catnip tea reduces insomnia for humans by inducing drowsiness. Tea-drinking cat lovers can bond over the shared interest with their feline companions.
- Spearmint tea: This anti-inflammatory is often added to sleep teas purely for flavor purposes, but it also soothes indigestion and headache that may cause insomnia.
- Magnolia bark tea: Magnolia bark has been used in Asia for centuries to calm anxiety and nerves. The active compound magnolol acts as a mild sedative.
- Linden leaf or tilia tea: While typically used as a remedy for the common cold, the tilia flowers of the linden tree is calming herb is another mild sedative.
- Hops tea: Besides making beer, the same female flowers have been used for reducing stress and creating relaxation, offering a bedtime alternative for beer drinkers.
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