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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

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10 Best Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Feel Rested

Changes in sleeping patterns, habits or lifestyle can negatively impact your health. Getting an adequate amount of restful sleep is necessary to live a happy and healthy life.

With so many people struggling to get a good night’s sleep, the sleep supplement business is flourishing. More and more people are coming and searching for natural sleep aids. So here we take a look at some of the best natural sleep aids proven to help you feel rested:

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is amongst the foremost common minerals on Earth and has been considered one of the simplest and natural sleep aids. It binds to neurotransmitter receptors to calm your mood, lower stress levels, and assist you to unwind for sleep.

Consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium maintains your sleep-wake cycle and ceases sleep problems.

2. 5-HTP

It is also known as L-5 hydroxytryptophan, and is a naturally-occurring chemical in your body.

Eating foods high in tryptophan such as nuts, seeds, tofu, beans and oats etc.[1] can help you feel sleepy fast and increase your overall sleep time. Once eaten, your body turns tryptophan into serotonin. Then, serotonin is converted into melatonin to help you fall asleep.

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5-HTP is the solution to making all of this happen, as it’s the primary chemical that transforms tryptophan to serotonin.

3. Jujube

The Jujube plant is loaded with nutrients and used as a natural remedy against gastrointestinal problems, boosts heart health, cuts back stress, and shields against harmful cancer cells.

And also, jujube berries contain two phytochemicals— saponins and flavonoids, which can help fight insomnia.

4. L- Theanine

It is a sleep-inducing amino acid found naturally in tea leaves. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels, while decreasing levels of chemicals associated with stress and anxiety. Plus, this amino acid activates the release of alpha brain waves— these are present during REM sleep and promote relaxation.

5. Kava

Kava plant is used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress and promote a state of relaxation. The kava plant contains compounds called kavalactones, which bind to different neurotransmitters, including GABA receptors, to decrease brain activity and cause you to feel sleepy.

6. Passion Flower

It is a most strong aid for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and inducing a sense of calmness to help you get better sleep. Like a lot of other natural remedies, we’ve discussed and recommended, passionflower works primarily by increasing GABA levels and decreasing brain activity.

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7. Valerian

It is a dietary supplement that has been used since ancient days for sleep disorders like insomnia and nervousness. Valerian root can help you better sleep by raising your gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, receptor levels. This neurotransmitter decreases neuron activity in the brain, quietens the central nervous system, and boosts drowsiness to help you sleep soundly.

8. Melatonin

It is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain of the human body as well as in the animal body. It plays a leading role in regulating sleep and circadian rhythms.

The melatonin sold in over-the-counter pills are synthetic, but chemically it’s the same as the stuff the human body makes. It helps the certain problem to sleepers get to bed at night.

The natural production of melatonin is triggered by the absence of light, allowing this natural sleep aid to regulate the body’s internal clock, ensuring we are tired at night and mentally and physically alert during the day.

Research has also shown it can help battle inflammation, promote weight loss, and maybe even help children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, “melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses,” which is something in between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.[2] According to him, a 0.5 mg dose may be all that’s needed for sleep-cycle regulation and should be taken three to five hours before bed. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is much suitable.

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If taken in high doses, or more frequently, people have reported headaches or stomach problems as a side effect. Other side effects include drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, mild tremor, irritability, low blood pressure, stomach cramps, and even temporary feelings of depression.

9. Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid that plays an essential role in the nervous system. Recent studies show it may also help improve and get better sleep. A study states that people suffering from poor sleep may take 3grams of glycine or a placebo immediately before bedtime.[3] This would make you feel less fatigued the next morning.

Glycine supplements also helped participants fall asleep faster.

10. Lavender

It is naturally soothing and hence plays an efficient role in relaxing your nervous system. Doctors have increasingly used lavender to help relieve the symptoms of and even treat certain neurological disorders.

The scent of lavender is instantly calming and relaxing— and it’s not uncommon to see lavender essential oils, shampoos, lotions, candles, and bedtime teas sold as a solution to restless nights.

Bonus: Ways to Fight Insomnia Naturally

Here’re some bonus natural sleep remedies to fight insomnia:[4]

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Sip Warm Milk and Honey

Winding down the day with a warm mug of milk and honey is one of the better natural sleep remedies. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the secret is in the combination of tryptophan, an amino acid known to induce sleep. Tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin, a hormone that works as a natural sedative, in the brain. Carbs, like honey, help transmit that hormone to your brain faster.

Turn off Artificial Lights

For those people who are suffering from insomnia, a peaceful, calm and relaxing environment is very crucial for uninterrupted slumber. So one of the most effective natural sleep remedies is removing electronics that having glowing screens such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops, etc. It is found that the blue light disturbs your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Take a Hot Bath

According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, women take a hot bath before bedtime fall asleep faster[5] and states the higher and good quality of sleep than women who simply go to bed.

Drink Herbal Tea

A study from Australia’s Monash University says that people who want to improve their nightly sleep quality, should start drinking one cup of passionflower tea before bed.[6] Similarly, a cup of chamomile before bed also has a relaxing effect on the brain. Another herbal solution, Valerian tea, a dietary supplement used for insomnia and nervousness, can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and produces a deep, satisfying rest and reduced nighttime awakenings.

Manage Stress with Exercise

Try natural sleep remedies like yoga, meditation or writing a journal before bed if anxiety or stress is keeping you up at night. It helps to reduce stress, feel calmer and relaxes your mind and body, helping you sleep faster and better.

Read a Book/Novel

As per a study conducted in 2009 by researchers at the University of Sussex, reading before you go to bed can help you cope with insomnia.[7] The study showed that 6-7minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%. This helps clear the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

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A sleeping disorder like insomnia is among the most disrupting of rest and sleep conditions, and following the above mentioned aids and tips can certainly help you manage your sleep better.

More to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: Joanna Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Bijal Panchal

Brand Planning: Managing Sleep Diagnostic, Sleep Therapy & Reusable Mask Portfolio

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

Immunity Boosting Superfoods

In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

1. Water is a Wise Choice

Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

2. Eggs: The Most Complete Protein

Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

5. Garlic is Really Good for You

This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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9. Ginseng Tea: Chock Full of Ginsenosides

Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

10. Green Tea Fights Aging

Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

11. Dark Chocolate: The Delicious Superfood

Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

13. Raw Honey: A Natural Antioxidant

Saving the sweetest for last!

Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

Indulge in Better Health

But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

Reference

[1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
[2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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