Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Sleep is not only important for beauty, but our body needs this time to recover from everyday stress and to regenerate. You should spend about eight hours a day in the land of dreams. Unfortunately, the reality is different.

About 30 percent of all Central Europeans have trouble getting to sleep and suffer from the consequences of sleep deprivation. In the following, you will find out what contribution natural sleep aids can make and what else you can do to combat sleep disorders.




The most important facts

  • Natural sleep aids help you to sleep more peacefully without the use of chemicals.
  • Classic natural sleep aids include valerian and lavender.
  • There are also some tricks that make natural sleep aids work better. A hot bath before going to bed, for example.

The Best Natural sleeping pills: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying natural sleeping pills

Why is healthy sleep so important?

Having trouble falling asleep, lying awake for long periods of time and waking up long before dawn without being able to fall back asleep are symptoms that occasionally affect one in five adults.

Good sleep is especially important for our bodies. Natural sleeping pills can be a sensible alternative for sleep disorders. (Photo source: 123rf.com / Vadim Guzhva)

You should not accept this, because sleep disorders prevent the body and psyche from regenerating. Is the constant glance at the clock eating away at your nerves? Your physical health also suffers. If you sleep badly, your immune system begins to weaken. This not only makes it easy for flu viruses. Researchers in the USA have recently shown that sleep disorders cause cancer cells to grow twice as fast. People who want to lose weight should also pay attention to a healthy sleep, because the length of sleep determines whether you lose muscle mass or really lose body fat.

What are the causes of sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders can be classified in different ways. The American Sleep Medicine Society has classified them into six main groups.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a disorder of falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleep-related breathing disorders A blockage of the upper airways causes frequent awakenings. People with sleep apnoea syndrome are often tired during the day and suffer from circulatory problems.

Hypersomnias

The causes lie in the central nervous system. If the wakefulness cells in the diencephalon are lost, sleep attacks also occur during the day. Circadian rhythm disorders This disorder causes a person's internal clock to become unbalanced. This changes the sleep rhythm.

Parasomnias

This term covers sleepwalking or nightmares.

Restless leg syndrome

Affected people cannot keep their legs still at night or grind their teeth. Sleep disorders can be roughly divided into organic and non-organic disorders. Furthermore, a subdivision can be made into the duration of sleep.

Do medicinal plants help as a natural sleep aid?

Nature has a whole range of proven sleep aids at its disposal. The active substances of plants have been used for hundreds of years and numerous studies have confirmed their effect. Compared to chemical medication, herbal substances have the advantage that they do not arbitrarily interfere with the natural sleep rhythm and are not addictive.

Valerian - the proven natural sleep aid

Valerian is a classic when looking for natural sleep aids. The extracts from the valerian root have a relaxing and calming effect. This has been confirmed by clinical studies. This promotes falling asleep and sleeping through the night in a natural way without causing dependence.

You can brew a tea about an hour before going to bed. Pour about 150 millilitres of hot, but not boiling, water over one teaspoon of valerian extract. Brew the tea for about a quarter of an hour. For the effect to take hold, the evening valerian tea should become a ritual and be drunk daily for several weeks. You can also make a soothing bath additive from 100 grams of valerian root, which you boil in two litres of water.

Valerian, lemon balm and hops - the tried and tested trio

Valerian, lemon balm and hops have been a tried and tested combination for thousands of years. These herbal remedies are available in the form of tablets, drops, capsules or bath additive. The active ingredients of the plants calm the nerves and have the advantage of not altering sleep and thus not disturbing the necessary nocturnal regeneration processes of body and psyche.

Lavender - externally and internally effective

Lavender flowers can be used externally and internally for general calming. The relaxing effect has been scientifically confirmed. While lavender flowers can be brewed as a tea in the evening, the essential lavender oil can also be used in many ways.

Lavender oil can be put into fragrance lamps. These can be placed in the living room or directly in the bedroom. To prevent the scent from becoming too intense and thus being perceived as unpleasant, you should not operate the scent lamp for longer than one hour. A few drops of lavender oil in the bathtub make for a relaxing bath. You can also fill a sachet with lavender flowers or put a few drops of lavender oil directly on your pillow.

Does a glass of wine help?

We have already talked about melatonin. The hormone is responsible for controlling the day-night rhythm in our body. A portion of grapes contains plenty of melatonin. This means you can save yourself that glass of wine in the evening, because 300 grams of grapes contain the same amount of melatonin as a glass of red wine.

Do magnesium supplements help you fall asleep?

If no objective causes can be found for regularly occurring sleep problems, a magnesium deficiency could be behind it. Magnesium is needed for many bodily functions and is responsible, for example, for your muscles to relax. Magnesium is also generally relaxing and can help minimize your stress levels. Try it out and have one of these little magnesium bombs before bed:

  • Cherry juice
  • Chamomile tea
  • Passionflower tea
  • Banana
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal biscuit with honey

Magnesium is a component of more than 300 enzymes and is therefore involved in almost all metabolic processes in the body.

Is CBD a natural sleep aid?

Hemp oil is currently the subject of much discussion and is recommended for a wide variety of complaints. Sceptics should know that CBD oil is an over-the-counter product, does not cause any side effects and does not have any intoxicating effects. CBD oil is extracted from commercial hemp. This specially cultivated hemp has only a very small amount of THC and is therefore not addictive in any way.

CBD is one of the cannabinoids contained in the hemp plant. These substances can influence the quality of sleep, as they interact with the body's own endocannabinoid system. Since CBD also reacts to the pain receptors in our brain, people who suffer from chronic pain can also sleep better through the night. CBD also alleviates anxiety and stress symptoms. The positive effect on depression and panic attacks has been scientifically confirmed. To find it easier to sleep, you can take three to five drops of CBD oil about half an hour before going to bed.

Can essential oils be used as natural sleep aids?

Essential oils are proven home remedies. However, they should be used sparingly. Just a few drops are enough to achieve the desired effect. The oils are put into a fragrance lamp and distributed through our sense of smell. Our sense of smell is not influenced by our will. This means that the effect of the oils can also take place unhindered during sleep. In general, essential oils have both physical and psychological effects.

Effects on the body

  • have nurturing and regenerating properties
  • have an invigorating and refreshing effect
  • can have a cooling and warming effect

Effects on the psyche

  • can have a calming and balancing effect
  • have a relaxing effect and can relieve stress
  • improve the ability to concentrate
  • dissolve blockades and have a mood-lifting effect

The following overview lists essential oils that have proven themselves as natural sleep aids.

Essential oil Mode of action Application
Lavender Calming, anxiety-relieving, mood-lifting Restlessness, insomnia, irritable bowel
Marjoram Relaxing, anticonvulsant, sleep-promoting Trauma, anxiety, states of tension
hops relaxing, sleep-promoting, anaesthetic insomnia, excitability, nervousness
lemon balm invigorating, strengthening, refreshing stress, depression, migraine

Melissa oil is particularly effective against stress symptoms. Lavender manages to regenerate damaged nerve cells without having a stimulating effect. Hop oil makes it easier for you to let go and deal with painful experiences. Marjoram oil brings its users back into their mental balance and gives courage and confidence.

How much do natural sleep aids cost?

The price of natural sleep aids depends on the type of product, but usually the products are in the price range of €5 - €30. Some suppliers have a year's supply in their range. The price is a little higher, but you will save money in the long run because the smaller supplies are usually proportionally more expensive.

What are the alternatives to natural sleep aids?

Herbal pillows: The herbal pillows that are often offered make use of the way aromatherapy works. You can also easily make your own natural sleep aid. A small cloth bag or pillowcase is filled with cotton, straw or another natural material. Then add lavender, orange or rose blossoms, sew the pillow or close it with buttons or a zip.

If you place the herbal pillow near your head, the essential oils can unfold their effect and help you to sleep more easily. Recently, the effect of Swiss stone pine oil has been increasingly mentioned in this context. Swiss stone pine oil pillows are filled with wood shavings and soaked in the essential oil of Swiss stone pine. These sleep aids are offered in different sizes and can serve directly as pillows.

Warm milk with honey: In childhood, anyone who could not or would not fall asleep was prescribed a glass of hot milk. The mechanism of action of grandma's tried-and-tested home remedy has remained unclear to science to this day. However, milk can certainly be recommended as a natural sleep aid.

Hot milk can also serve as a natural sleep aid. (123rf.com / summer78)

The amino acid tryptophan, which is found in milk, is probably responsible for the sleep-promoting effect. Our brain converts tryptophan into melatonin. The sleep hormone then helps you into the land of dreams. Just try out these two recipes:

  • Honey milk: Stir two teaspoons of honey into a cup of hot milk. The fructose contained in honey promotes the effect.
  • Onion milk: Add a finely chopped onion to the milk. The mixture is now heated, but should not boil. Let it steep for a quarter of an hour and drink the warm milk in small sips.

Salads: In fact, a portion of salad in the evening can ensure a restful sleep. The bitter substance lactucin is responsible for this. The effect on our nervous system is immense and can be compared to opium. Romaine lettuce, endive and chicory are rich in lactucin. These salads can calm you down, reduce stress and promote healthy sleep.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate natural sleeping pills

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate natural sleeping pills. This will make it easier for you to make a decision. The distinguishing features are:

  • Degree of effect
  • Purity
  • Dosage
  • Method of ingestion

Degree of effect

With sleeping pills in general, it is important that you know beforehand how they work. If you only want to fall asleep more easily, a weaker effect is sufficient. However, if you want to sleep completely through the night, the effect should be somewhat stronger. It is important to find out about this in advance so that there are no unpleasant surprises later. If you are unsure, talk to a doctor first.

Purity

Especially with products that you take for health reasons, you should make sure that they are free of additives or unwanted by-products. This also applies to natural sleeping pills. You should also make sure that you are not allergic to any of the substances contained in the products. This is particularly common with natural products.

Dosage

To avoid spending too much money, you should pay attention to the dosage of the ingredient. The amount of active ingredient per unit contained in the product can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

How to take it

Don't like taking tablets? Then you should take this into account when deciding what to buy. However, always keep in mind: some active ingredients are better absorbed in certain conditions, so if you want the best effect, a tablet may be the best choice.

Facts worth knowing about natural sleeping pills

How can I strengthen natural sleeping pills?

Natural sleep aids work quickly and safely if you improve the external conditions and prepare yourself for going to bed. For many people, the main problem is not being able to get the problems of everyday life out of their head. One proven remedy is exercise. If you exercise in the late afternoon, you can make it easier for yourself to fall asleep.

However, you shouldn't exercise until just before you go to bed, because then you'll probably be awake for a long time. The last few hours before bedtime have a decisive influence on the quality of your sleep. Therefore, allow yourself some rest with relaxation exercises, a good book or a soothing bath.

How long can you use natural sleeping pills?

Herbal sleep aids work gently and reliably and are free of side effects. Nevertheless, these natural sleep aids should not be used permanently without hesitation. It is much more important to clarify the cause of the sleeping problems and to take targeted action against them. If you blindly rely on herbal substances, this can lead to psychological dependence.

You will then need more and more of the herbal drug and at some point you will no longer be able to fall asleep without it. Although these "side effects" are comparatively harmless, they can become a problem if you develop an intolerance or if the preparation in question is not immediately available.

What are the causes of insomnia?

Natural sleeping pills can help you get back into your usual sleep rhythm. However, it is equally important to know the causes of sleep disorders and to take targeted action against them. Sleep disorders can be triggered by various factors:

  • physical complaints
  • psychological problems
  • external circumstances
  • Medication intake

If lying down causes pain, it is difficult to get to sleep. Chronic pain patients who have back problems, for example, suffer particularly from this. Often, falling asleep is prevented by restless leg syndrome, in which sensations in the legs occur and there is an urge to move during the night. If the carousel of thoughts cannot be stopped in the evening, it is difficult to fall asleep.

This can occur with short-term problems at work or in the family, as well as with depressive moods, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders. Taking certain medications can also trigger sleep problems. Shift workers are often affected by sleep disorders. These people can no longer follow their internal clock. Daylight, higher temperatures and street noise further contribute to poor sleep quality.

What should be avoided in case of sleep disorders?

In order to create the conditions for healthy sleep and thus also to improve the effectiveness of natural sleep remedies, a few things should be taken to heart. The evening meal should not be too rich, otherwise your digestion will be overstrained and cannot switch to the economy mode.

The last meal should be eaten at least two to three hours before bedtime. Avoid cola or coffee before going to bed. Energy drinks should also not be drunk in the evening. With alcohol, this is a double-edged sword. A glass of beer or wine can help you fall asleep. But if you drink too much, you may not be able to sleep through the night.

Photo source: 123rf.com / Yuliia Chyzhevska

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