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10 Of The Most Effective Natural Sleep Aids

If you’re a regular reader here, you know I am deeply interested in how to employ natural therapies to help sleep. I’m not alone in that interest: I’m asked all the time about how to treat sleep with supplements and natural remedies.

Over the years, I’ve written in-depth about some of the best-studied, most effective natural sleep aids. As we head into the new year with a focus on prioritizing sleep, I thought I’d share a quick review of some of my top suggestions for natural sleep therapies. These are the supplements that I most often discuss with my patients, and in some cases use for myself and my family.

Below, I’ve shared highlights and key information about some of the top sleep supplements. You can also find links to more in-depth articles for each supplement, which include information about dosing, side effects and interactions with medications and other supplements.

Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.

CBD: a calming sleep-promoter

People often ask me about whether, and how, to use cannabis for sleep. (I wrote about some dos and don’ts for using cannabis as a sleep tool—you can check it out here.) One of the easiest, most effective ways to harness the relaxing, sleep promoting effects of cannabis? Try using CBD. You’ve probably heard of CBD. It’s showing up everywhere as a therapy to reduce anxiety and improve mental focus. It’s also a natural sleep booster.

How CBD works: CBD, or cannabidiol, is what’s known as a cannabinoid, a group of chemical compounds found in cannabis. CBD is one of the most calming and stress reducing of the cannabinoids—and one of the most helpful to sleep. Unlike THC, another well-known cannabinoid, CBD has no “high” associated with it.

How CBD helps sleep: Research shows CBD can significantly reduce insomnia symptoms. It also can increase overall sleep amounts, according to studies. In particular, CBD has been shown to reduce insomnia in people who suffer from chronic pain. In smaller doses, CBD stimulates alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness, which is important for daytime performance and for the strength and consistency of the sleep-wake cycle. One thing I really like about CBD? New research shows it relieves anxiety without causing changes to healthy sleep-wake cycles.

I’ve been so impressed with the research on the benefits of CBD for sleep, I’ve used it as a key ingredient in my own sleep supplement, the Aktive Sleep Booster.

Other potential health benefits: CBD can be effective in easing symptoms of depression and anxiety. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, CBD may offer protection for the brain, and against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Read more about how CBD can improve sleep and health.

Melatonin: a key sleep hormone

You’re probably not surprised to see melatonin make my list. This hormone, produced naturally by the body in response to darkness, is essential for sleep. As a supplement, melatonin is one of the most-used and best-researched sleep supplements.

How melatonin works: It often surprises people to hear it, but melatonin does not work as a sedative. Melatonin production is triggered by exposure to darkness, and is a powerful bio time regulator. It improves sleep by helping to strengthen the body’s sleep-wake cycles. Stronger sleep-wake cycles translate into a more consistent sleep routine. When your bio clock is in sync, it can help improve your mood, daytime performance, energy levels and your overall health, including immune function, and regulation of metabolism, digestion, and appetite.

How melatonin helps sleep: Melatonin can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase overall sleep amounts, according to research. It’s been shown to improve quality of sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Studies also show melatonin may increase REM sleep. It’s during REM sleep that we consolidate and process memory, and prime the regions of the brain associated with learning.

Melatonin can be helpful in reducing the impact of jet lag. (Before I started using the Aktive Sleep Booster to help with jet lag, I used to take melatonin about 90 minutes before bedtime in my new time zone, and made sure to get a dose of bright light exposure first thing the next morning.)

Other potential health benefits: Melatonin may help to guard against cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease. It’s also being investigated as a therapy for some cancers. Supplemental melatonin may be effective at improving sleep quality and sleep quantity in people with ASD, and also may help improve daytime behavior. Melatonin has shown promise as a natural treatment for a range of conditions, including fibromyalgia, menopause, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Want to know more about melatonin? I wrote about it here.

Magnesium: a deep-sleep mineral

Magnesium is an important macro-mineral for overall health. A lot of us don’t get enough magnesium in our diets: about half of adults in the United States have a magnesium deficiency.

How magnesium works: Magnesium plays a widespread role in the human body, helping regulate and many essential functions. One of magnesium’s most important roles is to enable healthy enzyme function. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 different enzyme-related reactions in the body’s cells. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps to control the body’s stress response. Getting sufficient magnesium helps the body maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep, as well as elevating and stabilizing mood.

How magnesium helps sleep: This mineral has a range of scientifically-backed connections to sleep. Magnesium helps to regulate the body’s bio clock and melatonin. Low levels of magnesium are linked to low levels of melatonin. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people who sleep poorly. Magnesium can also help insomnia that’s linked to the sleep disorder restless-leg syndrome. This mineral can help with symptoms both mild-to-moderate anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression, which in turn can help you rest better.

For my patients who want to add magnesium, I recommend Jigsaw MagSoothe, it is the magnesium I use for myself.

Other potential health benefits: Magnesium helps with stress reduction, contributes to bone health, supports cardiovascular function. Maintaining sufficient magnesium can help to reduce pain, and maintain healthy muscle function.

Interested in learning more about magnesium? I wrote about its healthful, sleep-promoting benefits here.

Valerian and hops: a relaxing, sedating herbal pair

This duo are well-studied, well known herbal supplements for sleep and stress relief. The root of the valerian plant has an ancient history as a sleep aid and a natural remedy for nervousness and anxiety. Hops has been used for centuries to treat sleep and anxiety as well.

How valerian and hops work: Both valerian and hops help to boost production of GABA, a calming brain chemical that promotes sleep. Valerian appears to function primarily as an anxiolytic—an anxiety reducer. Hops also has sedative properties—therapeutic doses of this plant lower body temperature, which contributes to drowsiness.

How valerian and hops help sleep: You can use valerian and hops separately to treat sleep problems. Valerian has been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly, reduce restless sleep, increase sleep amounts, and improve symptoms of insomnia. Research also shows valerian is effective in treating sleep problems linked to menopause. Hops itself can increase sleep time. Studies show these herbal supplements pair well together: according to research, hops may be more effective for sleep when in combination with valerian.

Other potential health benefits: Valerian and hops have both been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. A flavonoid in hops has also been found to help reduce weight gain, lower elevated cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar.

Read more about the sleep and health benefits of valerian and hops, here.

Magnolia bark – a gentle sedative

The bark of the magnolia tree has long been used in traditional medicine to treat sleep issues, protect memory, reduce stress, and help with digestive problems and weight loss. Despite its long history, this natural sleep remedy sometimes gets overlooked.

How magnolia bark works: Magnolia bark is packed with potent natural compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation and lower anxiety, as well as improve symptoms of depression. Improving these conditions can help sleep. Magnolia bark also acts as a sedative, providing direct benefits for sleep.

How magnolia bark helps sleep: Bioactive compounds in magnolia bark appear to help increase time in both slow wave sleep and REM sleep. Other compounds in magnolia bark lower levels of stimulating hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Other potential health benefits: Research indicates that magnolia on its own and in combination with ginger can help with depression. It also can ease stress and anxiety. Bioactive compounds in magnolia bark have been shown to protect health of brain cells and support memory and learning.

Here’s a full rundown on the health and sleep benefits of magnolia bark.

Jujube – a nutrient-rich sleep booster

Remember the candy we used to eat at the movies? It was one of my favorites! The jujube fruit is actually a nutritional and therapeutic powerhouse. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, and has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, as well as pain, stress, and stomach upset.

How jujube works: Compounds in jujube also relax the body and the mind, boosting levels of calming neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin. It also acts as a sedative.

How jujube helps sleep: Studies show jujube can lengthen sleep time and increase time spent in deep, restorative slow-wave sleep and REM sleep.

Other potential health benefits: Jujube contains bioactive compounds that work to reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and lower blood sugar, as well as supporting heart and brain health. Jujube can improve digestive function, and treat constipation.

Wondering if jujube is the right sleep aid for you? Learn more here.

L-theanine – a wakeful relaxer

Are you a tea drinker? If so, you’re getting a dietary dose of L-theanine. This amino acid found in tea leaves.

How L-theanine works: L-theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine, neurochemicals that regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness, and sleep, as well as appetite, energy, and other cognitive skills. At the same time, L-theanine also reduces levels of chemicals in the brain that are linked to stress and anxiety. L-theanine boosts production of alpha waves in the brain, which enhance relaxation, focus, and even creativity. That can make L-theanine a good choice for people who are looking to enhance their daytime relaxation without worrying about becoming sleepy and fatigued during the day.

How L-theanine helps sleep: With its ability to increase relaxation and lower stress, L-theanine can help people fall asleep more quickly and easily at bedtime. Research also shows L-theanine can improve the quality of sleep.

There’s evidence that L-theanine may help improve sleep quality in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study examined the effects of L-theanine on the sleep of boys with ADHD ages 8-12, and found that the supplement worked safely and effectively to help them to sleep more soundly.

Other potential health benefits: L-theanine has been shown to boost cognitive skills, including attention and focus, memory and learning. It also may help protect against obesity.

There’s more to know about L-theanine, here.

5-HTP – a serotonin booster

5-Hydroxytryptophan—commonly known as 5-HTP—is a compound made naturally in the body. 5-HTP is created as a by-product of the amino acid L-tryptophan. Our bodies don’t make L-tryptophan naturally—we absorb this essential amino acid from the foods we eat. 5-HTP is produced as a supplement from the seeds of a plant, Griffonia simplicfolia.

How 5-HTP works: This compound helps the body to produce more serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep-wake cycles. Serotonin is required to make melatonin, a hormone that helps the body’s bio clock stay in sync, and regulates daily sleep-wake cycles.

How 5-HTP helps sleep: Research shows 5-HTP may help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep amounts. 5-HTP can be effective in improving mood, and easing symptoms of stress and anxiousness, which can in turn interfere with sleep. 5-HTP may also be effective in helping to reduce sleep terrors in children.

Other potential health benefits: 5-HTP can help regulate appetite and may make it easier to lose weight. It’s also been shown effective in easing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Research indicates that 5-HTP can help improve fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain, tenderness, daytime fatigue, sleep quality, and anxiety.

Find out more about 5-HTP, here.

Glycine – a sleep-stimulating amino acid

Glycine (also known as 2-Aminoacetic Acid) is an amino acid and a neurotransmitter. The body produces glycine on its own, synthesized from other natural biochemicals. We also consume glycine through food. This amino acid is found in high-protein foods including meat, fish, eggs, dairy and legumes. A daily diet typically includes about 2 grams of glycine.

How glycine works: Glycine is considered among the most important amino acids for the body. It exerts widespread influence over our bodies’ systems, structure, and general health, including cardiovascular, cognitive, and metabolic health. Glycine helps the body make serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter that has significant effects on sleep and mood.

How glycine helps sleep: Glycine can improve symptoms of insomnia, and can help you bounce back to healthy sleep cycles after a period of disrupted sleep. A recent study of the effects of glycine as a supplement showed it triggered a drop in body temperature and at the same time helped people both fall asleep more quickly and spend more time in REM sleep. And glycine may help you move more quickly into deep, slow wave sleep.

Other potential health benefits: Glycine has been shown to improve both memory and attention in young adults. Scientists are actively investigating the use of glycine in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Higher levels of glycine have been associated with a lower risk of heart attack, and there’s some evidence that glycine may help protect against high blood pressure. It also may help strengthen bones and joints, and guard against arthritis.

Want to find out more about glycine? I wrote about it, here.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM

The Sleep Doctor™

Whether you’re experiencing jet lag, shifting schedules at work, or adjusting to a new life routine, temporary use of over-the-counter sleep aids may be helpful in allowing you to get the sleep you need. There are many to choose from, and they do different things to your body to cause you to sleep. Keep an eye out for these three ingredients that are most commonly found in OTC sleep aids.

Melatonin

Your body naturally produces melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle; many over-the-counter sleep aids feature a synthetic version as the main ingredient. You can find melatonin supplements in drug stores and pharmacies in dosages ranging from one to 10 milligrams.

Melatonin is most often used for temporary sleep issues that affect your body’s internal clock, such as recovering from jet lag or switching shift work schedules. For best results, experts suggest taking sleep aids that contain the supplement 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed; melatonin will induce drowsiness so you fall asleep faster.

Valerian Root

Like melatonin, valerian root is a natural sleep aid ingredient. Some research suggests that valerian root can help relax the body, reduce anxiety, and regulate your sleep cycle. The supplement may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 15 to 20 minutes while also improving sleep quality.

Experts recommend taking 400 to 900 milligrams up to two hours before bed to improve sleep quality. Supplements that include valerian root may have milder results than other over-the-counter sleep aids but are also more likely to be free of side effects.

Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine (or DPH) is the main active ingredient in many allergy medicines. As a sedative antihistamine, the main purpose of DPH is to fight allergies, but as a side effect it can also induce sleep. DPH is found in OTC products such as Benadryl, Aleve PM, and ZzzQuil. Because these sleep aids may cause daytime drowsiness, block mental alertness, and cause blurred vision, it’s important to take them only when you plan to sleep at least eight hours; you should also avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery while taking them.

Remember, over-the-counter sleep aids are meant for temporary use. If you’re still having sleep issues after two weeks of using one of these products, talk to your health care provider about how you can get the shut-eye you need.

Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep

Disturbed sleep is more than an inconvenience that leaves you dragging the next day: it can affect your emotional and physical health. It negatively affects your memory, concentration and mood, and it boosts your risk for depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Happily, there are easy, natural fixes that can improve your sleep, says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital.

“It’s not always necessary to get a prescription for a sleep aid,” she says. “There are natural ways to make adjustments to your sleeping habits.”

Five tips for better sleep

Drink up. No, not alcohol, which can interfere with sleep. Gamaldo recommends warm milk, chamomile tea and tart cherry juice for patients with sleep trouble.

Though there isn’t much scientific proof that any of these nighttime drinks work to improve your slumber, there’s no harm in trying them, Gamaldo says. She recommends them to patients who want treatment without side effects or drug interactions.

“Warm milk has long been believed to be associated with chemicals that simulate the effects of tryptophan on the brain. This is a chemical building block for the substance serotonin, which is involved in the sleep-wake transition,” Gamaldo says.

Chamomile tea can also be helpful. “It’s believed to have flavonoids that may interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that are also involved with the sleep-wake transition,” she says.

Plus, chamomile tea doesn’t have caffeine, unlike green tea or Earl Grey. Finally, tart cherry juice might support melatonin production and support a healthy sleep cycle.

Exercise . Physical activity can improve sleep, though researchers aren’t completely sure why. It’s known that moderate aerobic exercise boosts the amount of nourishing slow wave (deep) sleep you get.
But you have to time it right: Gamaldo says that aerobic exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that keep people awake. (This is why you feel so energized after a run.)

It can also raise core body temperature; this spike signals the body that it’s time to get up and get going. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to avoid working out within two hours of bedtime.

Use melatonin supplements . “Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally released in the brain four hours before we feel a sense of sleepiness,” Gamaldo says. It’s triggered by the body’s response to reduced light exposure, which should naturally happen at night.
These days, though, lights abound after it’s dark outside—whether it’s from your phone, laptop or TV. This exposure to unnatural light prevents melatonin release, which can make it hard to fall asleep. Luckily, melatonin is available in pill form at your local pharmacy as an over-the-counter supplement.
Just make sure that you consistently buy the same brand. “Because melatonin supplements are unregulated by the FDA, the per-pill dosages and ingredients may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Stick with one brand, and don’t buy it online from an unknown source,” Gamaldo cautions.

Keep cool. “The ideal temperature for your thermostat is between 65 and 72 degrees,” Gamaldo says. Women who are going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes should keep the room as cool as possible and wear cotton or breathable fabrics to bed.

Go dark. It’s known that the light from a smartphone interferes with sleep. But what about your bathroom light? If you have the urge to go at night, don’t flick on the lights. “The latest recommendation is to use a flashlight if you need to get up at night,” Gamaldo says, because it offers less visual disruption. And remember: If you do wake up for a bathroom break, it might take up to 30 minutes to drift back off. This is completely normal, she says.

Best Natural Sleep Aids

Buying Guide – How to Shop for Natural Sleep Aids

Natural sleep aids contain different ingredients, which may or may not be particularly helpful to you if you’re using them to help you sleep. Read through the following buyer’s guide to understand more about how natural sleep aids work.

What Are Natural Sleep Aids?

Natural sleep supplements contain natural, dietary and herbal ingredients that have been shown to aid in relaxation or sleep. They are distinct from both over-the-counter sleep aids, which are usually antihistamine medications, and prescription sleeping pills, which are doxepin and zolpidem drugs requiring a prescription.

Natural sleep supplements are similar to OTC sleep aids in that neither has been proven effective as a long-term treatment for insomnia. Both are designed as a temporary solution to treat short-term sleeplessness, such as that experienced during jet lag. Prescription sleep medication, on the other hand, is prescribed for chronic insomnia. It has the strongest—at times dangerous—side effects, which is why these sleeping pills require a prescription.

Many people prefer natural sleep supplements over OTC sleep aids because they have a lower chemical content and a lower risk of overdose or dependence. For example, it’s not possible to overdose on melatonin, although if you take too much you will experience uncomfortable side effects, such as headaches or stomach cramps. Natural sleep aids are also considered safe to use for a wider range of people than OTC sleep aids, simply because they have less chemicals.

In this guide, we’re focusing on natural sleep aids exclusively. To learn more about other options, visit our guides to Prescription Sleep Medications and the Best OTC Sleep Aids.

Types of Natural Sleep Aids

Natural sleep supplements contain naturally-sourced ingredients that induce sleep. When you shop for natural sleep aids, you may find the below ingredients available as individual supplements, or combined with others as part of a formula.

Melatonin

Melatonin is the so-called “sleep hormone.” Your brain naturally produces melatonin in the evening, as a signal for your body to start falling asleep.

However, because we spend so much time flooding our brains with artificial light (through indoor lighting and tech devices), exercising late at night, and doing other, non-sleep-promoting activities, our natural melatonin production can become delayed.

This is a particular problem for shift workers, who have to sleep during a time their brain recognizes as daytime. Delayed melatonin production is a common side effect of jet lag, too, as we travel across time zones and our body become out of synch with our external environment.

A melatonin supplement helps correct these circadian disruptions, by giving your melatonin production a boost. A meta-analysis of 35 studies involving melatonin deemed it effective for relieving temporary insomnia, especially related to jet lag. Another meta-analysis of 19 studies found that melatonin is effective for decreasing the amount of time falling asleep (sleep onset latency), increasing the total amount of sleep time, and improving sleep quality.

Melatonin supplements are generally regarded as safe, given that you follow dosage guidelines. Dosage varies between 0.1 to 5 mg depending on the severity of the individual’s sleeplessness, their age, and other health conditions.

Valerian Root

Valerian root is an herb that’s been popularly used for decades in the US and Europe to help with sleep.

Despite its popularity, conclusions are mixed as to its effectiveness. A 2006 review of 16 studies and a later 2010 meta-analysis both found that while all studies had participants who rated their sleep onset and quality as improved, these assessments were subjective. Whether this sense of sleep improvement is caused by a placebo effect or the valerian root itself is unknown.

If an individual experiences side effects from valerian root, they are generally minor, like dizziness.

Magnesium

Magnesium has been shown to have calming effects, which make it easier for restless minds and bodies to fall and stay asleep. Like melatonin, the human body naturally produces magnesium (50% of it lives in our bone) and the mineral is present in many of the foods we eat.

Beyond its calming effects, the reason magnesium is effective as a sleep aid is due to its effect on two other elements in the brain. It seems to have a stabilizing effect on melatonin, and it also increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) messengers in the brain, calming the brain.

Studies of individuals with magnesium deficiency have noted the presence of insomnia, while other studies have documented sleep improvements in sleep-troubled older adults by providing them with magnesium supplements.

Plant Extracts and Herbs

Melatonin, valerian root, and magnesium are the most common ingredients you’ll find in natural sleep aids. Beyond that, many sleep aid formulas include a variety of the below plant extracts to promote calm and relaxation.

  • Lavender is commonly used to treat insomnia as an aromatherapy oil. It’s the most effective essential oil for sleep, with multiple studies proving its efficacy to be on par with traditional sleep medications and 14-24% improvements over a placebo. Lavender also helps relieve anxiety, which itself often goes hand in hand with insomnia. However, lavender in supplement form is still being evaluated for both safety and effectiveness. For some, side effects have included nausea and stomach pain, and for boys, prepubertal gynecomastia when the oil was topically applied.
  • Passion flower is another plant that’s associated with better sleep. However, like lavender, its supplement form appears to be less effective than other versions (passion flower tea, for example, provides a mild subjective improvement in sleep quality). No adverse side effects have been noted, and it appears safe, although it may have more of a placebo effect on sleep.
  • St. John’s Wort is an herb. As lavender helps relieve comorbid anxiety, St. John’s Wort appears to relieve comorbid depression. St. John’s Wort also stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, facilitating calmness and sleep. The side effects of St. John’s Wort include dizziness, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that’s often consumed as a bedtime tea. It relieves both anxiety and depression, and varying studies have found it to either improve daytime functioning or hasten sleep onset.
  • Ginkgo biloba is a natural herb that relieves stress through a calming effect. While one study didn’t find objective improvements, participants subjectively reported better sleep quality. And another study found objective improvements in sleep among those with depression.
  • Lemon balm is a minty plant that may have a positive effect on the GABA receptors in your brain. It tends to perform especially well when combined with valerian root.
  • Kava, or kava-kava, is a plant extract from the Pacific islands. While kava has been shown to relieve stress-related insomnia and shorten sleep onset, side effects range from mild dizziness to liver damage, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Avoid sleep aids that contain kava, unless your doctor has specifically prescribed them.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are organic compounds that aid your body’s natural processes, such as sleep. Natural sleep aids include these to help facilitate melatonin production.

Glycine is an amino acid that may play a role in sleep onset by lowering your body temperature at night. Like melatonin, people may take glycine supplements to begin this process earlier. Studies have shown 3 gram glycine supplements to both improve daytime alertness and quicken sleep onset. To naturally boost your glycine levels, you’ll find it as an ingredient in many sleep-promoting foods.

Tryptophan is another amino acid. It’s involved in serotonin production, the happiness hormone, as well as melatonin. Small doses of tryptophan have been shown to both boost mood and help people fall asleep faster.

L-Theanine is an amino acid that relieves anxiety and promotes relaxation conducive to sleep. One study found that a 400mg dose was effective in improving sleep quality among boys with ADHD.

CBD Oil

Found in cannabis plants, cannabidioil (CBD) is one of the most rapidly growing wellness products on the market. As marijuana legalization continues throughout the country, researchers are discovering more and more ways that CBD can provide aid with sleep issues, appetite loss, and pain management.

Although CBD comes from the cannabis plant, it can easily be extracted with little to no trace elements of THC. This means that pure CBD oil carries no psychoactive effects, so you can use it without getting the sensation of being “high”

CBD has been proven to be a highly effective sleep aid. Though more research is needed, existing studies have shown CBD to improve sleep by regulating sleep patterns, alleviating pain, and reducing stress. Additionally, mounting evidence has suggested CBD helps with anxiety, depression and PTSD— all mental conditions that often affect sleep.

Two of the main benefits of CBD are its ease-of-use and fast-acting effects. If you’re using it in oil form, administering it is as easy as dropping a dose under your tongue or mixing it in with a juice or smoothie. CBD is also available in a variety of forms including gummies, topicals, capsules and more.

CBD oil is generally sold under two categories, pure CBD (virtually no THC) and full-spectrum (includes THC). If the oil retains any THC, it can only be sold within the 30 states where marijuana is legalized for medical or recreational use. Without significant amounts of CBD, it can be sold in all the other states except for a select few. For more specific information on CBD legality, refer to our CBD oil buyers guide.

Though several studies shown CBD to be a promising sleep aid, more research is needed to show the full depth of its effects. As with any sleep aid, we recommend you talk with your doctor about the best ways to relieve your insomnia or other sleep disorders before trying CBD.

Safety and Side Effects

Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe?

Fortunately, a large body of research has been conducted regarding both the effectiveness and the minimal side effects of using natural sleep aids to relieve temporary insomnia. However, we don’t yet have evidence on the effects of long-term use of natural sleep aids.

And because natural sleep aids are classified as dietary or herbal supplements, they’re not regulated by the FDA the same way medications are. That means manufacturers are under no obligation to meet safety or effectiveness regulations, or that a word used on one label means the same thing as when it’s used on an another.

Because there is less regulation, and a lot of manufacturers who want to take advantage of a consumer need, it is up to you to research natural sleep aids before purchasing them. Fortunately, you are already doing that by reading this guide.

Many people prefer to use natural sleep aids because they have less artificial ingredients and help one live a clean lifestyle. Generally, natural sleep aids have fewer and less extreme side effects than OTC sleep aids and prescription sleeping pills.

However, just because a sleep aid is natural does not mean it is guaranteed to be safe for you. Some herbal supplements can have adverse side effects for some people, as we outlined above under each natural sleep aid.

In particular, some groups of people need to take extra caution with natural sleep aids, such as pregnant women, children, and anyone taking other medication. For example, melatonin can interfere with the effectiveness of certain antidepressants or blood pressure medications.

If you fall into one of these risk groups, you should talk to your doctor first before taking a natural sleep supplement. Based on your medication and health condition, they will advise you on whether or not a particular sleep aid is safe for you, and how you may need to adjust the dosage.

To be as safe as possible, always review the ingredients of any natural sleep aid you purchase and follow the instructions for safe use. Avoid natural sleep aids if you fall into one of the risk groups above, and speak to your doctor if you have any questions. Finally, never combine natural sleep aids with other sedative medications or alcohol.

Side Effects of Natural Sleep Aids

Besides sleepiness, which is the desired effect, natural sleep aids may cause some mild side effects. Alternately, some people may find that while the sleep aids appears to help them fall asleep faster, they still have trouble staying asleep.

Arguably, one of the largest risks of taking natural sleep aids is the dependence that can develop. Although not as extreme as can happen with over-the-counter sleep aids or prescription sleeping pills, if you fall into a habit of taking natural sleep aids on an everyday basis to help you fall asleep, you may develop a dependence on the sleep aid.

Over time, you may not be able to fall asleep without them. When you try to stop taking natural sleep aids after an extended period, you may experience a rebound insomnia. Natural sleep aids are most effective when used on a short-term basis, such as when you’re coping with jet lag or the discomfort of temporary congestion from an illness.

How Can I Use Natural Sleep Aids Safely?

Although taking a sleep aid can be helpful, it’s not a permanent remedy to help with sleep loss. Before relying on a natural sleep aid or prescription medicine you should try out the basic techniques below to improve your sleep hygiene and increase rest.

Know how much sleep you need: Everyone is different, but most adults need at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep per night. Once you know your body requirement it can be difficult above or below that amount of rest. Strive to settle in at the same time every day.

Go to bed at the same time every night and follow a bedtime routine: When you go to sleep at the same time each day you will eventually establish a routine your body craves. You’ll get used to early nights and restful slumbers, so treat your body to a healthy rest every night.

Find a dark and cool place to sleep: Waking up in a sweat can make you feel either hot or cold. Either way it’s uncomfortable. A cool and dark place will help you rest without the disturbance of temperature fluctuations and light disruptions.

Dedicate your bed only to sleep and sex: Although the bedroom can feel like a place to unwind and let go, you should reserve your bedtime activity to only sleep and sex. Any other activities can be disruptive and negate the rest your bed provides.

Limit screen time: Turn off all devices including phones and computers at least one hour before bedtime. Even if you’re watching a relaxing show the blue light omitted from these devices is the strongest light that also resembles the light of day. You’ll find it hard to rest when your brain is told to wake up.

Eat well, exercise, and get sunshine during the day: Exercise does your body good, wears you out, expends calories, and can even improve your mood. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day and make the routine daily. Your body will begin to enjoy the benefits of physical activity.

Avoid substances like caffeine and alcohol before bed: It might seem counter-intuitive, but alcohol can disrupt sleep just the same way the caffeine and soft drinks can. Avoid ingesting any caffeinated beverages before bedtime and opt for either water, herbal tea, or a glass of warm milk to get into the sleep zone.

Dosage and Supplement Form

Supplement Form

Most commonly, natural sleep aids are available as swallowable pills or tablets. You’ll also find powders or chewable tablet options.

More recently, some sleep aid manufacturers have produced supplements in gummy form. These will have a natural flavor, so they’re sweeter-tasting and fun to chew, but you will get some extra calories and sugars as a result of taking these supplements.

Dosage Recommendations

The effectiveness of certain sleep aids depends on the individual sleep aid as well as the individual. Further, some sleep aids require a significantly higher dosage than others, which is why it’s essential that you always read and follow the dosage guidelines provided by the sleep aid manufacturer.

Because they have fewer side effects than prescription sleeping pills and even over-the-counter sleep aids, it can be safe to take natural sleep aids for a longer period of time. For example, it’s generally considered safe to take valerian for up to 6 weeks at a time, and some believe it’s actually more effective when taken over a longer period of time.

However, natural sleep aids are not designed to be a long-term solution to insomnia. If you have a chronic inability to fall or stay asleep, you may have a sleep disorder. Taking natural sleep aids will prevent you from getting the treatment you need as long as you continue using the sleep aids as a band-aid solution.

Important Shopping Considerations for Natural Sleep Aids

Can You Take Sleep Aids While Pregnant?

Because a baseline of studies has not yet been performed to determine how melatonin affects a pregnant woman or fetuses, it’s generally not recommended that you take melatonin while you’re pregnant. Instead, try implementing the behavioral techniques we discuss below, and review our guide to sleep tips during pregnancy.

Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe for Children?

Children under 3 should not take melatonin or other natural sleep supplements. Past age 3, the question of safety varies with each supplement. Certain supplements are developed with lower, safer doses ideal for children. Others will explicitly state on the label whether or not they’re safe for children under 18.

As with adults, older children should start with the lowest recommended dosage and increase it gradually, under a doctor’s guidance.

Regardless of which natural sleep aid you are using for your child, your best bet is to speak with your doctor first, even if you’re planning to use the supplement for temporary relief from jet lag-induced insomnia.

Natural sleep aids like melatonin can help children with certain sleep disorders and issues, but you want to ensure you get the underlying condition diagnosed first—especially if you believe your child has insomnia. Sometimes behavior that parents view asan issue is totally normal. For more guidance about what’s considered “healthy” sleep for kids, review our Parent’s Guide to Healthy Sleep.

And, as we’ve stated above, to date there are no studies proving the efficacy or safety of using natural sleep aids on a long-term basis. For that reason, it’s best to speak to your doctor first before giving your child a natural sleep supplement, and to plan to use it on a temporary basis, unless otherwise prescribed.

What Time Should You Take Natural Sleep Aids?

For the best time to take your particular natural sleep aid, review and follow the instructions on the label. Typically, the recommendation will be to take the dose sometime between 30 minutes to 2 hours before you’d like to fall asleep.

Tips for Improving Sleep Hygiene

Although taking a sleep aid can be helpful, it’s not a permanent remedy to help with sleep loss. Before relying on a natural sleep aid or prescription medicine you should try out the basic techniques below to improve your sleep hygiene and increase rest.

Know how much sleep you need: Everyone is different, but most adults need at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep per night. Once you know your body requirement it can be difficult above or below that amount of rest. Strive to settle in at the same time every day.

Go to bed at the same time every night and follow a bedtime routine: When you go to sleep at the same time each day you will eventually establish a routine your body craves. You’ll get used to early nights and restful slumbers, so treat your body to a healthy rest every night.

Find a dark and cool place to sleep: Waking up in a sweat can make you feel either hot or cold. Either way it’s uncomfortable. A cool and dark place will help you rest without the disturbance of temperature fluctuations and light disruptions.

Dedicate your bed only to sleep and sex: Although the bedroom can feel like a place to unwind and let go, you should reserve your bedtime activity to only sleep and sex. Any other activities can be disruptive and negate the rest your bed provides.

Limit screen time: Turn off all devices including phones and computers at least one hour before bedtime. Even if you’re watching a relaxing show the blue light omitted from these devices is the strongest light that also resembles the light of day. You’ll find it hard to rest when your brain is told to wake up.

Eat well, exercise, and get sunshine during the day: Exercise does your body good, wears you out, expends calories, and can even improve your mood. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day and make the routine daily. Your body will begin to enjoy the benefits of physical activity.

Avoid substances like caffeine and alcohol before bed: It might seem counter-intuitive, but alcohol can disrupt sleep just the same way the caffeine and soft drinks can. Avoid ingesting any caffeinated beverages before bedtime and opt for either water, herbal tea, or a glass of warm milk to get into the sleep zone.

Natural Sleep Aids & Tips

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Secrets to Sleeping Soundly
Avoiding Afternoon Slowdowns
Drowsing in the Afternoon?
Fighting Fatigue With Herbs
Natural Remedies for Insomnia
Sleep for Weight Loss
Trouble Counting Sheep?
Trouble Sleeping? Try Mantram

Secrets To Sleeping Soundly

There are many reasons why people have a difficult time staying asleep. The good news is that common problems with sleep are often easily addressed without the use of medication or pharmaceutical sleep aids. There are no guaranteed natural cures for insomnia, but there are effective steps you can take, including natural sleep aids. Ask yourself these questions (and try the simple sleep aid recommendations) if you find yourself waking frequently in the night:

  • Are you physically uncomfortable? A too soft or too firm mattress, an uncomfortable pillow, or an older, worn-out bed can all impede a good night’s sleep. Check your mattress for signs of wear at least twice a year, and consider new pillows. You may also want to see an osteopathic physician who specializes in osteopathic manipulative therapy. A session or two of this safe and effective sleep aid treatment can be life-changing.
  • Is your bedroom noisy? Consider a “white noise” generator to fight insomnia. This is an inexpensive but effective device for making soothing sounds to mask jangling ones.
  • Is your mind overactive? If you can’t sleep because of thoughts whirling through your head, try the Relaxing Breath, which can help you put aside the thoughts that are keeping you awake. A few stretches can help encourage sleep, too.
  • Are you frequently getting up to urinate and then not able to get back to sleep? Eliminate caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime: both can increase nighttime urination and therefore sleep disturbances.
  • Are you using tech devices prior to sleep? This has become one of the most common sleep disturbing habits in our society today. Using smartphones, tablets, and computers prior to sleep can lower levels of melatonin and shorten REM cycles. Turning off technology one to two hours prior to sleep can significantly improve quality of sleep.

If you experiment with all these possibilities and still wake in the early morning hours, try getting up and reading or doing some light stretching – anything other than watching the clock and worrying about the sleep you’re losing. Taking your mind off the problem can help to relax you and may help you to fall back asleep.

Avoiding Afternoon Slowdowns

Many people find themselves losing steam in the afternoon, due to a variety of reasons. If you experience afternoon slumps, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you exercise regularly? Exercising can help keep your energy levels high, especially if you exercise in the morning.
  • Are your lunches heavy in carbohydrates? Midday meals with lots of carbs can make you sleepy. Make sure your lunch has a balance of carbs and protein.
  • Do your snacks come in the form of a candy bar? Stay away from refined and processed foods, especially products heavy on sugar. While they can cause an initial energy spike, they are usually followed by a decline in energy. Opt for a healthier snack, like fresh fruit, that will better sustain your energy.
  • How do you combat boredom? Instead of slumping in your chair, get up and go for a brief walk, to get your blood flowing.
  • How much coffee do you drink in the morning? A coffee drinker’s energy cycle is usually controlled by coffee – energized early in the day, lethargic and slow in the late afternoon. Ginseng tea is a good coffee substitute, one that is less likely to make you feel sluggish in the afternoon.

Drowsing in the Afternoon?

Each of us has different patterns of high and low states of energy throughout the day. Some people find that exercise in the morning can go a long way toward keeping their energy level consistent during the afternoon. A secret known to those who have become habitual exercisers is that effort creates energy. Don’t wait for energy to come when you are tired; as soon as you begin to feel that afternoon slump, shake it off by moving your body. Try taking a brisk walk after lunch. It may be what you need to keep you awake and alert the rest of the day.

Fighting Fatigue With Herbs

If you feel worn down or are lacking energy due to improper sleep, a hectic schedule or day-to-day stressors, learn how to fight fatigue naturally with insomnia herbs. Taking a few minutes for yourself and doing simple breathing exercises can be helpful, as can daily moderate exercise and getting adequate rest. Certain nutrients, botanicals and other compounds can also help to ward off or lessen the effects of general fatigue. Experiment with the following insomnia herbs and natural remedies for insomnia:

  • Magnesium. Supplementation with this mineral has been shown to improve symptoms of fatigue in persons with low magnesium levels.
  • Eleuthero (Siberian) ginseng. Studies suggest that his herb (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help enhance mental activity as well as physical endurance.
  • Coenzyme Q10. This vital nutrient is involved in cellular energy production throughout the body.
  • Ashwagandha. This Ayurvedic herb is prized for its ability to help the body deal with stress.
  • Cordyceps. This traditional Chinese medicinal mushroom may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels.

Natural Remedies For Insomnia

Sleep is an important part of reaching your health goals. Shakespeare called sleep “the chief nourisher in life’s feast.” Adequate sleep is a primary component of a healthy lifestyle. Although often the undesirable result of our busy lives, insufficient sleep may also be indicative of imperfect health, and can itself lead to future health problems.

Here are some suggestions for getting the sleep you need to protect body and mind:

  • Eliminate caffeine from your diet, especially in the form of soft drinks and coffee, as well as in over-the-counter drugs (check the labels).
  • Practice daily breathing exercises, and the relaxing breath when falling asleep.
  • Take a warm bath before bedtime.
  • Get at least 45 minutes of aerobic activity every day.

Sleep For Weight Loss

Want help achieving and maintaining a healthy weight? Aim for eight hours of sleep a night. Research suggests that appetite-regulating hormones are affected by sleep and that sleep deprivation could lead to weight gain. In two studies, people who slept five hours or less per night had higher levels of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates hunger – and lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin than those who slept eight hours per night. So make sure getting adequate sleep is near the top of your optimum health checklist!

Trouble Counting Sheep?

Insomnia is a relatively common sleep disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population worldwide. Insomnia can cause severe sleeplessness and is more common in women, but the quality of sleep decreases equally in both women and men as we age.

Typical symptoms of insomnia include problems falling asleep, waking up frequently in the night with difficulty falling back to sleep, waking too early in the morning, and feeling unrefreshed when waking in the morning.

The causes of insomnia are varied. Noise, temperature changes, medication side effects, jet lag, and a change in surroundings can all cause insomnia, as can PMS, menopause, menstruation, or pregnancy.
If you suffer from insomnia, try to stick to a routine at bedtime, and go to bed at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine and nicotine before bedtime, and get plenty of exercise during the day. A dark room free of noise may also help-consider buying a “white noise” device if your bedroom is noisy. If you are having trouble falling asleep, try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.

Trouble Sleeping? Try Mantram

Mantram is the practice of repeating over and over in the mind certain syllables, words or phrases that help unify consciousness and counteract negative mental states. It is especially helpful for people with restless minds, whose turbulent thoughts keep them from relaxing, concentrating and falling asleep. The repetition of a verbal formula is a way of focusing the thinking mind and counteracting the damage done to both mind and body by thoughts that produce anxiety, agitation and unhappiness.

You can practice mantram anywhere, especially as a sleep aid and a natural remedy for insomnia- it is a totally portable technique, requires no training or equipment, and can be used in any circumstance, so long as you don’t practice it while doing something that otherwise requires your undivided attention. Try experimenting with it – choose a word, sound or phrase that is pleasing to you, and repeat it. If your mind wanders, simply focus back on the word. You will be amazed at the results.

Find more information about natural remedies for insomnia and other sleep aid information by browsing Dr. Weil’s articles and advice.

Reviewed by Benjamin S. Gonzalez, M.D., May, 2016.

Why are OTC Sleeping Pills Unsafe?

If you’re struggling with a lack of sleep, it may seem easiest to find an over-the-counter sleep aid at your local pharmacy. While these may do the trick in the short-term, they’re not a long-term solution. These can also mask the root of your sleep troubles, making it harder to find answers and effectively treat the issue.

Antihistamine is the leading ingredient in any over-the-counter sleep aid. A sedative, antihistamines can make you feel tired, groggy, dizzy, nauseous, off-balance, and forgetful. While these may help you fall asleep faster, they usually result in moderate to severe drowsiness the following day.

Over time, OTC sleep aids can result in recurring headaches and daytime fatigue. Besides unpleasant side effects, there are other serious risks to using these sleep aids.

It’s not uncommon for people who habitually use OTC sleep aids to build a tolerance to them or even become dependent on them. As time goes on, you’re relying on and ingesting more medication to help you fall asleep at night. This makes stopping difficult.

Many people who habitually use over-the-counter sleeping pills experience nausea, sweating, and shaking when they try to quit. Plus, their sleep problems usually come back in full force.

We should note, while over-the-counter sleep aids are not necessarily safe for anybody to use, they can be especially dangerous for some. These supplements can interact with a variety of different medications, including other sedatives, and drug interactions can be harmful or potentially fatal. Before buying any OTC sleep aids, consult with your doctor about the medications you’re currently taking.

Healthy Bedtime Habits

Practicing good sleep hygiene and developing a healthy bedtime routine can drastically improve your quality of sleep. Your body wants routine. Giving it the routine it wants helps keep your systems in sync and prevents sleep troubles down the line.

Develop a Routine

To get the most restful sleep, you should go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day— even on your days off. When your body gets in the habit of falling asleep and waking up at a particular time, it’ll train your internal clock to do so naturally. Eventually, you’ll find yourself feeling tired around the same time every evening and waking up before your alarm even buzzes.

In the evenings, you should develop a before-bed routine and stick with it. This routine doesn’t have to be anything over the top, but rather a few things you do nightly before you head off to sleep. Over time, your brain will start to associate these things with sleep, and you’ll be feeling drowsy before you’ve laid down in bed.

Shower Before Bed

If you don’t already shower before bed, introducing one to your nightly routine can be the difference between a night of tossing and turning and sound sleep.

Apart from refreshing you after a long day, a hot bath or shower can improve sleep latency. As you fall asleep, your body temperature drops a few degrees to prompt melatonin production.

Taking a hot shower increases your internal temperature for a short time. However, as soon as you step out and the water dries, your body temperature drops back to normal levels. The drop in temperature after leaving the shower helps your body temperature continue to decline for sleep; this helps you feel drowsier and doze off sooner rather than later.

Be Mindful of Meals

What you eat and when you eat it can make or break your night’s sleep. As you can imagine, some foods are healthy to eat before sleeping, and others not so much.

A good rule of thumb is to stop eating at least two hours before bedtime. If you like to snack in the evenings, keep it small and light. Snacks like yogurt, almonds, and antioxidant-packed berries can help you doze off in no time.

When it comes to dinners, try to incorporate sleep-inducing foods into your meals. Swapping red meats for fish and greasy fries for whole grains can help tire your body out and ready it for sleep.

Are You Ready to Get Better Sleep?

Sleep is necessary to live a long, healthy life. Letting sleep issues fall to the wayside and accruing a substantial sleep debt can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious medical conditions later on down the line.

Addressing your sleep troubles with natural sleep remedies is the best way to start improving your sleep quality. However, please note our suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice. If you’re still experiencing restless nights and feel you may have a more severe sleep disorder, we recommend speaking with your doctor.

Photo: Mondadori/Getty Images

’Tis the season of daylight savings time and holiday travel and stress, which means many of us will spend a lot more time staring up at our bedroom ceilings in the middle of the night. Lately it feels like there’s an insomnia epidemic, particularly among women. So many of my friends and colleagues — including me, lately — don’t sleep well.

Estée Lauder sponsored a study published back in the summer that demonstrated that a lack of sleep increases the signs of aging and decreases your skin’s ability to recover from “stressors” like UV damage. Not sleeping can also negatively affect your immune system, not to mention make you want to lash out at your significant other for no good reason and send inappropriately bitchy e-mails.

Dr. Michael Breus (a.k.a. “The Sleep Doctor”), a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders, blames a lot of insomnia on, duh, stress. “If you look at the times, since 2008, we’re seeing a higher amount of stress and that of course leads to insomnia and sleeplessness,” he said. People then start hunting for sleep aids, which has helped make Ambien a $13 billion drug, according to Dr. Breus.

But Ambien has received some bad press lately, thanks to weird side effects like sleep-eating and even sleep-driving. (Or sleep-e-mailing Anna Wintour, like Isaac Mizrahi once did.) As a result, the FDA recently changed the dosage recommendations from 10 mg to 5 mg for women.

Besides Ambien, there aren’t a lot of prescription sleep medications out there. Dr. Breus thinks we need more.

“There are many different flavors of insomnia,” he says. “There’s the I-can’t-fall-asleep kind; there’s the I-can’t-stay-asleep; there’s the I-wake-up-too-early; there’s insomnia associated with anxiety. We don’t have enough specific meds out there to target insomnia appropriately. That’s really what medicine is looking for.”

In the meantime, people are turning to so-called “natural” sleep aids to tackle insomnia. But it’s not like trying out a new shampoo — these substances act like drugs. Don’t be fooled by the word “natural” on packaging — it’s essentially meaningless. There are absolutely no regulations or guidelines — anyone can call anything “natural.” Deadly nightshade is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you (um, as the name boldly proclaims). Also, everything that comes from plants is not necessarily safe. Some of the most toxic chemotherapy medications are plant-derived. When you hit up the supplement aisle at Whole Foods, just remember that herbal supplements can have pretty potent active ingredients, are not regulated by the FDA in the same way drugs are, and a lot of them haven’t been properly tested.

Knowing all this, I decided to systematically and as safely as possible try some common nonprescription sleep aids. My primary issues were jet lag (after a two-week trip to Hawaii) and your run-of-the-mill “Holy crap, I have too much going on and am completely overwhelmed” stress. My ultimate goal was to try to get to sleep earlier.

Scroll down for the various sleep aids I tried, including how they work, Dr. Breus’s comments, potential side effects, studies that have been done, and how the supplements worked for me. A few things I excluded: I didn’t test kava, which actually had some promise for insomnia and/or anxiety treatment, because there’s evidence that it causes liver toxicity (I’m sure, thanks to the nineties, my liver is already toxic enough). I also didn’t test lavender, which has a reputation for promoting relaxation, because it’s not commonly found in oral form. The one preparation I found in my local Whole Foods was advertised as a ‘non-drowsy’ formula — not helpful. And finally, there are countless preparations that mix various supplements. The doses are all different in each formula, and I wanted to test each supplement individually to see how they act on their own.

But please, do not try any of these until you speak to your own health-care provider. Many of them could interact with whatever medications you may be taking, or exacerbate a medical condition. If you want to get a sense of safety, side effects, and dosage, you can also check Medline Plus.

MELATONIN, $12.99
How it works: It’s a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it’s nighttime. “It’s not a sleep initiator, like Ambien,” Dr. Breus said. Meaning, don’t expect it to knock you out.

Science says: Evidence is mixed, but it does seem to have the ability to regulate rhythms. In Europe, melatonin is only available as a prescription. (Melatonin is the only hormone in the U.S. available as a supplement.) Dr. Breus recommends, “You should take it 90 minutes before lights out. Most of the melatonin out there is in an overdosage format. The appropriate dose is between 0.5 and 1 mg.” Oh, and forget about melatonin brownies. The FDA shut down that concept back in 2011 because hormones are not appropriate food additives.

Potential side effects: Fatigue, hypertension, vivid nightmares. Side effects from long-term use aren’t known. Very large doses have been tested as a contraceptive (!).

My experience: According to Dr. Breus, the 5 mg dose (which was how the pills came) I took was probably too much. I started taking it on the red-eye flight back from Hawaii, which is six hours behind New York. I slept for several hours on the plane, and then continued the melatonin for the next five days. The first three days I was up and wide awake at 2:30 a.m. By day six, I was on a normal sleep schedule. I didn’t shake the jet lag any quicker than when I travel and don’t take anything. I continued the melatonin for two days after that then quit.

VALERIAN, $12.76

How it works: It’s an herb with a mild sedative effect. The exact mechanism of action is unknown.
Science says: Per Dr. Breus, it’s one of the best-studied supplements. There are studies that show it can help decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. Adding hops (yep, the stuff in beer) seems to increase the effects of the valerian.

Potential side effects: Headaches, dizziness, itchiness, gastrointestinal disturbances.

My experience: Valerian smells disgusting, like rotten food. I choked down one 250mg capsule an hour before bed for three days. According to my Jawbone — I knew this thing would come in handy for something practical someday! — I fell asleep in eleven minutes on those nights, where previously my falling-asleep times had been in the twenties. Each morning after I took a dose, I woke up feeling nauseous and not quite right. Dr. Breus suspects the 250 mg dose was a bit high for me. But I would consider it again if I can track down a smaller-dose form.

L-TRYPTOPHAN, $19.98

How it works: It’s an amino acid that’s a building block for the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and stress. L-tryptophan is best known for being the reason you feel exhausted after eating Thanksgiving turkey, although studies have shown that the amount of l-tryptophan in food portions is probably not enough to make you sleepy.

Science says: Several studies suggest that it’s helpful for people who suffer from mild insomnia. The FDA recalled it in 1990 after it was linked to several deaths and 1,500 cases of a disease called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. The cases were ultimately traced to one Japanese factory and it was put back on the market a few years later.

My experience: I had high hopes, since I’d definitely call my insomnia mild and episodic. But on two of the four nights I took it (1.5 gm per the bottle), I was wide awake until 1:30 a.m. watching Golden Girls reruns. Based on its history and side-effect profile, I can’t say I was sorry to stop it.

5-HTP (5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN), $16.99

How it works: 5-HTP is also a building block of serotonin. Unlike L-tryptophan, you can’t get 5-HTP from your diet.

Science says: There are more studies of 5-HTP for depression than insomnia, but at least one showed that it helped people fall asleep more quickly, at doses of 200–400 mg. The problem is you need to stay on it for six to twelve weeks to see effects.

Potential side effects: Gas, nausea, heartburn, “serotonin syndrome” at high doses. In the late eighties, there were reports of the same eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome as L-tryptophan, but not as many.

My experience: I took 50 mg (much lower than study doses — there are warnings about higher doses) before bed, per the instructions on the bottle’s label for about five days. It didn’t help me fall asleep, but I didn’t have any side effects either. I would consider looking into this supplement on a more long-term basis, though, because there have been studies showing that it helps migraines — which I get a few times a month — and can also suppress your appetite. (My afternoon cookie habit is getting out of control.)

L-THEANINE, $19.50

How it works: It’s an amino acid commonly found in green and black tea. It helps promote relaxation, so it works indirectly on sleep.

Science says: Some small studies have shown that it’s useful for decreasing anxiety. Dr. Breus has also had patients who have responded well to it.

Potential side effects: None reported, but it interacts with some chemotherapy medications.

My experience: I had the most peculiar and pleasant experience with this one. I was sitting on the couch at night with my computer on my lap and the TV on, stressed out about a deadline. About a half hour after I took it (200 mg), a sudden sense of calm came over me and I just went to bed. Same thing the second night. It’s either the best placebo ever or it really works. Either way: Zen. Also, as I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinets a few days later, I found an old tube of L-theanine I’d forgotten I had. My vet had given it to me to calm my cat down when she had a virus. So, um, yeah.

PASSIONFLOWER, $9.99

How it works: Passionflower is a flowering herb which supposedly increases levels of the neurotransmistter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). More GABA equals better relaxation.

Science says: There are a few small, questionable studies that suggest passionflower can help you relax.

Potential side effects: Minimal, but rapid heart rate, nausea, and vomiting have been reported.

My experience: It’s hard to find passionflower alone — it’s often used in combination with other herbal supplements. I found a small bottle containing liquid with a dropper. I added 30 drops to some water, per the instructions, and drank. It tasted as if someone had dissolved a few tablespoons of dirt in my water. I tried it three nights in a row, and didn’t feel particularly relaxed. I’d actually go so far as to say it stressed me out more, because I went on a hunt for mints to wash out the dirt taste, and couldn’t find any. Then I noticed the bottle contained “65% to 75% grain alcohol,” and not even that did anything to help me sleep. I’d stick with a shot of tequila.

CHAMOMILE TEA, $6.25

How it works: The mechanism isn’t clear, but it promotes relaxation.

Science says: There aren’t many studies, and the results are generally inconclusive. But people swear by chamomile tea, if the chat rooms and blog posts about chamomile are any indication.

Potential side effects: Don’t drink it if you’re allergic to ragweed — chamomile and ragweed are relatives.

My experience: I like the nighttime tea ritual, and in general it helps relax me anyway, no matter what kind of herbal tea I’m drinking. But I think my expectations were so high for this particular tea, that there was no way it was going to work for me. I had two cups and it just made me need to go to the bathroom.

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Vitamin B6 • Helps regulate sleep cycles

Valerian Root • Calming sedative action

L-Theanine • The calming component of Tea

GABA • Can induce deeper sleep

Chamomile • Gentle relaxation

5-HTP • Supports serotonin

Passion Flower • Can increase GABA

Melatonin • Realigns the wake/sleep cycle

Through proper sleep we not only facilitate the muscle building process through the protein synthesis, growth hormone and testosterone release that occurs during these hours, but we re-energize and top-up both mentally and physically. Consistently achieving 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night could be the single most important way to ensure we are functioning on all cylinders – and ready to push some serious weight in the gym.

When you train heavy your adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue and counters testosterone, human growth hormone and other muscle building hormones. Without proper sleep you can’t replenish these vital muscle building hormones.

A lack of a good night’s sleep can also cause other problems such as the body’s ability to store Glycogen, which is used as energy for your muscles. Meaning the effectiveness of your next workout can be improved with Lights Out Sleep!

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Sleeping Pills and Natural Sleep Aids

All you need to know about prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications—as well as effective insomnia treatments that don’t come in pill form.

It’s the middle of the night, and you’re staring at the ceiling, thinking about work, or bills, or the kids. When sleep just won’t come, it’s tempting to turn to a sleeping pill or sleep aid for relief. And you may get it in the moment. But if you regularly have trouble sleeping, that’s a red flag that something’s wrong. It could be something as simple as too much caffeine or viewing TV, your phone, or other screens late at night. Or it may be a symptom of an underlying medical or psychological problem. But whatever it is, it won’t be cured with sleeping pills. At best, sleeping pills are a temporary band aid. At worst, they’re an addictive crutch that can make insomnia worse in the long run.

That doesn’t mean that you should never use medication, but it’s important to weigh the benefits against the risks. In general, sleeping pills and sleep aids are most effective when used sparingly for short-term situations, such as traveling across time zones or recovering from a medical procedure. If you choose to take sleeping pills over the long term, it is best to use them only on an infrequent, “as needed,” basis to avoid dependence and tolerance.

Risks and side effects of sleeping pills

All prescription sleeping pills have side effects, which vary depending on the specific drug, the dosage, and how long the drug lasts in your system. Common side effects include prolonged drowsiness the next day, headache, muscle aches, constipation, dry mouth, trouble concentrating, dizziness, unsteadiness, and rebound insomnia.

Other risks of sleeping pills include:

Drug tolerance. You may, over a period of time, build up a tolerance to sleep aids, and you will have to take more and more for them to work, which in turn can lead to more side effects.

Drug dependence. You may come to rely on sleeping pills to sleep, and will be unable to sleep or have even worse sleep without them. Prescription pills, in particular, can be very addictive, making it difficult to stop taking them.

Withdrawal symptoms. If you stop the medication abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking.

Drug interactions. Sleeping pills can interact with other medications. This can worsen side effects and sometimes be dangerous, especially with prescription painkillers and other sedatives.

Rebound insomnia. If you need to stop taking sleeping pills, sometimes the insomnia can become even worse than before.

Masking an underlying problem. There may be an underlying medical or mental disorder, or even a sleep disorder, causing your insomnia that can’t be treated with sleeping pills.

Some serious risks of sleeping pills

Sedative-hypnotic medications (benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines) can cause severe allergic reaction, facial swelling, memory lapses, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts or actions, and complex sleep-related behaviors like sleep-walking, sleep-driving (driving while not fully awake, with no memory of the event) and sleep-eating (eating in the middle of the night with no recollection, often resulting in weight-gain). If you experience any unusual sleep-related behavior, consult your doctor immediately.

Over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids and sleeping pills

Standard over-the-counter sleeping pills rely on antihistamines as their primary active ingredient to promote drowsiness.

Common over-the-counter sleep medications include:

  • Diphenhydramine (found in brand names like Nytol, Sominex, Sleepinal, Compoz)
  • Doxylamine (brand names such as Unisom, Nighttime Sleep Aid)

Some other OTC sleep aids combine antihistamines with the pain reliever Acetaminophen (found in brand names like Tylenol PM and Aspirin-Free Anacin PM). Others, such as NyQuil, combine antihistamines with alcohol.

The problem with antihistamines is that their sedating properties often last well into the next day, leading to a next-day hangover effect. When used long-term, they can also cause forgetfulness and headaches. Because of these issues, sleep experts advise against their regular use.

Common side effects of antihistamine sleeping pills:

  • Moderate to severe drowsiness the next day
  • Dizziness and forgetfulness
  • Clumsiness, feeling off balance
  • Constipation and urinary retention
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Nausea

Prescription sleep medications

There are several different types of prescription sleeping pills, classified as sedative hypnotics. In general, these medications act by working on receptors in the brain to slow down the nervous system. Some medications are used more for inducing sleep, while others are used for staying asleep. Some last longer than others in your system (a longer half-life), and some have a higher risk of becoming habit forming.

Benzodiazepine sedative hypnotic sleeping pills

Benzodiazepines are the oldest class of sleep medications still commonly in use. Benzodiazepines as a group are thought to have a higher risk of dependence than other insomnia sedative hypnotics and are classified as controlled substances. Primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, benzodiazepines that have been approved to treat insomnia include estazolam (brand name ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion).

Drawbacks to benzodiazepine sleeping pills:

You can become both physically and psychologically dependent on benzodiazepines. When you’re on the pills for a period of time, you may believe that you can’t sleep without them, and once you stop taking them, you may actually experience physical withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and rebound insomnia.

Sleeping pills can lose their effectiveness if used on a nightly basis, because the brain receptors become less sensitive to their effects. In as little as three to four weeks, benzodiazepines can become no more effective than a sugar pill.

The overall quality of your sleep can be reduced, with less restorative deep sleep and REM sleep.

You may experience next day cognitive slowing and drowsiness (the hangover effect), which may be even worse than the sluggishness you feel from actual sleep deprivation.

Insomnia returns once you stop, even if the medication is effective while taking it. As with the use of all sleeping pills, rather than dealing with your insomnia, you’re merely postponing the problem.

There may be a link to dementia. While it’s currently under investigation, there is concern that using benzodiazepines may contribute to the development of dementia.

Non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotic sleeping pills

Some newer medications don’t have the same chemical structure as a benzodiazepine, but act on the same area in the brain. They are thought to have fewer side effects, and less risk of dependency, but are still considered controlled substances. They include zalepon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien), and eszopiclone (Lunesta), which have been tested for longer-term use, up to six months.

Drawbacks to non-benzodiazepine sleeping pills:

Generally, non-benzodiazepines have fewer drawbacks than benzodiazepines, but that doesn’t make them suitable for everyone. Some may find this type of sleep medication ineffective at helping them sleep, while the long-term effects remain unknown. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently directed the manufacturers of Ambien and similar sleeping pills to lower the standard dosage due to the serious risk of morning grogginess while driving, especially in women patients. Other side effects include:

  • Drug tolerance
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • In some cases, dangerous sleep-related behaviors such as sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and sleep-eating
  • New or worsening depression; suicidal thoughts or actions

Melatonin receptor agonist hypnotic sleeping pills

Ramelteon (Rozerem) is the newest type of sleep medication and works by mimicking the sleep regulation hormone melatonin. It has little risk of physical dependency but still has side effects. It is used for sleep onset problems and is not effective for problems regarding staying asleep.

Ramelteon’s most common side effect is dizziness. It may also worsen symptoms of depression and should not be used by those with severe liver damage.

Antidepressants used as sleeping pills

The FDA has not approved antidepressants for the treatment of insomnia, nor has their use been proven effective in treating sleeplessness. However, some antidepressants are prescribed off-label due to their sedating effects. As with all depression medication, there is a small but significant risk of suicidal thoughts or worsening of depression, particularly in children and adolescents.

Herbal and dietary sleep supplements that may help

Go the drugstore and you’ll see dozens of so-called “natural” sleep supplements. The FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements for safety, quality, effectiveness, or even truth in labeling, so it’s up to you to do your due diligence. Although the evidence is mixed, the following supplements have the most research backing them up as insomnia treatments.

Valerian. Valerian is a sedating herb that has been used since the second century A.D. to treat insomnia and anxiety. It is believed to work by increasing brain levels of the calming chemical GABA. Although the use of valerian for insomnia hasn’t been extensively studied, the research shows promise and it is generally considered to be safe and non-habit forming. It works best when taken daily for two or more weeks.

Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that increases at night. It is triggered by darkness and its levels remain elevated throughout the night until suppressed by the light of morning. Although melatonin does not appear to be particularly effective for treating most sleep disorders, it can help sleep problems caused by jet lag and shift work. Simple exposure to light at the right time, however, might be just as effective. If you take melatonin, be aware that it can interfere with certain blood pressure and diabetes medications. It’s best to stick with low doses—1 to 3 milligrams for most people—to minimize side effects and next-day drowsiness.

Chamomile. Many people drink chamomile tea for its gentle sedative properties, although it may cause allergic reactions in those with plant or pollen allergies. To get the full sleep-promoting benefit, bring water to a boil, then add 2-3 tea bags (or the equivalent of loose-leaf tea), cover with a lid, and brew for 10 minutes.

Tryptophan. Tryptophan is a basic amino acid used in the formation of the chemical messenger serotonin, a substance in the brain that helps tell your body to sleep. L-tryptophan is a common byproduct of tryptophan, which the body can change into serotonin. Some studies have shown that L-tryptophan can help people fall asleep faster. Results, however, have been inconsistent.

Kava. Kava has been shown to improve sleep in people with stress-related insomnia. However, kava can cause liver damage, so it isn’t recommended unless taken under close medical supervision.

Other herbs that have been found to have a calming or sedating effect include lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender. Many natural sleep supplements, such as MidNite and Luna, use a combination of these ingredients to promote sleep.

Natural doesn’t mean safe

While some remedies, such as lemon balm or chamomile tea are generally harmless, others can have more serious side effects and interfere with or reduce the effectiveness of prescribed medications. Valerian, for example, can interfere with antihistamines and statins. Do your research before trying a new herbal remedy and talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any pre-existing conditions or prescriptions that you take.

Tips for safer use of sleeping pills

If you decide to try sleeping pills or sleep aids, keep the following safety guidelines in mind.

Never mix sleeping pills with alcohol or other sedative drugs. Alcohol not only disrupts sleep quality, but it increases the sedative effects of sleeping pills. The combination can be quite dangerous—even deadly.

Only take a sleeping pill when you will have enough time for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Otherwise you may feel very drowsy the next day.

Don’t take a second dose in the middle of the night. It can be dangerous to double up on your dosage, and with less time for the medication to clear your system it may be difficult to get up the next morning and shake off grogginess.

Start with the lowest recommended dose. See how the medication affects you and the types of side effects you experience.

Avoid frequent use. To avoid dependency and minimize adverse effects, try to save sleeping pills for emergencies, rather than nightly use.

Never drive a car or operate machinery after taking a sleeping pill. This tip is especially important when you start using a new sleep aid, as you may not know how it will affect you.

Carefully read the package insert that comes with your medication. Pay careful attention to the potential side effects and drug interactions. Many common medications, including antidepressants and antibiotics, can cause dangerous interactions with both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills. For many sleeping pills, certain foods such as grapefruit and grapefruit juice must also be avoided.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about:

  • Other medications and supplements you are taking. Many common medications, including antidepressants and antibiotics, can cause dangerous interactions with both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills. Herbal and dietary supplements and non-prescription medications such as pain relievers and allergy medicines may also interfere.
  • Other medical conditions you have. Some sleep medications can have serious side effects for people with medical problems such as high blood pressure, liver problems, glaucoma, depression, and breathing difficulties.
  • Specific instructions for increasing, decreasing and/or terminating use. It’s important to follow usage directions closely. Increasing your dose may pose risks, but decreasing your use can also cause problems if done too quickly. In some cases, stopping medication abruptly can cause uncomfortable side effects and even rebound insomnia.

For better sleep, opt for healthy habits, not pills

Research has shown that changing your lifestyle and sleep habits is the best way to combat insomnia. Even if you decide to use sleeping pills or medications in the short term, experts recommend making changes to your lifestyle and bedtime behavior as a long-term remedy to sleep problems. Behavioral and environmental changes can have more of a positive impact on sleep than medication, without the risk of side effects or dependence.

Relaxation techniques as an alternative to sleeping pills

Relaxation techniques that can relieve stress and help you sleep include simple meditation practices, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, and the use of deep breathing. With a little practice, these skills can help you unwind at bedtime and improve your sleep more effectively than a sleeping pill or sleep aid. Try:

A relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off screens at least one hour before bed and focus on quiet, soothing activities, such as reading, gentle yoga, or listening to soft music instead. Keep the lights low to naturally boost melatonin.

Abdominal breathing. Most of us don’t breathe as deeply as we should. When we breathe deeply and fully, involving not only the chest, but also the belly, lower back, and ribcage, it can actually help the part of our nervous system that controls relaxation. Close your eyes and try taking deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make each exhale a little longer than each inhale.

Progressive muscle relaxation is easier than it sounds. Lie down or make yourself comfortable. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, and then relax. Continue to do this for every muscle group in your body, working your way up to the top of your head.

Exercise is a powerful sleep aid

Studies have shown that exercise during the day can improve sleep at night. When we exercise, we experience a significant rise in body temperature, followed a few hours later by a significant drop. This drop in body temperature makes it easier for us to fall and stay asleep. The best time to exercise is late afternoon or early evening, rather than just before bed. Aim for at least 30 minutes four times a week. Aerobic exercises are the best to combat insomnia as they increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the blood.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) beats sleeping pills

Many people complain that frustrating, negative thoughts and worries prevent them from sleeping at night.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems by modifying negative thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behavior. A study at Harvard Medical School even found that CBT was more effective at treating chronic insomnia than prescription sleep medication—but without the risks or side effects. CBT can help to relax your mind, change your outlook, improve your daytime habits, and set you up for a good night’s sleep.

Do you remember when we were kids and argued with our parents to let us stay up longer?? Well, as time passes by I find myself regretting not getting those precious extra hours of sleep in while I could-between product launches and trying to have a social life, I find it to be more of a struggle now than ever to get my necessary Z’s in.

Trouble getting my mind to finally rest at night is one of the reasons why I created the Lights Out supplement for Love Wellness. Not to toot my own brand’s horn or anything, but this pill is like magic-with just one pill before bedtime each night my mind and body are immediately relaxed and ready to get a good night’s sleep.

I’m thankful that Love Wellness and our top selling products such as Good To Glow, Good Girl Probiotics, Bye Bye Bloat and #Mood Pills have gotten such a good response from our consumers but I was particularly happy when Jessica DeFino from Business Insider wrote an article on our products and highlighted Lights Out.

“While it takes time to see real results from most vitamins, there’s one Love Wellness product that works almost instantaneously for me: Lights Out. The pre-bedtime pill is filled with natural magnesium, melatonin, and valerian root, and puts me out in, like, seconds. I usually require a glass of wine and a few episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” to lull me into a light, fitful sleep each night, but I’m overjoyed to report that’s no longer the case. A single dose of Lights Out really does it for me and is so much healthier than a serving of cabernet sauvignon, right?”

Part of taking care of ourselves is making sure we get adequate sleep,after all,I don’t know anyone who can truly function on just a few hours of sleep each night and not be grumpy(apologies to anyone to has witnessed lack of sleep Lo) so it’s important we stay in tune with our bodies and not be afraid to try different remedies in order to get the rest we need. I obviously prefer any and everything natural so whether it be a calming CBD infused tea or a single dose of Lights Out, don’t be afraid to try something new,find what works for you and get the beauty rest you deserve cause ain’t nobody got time to be tossin’ and turnin’ in bed when they’ve got shit to handle the next day, am I right?!

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Advisory – Nutrabolics Inc. voluntarily recalls unauthorized “Blackout” sleep-aid, which may pose serious health risks

OTTAWA, July 11, 2019 /CNW/ – At Health Canada’s request, Nutrabolics Inc. is voluntarily recalling “Blackout,” a sleep-aid product, because it is labelled to contain a drug (L-tryptophan) at a prescription-strength dose, and may pose serious health risks. Blackout has not been authorized by Health Canada, which means it has not been evaluated for safety, effectiveness or quality.

Prescription drugs should be taken only under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional because they are used to treat specific diseases and may cause serious side effects.

Blackout may have been sold at multiple retailers, both online and in stores, across Canada.

Who is affected

  • Consumers who have bought or used Blackout

Affected products
Blackout by Nutrabolics Inc.

What consumers should do

  • Stop using this product. Consult your health care professional if you have used this product and have health concerns.
  • Return any unused product to the place of purchase.
  • Contact Nutrabolics Inc. at 1-800-568-8781 or www.nutrabolics.com/pages/contact if you have questions about this recall.
  • Read product labels to verify that health products have been authorized for sale by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). You can also check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada’s Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.
  • Report any health product-related adverse reactions or complaints to Health Canada.

What Health Canada is doing
Health Canada is monitoring the recall. Should additional safety concerns be identified, Health Canada will take appropriate action and inform Canadians as necessary.

Background
L-tryptophan is a prescription drug at doses higher than 220 mg per day. At prescription doses, this medication should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional because of the higher risk of serious side effects and harmful drug interactions. L-tryptophan is prescribed in Canada for use in combination with antidepressants for patients with depressive disorders. Side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, headache, and sexual problems. In rare cases, serotonin syndrome has been reported when L-tryptophan was taken with other drugs, including some that affect the central nervous system. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening reaction with symptoms that include high body temperature, agitation, sweating, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure, muscle rigidity, confusion and seizures.

Également disponible en français

SOURCE Health Canada

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for good health, and yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of U.S. adults are not getting the requisite seven or more hours of sleep per night.

Luckily, there are professionally-vetted products that can help. Know Your Value spoke to four renowned sleep experts who shared some of their favorite items to catch some serious zzz’s.

Know Your Value editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, Know Your Value does have affiliate relationships. So while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Perfect for: light sleepers who hate noise.

Why you need this in your life: “Flents Quiet Please Ear Plugs are soft, comfortable and quite effective for eliminating sounds that disrupt sleep,” said Dr. Robert Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona.

Perfect for: frequent jet-setters.

Why you need this in your life: “Ostrich Pillow Light is a two-in-one sleep aid. It blocks out light, muffles sound and does not leave any facial marks after a night’s sleep,” said Dr. Rosenberg.

Perfect for: noisy places.

Why you need this in your life: “It’s small yet effective,” said Terry Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator. “I can easily move it around – even for nap time on the sofa. It’s a must for business travel. I prefer this to using a white noise app on my phone.”

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Perfect for: Relaxation before bedtime.

Why you need this in your life: “There are studies showing that a touch of lavender can help with sleep,” Cralle said. “If you have not considered aromatherapy and its sleep benefits, it is worth exploring the many scents that may help you relax and drift off to dreamland.”

Perfect for: Waking up slowly.

Why you need this in your life: “If you want a better wake up experience, sunrise simulation alarm clocks may be just the thing,” said Cralle. “Dawn simulator alarm clocks expose a person to a slowly increasing intensity of light for 15 to 30 minutes or more prior to awakening. Research indicates that a more naturalistic exposure to light can improve sleep quality sleep.”

Perfect for: the person who wants to be ahead of the curve.

Why you need this in your life: “While more research needs to be done in order to confirm its effectiveness, many restless sleepers find weighted blankets help them fall asleep faster and wake up less often,” said Dr. Allen Towfigh, medical director at New York Neurology and Sleep Medicine. “The recommended weight of the blanket should be approximately 10 percent of your body weight and caution should be exercised when using these in children or individuals with respiratory or neuromuscular disorders.”

Perfect for: Bright rooms

Why you need this in your life: “Our brains take their cues on when to sleep based on the amount of light in the environment,” said Dr. Towfigh. “So ambient light can be quite disruptive when it’s time to go to bed. That’s why it helps to have blackout drapes or shades to prevent light from disrupting your sleep.”

Perfect for: Bright rooms and stylish sleepers

Why you need this in your life: “Whenever using items that contact your face, I always recommend going with silk over cotton or synthetic fabrics,” said Dr. Towfigh. “Silk is less likely to adhere to your skin, so you will have less lines and wrinkles. It is also less absorbent than cotton so it will not absorb any products you might use in your nightly rituals.”

Perfect for: Looking fresh in the morning

Why you need this in your life: “I often recommend silk pillowcases,” said Dr. Towfigh. “…Less adherence to your face…and less bed-head in the morning.”

Perfect for: Allergy season

Why you need this in your life: “If you suffer from allergies or rhinitis, dust and dander can significantly impact your sleep quality,” said Dr. Towfigh. “One way to reduce the dust and dander is to clean your floors regularly, including under your bed. “Using a robotic vacuum can help make this chore much easier.”

Perfect for: Winding down before bed.

Why you need this in your life: “While there is not a lot of scientific research on candles and essential oils, it is worth noting that all your senses must drawn into a safe space so you can leave your woes at the door and slip into a restful slumber,” said Dr. Towfigh.

Perfect for: Couples who fight over the thermostat.

Why you need this in your life: “It’s important to control temperature when we sleep,” said Chris Brantner, certified sleep coach at SleepZoo. “The body has to lower core temperatures to get good sleep, but couples often disagree on how cold to keep the house at night. The ChiliPad allows you to control temperatures on both sides of the bed, so everyone is happy!”

Perfect for: Smartphone addicts.

Why you need this in your life: “Artificial light, in particular blue lights that come from smartphone screens and the like, trick the brain into thinking it isn’t time to go to bed,” said Brantner. “These glasses can help filter out the junk light, reduce eye strain, and get you producing melatonin when you should naturally.”

Perfect for: A night time treat.

Why you need this in your life: “This tasty beverage is all natural and packed full of various vitamins and minerals that are supposed to act as a sleep aid,” said Brantner. “It’s non-habit forming and can be part of a good bedtime routine. It has some good studies backing it and my wife swears by it.”

Most powerful natural sleep aid

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