Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (2022)

Turning in at night should be a relief after a busy day, but poor sleep is common. "Sleep, as simple as it sounds, is probably one of the hardest things to get," says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, MD, FAASM, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Approximately 1 in 4 Americans experience acute insomnia—a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restorative sleep—according to research from the University of Pennsylvania. And sleep deprivation, whether it's caused by insomnia or not, can affect your memory, cognition, and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Fortunately, about 75% recover before developing chronic insomnia.

Health Sleep Awards 2021: 43 Products for the Best Sleep Ever

The foundational treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves stimulus control, such as only using your bed for sleeping, making sure your bedroom is dark, not eating right before you go to bed, and avoiding alcohol.

"After that, in order to get good sleep, you need to complete the puzzle," Dr. Dasgupta says. "The trick is finding out, when you have insomnia, what puzzle piece are you missing?"

For some people, it's the amount of light that really affects them. For others, it may be the sound in the room or the temperature. Insomnia can also indicate other mental health conditions that make it harder for people to fall asleep.

This Is the Best Temperature for Sleeping, According to Experts

"Some people [are] just hard-wired from birth with an increased level of anxiety and arousals, so learning to manage that underlying anxiety or mood disorder can really help people [with] managing their sleep quality," says Dr. Camilo A. Ruiz, DO, medical director at Choice Physicians Sleep Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

While professionals say that what helps people get to sleep is highly individualized, there are some effective treatments you can try instead of medication. We spoke with sleep experts to find natural alternatives to prescription sleeping pills that can help you get a better night's rest.

From supplements to sound machines, here are the 9 best sleep aids for people with insomnia:

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (1)

(Video) Natural Sleep Aids - Which Remedy is Most Effective?

Supplements are not a bad choice if they're used appropriately. Dr. Ruiz recommends taking melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythms. "I tell people all they need is half a milligram to a milligram 3 hours before bedtime," Dr. Ruiz says. "So if you're going to bed at 10 p.m., take it at 7 p.m." Because melatonin is a hormone, it takes some time for the medication to work, he notes. This capsule from Nature's Bounty has 80% positive reviews and contains the Dr. Ruiz-recommended amount of just one milligram of melatonin.

Best Non-Habit-Forming: Silk Shelf-Stable Unsweetened Almond Milk

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (3)

Drinking a glass of warm milk before bed can be an effective natural sleep aid. Milk contains L-Tryptophan, the amino acid that goes on to make melatonin. Try some almond milk, which also contains magnesium. "Magnesium will help out with sleep," Dr. Dasgupta says. That said, taking super therapeutic doses in supplement form could be dangerous. "Like anything, you take too much of it and you could have some problems," he adds.

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (5)

(Video) SLEEP EXPERT Reveals How To Optimize Your Sleep To LIVE LONGER! | Matt Walker

People who are extremely sensitive to noise can wake up when the floor creaks. That's where soothing background noise can help. "Then when you hear a noise, it's not going to startle you as much as when you have a totally quiet room and hear a loud sound," Dr. Dasgupta says. The Homedics White Noise Sound Machine lets you pick between 6 soothing sounds, from the soft patter of rainwater to the roar of crashing waves.

Best Natural Sleep Aid: Nature's Lab Valerian Root

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (7)

This herbal supplement is a natural sedative that dates back to ancient times and comes in many different formulations, from supplements to teas. Though studies have shown mixed results about its effectiveness, valerian root can be an effective treatment for some because of how it interacts with GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that encourages sleep in your brain, according to Dr. Dasgupta.

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (9)

View at Amazon ($12)

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (10)

(Video) These Sleep Experts Explain How to Get the Best Rest | Health Theory

Another option for people who are sensitive to noise are sound-canceling headphones, like this affordable pair from Maxrock. . Made out of soft silicone, these earbuds conform to your ears and are comfortable enough to sleep in. Already a favorite of almost 1,000 reviewers, they're small enough to take on planes and even feature a built-in microphone.

Best for Anxiety: Gravity Weighted Blanket

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (11)

People with depression or anxiety who have trouble sleeping may find comfort in weighted blankets, and the Gravity Blanket is by far one of the most popular options, with more than 1,300 perfect reviews. Available in 3 sizes, it's designed to be about 10% of your body weight and has a removable duvet that can be machine-washed. Better yet, it actually works; one reviewer said they "finally wake up well-rested" thanks to this soothing blanket.

View at Amazon ($20)

(Video) Experts Reveal How To Wake Up Not Tired

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (14)

Another aspect of good sleep hygiene is keeping your room dark, according to Dr. W. Chris Winter, MD, the owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It. Research has shown that as little as 5 lux of light—which is about the intensity of candlelight—can affect the quality of people's sleep. So if you have a skylight that you can't cover up or sun streams through your windows in the wee hours, a sleep mask is a low-tech way to regulate light. The Asutra Silk Eye Pillow not only blocks out light, but is filled with flaxseed and lavender, an herb that can also encourage sleep.

Best for Winding Down: Eye Love Polarized Sunglasses

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (15)

"People will say they can't sleep well, and then they'll wear sunglasses on their way to work. If you wear sunglasses in the morning, you're giving your body this signal that it's nighttime and you should really be sleeping," Dr. Ruiz says. But the opposite is true in the afternoon, when you want to avoid bright light to help your body wind down. These uni-sex sunglasses block out 100% of UV rays with a polarized lens to prevent glare. Plus, they're way more affordable than other sunglasses with similar features.

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (17)

View at Amazon ($15)

Experts Reveal 9 Natural Sleep Aids You Can Try to Get a Better Night's Sleep (18)

(Video) The brain benefits of deep sleep -- and how to get more of it | Dan Gartenberg

"Sleep is a ritual, so you really have to put in an effort to maintain your bedroom routine," Dr. Ruiz says. That could mean taking a warm shower or having tea in the evening to wind down. Chamomile has mild tranquilizing effects and contains an antioxidant called apigenin that can help reduce anxiety. Research has shown that post-partum women who drank chamomile tea before bed had better sleep quality than those who didn't. This organic pick sourced from Egypt is the best-selling herbal tea on Amazon and comes with 100 tea bags in every pack.

Sign up for our Health Shopping newsletter to get your daily dose of retail therapy with great deals handpicked by our editors — straight to your inbox.

FAQs

What is the strongest herb for sleep? ›

1. Valerian root
  • According to a 2013 review , valerian root is the herb that people most commonly use to reduce insomnia. ...
  • A 2020 review and meta-analysis investigated the efficacy and safety of valerian root as a treatment for certain sleep disorders.

What naturally puts you to sleep? ›

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone your body produces naturally that signals to your brain that it's time to sleep ( 9 ).

What is the number one sleep aid on the market? ›

What is the best sleep aid? While a lot of people might say melatonin is the best sleep aid, our experts actually point to lavender. Melatonin usually needs to be taken hours before sleep to help and really only helps if you have a clinical sleep issue.

Does apple cider vinegar help you sleep? ›

A rich source of vitamins and minerals. Apple cider vinegar contains a variety of B complex vitamins and potassium that are essential to combating insomnia and promoting better sleep.

Does Cinnamon help you sleep better? ›

Cinnamon works wonders in relaxing your muscles and removing tension from your body,” says Pasricha, and might help you drift off to sleep.

What helps you sleep other than melatonin? ›

Sleep aids: The options
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. ...
  • Doxylamine (Unisom). Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine. ...
  • Melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. ...
  • Valerian. Supplements made from this plant are sometimes taken as sleep aids.

What is the safest sleep aid for seniors? ›

In the elderly, nonbenzodiazepines such as zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon, and ramelteon are safer and better tolerated than tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Pharmacotherapy should be recommended only after sleep hygiene is addressed, however.

What is the over-the-counter equivalent to Ambien? ›

Over The Counter Alternatives

Diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl, Aleve PM, etc.): Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects might include daytime drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and urinary retention. Doxylamine (e.g., Unisom SleepMelts): Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine.

What vitamins can make you sleepy? ›

B vitamins are vital for supporting brain function, energy levels and cell metabolism as well as help the body produce melatonin. Research has shown that maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 may help achieve good sleep.

How much magnesium should I take for sleep? ›

Research shows that magnesium may help improve insomnia symptoms. In a study of elderly patients with insomnia, taking 500 mg of magnesium daily for eight weeks improved many subjective and objective measures of insomnia.

What's the best magnesium for sleep? ›

Which form of magnesium is best for sleep? Because it's combined with an additional sleep aid and amino acid, glycine, magnesium glycinate is one of the most common magnesium supplements used for achieving better sleep.

What does drinking vinegar before bed do? ›

Drinking apple cider vinegar at least 30 minutes before bed may lower your risk of indigestion or acid reflux after laying down. Enjoy it in other ways. Apple cider vinegar can be used on a salad or in a marinade for meat or vegetables, which may be a more pleasant way to consume it than drinking it.

What happens if you drink apple cider vinegar every night? ›

The fermented juice may slow down the emptying of your stomach and prevent spikes in the blood sugar level. ACV consumption has also been proven beneficial in increasing insulin sensitivity. Drinking that concoction particularly at night can be more beneficial than having it any other time of the day.

What happens if I drink apple cider vinegar every morning? ›

There's some evidence that supports the fact that apple cider vinegar, had first thing in the morning may promote faster weight loss and accelerate fat burning. Since it works primarily as a detoxifying agent, a shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning can clear out toxins from the body and aid a fresh start.

What does cinnamon do to your blood? ›

Cinnamon is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties. Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms. First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal.

What does drinking cinnamon water do? ›

What are the benefits? "Adding cinnamon to your water is not only hydrating and delicious, it can also supply an array of health benefits, such as: delivering antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties, supporting heart health, lowering cholesterol, and potentially aiding in weight loss," says Poon.

Is cinnamon good for kidneys? ›

In conclusion, cinnamon has no adverse effects on the physiology and morphology of normal healthy kidneys, therefore its use is safe for kidneys.

What food is highest in melatonin? ›

Eggs and fish are higher melatonin-containing food groups in animal foods, whereas in plant foods, nuts are with the highest content of melatonin. Some kinds of mushrooms, cereals and germinated legumes or seeds are also good dietary sources of melatonin.

What should you not drink before bed? ›

before bedtime: Avoid drinks and hot beverages which contain caffeine. These drinks can make us feel more awake and can disrupt our sleep. Some drinks which include caffeine and should be avoided close to bed are; tea, coffee, energy drinks and fizzy juice.

Is it bad to drink water before bed? ›

When's the best time to stop drinking water? It's often recommended that you should stop drinking water two hours before going to bed. This way, you're not flooding your body with extra fluids that may cause an unwanted trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

What are the negative effects of melatonin? ›

Other, less common melatonin side effects might include short-lasting feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation, and abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension).
...
Advertisement
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Drowsiness.

What is a natural alternative to melatonin? ›

Melatonin may be effective for helping you sleep in certain instances but it shouldn't be used as a long-term sleep aid. Other supplements including magnesium, valerian root, tart cherry, L-theanine, lavender essential oil, and GABA are worth considering as alternatives to melatonin.

How can I increase my deep sleep naturally? ›

How to Increase Deep Sleep: 10 Tips + Benefits
  1. Work Out Daily. ...
  2. Eat More Fiber. ...
  3. Find Your Inner Yogi. ...
  4. Avoid Caffeine 7+ Hours Before Bed. ...
  5. Resist that Nightcap. ...
  6. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine. ...
  7. Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary. ...
  8. Listen to White and Pink Noise.
29 Apr 2020

What fruit is highest in melatonin? ›

1. Cherries. Cherries (especially sour cherries like the Montmorency variety) are one of the only (and highest) natural food sources of melatonin.

What fruit is best before bed? ›

Cherries are known for being one of the best foods for sleep as they naturally contain melatonin. Snacking on cherries or drinking cherry juice can help promote longer, deeper sleep.

What foods to avoid if you have insomnia? ›

Because of this effect, caffeinated foods and beverages, including soda, coffee, caffeinated tea, and caffeinated chocolate products may negatively affect sleep and keep you awake at night. In fact, research shows that consuming coffee, even many hours before bedtime, can affect sleep.

What medications should you not take with melatonin? ›

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may lower levels of melatonin in the blood. Steroids and immunosuppressant medications. Melatonin may cause these medication to lose their effectiveness. DO NOT take melatonin with corticosteroids or other medications used to suppress the immune system.

Why do seniors have trouble sleeping? ›

A variety of processes may interfere with sleep and wakefulness in the elderly. Among them are acute and chronic medical illnesses, medication effects, psychiatric disorders, primary sleep disorders, social changes, poor sleep habits and circadian rhythm shifts.

Is Tylenol PM a good sleep aid? ›

Acetaminophen helps to reduce fever and/or mild to moderate pain (such as headache, backache, aches/pains due to muscle strain, cold, or flu). The antihistamine in this product may cause drowsiness, so it can also be used as a nighttime sleep aid.

Can I use Benadryl as a sleep aid? ›

Experts say skip antihistamines. For people who take an antihistamine such as Benadryl for a cold or allergies, drowsiness is often a welcome side effect. But a Baylor College of Medicine sleep expert cautions against turning to this type of medication as a sleep aid.

Can you take melatonin every night? ›

If melatonin does seem to help, it's safe for most people to take nightly for one to two months. “After that, stop and see how your sleep is,” he suggests. “Be sure you're also relaxing before bed, keeping the lights low and sleeping in a cool, dark, comfortable bedroom for optimal results.”

What is a natural substitute for Ambien? ›

Supplements as Ambien Alternatives Include:
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) ...
  • Kava (Piper methysticum) and Valerian. ...
  • Taurine. ...
  • Niacinamide, B Complex. ...
  • Magnesium. ...
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) ...
  • Melatonin. ...
  • Tryptophan.
30 Jun 2022

Why do doctors not want to prescribe Ambien? ›

Doctors generally are reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills due to risk of addiction and side effects, she says. For those who are suffering from long-term sleeplessness, consider visiting a sleep specialist, which may require a referral based on individual insurance plans.

What is the best antihistamine for sleep? ›

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine medicine that relieves the symptoms of allergies. It's known as a drowsy (sedating) antihistamine and is more likely to make you feel sleepy than other antihistamines.

Which vitamins should not be taken at night? ›

6 supplements you should not take at night!
  • Vitamins B.
  • Multivitamins and energy herbs.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Calcium.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Zinc.
11 Dec 2020

Does B12 help with sleep? ›

It has been found that the vitamin works directly on the brain to help induce sleep. Vitamin B12 benefits have been demonstrated to help patients with sleep disorders, such as insomnia, who have difficulty falling asleep. It has also been shown to improve sleep in healthy individuals depending on the dose that is used.

Can too much vitamin B12 cause insomnia? ›

Even though the research available about the relationship between vitamin B12 and insomnia remains unclear, some studies² show that elevated levels of vitamin B12 do cause sleeplessness.

What should you not take with magnesium? ›

Magnesium can decrease the absorption and effectiveness of numerous medications, including some common antibiotics such as tetracycline (Achromycin, Sumycin), demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Vibramycin), minocycline (Minocin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox) and ofloxacin ...

What depletes the body of magnesium? ›

Refining or processing of food may deplete magnesium content by nearly 85%. Furthermore, cooking, especially boiling of magnesium-rich foods, will result in significant loss of magnesium. The processing and cooking of food may therefore explain the apparently high prevalence of low magnesium intake in many populations.

What food is magnesium in? ›

Magnesium and Healthful Diets
  • Whole grains and dark-green, leafy vegetables are good sources of magnesium. Low-fat milk and yogurt contain magnesium as well. ...
  • Dried beans and legumes (such as soybeans, baked beans, lentils, and peanuts) and nuts (such as almonds and cashews) provide magnesium.
2 Jun 2022

Is melatonin or magnesium better for sleep? ›

Melatonin is a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, or the body's internal clock. Both melatonin and magnesium can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, but magnesium may be better at improving overall sleep quality.

Does zinc help you sleep? ›

Consumption of Zinc helps to have less wake-ups in the night. It is an excellent & safe sleep aid; and also has a calming & antidepressant effect. Along with helping to regulate sleep, Zinc has shown to improve the vividness of dreams.

What is the strongest herbal sedative? ›

Scientists have confirmed Valerian root is the most powerful natural sedative.

Which is stronger melatonin or valerian? ›

It fixes your circadian rhythm, which is your body's “clock”. Valerian root is a milder option and doesn't affect sleep as much as it affects stress levels. It has fewer side effects but can still cause dizziness or some drowsiness. Melatonin is the stronger choice between the two.

How can I stay asleep for 8 hours? ›

Advertisement
  1. Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. ...
  2. Relax your body. ...
  3. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. ...
  4. Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. ...
  5. Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. ...
  6. Avoid smoking. ...
  7. Get regular exercise. ...
  8. Go to bed only when you're sleepy.

What helps you sleep other than melatonin? ›

Sleep aids: The options
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine. ...
  • Doxylamine (Unisom). Doxylamine is also a sedating antihistamine. ...
  • Melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps control your natural sleep-wake cycle. ...
  • Valerian. Supplements made from this plant are sometimes taken as sleep aids.

What spices help you sleep? ›

World Sleep Day: 5 Herbs and Spices That Can Help You Fall Asleep
  • Nutmeg.
  • Valerian.
  • Mint.
  • Cinnamon.
  • Saffron.
18 Mar 2022

What herb is a natural sedative? ›

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is an herbal supplement that is often found in tea form. Active compounds in the valerian plant have sedative properties, making this herb another popular option for anxiety ( 21 ).

What medications should you not take with melatonin? ›

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may lower levels of melatonin in the blood. Steroids and immunosuppressant medications. Melatonin may cause these medication to lose their effectiveness. DO NOT take melatonin with corticosteroids or other medications used to suppress the immune system.

Why is magnesium better than melatonin? ›

Magnesium helps the body relax. This nutrient reduces stress and helps you sleep longer. In contrast, melatonin helps you get to sleep faster.

Does valerian lower blood pressure? ›

Valerian may have a sedative effect. It may have a stimulant effect for extreme fatigue. Valerian root may lower blood pressure and relax muscles.

Why do I keep waking up at 3am? ›

You wake up at 3am because this is the time you shift from a deep sleep into a lighter sleep. If you turn in at 11pm, by three in the morning you're mostly out of deep sleep and shifting into longer periods of lighter sleep, known as REM.

Why do I wake up at 3am every night and can't go back to sleep? ›

If you wake up at 3 a.m. or another time and can't fall right back asleep, it may be for several reasons. These include lighter sleep cycles, stress, or underlying health conditions. Your 3 a.m. awakenings may occur infrequently and be nothing serious, but regular nights like this could be a sign of insomnia.

What is the safest sleep aid for seniors? ›

In the elderly, nonbenzodiazepines such as zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon, and ramelteon are safer and better tolerated than tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Pharmacotherapy should be recommended only after sleep hygiene is addressed, however.

What is the strongest sleeping pill over the counter? ›

What is the strongest sleep aid over the counter? Doxylamine is one of the strongest OTC sleep aids. It is an antihistamine. However, it is only suitable for short-term use.

Videos

1. Learn self-shiatsu to help get a better night's sleep
(UHNToronto)
2. Take Just One Spoon, And You'll Fall Asleep In a Minute
(BRIGHT SIDE)
3. Do you take melatonin to help sleep? You might want to hear what Dr Marc has to say
(FOX 8 News Cleveland)
4. How To Treat Insomnia Naturally Without Medication Fix Sleeping Problems | Best Way To Sleep Better
(AbrahamThePharmacist)
5. Dr. Oz Shares Tips To Fight Wrinkles and Protect The Skin | TODAY
(TODAY)
6. How many hours of sleep do you need?
(Mount Sinai Health System)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated: 12/26/2022

Views: 5816

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.