7 Best Natural Sleep Aids

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using natural sleep aids is something that everyone needs from time to time, particularly if they regularly struggle to achieve a good night’s sleep.

What are Natural Sleep Aids?

Natural sleep aids are any food, herb or lifestyle change that can help to improve your sleep patterns and provide more restful sleep. While there are many popular products and prescriptions to aid your slumber, natural sleep aids are often preferred because they have far fewer side effects, are less expensive, and are more easily accessible. Sleeping pills can certainly be effective, but they may leave you feeling groggy or unproductive in the morning. [1]

If you want to get your Circadian rhythms back on track and achieve the recommended 7-9 hours of restful, undisturbed sleep, using some of these safe, natural remedies may be your best option. The amount of sleep you require depends on your age, as well as certain health conditions, so always try to get the right amount for your particular demographic.

  • Infants should get 12-15 hours of sleep per day
  • Young children require 9-12 hours
  • Teenagers should get just over 9 hours
  • Adults should sleep for between 7 and 9 hours
  • Pregnant women should get at least 8 hours, along with 1 or 2 naps during the day
Young woman sleeping peacefully on a bed

Do you sleep like a baby? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Best Natural Sleep Aids

The best natural sleep aids include calcium, St. John’s wort, glycine, essential oils, valerian root, melatonin, and magnesium, among others.


One of the main hormones in our body that regulate sleep, melatonin increases at night, lulling us into slumber. If you have suppressed or imbalanced melatonin levels, it could hamper your ability to fall asleep, so supplementation with this hormone is quite common. [2]


Magnesium can counteract the effects of cortisol, which is a stress hormone linked to symptoms of insomnia. By eating magnesium-rich foods, or milk of magnesia before bed, you can soothe the mind and lead yourself to restful sleep. [3]

Valerian Root

This legendary herbal remedy can reduce stress hormone levels by increasing the production and release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which can help you achieve deep sleep, making it more difficult to be disturbed. [4]


Calcium plays an important role in the function of tryptophan within the brain, which in turn can help to increase levels of melatonin, making it easier to drift off at night. [5]

St. John’s Wort

One of the most trusted options for relieving insomnia, St. John’s wort has a soothing and relaxing quality that makes it an ideal aid for those who can’t turn their head off. It increases levels of serotonin, a hormone that allows your body to relax. [6]


Using just 3 grams an hour before going to sleep, glycine is able to speed the onset of deep sleep and prevent feelings of fatigue in the morning. [7]

Essential Oils

There are dozens of essential oils that can induce sleep and relaxation, particularly when used in a room diffuser.

Word of Caution: While the benefits of these natural sleep aids may be obvious, there are some precautions to take, particularly if you become dependent on these sleep aids for getting a good night’s rest. By altering your hormonal levels, you could re-train your body, making it difficult to achieve sleep without these substances and herbs. Also, you shouldn’t combine these natural aids with prescribed medications or sleeping pills, as this could cause dangerous drug interactions. The importance of sleep is well known and therefore make sure that you sleep efficiently and during the night, if possible. [8]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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