It’s fairly common for individuals to experience sleeplessness for a number of reasons.
All of these circumstances can lead to sleepless nights permanently or temporarily.
The single best way to eradicate most issues with sleep deprivation is to simply be healthier— eat right, exercise, and live clean, but for some, it takes more than that.
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Individuals who experience sleep deprivation understand that losing sleep is a serious issue.
Everyone wants to fall asleep easily and maintain a restful sleep all night long because of the overwhelmingly positive effects sleep has on our bodies.
Sleep improves our overall health and can affect our hormones, mood, and weight, so it is easy to see why there are so many sleep aids on the market.
In the case of long-term, serious sleep deprivation, it is recommended that you consult a doctor. But for those who experience more occasional interruption in sleep, there are a plethora of solutions to consider.
Sleep & Your Health
Sleep is incredibly important to a person’s health and wellbeing. Our society has begun to live on less sleep, but the effects of this are detrimental.
When someone is operating on a lack of sleep, they are impaired in several ways including their decision making, reactions, and other functions. Plus, a lack of sleep can cause memory issues, depression, and a weakening of the immune system.
According to WebMD, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but that can vary based on the individual. Some adults may only need 6 hours of sleep per night, while others may need closer to 10.
Children and pregnant women often require much more sleep than average adults. In general, you know you are getting enough sleep if you don’t feel drowsy during the day.
Another factor that will impact how much sleep you need is how much sleep you’ve been getting.
For example, if you have been losing a lot of sleep recently, you will need to sleep more to make up for it.
Unfortunately, many people live sleep-deprived lives and although some may say that they have become accustomed to getting less sleep, this is not the case—our bodies do not adapt to a lack of sleep.
Good Sleep Habits
Good sleep habits are mostly centered around your schedule, your environment, and your body. What you do before bed can have a major impact on your sleep.
Being active, eating, or working before bed can cause you to lose sleep, but taking a shower or bath, reading or writing in a journal, drinking herbal tea, meditating, maintaining a regular bed time, and eating healthy meals and snacks can improve sleep.
Additionally, it is recommended that your bedroom is a calm, dark, cool, silent place. Anything that makes noise, has lights, or moves can interrupt your sleep, so it is best to minimize the presence of those in your bedroom.
Unnatural Sleep Aids
If you find yourself unable to naturally get the proper amount and quality of sleep that your body needs, you may consider using a sleep aid.
The goal of any sleep aid is to help your body achieve restful sleep. Aside from prescription medication, there are many sleep aids openly available including both natural and unnatural options.
Generally, the natural sleep remedies include herbal supplements and therapies, while unnatural solutions include medications, products, or technology.
The best sleep aid for you is whichever one, or combination, fits your specific needs.
Also Read: Best Sleeping Pills
Many unnatural sleep aids come in the form of over-the-counter pills.
These medications share a few commonly used active ingredients: diphenhydramine and doxylamine succinate. Diphenhydramine and doxylamine succinate are similar in that they are both antihistamines with sedative qualities and they share side effects including dry mouth, blurred vision, drowsiness during the day, constipation, and general unwell feeling.
These side effects are colloquially known as “hangover effects”. Unnatural sleep aids also pose a higher risk for becoming dependent on the drug or developing a tolerance for it, which is why they are only recommended for use on a temporary or occasional basis.
Unnatural sleep aids can also come in the form of sleep technology.
There are many products that have been designed to create optimal sleep conditions to aid those who experience difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Sleep trackers of all varieties are one example of this.
Smart watches and gadgets like the Fitbit are capable of tracking sleep cycles and can help you keep a regular sleep schedule.
Other products include specialized lightbulbs, apparel, pillows, mattresses, and aroma and sound machines to create an ideal environment conducive to sleep.
Natural Sleep Aids
As mentioned earlier, natural sleep aids are typically herbal supplements made from naturally occurring ingredients that create feelings of relaxation and drowsiness.
Some of the most common and safest ingredients in natural sleep aids are melatonin, valerian, chamomile, passionflower, hops, magnesium, and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
The majority of natural sleep aids have been used to treat difficulty sleeping for many years, although most of the common ingredients have not shown overwhelming medical evidence to prove that they are effective in treating the inability to sleep.
The natural ingredients melatonin, magnesium, and 5-HTP are closely related; 5-HTP comes from amino acids and is a precursor to melatonin, which is a hormone that governs our sleep cycle, and magnesium helps regulate our body’s production of melatonin.
Valerian is an herbal extract that comes from the valerian plant, and is known for treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia, although there is little medical evidence to support that.
Valerian is also reported to have a “hangover” effect, especially when used for more than a month.
Chamomile is one of the most reliable natural sleep aids, and it is usually consumed in the form of tea. It is an herb that has a calming effect, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities.
Passionfruit and hops are often grouped together, and both are herbs that may have a calming effect.
In the past, two other ingredients, kava and tryptophan, were considered to be natural sleep aids on their own, but have since been disproven to help with insomnia, and they may not be safe if consumed in large quantities.
Tryptophan is still sometimes used as a minor ingredient among other natural ingredients in a supplement.
However, there are some other natural remedies that are less consumable and more like procedures or techniques for getting better sleep.
Examples are essential oils and specialized therapy. Aromatherapy with essential oils can have a sleep-inducing effect, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) involves working with a therapist to improve sleep and sleep habits.
While it is widely believed that natural sleep aids are safer and healthier, there are some risks.
This, of course, could lead to many negative health issues ranging from mild to severe. Natural sleep aids still require you to take the proper precautions and learn all you can about them and how they may affect you.
What Are the Top Seven Sleep Aids?
Here is a summary of the top seven sleep aids, first unnatural then natural, and each offers a unique combination of desirable features and options. Each product is highly rated, and sleep tested.
What Else Should You Consider When Purchasing And Using Sleep Aids?
Whenever you are trying something new regarding your health, it is best to proceed with caution.
Medications, especially, have a poor reputation for having side effects or risk of addiction. As with any medication, those meant to help with sleeping should also be used responsibly.
The best way to do this is to be informed, so be sure to do some additional research on the sleep aid you decide to try.
Make yourself aware of any side effects and read about the experiences others have had while using the product. Lastly, only use the sleep aid in the manner that it was intended to be used in and follow all usage instructions.
It is equally important that you are sure that the aid you choose fits your health conditions specifically.
Whether you are suffering from a sleep disorder or any other medical condition, it is vital to know how adding a sleep aid will affect you.
For example, individual sleep disorders may have specific remedies that pair best with that disorder but may not pair best with other medications you are taking or any allergies you may have.
The same may be true if you are suffering from a condition or disorder unrelated to sleep.
It is always best to be sure that the new medication, supplement, or change in routine will not negatively interact with your health in any other way. And as a general rule, don’t combine alcohol with sleep medication.
Finally, consider if the sleep interruption you are experiencing is a long-term or short-term issue.
In general, over-the-counter sleeping pills are only safe for temporary use, usually no more than two weeks. This is why it is best to pinpoint what is causing your sleep issue and make lifestyle changes to correct it.
Sleep Aids – Final Thoughts
Hopefully it is now clear that there are many options for people who are losing sleep.
Whether your sleep interruption stems from a disorder or stress, there are both natural and unnatural remedies that could be your solution.
Keep in mind that not all sleep aids will work for all people and situations, and you may need to try a number of approaches, or combination of approaches, to find what works best for you.