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Sleep Aid

Sleep Aid: Ambien

Fast Guide to 5 Popular Natural Sleep Aids

You want a natural sleep aid for natural sleep. You want something safe and perhaps not too heavy duty for your sleep problems. However, there are just so many different types of natural sleep aids you don't quite know where to start. There are natural sleep aids in the form of supplements and there are others found in your own kitchen or food.

So here's a summarized guide to help you get started with 5 popular natural sleep aids. They are not to be confused with natural sleep therapies also loosely referred to as natural sleep aids.

1.    Melatonin

What is melatonin?

It's a hormone secreted from the pineal gland in our brain. Thought to help our bodies' circadian rhythms or internal clock i.e when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up. Melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep ("sleep latency"), and may increase the duration of sleep.

Melatonin Fast Facts

- The most popular natural sleep aid for jet lag or effects of shift work.

- Side effects: daytime drowsiness headaches, dizziness, a "heavy-head" feeling, stomach discomfort

- Safe with short-term use (three months or less). As little as 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams may be enough for most people.

- Being a popular OTC sleep aid, pharmaceutical grade synthetic form is available in many brands; AVOID natural forms that are basically melatonin derived from animal's pineal glands due to possible contamination

2. Valerian

What is valerian?

It's a plant; its active ingredient is still unclear therefore how it works is unclear too. Generally thought to help reduce the time to get to sleep and possibly improve sleep quality.

Valerian Fast Facts

- Using valerian over a period of time (> 4 weeks) is believed to be more effective than taking it one night only. People who are poor sleepers may find more benefit that those who are normally good sleepers.

- Side effects: headache or "hangover" feeling, excitability or uneasiness, heart disturbances. Most people feel no morning grogginess after taking valerian unlike many sleep medications

- A natural sleep aid that is also one of the top 2 popular OTC sleep aids, it is available in many brands but hard to compare as the potencies of various ingredients vary from preparation to preparation.

2.    Tryptophan

What is tryptophan?

It is an amino acid that your body converts to melatonin and serotonin, neurotransmitters that exert a calming effect and regulates sleep.

Tryptophan Fast Facts

-    You can get this natural sleep aid through your own diet of tryptophan-containing foods like oats, bananas, poultry, peanuts and milk.

-    Not available as a natural dietary supplement. Previously, some people who took tryptophan as a natural supplement developed a syndrome with features of a disease called scleroderma. They also developed anxiety, depression, and difficulty learning. Some deaths were believed to be due to the tryptophan supplement.

3.    5-HTP

5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan. It is therefore, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin.

-5-HTP supplements became popular natural sleep aids because the logic goes that taking 5-HTP in pill form can boost the body's serotonin levels, similar to the antidepressants that are thought to increase the amount of serotonin available to the brain.

- May also ease symptoms of depression and anxiety; may help in controlling appetite and pain. On the other hand, there are studies that show no benefit with supplementation of 5-HTP.

4.    Chamomile

What is chamomile?

It's a popular herb used for centuries as a natural sleep aid. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Chrysin is chamomile's flavonoid component that is attributed to relieve anxiety thereby making people feel more relaxed and more prepared to sleep. Chrysin can also be found in passion flower, another plant also popular as a natural sleep aid.

Chamomile Fast Facts

-    Can be taken as German or Roman chamomile tea.

-    Fast natural sleep aid that can be used on the spot to provide quick relief for sleeplessness and anxiety. The bonus is that you don't have to use it on a regular basis for it to work as an effective insomnia treatment.

-    Most effective when chamomile tea sipped a half an hour to forty-five minutes before going to bed.

5.    Kava or kava kava

-An ancient crop of the western Pacific (Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, etc)

-Active ingredients are called kavalactones that induce relaxation without hindering memory or motor function. It is also not addictive. These are reasons why kava is popularly used for stress and anxiety relief and insomnia

- However, it is now considered unsafe. Reports in Europe of more than 20 cases of cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver failure suggest the possibility of liver toxicity associated with its use.

These 5 popular natural sleep aids, like sleeping medications, can have side effects and risks. They are not approved nor regulated by the FDA. Hence, long-term use in humans are not well documented or clinically tested upon. If in supplement form, the ingredients may vary by manufacturer and the actual content may greatly differ from what is listed on the product label.

Therefore, the right approach to natural sleep aids is always to first consult your doctor familiar with your health profile to rule out any unnecessary risks. Also, as with all sleeping medications, natural sleep aids should only be used short term. Everyone deserves a good night's sleep. Everyone deserves to know what sleep aids are available that can work for him/her.

About the Author

Find out more about natural sleep aids with the Fast Guide To 5 Popular Natural OTC Sleep Aids or
understand more about OTC Sleep Aids in OTC Sleep Aids: A Quick Overview

You will also find other researched information on insomnia treatment at www.OTC-Sleep-Aids.com

If you are looking for a different item here are a list of related products on Over The Counter Products, please check out the following:

Sleep Aid

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