According to the National Sleep Foundation, a stunning 48% of Americans report periodic insomnia, with 22% experiencing insomnia almost every night. Though sleep aids can be a lifesaver when you're desperate to relax, these drugs are potentially addictive, and can interact in unhealthy ways with other medications. Natural sleep remedies can help you ease into blissful repose without the risk. Check out these five can't-miss options
It might seem strange that something that gives you a rapid energy boost could also lull you into blissful sleep. But exercise helps regulate your circadian rhythms, in addition to soothing an anxious, racing mind. To get the most sleep benefits, aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or umping rope, each week. You'll get even more benefits from more exercise. To minimize the risks of exercise-induced bursts of energy, be sure to exercise when you still have at least three hours before bedtime.
Valerian root has been popular as a sleep aid for generations, and possibly for centuries. The problem with Valerian, though, is that not all formulations contain the same concentration. This means if one brand of Valerian supplements works well for you, it's wise to stick with it. Research on Valerian's effectiveness is mixed, but strong anecdotal data points to its role in treating insomnia.
Chamomile tea has long been a favorite antidote for people who can't sleep. Though its effectiveness hasn't been widely researched in people, animal studies suggest that chamomile has strong potential as a sleep aid. Available in tea, capsule, and even ointment form, the key with chamomile is to find an administration method you like. For many people, warm tea induces sleepiness in its own right, so chamomile tea can pack an even more powerful punch.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain's pineal gland. Strong research suggests that this hormone plays an important role in regulating the body's sleep-wakefulness cycle. Melatonin is also available in supplement form. There's good evidence that melatonin can help you if you suffer from a circadian rhythm problem, such a shift work sleep disorder or jet lag. Melatonin's effectiveness with insomnia, though, is less well-researched. Some insomnia sufferers swear by it, while others quickly move onto something else. If you keep unusual hours, though, melatonin should be your remedy of first resort, since it directly combats circadian rhythm issues.
Tryptophan may be the reason you doze off after the feast every Thanksgiving. This amino acid is one the body can't manufacture on its own, making it especially important to get it from dietary sources such as turkey, chicken, milk, and fish. Tryptophan may help you relax and sleep, though studies on its efficacy have produced mixed results.