The possibility of lying awake in bed in the dead of night with time moving and no shut-eye is one of life’s most frustrating experiences. Unfortunately, sleep problems are quite common. There are many people battling sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and many other sleep conditions. For some people, sleep issues are due to stressful times arising from stressful life situations when anxieties keep their minds running.
For others, sleeping issues arise from underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and many others. It’s therefore good to avoid self-treatments incase the sleep deprivation is connected to another health condition that requires separate treatment. (1)
Having an irregular sleep-wake cycle and difficulties falling or staying asleep are some of the symptoms of sleep disorders. While rushing to get over-the-counter sleeping pills is an easy option, the good news is that there are remedies to most sleep problems. They include natural sleep aids. In this article, you’ll learn seven things to know before trying a new sleeping aid.
- The source and brand of the natural sleep aid
When it comes to natural sleep aids, you try and find out where each component originates from and how the specific brand makes it. These two characteristics will ensure that everything you’re using to better your sleep pattern is of the highest quality and that the product has been properly manufactured and tested.
Since most sleep aids are taken as dietary supplements, you should know that there is no oversight of dietary supplements as there is for prescription and over-the-counter medications. This means that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance isn’t a requirement for selling natural sleep aids in the United States. (2)
In contrast to pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements don’t have to provide as much evidence of their safety and efficacy. This simply means the FDA hasn’t evaluated the assertions concerning the health benefits of natural sleep aids. However, there are legal consequences for supplement companies that break these rules.
Because of the ease with which nutritional supplements may be brought to market with little regulation, there are many different brands and products to choose from. This makes it your duty to look for brands with a good reputation for their products.
- The components of the sleep aid
Natural sleep aids are often in the form of dietary supplements. The most common ingredients include magnesium, lavender, glycine, passionflower, melatonin, chamomile, cannabidiol (CBD), among many others. A chemical like tryptophan, a naturally occurring sleep-inducing compound, is found in foods like turkey.
It aids sleep by aiding the body’s production of sleep-inducing melatonin and serotonin. Natural sleep aids are often quite effective and without forming dependence when used in the recommended quantities. However, each natural sleep aid has its best use in terms of helping with sleep issues.
When looking to try a new natural sleep aid, these are four popular options you might be looking at and what they can do for you:
Nighttime darkness triggers the body to create melatonin. A healthy circadian rhythm may be maintained by using this product. A synthetic form of melatonin may be made and used as a supplement. When you’re suffering from jet lag, a situation that occurs when you travel across time zones, and any other circadian rhythm problems may benefit from this form of melatonin.
There is some evidence that melatonin may help people sleep better overall. In some individuals, taking it in the evening may help them fall asleep more quickly or remain asleep throughout the night. Taking melatonin does not normally cause significant negative effects in most people. It’s usually deemed safe in children under the supervision of a doctor when taken for a short period of time.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from controlled melatonin usage to establish a regular bedtime, reset sleep habits, or manage general sleep issues. In youngsters, the long-term consequences of melatonin supplementation have not been studied well enough. (3)
- Magnesium supplements
Over 300 metabolic activities depend on magnesium, a naturally occurring element present in the human body. Protein synthesis, neuron and muscle function, blood sugar management, and blood pressure regulation are all influenced by this mineral. Using magnesium supplements, like magnesium glycinate for sleep aid, may help people sleep better due to its calming impact, partly attributed to benzodiazepine receptors.
If magnesium supplements effectively treat human insomnia, more studies are needed to identify magnesium’s effects on sleep. However, since magnesium is involved in several bodily processes, it’s crucial to receive enough of it, whether through food or supplements.
The recommended daily magnesium consumption for women over 30 and men over 30 is 320 mg and 420 mg respectively, according to the US Food and Nutrition Board. Small studies have demonstrated that magnesium citrate, chloride, aspartate, and lactate are more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and sulfate in magnesium supplements. (4)
The amino acid glycine plays a vital role in brain function. While sleeping, glycine regulates your core body temperature, making it easier for you to fall asleep and remain asleep for longer periods. When taken at night, glycine has been shown to increase sleep quality and boost energy levels the following day.
It may not be the most ideal if your problem is falling asleep quicker, but it does not cause daytime grogginess. No major side effects have been detected in any of the experiments since the human body produces enormous quantities of glycine, and humans eat a lot of it. Glycine seems to be particularly beneficial for people who find it difficult to get a decent night’s sleep.
- Valerian root
Herbalists have traditionally used the roots of the Valerian plant, which is native to Europe and Asia, to treat sleep disorders and stress. According to a study review, Valerian root may help individuals sleep better and quicker. But further research with broader sample sizes is required to confirm this.
Are there any side effects of taking valerian root? Dry lips and loose bowel movements may occur due to using valerian root. These are the most prevalent side effect, which may be alleviated by lowering the dosage. Because valerian root is a sedative, drug interactions may arise.
- How and when to begin using natural sleep aid
If you feel the need to use a new natural sleep aid, you should carefully consider what the sleep aid does and doesn’t do. Ensure also to follow the directions for administration provides. It’s advisable to begin a new sleep aid of any kind too close to a big occasion if the medicine has unpleasant side effects.
You may feel groggy the following day if you take a sleeping aid to wake you up before its effects wear out. Shorter-acting sleep aids may be more suited for you if your problem is only falling asleep, but you sleep well once you’ve dozed off. It’s not recommended to use any type of sleeping aids before driving or engaging in any other activity that requires your total concentration.
If you’re responsible for someone who needs you to get up in the middle of the night, this also applies to you. Taking sleep aids too early in the evening may disrupt your activities for the rest of the night. In addition, give yourself time to adjust to the new regimen and keep a record of your progress. That might help you to track any changes or in case you experience any side effects.
- The possible side effects
It’s possible that some natural sleep aids might have adverse side effects, potentially major health effects. Being natural aids doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’re safe for everybody. This is because people react differently to various ingredients, natural or otherwise. This is why there’s an emphasis on seeking to know ingredients in the natural sleep aid you want to try and understand how it can affect you.
In addition, even specialists aren’t sure what the optimal or safest dose is for many natural sleep aids because of a shortage of studies. The adverse effects of a medicine or supplement might vary greatly depending on the exact ingredient. The following are some of the possible side effects of using natural sleep aids:
- Interactions with other drugs: You need to know if the natural sleep aid you want to start will cause any issues if taken with other drugs you might be using. In certain cases, natural items may enhance or degrade the potency of other medications. It would help if you screened each sleep aid before you start taking it. You need to ensure that it won’t come in conflict with anything else you’re already taking, whether it’s a pharmaceutical, recreational, or herbal remedy.
- Allergic reactions: Natural sleep aids might cause allergic reactions in persons who are sensitive to things like pollen or other foods. You should also make sure the sleep aid doesn’t include any substances you are allergic to. You may also want to know if the natural sleep aid contains ingredients that might cause you intestinal troubles. Otherwise, it’ll introduce new discomforts that might make your sleep troubles worse.
- Excessive sleepiness: Natural drowsiness-inducing ingredients, particularly when consumed in excessive concentrations, may cause lethargy or inability to focus the following day.
It would be best to investigate the natural sleep aid you intend to start on to ensure that there are no ingredients that might cause you any harm. You don’t want to try and fix one problem by introducing another health issue.
- If it’s good for long term use
Is it possible to take them for a lengthy period of time? Magnesium, L-theanine, and glycine are just a few of the nutrients that our systems make or use regularly. Using these natural sleep aids at the recommended dosage levels is typically safe.
However, most of the research conducted has only been in the short-term use. This in between two-to-eight-week settings but are likewise regarded to be safe. There have been growing worries regarding the long-term usage of melatonin since it is a hormone.
- The possibility of using more than one sleep aid
If you’re already using a natural sleep aid and are looking to include a new one, you should know if it’s proper to use both at the same time. It’s possible you may require multiple supplements, particularly if your sleep issues are quite severe. To avoid excessive daytime drowsiness, try not to take two sedative supplements simultaneously.
For instance, melatonin and valerian root can sedate you, and a combination will only make you groggier. If this happens, you may end up unable to carry out normal duties or follow a proper wake-and-sleep schedule. (5)
- If the natural sleep aid is safe for you
As you research the new natural sleep aid you intend to start, ask yourself which demographics may benefit from these dietary supplements and if you fall within them. These sleep aids are typically safe, but it is important that you know if they’re safe for you before taking any new supplements.
This is particularly necessary if you fall in the following categories:
- If you’re an expectant or breastfeeding woman, you should check with your doctor before using any supplements that may be harmful to your unborn child.
- If you’re using pharmaceutical drugs, you need to be sure of drug interactions.
- If you have a long-term health issue that might require you not to use some ingredients, you’ll need to check with your physician too.
Ultimately, you should ensure that the new natural sleeping aid is good for you by consulting your doctor before you start taking it.
The things discussed in this article aim to help you ensure that you get the right natural sleep aid to help with your specific sleep condition and that you’re doing it safely. Since there are numerous natural sleep aids in the market today, always carry out your research to know the brand and source of the ingredients that have been used in manufacturing the natural sleep aid.
Consult with your doctor before you try any natural sleep aid or treatments. Your sleep condition may result from an underlying ailment such as heart disease, diabetes, lung diseases, depression, or other conditions. You should consider a sleep condition as a sign and take steps to guarantee that you get early treatment for any potentially life-threatening diseases.
- “Medical Reasons You Could Have Insomnia”, Source: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-insomnia-medical-causes
- “What You Need to Know about Dietary Supplements”, Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/what-you-need-know-about-dietary-supplements
- “Effects of melatonin in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with sleep disorders after methylphenidate treatment”, Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6410756/
- “Magnesium”, Source: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/.
- “Valerian”, Source: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0415/p1755.html