Sleep Easy



At least 40 mil­lion Amer­i­can adults suf­fer from sleep dis­or­ders in­clud­ing in­som­nia, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion. And when re­searchers be­hind the mind­ful­ness app Calm re­cently sur­veyed more than 4,200 adults about the strangest cures for in­som­nia, the list of can­di­dates was cu­ri­ous in­deed. Eat­ing sea slug en­trails be­fore bed? Lather­ing your hair in yel­low soap? Yes, these are reme­dies that have ac­tu­ally been tried around the world.

But you don’t have to eat a raw onion, point your bed north­ward or watch a video of a cross­word puz­zle tour­na­ment in order to se­cure a deep and rest­ful night’s sleep. In­stead, seek out these six sup­ple­ments that have earned As for de­liv­er­ing Zs.


Used in the 16th cen­tury to treat headaches, heart pal­pi­ta­tions, ner­vous­ness and trem­bling, va­le­rian is now one of the most reached-for sleep aids in north­ern Europe, ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal of Phar­macy and Phar­ma­col­ogy.A sys­tem­atic re­view and meta-anal­y­sis of us­ing va­le­rian for sleep in

The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Medicine con­cluded, “There is some in­trigu­ing his­tor­i­cal and ba­sic science ev­i­dence re­gard­ing the ef­fi­cacy of va­le­rian,” and, “Given the high preva­lence of in­som­nia world­wide and the as­so­ci­ated mor­bid­ity and eco­nomic costs, fu­ture stud­ies of va­le­rian should as­sume a high pri­or­ity.” Take 1 to 2 milliliters 1 to 2 hours be­fore bed­time, or up to three times through­out the day, with the last dose near bed­time, rec­om­mends the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Cen­ter, ex­plain­ing that sci­en­tists be­lieve that va­le­rian has a calm­ing ef­fect on the brain.


As the Na­tional Cen­ter for Com­ple­men­tary and In­te­gra­tive Health (NCCIH) ex­plains, this nat­u­ral hor­mone plays a role in sleep; lev­els of mela­tonin in the body rise in the evening and fall in the morn­ing. “Mela­tonin sup­ple­ments may help peo­ple with cer­tain sleep dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing jet lag, sleep prob­lems re­lated to shift work and de­layed sleep phase dis­or­der (one in which peo­ple go to bed but can’t fall asleep un­til hours later), and in­som­nia,” writes the NCCIH site. An MIT study has shown that a small dose, about 0.3 mil­ligrams, of mela­tonin can be taken for rest­ful sleep.


Fans of Gwen Ste­fani prob­a­bly know the line, “I’m just sip­pin’ on chamomile,” but you may not know that re­searchers have proven the promis­ing ef­fects of this an­cient medic­i­nal herb on sleep. As Molec­u­lar Medicine Re­ports re­veals, chamomile seems to have a mild seda­tive ef­fect be­cause of the way it binds cer­tain re­cep­tors in the brain; in one study pub­lished in The Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Phar­ma­col­ogy, 10 pa­tients fell into a deep, 90-minute sleep af­ter drink­ing chamomile tea. Be­fore sleep, brew one cup of chamomile tea, which can also boost the im­mune sys­tem.

4. 5-HTP

Lau­rie Steel­smith, ND, au­thor of Nat­u­ral Choices for Women’s Health (Three Rivers Press, 2005), ex­plains that this com­pound de­rived from the amino acid L-tryp­to­phan can in­crease sero­tonin in the brain, trig­ger­ing a more solid night’s sleep. Take 200 mil­ligrams of 5-HTP at night to im­prove Zs.


Vi­ta­min B12 is es­sen­tial for reg­u­lat­ing the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, which helps you sleep soundly. And stud­ies show that a vi­ta­min B com­plex can help re­duce the an­noy­ing con­trac­tions from noc­tur­nal leg cramps.


The min­eral mag­ne­sium helps pro­duce en­ergy and main­tain nor­mal heart rhythm, but it has other ben­e­fits, too. A study in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Re­search in Med­i­cal Sciences found that it sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased sleep time and sleep ef­fi­ciency among 42 peo­ple who took di­etary mag­ne­sium, con­clud­ing that “sup­ple­men­ta­tion of mag­ne­sium ap­pears to im­prove sub­jec­tive mea­sures of in­som­nia.” The rec­om­mended daily value (DV) for mag­ne­sium is 320 mil­ligrams for women be­tween the ages of 31 and 50 and 420 mil­ligrams for men in the same age range.

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