If you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, you aren’t the only one. Nearly 70% of American adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every single night. It’s not just sleep duration, either - plenty of Americans suffer from poor sleep quality, too.
So it’s no surprise that 1 in 25 adults take prescription sleep medications at least once a month. In 2015 alone, Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies. Experts predict that number will hit $52 billion by the end of this year. But plenty of people are looking for natural solutions, too. From lavender to CBD, here are four all-natural ways to get better sleep.
Did you know that melatonin is the hormone your brain naturally produces to prepare itself for sleep? This might explain why it’s one of the most popular natural sleep aids on this list! Unfortunately, normal, everyday tasks (like watching TV or using a laptop) can actually “trick” our brains into thinking it’s still daytime outside, effectively reducing the amount of melatonin our bodies produce independently.
Although getting your melatonin back naturally is the most sustainable scenario, taking an over-the-counter melatonin supplement may help short-term. Available in pill and liquid form, you can purchase melatonin at virtually any health food store or pharmacy.
There’s a reason so many nighttime face creams and room sprays come in the scent of lavender - it works! Studies among college students, middle-aged women, and heart disease patients have all suggested that lavender can improve sleep quality. Not only that, but aromatherapy using lavender oil may also increase time spent in deep, slow-wave sleep.
Whether it’s brewed into a cup of your evening tea or you mix lavender essential oils into your body lotion, speak with your doctor before incorporating it into your daily routine. Scientific evidence indicates that the natural chemicals found in lavender oil can interfere with hormones, so practice caution, especially when using lavender oil on children.
CBD oil can be effective for sleep because it attacks the three most common culprits of insomnia: stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. In one 2019 study, 72 subjects experiencing anxiety and poor sleep were given 25mg of CBD in a capsule each day. In the first month alone, nearly 80% reported lower anxiety levels, and 67% reported better sleep.
The best thing about CBD for sleep? It’s almost entirely side-effect free when compared to other cannabinoids that contain THC. CBD comes from hemp plants and does not contain psychoactive ingredients, meaning you won’t have to worry about feeling high if you take it. CBD for sleep can be found in multiple forms, including oils, teas, and capsules, and is often combined with other calming ingredients, including melatonin.
A Noise Machine
Multiple studies show that noise machines can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A 2012 study found those who are exposed to pink noise enjoyed a more stable, high-quality sleep than those who slept in silence; a 2005 study that exposed sleepers to recorded hospital sounds either with or without a white noise machine found that those who slept with white noise machines were hardly disturbed by hospital sounds.
Most sleep experts agree, though: don’t incorporate a noise machine into your sleep routine unless you’re experiencing difficulties with outside noises or some type of environmental disrupter. Some individuals can develop a dependency to these machines, and could get anxious when they don’t have access to one.
The Importance of a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Regardless of which natural sleep aid you prefer to use, the importance of a sleep-friendly environment cannot be stressed enough. Humans evolved to sleep in dark and cool conditions, so the first step toward creating a healthy sleep environment is making sure your room’s temperature is anywhere from 60 to 67 degrees. Second, avoid light at all costs - this includes the light from your cell phone notifications (Do Not Disturb was created for a reason!) Lastly, try to avoid heavy meals, caffeine, or loud music in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Be Careful Who You Purchase From
It’s important to remember that dietary supplements - which sleep aid products are categorized as - are not regulated by the FDA. So whether you’d like to incorporate CBD, melatonin, or any other supplement into your nighttime routine, remember to speak to your doctor first and always buy from a reputable website within the United States. Foreign products often don’t come as advertised and can include harmful additives.
Disclaimer: The suggestions in this article are not intended to replace medical advice. Please speak to your healthcare provider about any difficulty sleeping and before introducing a new supplement or herbal remedy into your routine.