The best natural sleep aids that work are those that get to the root of the problem. When there are problems with sleep, it typically means the individual is experiencing an elevation in some of the excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain (norepinephrine, histamine, glutamate, or acetylcholine) and/or cortisol. There may also be insufficient levels of melatonin, our primary sleep hormone. But there are hundreds of factors that can contribute to these imbalances and our goal is to identify those that apply to us and restore balance to our brain chemistry.
- The most important step needed to improve sleep is to eat a proper diet. The diet should be rich in animal protein, moderate in fat, and low-carb. I recommend a low-carb Paleo diet, because it is the diet that restores balance to all organs and systems. No sugar, grains, legumes, or high-starch foods.
- Assess whether you are high histamine and address accordingly.
- Assess whether you are high in glutamate and low in Gaba and address accordingly.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is an addictive mind-altering drug that elevates excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate, histamine, and norepinephrine, and inhibits serotonin and Gaba.
- Test for adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, impaired methylation, and thyroid problems and address as instructed.
- Have testing for nutritional deficiencies and supplement the diet accordingly if needed.
- Test for heavy metals with a hair analysis and address accordingly if necessary.
- Remove alcohol, drugs, sugar, white flour and other refined foods from the diet and eat organic (foods that aren’t organic contain environmental toxins that alter neurotransmitters, hormones and adrenals and ultimately disrupt sleep.)
- Clean up environmental toxins. They all stimulate the brain, activate your fight or flight and result in insomnia or disrupted sleep. Switch to non-toxic environmentally friendly products in your home, garden and yard.It is especially important to keep your sleeping environment clean and free from toxic chemicals such as perfumes, cleaning supplies, pesticides etc.Use sheets and blankets that are made of natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are a chemical and can stimulate the brain and prevent you from sleeping. Don’t wash your bedding with bleach or scented laundry products for the same reason.Herbicides and pesticides are especially crucial to avoid. They are exceptionally toxic and cause excessive disruption and damage to neurotransmitters, adrenals and hormones. I once didn’t’ sleep for almost an entire year after an herbicide exposure got in my home. When I finally left that environment and went into a clean one, I couldn’t’ stop sleeping for three months as my body tried to catch up on what it lost.
- Turn out all the lights. Studies suggest that the brain can’t produce enough melatonin, the hormone required for sleeping, if we are exposed to light while sleeping.
- Exercise properly. Exercise should not be too strenuous or extreme, because if it’s too extreme it can deplete adrenal glands and neurotransmitters further. Traditional cardio and endurance type exercise are stress-inducing. Exercise should be mild to moderate. Too much exercise is as bad as not enough. Also be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this will prevent you from becoming sleepy.
- Try and maintain a regular routine of getting up and going to bed around the same time. This will help those with self-imposed sleep deprivation to be more disciplined and it sets a sleep cycle that the body will become accustomed to following.
- Make sure room the temperature is not too cold or too hot. Extreme heat in either direction can disrupt sleep.
- Take a warm bath or shower just prior to bedtime.
- Read or watch TV if these are relaxing for you, if they are stimulating then you would want to avoid.
- Avoid conversations on the phone right before trying to go to sleep.
- Avoid herbs like Valerian Root, Kava Kava, Holy Basil, etc. The brain responds to these substance in the same manner as pharmaceuticals and downregulates production of your calming nerutortransmitters, thus causing more imbalance in brain chemistry and difficulty with sleep.
- Practice mindfulness-based meditation and deep breathing exercises on a daily basis. And use deep breathing every night immediatelywhen you go to bed. Deep breathing exercises and meditation increase alpha and theta brain waves, which result in a more relaxed state of mind and body that allows you to drift into delta sleep. It also stimulates inhibitory neurotransmitters in a healthy manner, calms down excitatory neurotransmitters and turns off the sympathetic nervous system. Deep brreathing also stimulates melatonin, your primary sleep hormone.
- If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, having an orgasm can help you. After having an orgasm, endorphins and other brain chemicals like oxytocin, vasopressin, prolactin, serotonin and melatonin are released that make you relaxed and sleepy. It also turns off your stress hormones, thus providing more relaxation. You must be lying down at the time of the orgasm and then immediately close your eyes and attempt to sleep, before natural hormones wear off.
- Find effective ways of minimizing and coping stress, like walking, gardening, music, yoga, meditating, deep breathing exercises or venting with a friend, mentor or counselor.
Sleep deprivation and insomnia can be successfully addressed with the use of these best natural sleep aids that work. What’s even better is that the majority of these remedies don’t cost you anything. By making simple changes in your diet, lifestyle, and home environment, sleep deprivation, insomnia or other sleep problems can often be overcome.
I can personally attest to their effectiveness, as I overcame my insomnia and improved the quality of my sleep by following the suggestions I have shared on this page. I personally have found that following a low-carb Paleolithic diet, cleaning up environmental toxins, and getting regular exercise are the three most crucial steps for prevention. Additionally, I practice deep breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation every night to relax, unwind, stimulate melatonin, and turn off the sympathetic nervous system. With these practices, I am out like a light typically within ten or 15 minutes of lying down. You can achieve this too.