If you suffer from a sleep disorder (or you have kids) you are not alone. According to the Sleep Health Foundation 1.5 million Australian adults, that’s nine per cent of the adult population, now suffer from sleep disorders. Worse yet The Medical Journal of Australia revealed that an estimated one in three Australian adults regularly have difficulty either getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Chronic sleep disorders can be frustrating, debilitating and may even lead to other health problems. While there are plenty of medical options available to treat sleep disorders, the best are always found in nature. Here are 15 natural remedies to help you get some solid shut eye.
People always get a giggle when I introduce myself because it sounds like Valerian… the herb that puts you to sleep. While listening to me ramble might have the same effect, Valerian is a much better natural remedy for sleep disorders. Thanks to its sedative and muscle-relaxing properties, Valerian helps induce relaxation to promote deep, restorative sleep.
Adding a heaped spoonful of gelatin to your pre-sleep drink can help you relax and promote a better night's sleep. Gelatin is a protein that is high in proline and glycine which helps counteract tryptophan and cysteine's stressful effects on the brain. Glycine is recognised as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter and promotes natural sleep. You can also try making some gelatin based gummies.
We love Victoria Norton's Little Book of Healthy Gummies which you can download here.
3. TurmericTurmeric is one of those magic cure-all ingredients. When in doubt, get the turmeric out. Scientists discovered that curcumin (the magic active ingredient found in turmeric) protected 72 hour sleep-deprived mice from the symptoms of sleep deprivation. Treatment with curcumin extract for five days significantly prevented impairment in locomotor activity, anxiety-like effects and oxidative damage. Try making a “Golden Milk” drink before bed using our Golden Grind original turmeric blend. This mixture of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper can help reduce inflammation and ease your digestive system, helping you get to sleep faster.
4. PassionflowerThe clever ancient Aztecs used this sleep aid herb for centuries, due to its sedative and anti-anxiety properties. As a herbal medicine, passiflora incarnata aka Passionflower is used for nervous tension, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia relief. You can take the recommended adult dose of passionflower as a tea, in capsules, or drops in tinctures. You can also find this little guy hiding in Little Wildling Co’s I need a Moment tea.
5. Lemon Balm
Also known as Melissa Officinalis, Lemon Balm is another one of those ancient herbs that people have turned to for centuries. It is commonly used to lift mood and promote calmness and relaxation. Lemon balm can help you fall asleep by promoting mental and physical health. Several studies have confirmed its sedative effects, however it should be noted that too high of a dosage (1800 milligrams) can actually have the opposite effect and increase anxiety. Again this guy is great in a tea teamed with chamomile and a little honey.
Chamomile has long been a reliable remedy for sleep. According to Molecular Medicine Reports Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquiliser and sleep-inducer. These sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. There is a large amount of anecdotal evidence in support of drinking chamomile tea prior to falling asleep, as part of your pre-bed ritual. Try sipping a cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes before bed.
Aromatherapy is a great tool to help you unwind and relax. Lavender has been alleged to have a variety of therapeutic and curative properties, ranging from inducing relaxation to treating parasitic infections, burns, insect bites, and spasm. People who were exposed to the scent of lavender in trials experienced better moods, and one study followed brain activity with an EEG machine, which showed the subjects undergoing lavender aromatherapy did in fact show brainwaves suggesting drowsiness, while other scents increased alertness. If you find yourself having a hard time drifting off at night, try spritzing your sheets with a little lavender oil, or diffusing a few drops in an oil diffuser by your bed side.
If you’re someone that needs a snack before bed reach for a handful of almonds. Almonds are a rich source of the sleep-supporting amino acid tryptophan, as well as magnesium, which is widely known for its muscle relaxing properties. The protein in almonds will also keep you full all night.
9. MagnesiumMagnesium is probably one of the most commonly found deficiencies in most people. It is also one of the most vial minerals. Blame this on poor diets and high levels of stress. Magnesium plays a huge role in the functioning of GABA receptors, which is the primary neurotransmitter that calms your central nervous system, helps you relax, and prepare for sleep. Try adding more magnesium rich foods to your diet like almonds, dark leafy greens, avocados, dark chocolate and bananas. You can also try taking a supplement, or use magnesium sprays like these guys by Amazing Oils. At home I like to add magnesium flakes or Epsom salts to our pre-bed bath.
Nutmeg has amazing sedative properties that make it a great natural sleep aid. According to studies documented in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, nutmeg helps to induce and also increases the duration of sleep. Add a dash of nutmeg powder to a cup of warm milk of your choice and drink before bed.
Melatonin is a vital ingredient when it comes to the science of sleep. While it can be taken as a supplement in pill form, nothing beats mother nature. To boost your melatonin levels naturally, increase your sunlight exposure through the day, cut back on stress, and meditate. Nutritionally try eating more oats, sweetcorn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, almonds and and seeds to to help your body make more of the good stuff.
12. CarbsEat all the carbs! Carbs are not your enemy, they can help you sleep better! Tryptophan is another key player in the sleep equation. In order for it to work, it needs to cross the blood-brain barrier. The only way it can do that by eating a little carbohydrates. Eating carbs makes it easier for tryptophan to cross the barrier, since it has to compete with other amino acids to make it through. The release of insulin in response to the carbs directs the other amino acids to muscle, leaving tryptophan a clearer passage into the cerebrospinal fluid.
A member of the mint family, Catnip is another natural wonder that has super sedative powers. While Catnip can make cats frisky and wild, it has the opposite effect on humans, making us relaxed, drowsy, and ready for bed. You can enjoy Catnip it in the form of a warm tea before bed with a little bit of honey
15. Create a bedtime routine
We do this for our children, but forget the power of a good routine as we get older. Humans are creatures of habit, and our bodies usually work quite well when something is done ritualistically.
Create a calming nightly ritual, and you will probably find it easier to transition from being awake to sleep.
Try drinking a cup of warm tea a half an hour before bed, taking a bath, reading a book, turning off the lights and TV, or even adding a mediation to your ritual. Whatever it is, be consistent.