I used to take over an hour to fall asleep or I’d wake up at 2:00 am and be awake for hours almost every night – this is a common complaint for women going through the change. The amount of sleep you get can affect your mood. It a horrible daily cycle, and unfortunately, all too common.
Before turning to healthy supplements, I resorted to over-the-counter sleep aids, such as Tylenol PM or Benadryl, which made me feel groggy and tired the next day. Drugs tend to disrupt the REM-phase sleep and the non-REM deep sleep stages, so it’s no wonder we don’t feel rested!
It’s also important to have a healthy diet and avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Most sleep aids (over-the-counter & prescription) can be addicting and harmful to our bodies, so let’s take a look at some natural alternatives. Here are some natural ways along with a very short description which may help you catch a few more zzz’s.
Drink quality tea such as Nighty Night, Bedtime, or Sleepytime in the evening as they will help you get a restful night’s sleep. Chamomile is also good as it can help calm nervousness and restlessness.
Drink warm milk – Before bed, or if you wake up at night, drink tea or warm milk with 1 tsp organic vanilla and some stevia. You can also take 1 cup warm, not boiling, milk (my preference is unsweetened Almond), and stir in 1 tsp raw honey. This combination is well known for it’s soothing and relaxing effects.
Warm/hot Baths – Take a nice hot bath for about 30 minutes 1-2 hours before bed. A hot bath will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature that can leave you feeling sleepy.
5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) – This is my favorite sleep aid. Studies have shown that 5-HTP improves the quality of sleep by raising serotonin levels, the fuel your brain needs to regulate sleep activity. It also extends the REM phase significantly as well as increasing the deep sleep stages of non-REM sleep without increasing total sleep time. I have been taking one of these supplements nightly for months now and I sleep so restful and have amazing dreams.
Melatonin – Keep in mind that the body should naturally produce melatonin and if you take a supplement, your body will stop making it. You want your body to keep making it so this is not my recommendation for nightly use.
I love this brand. I don’t feel tired the next day and I sleep very well all night.
Valerian Root – this is safe for nightly use. You can do capsules or drops which I put in my bedtime tea. Valerian becomes more effective over time, so taking it nightly works best, rather than taking valerian only on random rough nights.
L-Tryptophan – these can accomplish the same thing as anti-depressants by naturally increasing serotonin levels in the brain. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in foods that contain protein such as turkey. It is able to convert into 5-HTP, and then to serotonin. Serotonin is involved in mood, appetite, sleep and impulse control. L-Tryptophan is recommended for even the worst cases of insomnia. Try taking this supplement.
Magnesium – I take these nightly as it’s a natural muscle relaxer. I’ll take 600-800mg, depending on my anxiety/restless levels. It really prepares you for a restful night’s sleep.
Kava – Kava is one of the most potent anxiolytics available without a prescription. Kava helps to relieve fatigue/anxiety and keep the mind at ease. It helps produce a deep sleep, has helped people become more social, steadies the pulse, and even lowers blood pressure. Available in capsules or drops. Here is my favorite tea.
Everybody is different so try and find things that work for you. When I would wake up, I used to get out of bed and watch a show on my computer or read. I would be up for 2-3 hours. If I would wake up early in the night, I would take another sleep aid but most of the time I would wake up at 2 or 3 am and it was too late to do that. Pretty soon I realized my body was learning my schedule and when I would wake up I would be wide awake.
I invested in an iPod and now when I go to bed, my iPod goes with me! Every night. If I struggle to fall asleep or wake up, I listen to soothing music, audiobooks, or my favorite listening spot One Place.
What have you tried and liked? Let me know by commenting below – Would love to know your tricks and you will be helping others sleep better!