As you read this, America is in the midst of a sleeplessness crisis—and the statistics certainly don’t paint a pretty picture.
More than a third of all American adults report getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) study. It’s not just a lack of sleep duration, either. Further research into sleeplessness shows that more than 60 million Americans suffer from poor sleep quality as well.
So it’s no surprise that countless people are turning to natural sleep aids as a way to get a good night’s rest. In fact, natural sleep aids are a $41 billion industry in America. It’s important to understand though that not all anti-insomnia remedies are equal in their effectiveness. In truth, most sleeplessness treatments are not effective, despite the bold claims they might trot out.
Opt for Natural Methods Backed by Science
That’s why anyone looking to improve both their sleep quality and quantity should opt for natural sleep aids that are proven by science to be effective. Anything less won’t cut it. Especially when you consider the fact that a lack of quality sleep is associated with all sorts of serious chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. Grogginess is the least of your worries if you’re not getting a full night’s rest.
Studies also show that natural sleep aids tend to work best when sleeplessness is caused by an obvious and limited outside factor such as jet lag, temporary stress, or sleeping in a new and uncomfortable environment. In cases of long-term insomnia, however, while using sleep aids can certainly help, the much better course of action is identifying and fixing the root cause preventing quality sleep.
With that said, here are the five best natural ways to ensure a long and undisturbed slumber, according to various studies.
Perhaps the most tried-and-true supplement for improving sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone we all produce in our brains, which tells us it’s time to doze off each night. So no wonder it’s so effective at aiding sleep.
Unfortunately though, since melatonin naturally rises at night time and falls during the daytime, many modern everyday activities we engage in can trick our brains into thinking that it’s still light outside and therefore we don’t need to produce the melatonin required to fall asleep—think backlit smartphones, computers, and TVs. So ditching your devices well before your bedtime is always a good idea.
Research also shows that taking melatonin 30 minutes to an hour before sleep not only results in making it easier to fall asleep but can also help increase total sleep duration.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another great way to treat sleeplessness. The reason CBD oil for sleep is proven to be highly effective is because it attacks three of the most common culprits of insomnia: stress, anxiety, and chronic pain.
More specifically, both stress and anxiety cause a hyper-aroused state in individuals that confuses the brain into feeling more awake than it actually is. Studies show that CBD oil fights against this heightened and anxious state by attaching to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors in a way that increases serotonin intake, which in turn produces a feeling of relaxation and balances out the brain’s hyperactivity.
The best thing about CBD oil for sleep is that it is almost entirely side-effect-free when compared to other cannabinoids that contain THC. CBD comes from hemp plants and has no psychoactive ingredients, meaning you won’t have to worry about the feeling of being high or any of the adverse effects that go along with it.
Speaking of fighting off stress and anxiety, mindfulness exercises and meditation are great ways to feel more relaxed and, in turn, get better sleep at night.
By focusing on deep breathing and subsequently being wholly present in the moment, individuals who practice mindfulness can break down the established brain patterns in their thinking that can lead to undue stress or worrying about past and future events. The result is an overall feeling of restfulness.
It’s not just theoretical, either. A sleep study from 2015 compared two groups of individuals over a six-week period. One group was taught proper sleep hygiene, and the other was taught mindfulness. At the end of the six weeks, the group that learned meditation reported less insomnia and fatigue than their counterparts.
Put simply, there is a reason why chamomile tea has been used by numerous cultures across thousands of years as a natural way to improve sleep. It works.
First off, chamomile doesn’t contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that greatly hinders sleep. Second, the popular bedtime drink’s warm and soothing nature promotes relaxed vibes for those who drink it. Third and most importantly though, is that chamomile contains valuable flavonoids that are believed to interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that are partially responsible for the sleep-wake transition in humans.
A Sleep-friendly Environment
Last but not least, creating an environment that promotes a long and peaceful sleep is essential when it comes to preventing insomnia.
Humans evolved to sleep in dark and cool conditions. So the first step to getting quality sleep is setting your room’s temperature anywhere from 65 to 72 degrees. The reason being that in order to get full and restorative sleep, the brain must cool and reduce its metabolic activity.
Second, it’s important to avoid light at all costs, which means muting your smartphone notifications as well as turning off your bathroom light and TV before sleep is a good idea.
If you want to go even a step further, noise machines have been shown to be an effective means of improving sleep. Why? Well, not only will the natural sounds produced by a sleep machine provide a soothing soundtrack to doze off to, but it will also block out any loud man-made sounds that could interrupt your slumber.
Side note: It’s important to remember that dietary supplements—which sleep aid products are categorized as—are not regulated by the FDA. So always make sure that you buy CBD oil, melatonin, or other natural sleep aids from a reputable, Federally licensed website in the US. Foreign products oftentimes don’t come as advertised, contain harmful additives, or are generally ineffective at improving sleep.