We’ve all been there before. You’re tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling, trying everything under the sun to fall asleep.
Eventually, you pop melatonin only to wake up feeling like a mack-truck has hit you the following day.
It’s estimated that more than 30% of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep 1. Not only does it lead to chronic daytime fatigue and reduced physical and mental performance, but it can lead to a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and more 2.
If you struggle to get sufficient sleep, there are plenty of options. But while sleeping pills might be your first thought, why not go the natural route?
We’re diving into the details on sleep aids and giving you our best natural sleep aid on the market - Performance Lab Sleep
What Are Natural Sleep Aids?
When most people think about natural sleep aids, one comes to mind: melatonin, the hormone produced by the body that regulates the natural sleep-wake cycle.
But it’s not the only natural compound that can modulate sleep. There are ample other natural remedies that are equally effective.
Natural sleep aids are a group of compounds that influence aspects of sleep via regulating specific chemicals in the brain involved in the sleep-wake cycle; they are primarily designed to address mild to moderate insomnia and sleep issues 3.
Many of the compounds used in natural sleep aids have powerful anxiolytic and sedative properties, which make them ideal for promoting sleep. Many of these products also contain plant compounds, vitamins, minerals, and substances already found within the body.
But if there’s one place where natural sleep aids excel, it’s efficacy and side effects.
Unlike over-the-counter sleep drugs like barbiturates and benzodiazepines that can lead to habitual use or addiction—and come with a lengthy list of nasty side effects.
Natural sleep aids have minimal adverse effects and tend to be effective for reducing insomnia and sleep issues 3, 4.
Are Natural Sleep Aids Safe?
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription sleep aids are known for unwanted side effects with a hefty serving of addiction, but how do plant-based natural sleep aids stack up?
While the number of studies on natural sleep aids is far less than their synthetic cousins, safety appears pretty good.
However, long-term research isn’t widely available, so they’re not recommended for long-term use; modifying sleep hygiene practices is the best way to improve sleep long-term.
Some mild side effects exist depending on the natural sleep aid you choose. For example, melatonin can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and next-day grogginess if taken in high doses 5.
With something like tryptophan or magnesium, some people can experience mild nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when taken in high doses 6, 7.
For the most part, natural sleep aids are safe and non-habit-forming. They’re not a permanent crutch to deal with sleep issues.
If you want to improve sleep quality, getting to the root of the problem and improving sleep hygiene are more sustainable, long-term solutions.
Consequences Of Sleep Deprivation
Most people don’t think about the consequences of sleep deprivation beyond fatigue, but chronically poor sleep quality can lead to more than just next-day yawns—they can be serious.
Sleep deprivation has adverse effects on physical and mental health, and short-term consequences include 8:
- Increased stress responsively
- Somatic pain
- Reduced quality of life
- Mood disorders
- Emotional distress
- Cognitive, memory, and performance deficits
- Slowed reaction time
If poor sleep becomes chronic, it can lead to other issues and is a major contributing factor to many health problems, as sleep is fundamental to the optimal function of nearly every body system.
So, when poor sleep quality persists, it presents significant risks to physical and mental health. It increases the risk of several chronic diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mental health disorders
That doesn’t cover it all, but it exemplifies how important good quality sleep is to overall health and well-being.
While natural supplements can work their magic short-term, they’re not a permanent solution. Let’s look at some of the best natural sleep aids that aren’t linked to side effects.
3 Best Natural Sleep Aids
Melatonin is a staple for anyone looking for a natural sleep aid, but there's one problem with synthetic melatonin supplements: grogginess.
High-dose melatonin supplements have been known to cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which you want to avoid when using natural sleep aids.
But we have a solution: natural melatonin derived from Montmorency tart cherry.
The juice from tart cherries can increase melatonin levels and increase the availability of tryptophan, a sleep-supportive amino acid 9-11; it improves sleep quality and duration in healthy adults.
Several studies are showing positive effects on sleep quality and making it easier to fall asleep, and it also may have beneficial effects for treating insomnia 12.
If you know anything about magnesium, it’s likely for its beneficial effects on muscle relaxation, making it a great post-workout supplement. But this quality also makes it an excellent supplement for supporting sleep.
Magnesium is a mineral naturally present in the body and found throughout bones, soft tissue, and blood. Because of its ability to help relax the body and reduce stress, it may have a positive effect on sleep.
On a chemical level, magnesium works for sleep by activating the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which is responsible for inducing calmness and relaxation 13.
It does so through a couple of mechanisms 14, 15:
- Regulates neurotransmitters that control mood
- Regulates melatonin
- Binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors that reduce nerve activity - GABA is found in sleep drugs like Ambien
Studies show that magnesium supplementation improves subjective measures of insomnia like sleep efficiency, sleep time, sleep onset latency, and early morning awakenings and may improve objective measures like serum renin, melatonin, and cortisol 16.
But it may offer more benefits for sleep quality and daytime drowsiness when combined with melanin and zinc 17, 18.
Then we get to tryptophan, the amino acid most people know about through its presence in turkey.
If you’ve ever heard that eating tryptophan-rich turkey makes you sleepy, there’s some validity to the statement—let us explain.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that plays several roles in the body, such as nitrogen balance regulation and niacin production, both of which are important for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone.”
But when it comes to tryptophan for sleep, its beneficial effects are due to its conversion process.Tryptophan is a precursor for synthesizing 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is used to produce serotonin and melatonin, the sleep hormone 19.
Data on the effect of tryptophan on sleep suggest that people struggling with mild sleep disturbances could supplement with a minimum of one gram of tryptophan to improve sleep onset 20.
Other studies show that increasing tryptophan consumption and exposure to light during the day can enhance melatonin levels at night 21.
That said, the benefit of tryptophan may be greatest for people with insomnia to help them get a good night's sleep.
Other Tips For Improving Sleep Hygiene
There are several natural sleep-supportive compounds with a large body of evidence backing their safety and efficacy, but supplementing with natural sleep aids often isn’t enough.
Like you can’t outwork a bad diet, you can’t out-supplement poor lifestyle choices.
If you’re constantly struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep, it might be time to check out how your lifestyle habits are contributing to your sleep issues. If you’re not implementing proper sleep hygiene techniques, your sleep will suffer.
Here are other easy tips to get your sleep hygiene on track and improve your sleep quality.
Blue light is one of the biggest killers of sleep, and if you’ve ever been watching a movie only to feel more awake, you’ve experienced firsthand what blue light can do.
Blue light is the portion of the visible light spectrum that can profoundly influence arousal, hormone production, and sleep cycles. It's the type of light emitted from electronic devices and fluorescent lighting - TVs, phones, tablets, computers, laptops, and anything else with a screen.
While using these devices during the day isn’t likely to have a considerable impact, it can completely rewire your sleep cycle at night.
The circadian rhythm is a finely-tuned 24-hour cycle that helps your body understand when to carry out certain functions, like when you should be awake or asleep 22.
Several factors control circadian rhythms, with one of the strongest being light 23. Naturally aligned with sunrise and sunset, increasing use of electronic devices and exposure to artificial light before bed affects them.
Blue light impacts sleep so heavily because it stimulates an area of the brain that increases arousal, which subsequently elevates body temperature and heart rate 24. It also suppresses the release of melatonin, which is required to sleep 25.
Chronic misalignment of circadian rhythms impairs sleep and can have other adverse health impacts, such as an increased risk of metabolic dysfunction and mental health conditions.
So, if you want a sound sleep, ditch the devices within two hours of bedtime.
Have a bedtime routine
The body does well on routines, and if you’re someone who struggles to wind down at night, implementing a bedtime routine might work.
Humans are creatures of habit, and like any other routine, a bedtime routine helps establish habits that signal to our brain that it’s time to sleep. Performing these activities at night—in the same order every night—serves as a precursor for sleep.
They're also crucial for reducing late-night stress and anxiety that can keep you awake. Anxious thoughts and rumination can activate the sympathetic nervous system, increasing arousal and leading to insomnia 26, 27.
But by following a bedtime routine, you can check your anxiety at the door and encourage calmness and relaxation that’s conducive to sleep.
Your bedtime routine doesn’t have to be lengthy—if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes, that’s okay!
You want to include activities you enjoy that will ease your mind and body. That can be meditation, reading, deep breathing, a hot bath, listening to calming music, or the like.
But it can also include putting your pajamas on, brushing your teeth, and washing your face. As long as you perform a specific set of nighttime activities before bed in the same order, your body will start to recognize the patterns and wind down for bed.
We all know that caffeine is stimulating. But what most people don’t know is that caffeine has a half-life ranging from 1.5 hours to 9.5 hours, which means it can still affect you well into the night 28
The half-life refers to the time it takes to metabolize caffeine and remove it from the system. So, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’ll likely continue to experience the stimulatory effects of caffeine later in the day.
So, that cup of coffee mid-afternoon may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Keep your caffeine consumption moderate and keep it before 2 pm.
Increase bright light exposure during the day
Instead of increasing your light exposure during the day, shift it to expose yourself to more bright light during the day. Studies show that natural daylight at high intensities can help to improve sleep at night by 29:
- Advancing the timing of sleep to earlier
- Affecting the duration of sleep
- Improving sleep quality
So, how do you get more light? Instead of watching TV, get outside and go for a walk whenever you need a quick break! Not only does it increase light exposure, but it also boosts vitamin D synthesis.
Alternatively, invest in bright light. For days when it’s cloudy or cold, having a bright light can help simulate the external environment.
Create an ideal room environment
Blackout blinds and a low room temperature are both keys to facilitating sleep.
We just talked about the importance of blocking out bright light at night, but studies find there’s an ideal temperature for supporting sleep: 65°F (18.3°C), give or take a few degrees.
Core body temperature naturally decreases at night to induce sleep, but if you’re sleeping in a room that’s too hot, that drop doesn’t happen to the extent it should, affecting how well you sleep 30.
This is why during hot and humid summer months, you may not sleep as well as when it’s cooler.
Sleeping in a room that’s too warm can cause you to have more restless sleep, reducing the amount of slow-wave sleep or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep you experience.
The Best Natural Sleep Aid For 2022: Performance Lab Sleep
Do you have chronic sleep problems or a sleep disorder? Struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep? Do you constantly wake up groggy from too much melatonin? Say no more—we have a solution.
Performance Lab Sleep is an ultramodern sleep supplement designed to give you the best sleep of your life with no next-day side effects. Offering a powerful combination of natural melatonin from Montmorency cherries, L-tryptophan, and three forms of magnesium,
Sleep relaxes your mind and body to promote a deeper, more restorative sleep better than any synthetic sleep supplement.
Performance Lab Sleep is a safe, non-habit-forming natural sleep aid that helps you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more rested. Just two to four capsules before bed are all you need to get the rejuvenating sleep you deserve.
There are plenty of natural sleep remedies out there, but no other natural sleep aid works like this for dealing with sleep problems---that's why it's one of the most effective natural sleep aid supplements on the market.
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