Before you rush to the drugstore to buy an over-the-counter
sleep medication, try one of the following natural sleep
remedies. They are safer, and have fewer side effects.
Many of these can not only help you fall asleep and
stay asleep, but they can also promote muscle relaxation.
Magnesium and calcium
Magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and
when taken together, they become even more effective.
Plus, by taking magnesium, you cancel out any potential
heart problems that might arise from taking calcium
alone. Take 200 milligrams of magnesium (you can lower
the dose if it causes diarrhea) and 600 milligrams of
calcium each night.
If you've suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or
joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild
lettuce. It's also effective at calming restlessness
and reducing anxiety, and may even quell restless legs
syndrome. When using a wild-lettuce supplement, take
30 to 120 milligrams before bed.
Beer fans are already familiar with the calming effect
of hops, the female flowers used in beer making. For
sleep purposes, this extract has been widely used as
a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia. Take 30 to
120 milligrams before climbing under the covers.
Lavender is the trick here, as studies have proven
that it aids in sleep. It's also a cheap, nontoxic way
to slip into a peaceful slumber. Find a spray with real
lavender and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime,
or buy a lavender-filled pillow.
Melatonin is the hormone that controls sleep, so it's
no wonder that it naturally induces sleep. Studies show
that lower doses are more effective -- plus, there's
concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as
well as raise the risk of depression or infertility.
Take at most 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed.
Yoga and Meditation
Choose gentle yoga or stretching, not vigorous power
or ashtanga yoga, which could energize you instead.
Try easy yoga stretches in bed followed by simple meditation.
Close your eyes and, for 5 to 10 minutes, pay attention
to nothing but your breathing.
This amino acid comes from green tea, and not only
helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also
a deeper sleep at night. However, green tea doesn't
contain enough L-theanine to significantly boost your
REM cycles, and might make you wake up to go to the
bathroom. Instead, buy pure, active L-theanine (some
brands have inactive forms of theanine that block the
effectiveness), and take 50 to 200 milligrams at bedtime.
Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for
insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian
improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall
quality of sleep. However, it's most effective when
used over a longer period of time. However, about 10
percent of the people who use it actually feel energized,
which may keep them awake. If that happens to you, take
valerian during the day. Otherwise, take 200 to 800
milligrams before bed.