Scientists have only recently begun to investigate the importance of sleep, but it didn’t take long for them to realize that sleep is one of the three fundamental pillars of a long and healthy life. Today, they say sleep might even be more important than eating well or exercising. Source: The Pennsylvania State University
Despite these accolades for sleep, one in three people suffers from a sleep disorder that is preventing them from getting enough sleep Source: Sociedad Española de Sueño vía OndaCero. Are you one of them?
Fortunately, the latest scientific discoveries about the miraculous benefits of sleep and the dire consequences of sleep deprivation have people all over the world looking for solutions to their sleep problems. Many of them, both those who sleep little and those who sleep poorly, turn to natural products to improve their sleep and improve their lives.
With scientists calling sleep deprivation a global epidemic, the market for sleep solutions has exploded. These days, there is a solution for almost every sleeping problem, including natural sleep supplements (such as Melatonin, Tryptophan, Magnesium, or Valerian), herbal infusions, essential oils, sleep masks, earplugs, mattresses, white noise machines, sleep trackers, and blue light blocking glasses.
While many good sleep solutions (such as those listed above) are safe and effective, there are also others (such as anti-anxiety medications) that are dangerous and / or ineffective. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular sleep solutions on the market. We’ll talk about how they work and the specific sleeping problems they can be used for. We’ll also discuss some of the most dangerous sleep products on the market and why they should be avoided.
Thinking about trying some sleep products to improve your sleep and improve your life? Learn about all your options below.
The information on Recharge.Energy.com is not meant to replace professional advice or meant to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Always consult your doctor before trying any products you see on this site.
Natural sleep supplements
Natural sleep supplements are a very interesting option to consider. Not only is there sufficient scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, but they also hardly produce any side effects. This makes them a great alternative solution to sleeping medications.
Furthermore, there are many options to consider, depending on your type of disorder and the goal you want to achieve. Various supplements can also be combined for best results.
When is it beneficial to take natural sleep supplements?
Natural supplements can help if you have any of these conditions:
- If you take a long time to fall asleep when you go to bed
- If you wake up a lot during the night
- If you have a hard time sleeping when you are away from home
- If you travel and suffer from jet lag
- If you have problems with anxiety or depression that prevent you from sleeping well
- If you work shifts that force you to sleep at different times or during the day
- If you wake up feeling tired
- If you play sports and are looking for an optimal rest to help you improve your physical performance
How do natural supplements help you sleep?
Each natural sleep supplement acts slightly differently. Broadly speaking, however, the best natural sleep supplements are those that promote the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and those that help you relax your body and mind to reduce anxiety.
The following table presents the best natural sleep supplements for common sleeping problems.
List of the best natural supplements for sleep
- Melatonin, faster sleep, jet lag, insomnia, shift work.
- Tryptophan, faster sleep, jet lag, insomnia, shift.
- Magnesium, anxiety, insomnia, restless legs syndrome.
- Valerian, stress, anxiety, insomnia.
Caution: The dangers of using anxiolytics for sleep
According to the SEFAP (Spanish Society of Primary Care Pharmacists), sleep medications not only cause withdrawal symptoms but also increase the risk of falls, dementia and even increase the risk of death Estrategias de deshabituación a benzodiazepinas o cómo retirarle el cascabel al gato. Although these medications are often prescribed and recommended by doctors, they’re not a safe or effective way to solve sleeping problems.
Fortunately, there are other sleep solutions you can try that have fewer side effects. Check out our complete guide: Sleep Supplements | Natural supplements for improving sleep
Essential oils for sleep
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years.
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils and their aromas to harmonize the energy of the body.
The olfactory stimuli reach the most internal connections of our brain, affecting even our emotional memory, which is capable of relating these smells with different moments and environments that we have lived in the past.
Aromatherapy can help with meditation, relaxation, concentration, and other techniques to improve inner balance and harmony Source: Doctor Michael J. Breus.
How do essential oils help you sleep?
Some oils can transform and balance our emotions. Others are great for reducing our anxiety and depression. A variety of scientific studies  Inhalation Effects of Aroma Essential Oil on Quality of Sleep for Shift Nurses after Night Work A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep demonstrate that many essential oils can, in fact, help us sleep better.
Here is list of the best essential oils for sleep:
Each essential oil has a different aroma and works slightly differently. The key is trying out a couple of different kinds of essential oils to find the one that works the best for you.
- Lavender. Combats insomnia and improves sleep quality
- Valerian. Helps to fall asleep faster
- Bergamot. Reduces blood pressure and anxiety
- Chamomile. Improves sleep quality, reduces anxiety, and can even help reduce nightmares
- Salvia. Reduces cortisol (stress hormone) to help you sleep. It has sedative effects.
Herbal infusions and teas for sleep
Teas and herbal infusions have been used to improve sleep for hundreds of years. In fact, many teas and infusions for sleep are made with the same herbs that are used to make natural sleep supplements.
Drinking an infusion before going to sleep is a perfect way to prepare the body for sleep. Not only do infusions induce sleepiness, but they also help with digestion. Healthy digestion can also improve sleep quality Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future How Digestion Affects Your Sleep Quality.
Herbal infusions and teas for sleep are also the perfect substitute for caffeinated drinks like soda and coffee that may be affecting your sleep quality. If you like to enjoy a coffee after lunch time, try switching to a caffeine-free tea or infusion instead. This switch alone could be enough to improve your sleep.
How do herbal infusions help you sleep?
- Help regulate body temperature (like a hot shower)
- Help you reduce levels of nervousness or anxiety
- Have sedative effects
- Help to prepare the body for sleep if consumed as part of your nightly routine
- Help with digestion
Here is a list of the best herbal infusions for sleep
- Lavender. Lavender works as an anxiolytic and as a natural sedative, increasing relaxation, helping you to fall asleep.
- Valerian. Helps reduce anxiety and has sedative effects
- Chamomile. Reduces anxiety and induces sleep
- Lemon balm. Promotes relaxation.
- Passionflower. Reduces anxiety and induces sleep.
A sleep mask is a mask that covers the eyes to block light. Sleep masks are one of the simplest and most effective sleep solutions. They’re also one of the most popular sleep solutions on the market.
When is it useful to use a sleep mask?
- If you work different shifts and have to sleep during the day
- To sleep on your trips (on the plane, train, etc.) and to relieve jet lag
- To take a nap
- If you have a hard time falling asleep when you go to bed
How do sleep masks help you sleep?
They block out natural and artificial light.
Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, begins to secrete in our body as soon as the sun sets. The total darkness provided by the mask helps us increase melatonin levels so we can sleep faster Light, dark, and melatonin: emerging evidence for the importance of melatonin in ocular physiology.
They block blue light from electronics
Blue light from technological devices inhibits our production of melatonin. Even the light from a charging cell phone or the light from the TV when it’s not totally disconnected can affect our body’s ability to produce melatonin Preliminary evidence that light through the eyelids can suppress melatonin and phase shift dim light melatonin onset.
They help to minimize temptation
When we go to sleep with the phone next to us, we’re more likely to succumb to using it. Sleeping with a sleep mask relaxes us and lowers our alertness, allowing us to resist this temptation and fall asleep faster.
Earplugs for sleep
Since our brain is capable of picking up noise while we sleep, noise can wake us up in the middle of the night and worsen the quality of our sleep.
Today, it’s very difficult to sleep in total silence. If it’s not a partner who snores non-stop, it’s a noisy neighbor, a barking dog, or an early morning garbage truck. Not to mention, if we work the night shift and need to sleep during the day, noise becomes an even greater problem.
Furthermore, constant exposure to noise while trying to sleep can evoke anxiety and make us restless even before the noise appears How Noise Can Affect Your Sleep Satisfaction.
That’s why earplugs for sleep are another great sleep solution. They can help us feel calmer and avoid the terrible noises that wake us up or prevent us from falling asleep.
There are many types of earplugs in terms of materials and design:
- Foam earplugs for sleep
- Silicone earplugs for sleep
- Cotton earplugs for sleep
- Ergonomic earplugs for sleep
Headphones for sleeping
Did you know that there are specific headphones made for sleeping?
Sleeping headphones can be considered an improved version of earplugs since they can actually help you sleep in two ways. First, they isolate the noises that prevent us from falling asleep by sealing the ear canal. Secondly, they can emit relaxing music or white noise to help us relax and fall asleep faster.
The sounds of rain, wind, waves, and other slow, rhythmic melodies tend to work very well. Relaxing music has also been shown to be therapeutic and even healing to the brain Feeling the beat: Symposium explores the therapeutic effects of rhythmic music.
Just as fast rhythms help us to be alert and focused, slow rhythm sounds help us to relax.
Sleeping headphones are specifically designed to fit your ears so you can sleep with them comfortably. You can program them to work for only a few minutes or for the entire night.
It seems obvious to think that a good mattress is synonymous with a good rest, but how many years has it been since you changed yours? According to sleep experts, if your mattress is more than eight years old, you should change it Sleepfoundation.org: Mattress information.
Over time, mattresses lose the characteristics that made you want to buy it in the first place. They can lose firmness, comfort, and accumulate moisture. Some may even accumulate mites. It’s not surprising that, according to recent research, sleeping on a new mattress improves the quality of your sleep Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems.
Today, there are many different kinds of mattresses available, which offer different options for firmness and comfort. Some are even capable of regulating temperature or promoting muscle recovery. It’s even possible to choose two different mattresses for the same bed, which is convenient if you sleep next to a person who doesn’t have the same preferences as you do.
Choosing a good mattress is an important investment that is definitely worth it.
Would you like to be able to analyze your sleep?
While we sleep, our brain and body cycle through different sleep stages. Each of which provides different benefits and serves different functions to prepare us for a new day.
Sleep trackers can help us analyze how much time we spend in each sleep stage, how much time it takes us to fall asleep, whether we move a lot as we sleep, etc. All of this data helps us measure our sleep quality and track how it evolves over time. That means, if we change our sleep habits or try new sleep solutions, we can see if these solutions are working to help us improve our sleep.
Although there are many different devices available for tracking sleep, including activity bracelets, smart rings, bed monitors, etc, most measure sleep in similar ways: with motion sensors and heart rate monitors. Many also have additional features like smart alarms and relaxing music to help us wake up more peacefully.
White noise machines
If there are noises in your room that prevent you from falling asleep or that wake you up during the night, your sleep solution may be white noise.
White noise machines do the same thing as headphones for sleeping, except instead of placing them in your ear, you can put them on your nightstand.
White noise is a constant and uniform sound that ensures that other external sounds don’t disturb our sleep. Studies have shown that this type of noise really works. Also, it increases the threshold of stimulation necessary for other noise to wake us up The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise.
White noise machines can make different sounds like wind, ocean waves, thunder, rain, or even lullabies to help children sleep and block out other annoying outside noises.
They have different buttons for each melody and a slider to adjust the volume. They’re very easy to operate and can be used by people of all ages, even babies.
Anti blue light glasses
Glasses with lenses that absorb blue light. Image from the producer ARGO.
Most of us spend many hours a day connected to the internet. Los españoles pasan más de cinco horas diarias conectados a internet. Unfortunately, this excessive exposure to electronic devices and artificial light has a negative effect on our sleep quality and our ability to fall asleep.
Mobile phones, televisions, computers and artificial lighting all emit blue light. This type of light is so bright that it penetrates our retina, which means it’s able to block our production of melatonin. As a result, blue light throws off our circadian rhythms and can lead to trouble sleeping Blue light has a dark side.
But that’s not all. Excessive and continuous exposure to blue light can cause other health problems such as:
Increases risk of macular breakdown, a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness UT chemists discover how blue light speeds blindness.
Increases risk of cancer Why the incidence of cancer is increasing: the role of ‘light pollution.
May affect fertility Influenza Vaccine Offers Up To 6 Months Worth Of ‘Moderate, Sustained’ Protection During Flu Season.
Promotes increase in body fat Does artificial light-at-night exposure contribute to the worldwide obesity pandemic?.
Luckily, there’s a very simple way to avoid all of these consequences: Anti blue light glasses.
Anti blue light glasses block blue light from entering our retina and, as a result, help us sleep better at nightr Blue blocker glasses as a countermeasure for alerting effects of evening light-emitting diode screen exposure in male teenagers Block the light and sleep well: Evening blue light filtration as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Tips to improve your sleep
Although the natural sleep solutions mentioned above are all proven sleep solutions, they’re much more effective when you follow a proper bedtime routine. Here is a list of recommendations to follow to improve the quality of your sleep and enhance the effectiveness of the sleep solutions mentioned above.
Tips to sleep more and better
- Try to follow the same schedule every day: eat at the same time, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time
- Simulate the natural darkness at night at home with dim artificial light, preferably yellow
- Exercise daily. If you´re going to do intense exercise, make sure it’s at least 4 hours before going to bed
- Try to keep your bedroom cool, at least 22ºc
- Avoid using technological devices at least two hours before going to bed
- Avoid consuming alcohol and nicotine as much as possible. Especially shortly before going to bed
- Don’t drink caffeine, or at least reduce its consumption to only during the morning
- Don’t nap for more than 30 minutes or after 4:00pm
- Try to eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime and avoid heavy meals
For more advice about how to improve your sleep, check out our article: 27 Tips to sleep better and how to fall asleep faster
Consistently sleeping well leads to good health and a long and happy life. With the help of the sleeping solutions mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to improving your sleep and your life.