6 Natural Sleep Aids That Actually Work

by Carina Wolff

If you're someone who has a hard time falling asleep at night, you've probably attempted a variety of solutions. However, not everything works for everyone, but there are a number of natural sleep aids that have been actually proven to work. When you're tossing and turning at night desperate for respite, it can be helpful to know what actually works versus what remedies are nonsense.

When it comes to drifting off to sleep, some people may wonder why they shouldn't just go for something a little more straightforward, like a sleeping pill. "Prescriptions and over the counter sleep aids...can help aid you in sleep," says Kristi Acuna, owner of the Holistic Nutrition Center, over email. "However, they can disrupt our bodies natural and proper ability to produce the melatonin necessary for our natural sleep cycle. In a situation where a person is having trouble sleeping, the best thing you can do is to find the root of the problem."

When all else fails, it's best to take the most natural route possible to let your sleep cycles stay in sync. If you're having trouble falling asleep at night, consider trying these six natural sleep aids that actually work.

1. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone in your body that regulates your sleep and wake cycle, and taking a supplement can help get your body in sync. Studies show that melatonin can help with short-term problems falling asleep, as it can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep at night, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is also good for jet lag or other instances where you circadian rhythm is disrupted.

Check Out: Nature Made Melatonin Tablets, $7, Amazon

2. Valerian Root

"Valerian root is a natural calmative that helps induce sleep," says Acuna. A study from the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior found that people who took valerian extract before bed each night helped people fall asleep more quickly and showed an improvement in sleep quality compared to people who just took a placebo.

Try: NOW Foods Valerian Root, $10, Amazon

3. Chamomile

Sipping a cup of chamomile tea is more than just a relaxing nighttime ritual. Many studies have shown to chamomile can be used effectively as a mild sedative that helps to relax people as well as relieve anxiety. Researchers believe this effect comes from a flavonoid called apigenin, which calms the mind by binding to GABA receptors in the brain.

Check Out: Stash Premium Chamomile Tea, $15.95, Amazon

4. Lavender

Take a big inhale of some lavender oil if you want help going to sleep. Multiple studies have shown that people who engage in lavender aromatherapy before bed report less anxiety and improved sleep quality, according to The University of Maryland Medical Center. One study from the University of Southampton found that participants who slept in a room infused with lavender oil throughout the night ranked their sleep quality as 20 percent better on average.

Try: Radha Lavender Oil, $13.45, Amazon

5. Magnesium

A study published in the International Journal Of Research In Medical Sciences found that people who took magnesium supplements fell asleep faster, for longer, and with less awakenings. Magnesium plays an important role in muscle relaxation and the deactivation of adrenaline, so if you are low in the mineral, it can prevent you from falling asleep easily.

Try: Nature Made Magnesium Supplements, $7, Amazon

6. Kiwi

It may not be your first instinct to reach for the fruit before bed, but research shows it can help people fall asleep. A study from the Asia Pacific Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two kiwis an hour before bed can help people fall asleep quicker, for better, and for longer. Kiwi is high in serotonin, which may account for its sleep-inducing properties.

If none of these natural solutions work for you, consult with your doctor to help you find the root of your sleep problems.

Want more women's health coverage? Check out Bustle's new podcast, Honestly Though, which tackles all the questions you're afraid to ask.

Images: Fotolia (1, 2); Pixabay (5)