“Taking melatonin is good in that it will have a quicker response, however it is essentially just replacing the body’s natural production of melatonin,” says Swisse Wellness product training manager, Dr. David Cannata, PhD. He adds that the body then relies on the additional melatonin and it doesn’t do anything to lower cortisol levels before sleep, therefore, it isn’t restoring the natural sleep cycle. Here, some melatonin stunt doubles, both ingestible and topical, which help you sleep without disrupting your natural rhythms.
Simpson says that magnesium is a mega stress reliever, aiding those whose insomnia is stress-induced. “Magnesium produces blockers to inhibit cortisol (stress hormones) production in our brain,” says
Valerian has long been used in traditional Western herbal medicine to aid with sleep disorders based on nervous conditions and restlessness because it has calming properties. “Often sleep disorders are stress-related, which causes our stress hormone cortisol to remain high, making it hard for melatonin (our sleep hormone) to rise,” says Cannata. “Valerian may help to reduce cortisol levels to help our melatonin levels rise naturally, helping us to get into a sleep pattern.”
One to try:
Decaffeinated hot teas with herbs like chamomile and lavender are great and work two-fold. “Chamomile and lavender both have been shown to help relax the body by lowering heart rate and blood pressure,” says Simpson. Also, your body temperature will cool down to balance the heat from the hot drink and a lower body temperature can also induce sleepiness. “This is why warm milk is a popular night time beverage for kids who can’t sleep,” Simpson explains.
Something you keep in the kitchen may help you drift off to dreamland. “Bananas are actually a great sleep aid too because they contain tryptophan, which has sleep inducing properties,” says Simpson. Tryptophan works by releasing serotonin, which promotes positive feelings of wellbeing, fighting anxiety and depression that can otherwise keep you awake, she adds.
“Because bananas contain natural sugars, they are a great way to satiate that sweet tooth that would otherwise cause you to opt for blood sugar spiking desserts, which can wreak havoc on your sleep,” Simpson says. Tryptophan is also found in turkey—one of the reasons we get so tired post-Thanksgiving dinner.
The best alternative to taking a melatonin supplement may be encouraging your body’s own natural production. “Sleep masks are a simple way to do this: Melatonin production is disrupted by even small levels of light—hence why we shouldn’t be staring at screens at night,” says Simposon. Sleep masks can help us achieve optimal melatonin production by counteracting any chances of light disruption. This
A lavender-spiked essential oil on your pulse points, like
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