Natural sleep aids, aka. vitamins and minerals, isn’t a magic potion. This is some legitimate stuff that your body needs and can very much affect your sleeping patterns. Disclaimer: check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take anything. They can potentially interact with existing medications.
Despite the fact that our bodies only require a very small amount of zinc, this trace mineral plays a very important role in our health. Some of the 300+ functions that zinc performs in your body includes building and strengthening your immune system, keeping your reproductive system healthy, and decreasing the risk for diabetes. Zinc also plays a part in regulating the brain and body’s response to stress.
Studies have shown that the more depressed someone is, the lower the zinc level. As you may have known, depression can lead to insomnia.
You can take zinc in pill form, or find it in oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and egg yolks.
Magnesium, like zinc, regulates over 300 functions in your body. One of these functions is muscle relaxation and deactivating your stress responses. While magnesium will not solve your underlying cause for insomnia if it related to a mental health illness, it is necessary for a good night’s sleep. A deficiency in magnesium can prevent your brain from winding down.
Good sources include green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
ZMA (or zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 combined) is a supplement to help athletes recover from strenuous training. Though research on ZMA as a natural sleep aid is limited, one study showed that 43 adults who took ZMA with melatonin achieved better sleep quality.
Vitamin D, also know as the sunshine drug, is actually a hormone naturally produced by our bodies when we expose our skin to sunlight. It helps keep bones strong and immune functions healthy. It seems reasonable to assume that the hormone that links us with the sun would affect our sleep, and there is this study that links vitamin D deficiency to sleep disorders.
If you are in the northern hemisphere where sunlight is greatly limited for several months, here are some foods that contain vitamin D: sockeye salmon, egg yolks, and dairy products (milk, yogurt, margarine) that are fortified with it. It is also available in pill form.
Iron is an essential building block for red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. An iron deficiency can disrupt your sleep or cause restless leg syndrome that keeps you awake. Iron deficiency is a common problem with females in particular. It can be found in mussels, beef, edamame beans, and many other foods.
Valerian is a common natural sleep aid that has been used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety since the time of ancient Greece because it can help you fall asleep after have better sleep quality. It should be noted though that some studies show it’s only effective after taking it for more than 4 weeks, while some say it works immediately.
It comes in pill form, and smells absolutely awful. Think sweaty feet awful. I do still take it on occasion to help if I have a bit of anxiety before going to bed.
The Bottom Line of Natural Sleep Aids
Natural supplements can help you have a more restful sleep. Keep in mind, however, they typically only work in conjunction with activities that reduce stress during the day and good sleep hygiene. To learn more about how you can get a regular, more restful sleep schedule, subscribe to our newsletter.