Natural Insomnia Remedies: Foods, Herbs, and Supplements continued...
Lavender. Research has shown that lavender oil is calming and can help encourage sleep in some people with insomnia. “Try taking a hot bath with lavender oil before bed to relax your body and mind,” Harris says.
Valerian root. The medicinal herb valerian root has been used to treat sleep problems since the time of ancient Rome and Greece. “Valerian can be sedating and may help you fall asleep,” Marks says. Research on the effectiveness of valerian for insomnia are mixed, however. Marks says if you try valerian as a sleep remedy, be patient. It can take a few weeks for its sedating properties to take effect. Talk to your doctor before taking valerian and follow label directions.
L-theanine. An amino acid found in green tea leaves, L-theanine can help combat anxiety that interferes with sleep. A 2007 study showed that L-theanine reduced heart rate and immune responses to stress. L-theanine works by increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. It also induces brain waves that correlate with relaxation. Before taking L-Theanine, talk to your doctor about possible drug interactions.
Natural sleep remedies: Lifestyle changes
The following changes to your lifestyle and environment can also help combat sleep problems:
Turn off the TV.
In some people, night time light can inhibit melatonin and create “social jetlag,” which mimics symptoms of having traveled several time zones. To keep your sleep surroundings as dark as possible, Ahmed recommends moving the TV out of your bedroom and using a DVR or TIVO to record favorite late night shows for later viewing.
Put other appliances to bed, too.
If you want a good, restful sleep, turn your appliances away from your bed. Or better yet, turn them off altogether. If you must use bedroom electronics, choose those illuminated with red light, which is less disturbing to melanin production than blue light.
Give it up.
If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, sleep specialists recommend you get up and leave your bedroom or read. Then return to your bed to sleep when you feel tired again.
It’s no secret that exercise promotes restful sleep and good overall health. However, a study published in the journal Sleep showed that the amount of exercise and time of day it is done makes a difference. Researchers found that women who exercised at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes each morning, seven days a week, had less trouble sleeping than women who exercised less and/or later in the day. Morning exercise seems to affect body rhythms that affect sleep quality.
One of the reasons for this interplay between exercise and sleep may be body temperature. Your body temperature rises during exercise and takes up to 6 hours to drop back down to normal. Because cooler body temperatures are associated with better sleep, it’s important to give your body time to cool off before bed.