12 Natural Sleep Aids to Help You Fall Asleep Faster
If you're constantly exhausted, barely able to survive each and every day, you'll be excited to learn about—and try—these science-approved natural sleep aids to get your sleep mojo going.
Magnesium supplements may be the fastest way to regulate your sleep patterns. "Magnesium plays a large role in muscle contractions and relaxation," explains Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE. "It has also been found to help reduce the stress hormone cortisol that can lower the body's ability to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Research has indicated that low magnesium intake may be associated with insomnia. Increasing intake of magnesium has been found to help those who awaken at night and are unable to fall back asleep. Magnesium has also been shown to help reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome, or RLS, which have been shown to worsen at night, disrupting sleep."
Get ready to make yogurt your new best friend, because aside from gut-healthy bacteria in this probiotic-rich food, it's loaded with sleep-aiding calcium to help you snooze successfully. "This mineral helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to produce melatonin," says Palinski-Wade. "A low intake of calcium may reduce melatonin production, which would interrupt a healthy sleep cycle." She suggests high-quality calcium supplements Swisse Calcium + Vitamin D for the best absorption.
Palinski-Wade says there's solid brain science behind how this herb helps promote healthy sleep. "Valerian root has been thought to aid sleep by increasing the amount of a chemical in the brain known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is responsible for preventing the transmission of nerve impulses. Consuming valerian over time has been shown to improve quality of sleep while allowing you to fall asleep faster."
This herb offers more: Adding valerian root to your vitamins may even make them more effective.
"Having a vitamin D deficiency has been shown to reduce both quality and quantity of sleep, as well as increase daytime fatigue and drowsiness," shares Palinski-Wade. "In addition, a deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of mood disorders and depression, which can further impact sleep and increase the risk for insomnia."
Don't miss these other tips for better sleep straight from sleep doctors.
You may already know that vitamin C can help your body metabolize fat, but did you know it may also help improve sleep quality, too? "Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which may help to strengthen the immune system," explains Palinski-Wade. "Research has also found having high levels of vitamin C in the bloodstream can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and return stress hormone levels back to normal faster after a stressful situation. Since high levels of cortisol have been shown to increase the risk of insomnia, adding vitamin C rich foods to the diet may be beneficial."
Palinski-Wade explains that research suggests that low levels of iron in the body can increase the risk of restless leg syndrome, especially in pregnant women. "The symptoms of RLS can impact one's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Increasing dietary iron has been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS, which may improve sleep."
Be sure to check out these sleep hygiene tips from good sleepers.
You're not going to believe this, but your favorite sushi dinner may actually improve your sleep quality and boost your IQ, making it one of the most delicious natural sleep aids. Research suggests a positive correlation between fish consumption, sleep quality, and higher IQ levels.
Montmorency tart cherry juice
Move over cherry pie—it turns out consuming the juice of Montmorency tart cherries is a clinically-backed way to fight insomnia, and we can't think of a more delicious way to get the job done. Try it in this cherry cranberry punch recipe, because the study suggests that consuming the tart cherry juice extended sleep time by 84 minutes, and that can make a major difference in the lives of people suffering from chronic insomnia. You can find the cherries canned, frozen, and dried as well as fresh, making them perfect for sleepless smoothie lovers. Learn more about why this cherry juice can help with sleep.
You may see this labeled as vitamin B2 in some places, and it's the culprit responsible for making your urine turn bright yellow after popping a multivitamin. But riboflavin may also play a key role in sleep function and keeping migraines at bay. Migraines and other types of headaches are known sleep disrupters, so loading up on good sources such as beef liver, lamb, and dairy—think Paleo—may be good for your z's. Don't miss these other bedtime snacks that will help you sleep, too.
This herb may be hard to pronounce, but it's been long-heralded by Indian and Ayurvedic medicine traditions as nearly magic for insomnia relief. Western science is catching up, with clinical evidence now supporting that ashwagandha has a significant sleep-inducing effect.
Don't take this as an excuse to load your herbal tea up with sweeteners: Processed sugar doesn't contain as much of the octacosanol compound that makes sugarcane effective in inducing high-quality sleep. The University of Tsukuba found that the whitish layer in between the green outer portion and the sweet, tan innards of sugarcane is an excellent source of octacosanol, which is a known sleep-enhancer. It works by balancing your body's response to stress.
If worry is keeping you up, try eliminating these sneaky sources of work stress.
Using fennel to treat and prevent illnesses is fairly common across a spectrum of cultures, and it has been regarded as a near-miracle solution for nursing mothers, but fennel's health-boosting properties for women don't stop at breastfeeding and reducing heart disease risk. One study confirmed that fennel consumption helped stave off post-menopause symptoms—including sleeplessness and insomnia—making it one of the most accessible natural sleep aids for women.