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Means for falling asleep: What natural aids are there?

Schlaf gut12.04.22 6 min. read

Sleep disorders such as problems falling asleep or insomnia reduce the quality of sleep and disrupt the normal sleep-wake rhythm. Sleep-inducing drugs can be an option in severe cases - but also only in consultation with a doctor and for a limited period of time. Natural remedies for falling asleep offer an alternative, which is why we are taking a closer look at various active ingredients from nature in this article. We would also like to introduce you to our sleep cream The Good Night, which can support you in gently finding sleep.

At a glance: Sleep aids - What natural remedies are there? 

 


Stress at work or in the family environment, worries, problems, fears, financial hardships, illnesses - life often leads us into unpleasant phases that can literally rob you of sleep. According to a Forsa survey, more than a third of Germans suffered from sleep disorders (insomnia) as early as 2018 [1]. By now, the number is likely to be much higher.

If sleep problems occur sporadically, this is not yet a cause for concern. Experts only speak of a chronic sleep disorder when problems falling asleep & Co occur at least three nights a week over a period of four weeks [2].

If the sleep disorder takes a chronic course, this has negative effects on the body as well as on mental health. In most cases, simple home remedies such as hot milk with honey to calm down, a bedtime tea, a sleep mask, light meditation, or the obligatory counting of sheep are no longer helpful. The more so as there is no scientific evidence for this either.

Many people are in search of a natural means to fall asleep. Nature has a lot to offer here, which is why we would now like to introduce you to various active ingredients.

Valerian as a natural sleep aid

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) was already known as a medicinal plant in ancient times and was used for sleep disorders, including problems falling asleep. Today, valerian preparations are available as lozenges, drops, tinctures, teas and bath additives. Often the extract is also a component in phytopharmaceuticals with, for example, St. John's wort, hops, passionflower or lemon balm, which are intended to complement the effect.

Valerian is one of the best studied medicinal plants. It is interesting to note that a substance called deoxysaccharosyl olivine from valerian extract binds to the "sleep receptors" (adenosine-1 receptors) in the brain and induces drowsiness [3].

Numerous animal studies and even some human clinical trials indicate the plant's potential to be beneficial for insomnia and sleep problems. According to one study, valerian extract may work as well as the synthetic sleep aid oxazepam [4].

Hops as a means to fall asleep

Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) have been known for centuries for their calming and sleep-inducing effects. This is probably due to the ingredient 2-methyl2-buten-2-ol, which is formed in the plant during storage or in the body from the bitter substances humulone and lupulone [5].

So far, the spectrum of hop activity has only been proven in animal studies. Clinical studies in humans have not yet been conducted. Only one study on humans showed that the combination of hops and valerian shortened the time to fall asleep [6]. For this reason, it is often recommended to combine different medicinal plants in order to achieve a better effect.

Lemon balm as a sleep aid

As a medicinal plant, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or also called lemon balm, was already used in the Middle Ages, especially for sleep disorders and nervous-induced difficulties in falling asleep. In addition, the essential oil of lemon balm is said to have a calming effect.

Until now, lemon balm has hardly been of interest to researchers. Thus, the effects result mainly from application observations. However, according to the Society for Phytotherapy, the plant is mentioned in the application areas of irritability, restlessness and inner tension [7]. The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products of the EU also mentions lemon balm leaves as a herbal medicinal product [8].

Different preparations exist with liquid extracts, dry extract, and cut and dried leaves. Teas are often preferred, such as a bedtime tea with lemon balm and possibly other herbal extracts to promote your sleep.

Melatonin against sleep difficulties

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces, mainly in the so-called pineal gland in the diencephalon, as soon as darkness falls. The increased release of the hormone makes you drowsy, which is why melatonin is also called the "sleep hormone". In the morning, and especially when daylight falls on the retina, the melatonin level decreases again.

There are numerous remedies containing the hormone melatonin: tablets, lozenges, teas, soft gels or drops, which either contain only the hormone melatonin or other active ingredients. Studies on the efficacy of melatonin are currently still limited. Small-scale studies suggest that taking melatonin has the potential to shorten the time it takes to fall asleep [9]. However, melatonin cannot improve sleep quality.

Cannabidiol (CBD) as a sleep aid

Like its big brother tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid (chemical substance) from the hemp plant that, unlike THC, does not have an intoxicating effect. When cannabinoids are supplied to the body, they bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which is part of our nervous system [10]. CBD appears to have calming effects on the central nervous system, among other things, according to studies.

When it comes to the topic of CBD, a distinction must always be made between CBD as a single substance in pharmaceutical grade, which is used in studies, and freely available CBD products (such as CBD oil, CBD capsules, etc.). CBD products are not standardized and can vary considerably in quality. In addition, studies usually use very high doses of CBD, which CBD products do not contain.

Controlled clinical studies investigating whether CBD can have an effect specifically on sleep disorders hardly exist. There is evidence that CBD has therapeutic benefits in anxiety patients with sleep problems. In addition, results of studies suggest that the sleep-promoting effect of CBD may also be related to the particular dose [11].

CBD products used for treatment of sleep disorders

The study results cannot be applied to CBD products on a one-to-one basis for reasons already mentioned. However, the Consumer Report from 2019 shows that many people use CBD products as a natural sleep aid [12]. According to the survey, more than half of the participants had positive experiences and reported having fewer problems falling asleep or that the quality of sleep had improved.

Find your way to sleep with The Good Night!

Instead of capsules, tablets, drops or teas with natural ingredients, we would like to introduce you to our sleep cream The Good Night. It combines herbal melatonin, fermented St. John's wort with CBD and other active ingredients from nature, which should help you relax and find your way to sleep.

We recommend that you combine the use of the sleep cream with a ritual before you go to bed.

Step 1: About half an hour before you go to sleep, find peace and relaxation. Go to your favorite place in your apartment or house and try to focus on your breath. If it is comfortable for you, place one hand on your chest and your other hand on your stomach. If thoughts arise, do not seek an answer. Just acknowledge them briefly and then let them go.

Step 2: Spread the sleeping cream on your palms and let the scent composition of lavender, palo santo and blue tansy lead you even more into relaxation.

Step 3: Now start applying the cream to your forearms. If you like, you can also massage the back of your neck down to your shoulders. Feel the relaxation that rises in you. This relaxation may already trigger a need for sleep in you.

Step 4 : If you need to, drink another glass of water and get ready for sleep. Lie down in your bed and concentrate once again on your breath. Remember the relaxed feeling and let yourself fall gently into sleep.

We wish you sweet dreams and a restful sleep!

FAQ

What remedies help with falling asleep?

For sleep disorders, many people turn to herbal supplements or phytopharmaceuticals, such as hops and valerian extract, or to the hormone melatonin. In addition, there are of course prescription drugs with a sleep-inducing effect. Certainly, these can be an option in severe cases. However, such drugs are usually not without side effects. In addition, they carry the risk of becoming habit-forming.

What is the best natural sleep aid?

There are numerous supplements with natural ingredients available on the market that are supposed to help you fall asleep. In most cases, the effect has not been scientifically proven. In addition, the effects can vary from person to person. For example, products with hops and valerian extract have been well studied.

What is the best over-the-counter sleep aid?

Antihistamines are often recommended as the best over-the-counter remedy for sleep disorders. These are drugs that are used against allergic reactions and do not belong to the actual sleeping pills. As a side effect, they can cause drowsiness. Other side effects include dry mouth, headache, drowsiness and dizziness. In this respect, it is doubtful that antihistamines are really suitable for the treatment of sleep disorders.

Sources:
  1. FORSA survey May 2018, "Germany sleeps healthily". More Info
  2. Somnology 2009, 13:4-160, DOI 10.1007/s11818-009-0430-8, Springer-Verlag 2009, "Non-restorative sleep/sleep disorders." More Info
  3. Rezvani ME, Roohbakhsh A, Allahtavakoli M, Shamsizadeh A. Anticonvulsant effect of aqueous extract of Valeriana officinalis in amygdala-kindled rats: possible involvement of adenosine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 3;127(2):313-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.11.002. Epub 2009 Nov 10 More Info
  4. Efficacy and tolerability of Baldrian versus oxazepam in non-organic and non-psychiatric insomniacs: a randomised, double-blind, clinical, comparative study. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2000 Apr;7(2):79-84. German. More Info
  5. Bühring, U.: Practical Textbook of Modern Herbal Medicine, published by Sonntag Verlag Stuttgart, 2005. More Info
  6. Koetter U, Schrader E, Käufeler R, Brattström A. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, prospective clinical study to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a fixed valerian hops extract combination (Ze 91019) in patients suffering from non-organic sleep disorder. Phytother Res. 2007 Sep;21(9):847-51. More Info
  7. ESCOP-Monographs, 2014, „Melissae folium (Melissa leaf)“ More Info
  8. Herbal Medicinal Product Committee (HMPC), 2013, „Community herbal monograph on Melissa officinalis L., folium“ More Info
  9. Auld F, Maschauer EL, Morrison I, Skene DJ, Riha RL. Evidence for the efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of primary adult sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Aug;34:10-22 More Info
  10. Di Marzo V, Piscitelli F. The Endocannabinoid System and its Modulation by Phytocannabinoids. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):692-8 More Info
  11. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. More Info
  12. Consumer Report, 2019, Cannabis und CBD More Info

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