Most of the country is about five months into shelter-in-place lockdown and the toll is beginning to show both physically and mentally.
While the lack of social interactions and the closing of the economy are all huge hits to our psyche, one of the harshest realities is the drastically reduced access to our normal outlets.
Most restaurants are closed to indoor dining.
Many cities have closed parks, beaches, and even hiking trails.
Travel is limited.
And there are a great many of us that still find ourselves working from home.
These factors all add up to a loaded, fatigued, and frayed mental psyche, which has resulted in an uptick in complaints and cases of trouble sleeping and even insomnia.
If you’re one of these folks facing endless nights of restlessness, staring at your ceiling, and long days filled with hazy fatigue, then it may be time to seek some help. Sleep is integral for our overall health and wellbeing. Without the proper amount of quality sleep, our brains tend to function poorly, our bodies are tired, and our moods are erratic.
With that said, before you call your doc to get some prescription meds, it may be beneficial to give some natural sleep aids a good go first? While prescription meds help you fall and stay asleep, most natural sleep aids work with your body to calm anxieties, reduce stress, and infuse your body with agents that stimulate natural sleep mechanisms to get your sleep cycle back on track for good!
Why We Can’t Sleep Right Now
There’s a lot going on in the world right now.
Between the Coronavirus pandemic, shelter-in-place hardships, and massive protests, each of us is currently carrying a heavy load on our shoulders.
With that heavy load comes psychological effects that may be causing you some sleep troubles.
Most of the sleep turbulence is probably stemming from the pandemic, in particular, from something called fatigue-driven sleeplessness caused by the “mental workload associated with COVID-19.” What exactly am I talking about? Basically, the fears around the pandemic mixed with shelter-in-place have brought to the surface “unprecedented psychological stressors … forced upon us including stress and anxiety.”
On top of that, your trouble sleeping may also be caused by “the monotony of the situation,” which increases fatigue during the day and makes it more difficult for us to obtain quality sleep when we actually need it.
Not only are we dealing with increased anxieties and stressors, but the change in our daily routine may also be wreaking havoc with our circadian rhythm, an “essential internal ‘clock’ that plays a key role in regulating our sleep pattern,” by controlling “body temperature and hormones in order to make us feel alert during the day and tired a night.”
Pile all of these factors, one on top of the other, and you’ve got a messy situation when it comes to achieving quality sleep!
Dangers of Prescription Sleep Aids
Lack of quality sleep or sleep conditions, such as insomnia, are incredibly frustrating and dangerous. Reconciling with your doctor is a great first step. Making certain lifestyle changes — such as reducing screen time before bed, incorporating self-care routines, upping your physical activity throughout the day, and decreasing caffeine — is another recommended step.
With that said, sometimes nothing works.
While you may want to immediately turn to prescription sleep aids — also called sedative hypnotics — that will knock you out, there are a few downsides to these medications.
First and foremost, they won’t necessarily help you find that beautiful, natural sleep pattern that you once had. Prescription sleep meds will definitely make you sleep, but the quality of sleep — if you’re able to achieve all the stages of sleep — is not great. Therefore, you may simply be stuck taking sleep medications for the long haul, which oftentimes leads to dependence or a full fledged addiction.
On top of that, sleep medications — such as “Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion” — come with a laundry list of fairly unpleasant side effects that range from subtleties — changes in appetite, daytime drowsiness, gas, headaches, unusual dreams, dry mouth, and weakness — to more startling changes — consultation or diarrhea, heartburn, dizziness, uncontrollable shaking, stomach pain, impairment, mental slowness, and even a burning or tingling int he hands, arms, feet, or legs.
Top Natural Sleep Aids
You know you need sleep and you don’t want to succumb to those prescription meds. It’s time to learn about those natural sleep aids that work with your body to help you get good quality shut-eye. Luckily, there’s a handful to choose from that all work in different ways and range in price to fit your lifestyle and budget!
If you’re up on your nutrients, then you know magnesium is a hugely important mineral for your body. In fact, magnesium is found naturally in many plant-based foods.
Turns out that magnesium is also an incredibly effective natural sleep aid!
Magnesium has been shown to “help quiet the mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.” In part, this may be due to magnesium’s “ability to regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that guides your body’s sleep-wake cycle.” On top of that, research has found that magnesium can “increase brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain messenger with calming effects.”
While you can get magnesium from plant-based foods when using it as a sleep aid, it’s recommended to try either a supplement, — VegLife Vegan Magnesium — lotion, — such as this nfuse Magnesium Body Lotion Ultra Healing — or spray, — NOW Solutions Magnesium Topical Spray.
One of the most popular sleep aids is actually just a dose of your body’s natural sleep hormone, melatonin! This hormone “signals your brain that it’s time to sleep” via the time of the day. Melatonin levels “naturally rise in the evening and fall in the morning,” putting you to sleep and waking you up. Plus, melatonin has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, especially for those with sleep disorders.
The best way to get melatonin into your life is via supplement! Go with vegan, organic, and pure melatonin when possible such as this Naturelle Sleep on It Vegan Melatonin mixture supplement, these SugarBear Sleep Vegan Gummy Vitamins with Melatonin, or this Doctor’s Best Melatonin supplement.
This lovely gentle herb pairs well with lavender as an all-natural, floral sleep regimen! Chamomile has long been touted for its ability to promote relaxation, calm, and sleep. On top of that, chamomile has also been found to help lessen “symptoms of depression.”
Chamomile, much like lavender, can be used in a variety of ways. Drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed, such as this Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile Herbal Tea. Mix chamomile essential oil — such as this NOW Essential Chamomile Oil — with a carrier oil and use it directly on your skin or use in an aromatherapy diffuser. Take chamomile in a supplemental form such as this Horbaach Chamomile Extract.
You can also even cook with chamomile! Here are a few creative ways to integrate chamomile into your diet: Chamomile Ginger Lemon Raw Energy Bars, Almond and Chamomile Panna Cotta, or these Peach and Chamomile Ice Pops.
Valerian root is “an herb native to Asia and Europe” that is popularly used as a “natural treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and menopause,” and also happens to be a commonly used “sleep-promoting herbal supplement.” Along with helping you to fall asleep, valerian studies have found that this root may improve self-rated sleep quality.
This all-natural sleep aid is consumed in supplement form to make sure you’re getting the proper dosages that have been safely processed and manufactured! Try a few of these vegan valerian root supplements to begin: Pure Mountain Botanicals Valerian Root Capsules, NOW Supplements Valerian Root, or this Deva Vegan Valerian.
Yep, I’m talking about the same hops that come in that bottle of beer you enjoy for happy hour!
What exactly are hops? Hops are the “female flowers of the hop plant” and they’re generally “used to flavor beverages, like beer, and as an herbal medicine.” When it comes to the medicinal side of hops, it’s been found that they can “improve sleep.”
Hops can be consumed in a few different ways including via liquid extract, — such as this Herb Pharm Certified Organic Hops Liquid Extract — via powder, — such as this Bulksupplements Hops Extract Powder — or you can even sip on some nonalcoholic beer!
It’s important to note the difference between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beer. Alcohol tends to cause sleepiness and yet it actually disrupts our sleep cycle causing more sleep issues, while nonalcoholic beer will provide sleep-friendly hops without the disrupting alcohol component.
Passion Flower — referred to as “Passiflora incarnata or maypop” — is one of the little known sleep aids, yet has been shown help for those suffering from insomnia. Lucky for us, the exact “species of passion flower linked to sleep improvements are native to North America.” While passion flower has shown sleep benefits, it all depends on the form in which you consume it.
When studied, it’s been found that passion flower is most effective as a sleep aid when consumed as a tea before bedtime rather than in supplemental form.
Give one of these passion flower tea concoctions a try to help you get some shut-eye: Tadin Passion Flower Tea, Buddha Teas Organic Passion Flower Tea, or this Starwest Botanicals Organic Passion Flower Loose Leaf Tea.
Cook with it. Diffuse the oil. Take some supplements. Put on some lotion. Take a salt bath with it. Hang some dried flowers throughout your house.
Lavender is not only one of the most popular and versatile calming agents, but it’s also one of the most naturally-based. So, what is it about this flower that helps us sleep? It’s that soothing, calming scent! Several studies have shown that “simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep.”
While supplements may seem the easiest route, a few studies have shown them to cause stomach unrest and digestive issues. Therefore, it’s recommended to go with a few other options such as diffusing the oil, — such as this NOW Essential Oils Organic Lavender Oil — applying lavender-scented lotion, — such as this All Good Hand & Body Vegan Lotion — and using lavender bath salts — such as this Kneipp Lavender Mineral Bath Salt.
You can also cook with lavender and create calming concoctions such as these Strawberry Rose and Berry Lavender Tarts, this Blackberry Lemon Lavender Cheezecake, or this Banana Chocolate Lavender Bars.
While some use ginseng as an energizer, turns out that ginseng can also promote sleep!
Gingseng is an “herb used in herbal medicine” to raise energy levels, fight stress, boost the immune system, and even treat impotence. It’s believed that due to ginseng’s body-boosting abilities it may also help you to get some shut-eye! A study performed in 2013 found that red ginseng “extract had positive effects on people with sleep problems” with participants reporting “better sleep quality after taking the extract for a week.”
With that said, it’s important to speak with a doctor before beginning to take a ginseng supplement, as some people do experience side effects including headaches, agitation, upset stomach, dizziness, heart issues, and menstrual problems.
Once you get the all okay from the doc, try a few of these red ginseng supplements: Nutrivein Pure Korean Red Panax Ginseng, High Strength Korean Red Panax Ginseng Capsules, or these Double Wood Panax Ginseng Supplements.
Learn a bit more about getting healthy sleep with these tips, tricks, and knowledge filled articles!
- 10 Tips for Troubled Sleep During Lockdown
- 6 Easy Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
- Foods You Should Eat When You Can’t Sleep
- Kick Your Insomnia With These 5 Sleep-Inducing Foods
- Top 10 Common Sleep Disturbing Agents You Should Know About
- How to Fall Asleep Fast, the Ayurvedic and Natural Way
- 15 Plant-Based Recipes for Better Sleep
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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