47 natural sleep remedies and sleep aids

47 Natural Sleep Remedies You Need To Know – All Insomnia Sleep Aids

When it comes to falling asleep at night, there’s a lot you can do. You can try medication, you can try to work out during the day, you can drink a tea to calm you down. But there’s one topic, everybody overlooks when it comes to sleeping: Natural Sleep Remedies.

In this article, you’ll find out about 47 natural sleep remedies you absolutely need to know about. The best thing about that is: The list is so big that I can guarantee you’ll find at least three of them in your home right now.

In this article, you’re going to find out about:

  • 47 Natural Sleep Remedies You Need To Know About
  • Which of these Natural Sleep Remedies are the Best?

47 Natural Sleep Remedies You Need To Know About

1. Walnuts

Walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you fall asleep. By eating walnuts, the concentration of melatonin in your blood will increase which will make you fall asleep faster.

2. Tart Cherry Juice

According to research, tart cherries are a great natural sleep remedy. In a sleep experiment, participants drank 30 ml of tart cherry juice before sleeping. As a result, they slept an average of 39 minutes longer than the participants who didn’t drink cherry juice. Because tart cherry juice is scientifically backed up with studies, it is a good choice to fight insomnia.

3. Warm Milk

Many of us grew up with warm milk at night. Because of that, your brain naturally connects the taste of warm milk to falling asleep and bedtime. Subconsciously, your body prepares for sleep. Also, warm milk makes you stop whatever you do. The feeling of warm milk is calming you down. The fat and the rich amount of minerals in milk will make you sleep deeper.

4. Almonds

Almonds are rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and calcium which makes them a great source of sleep-inducing nutrients. On top of that, eating almonds before going to bed will not cause any weight gain as they are low in carbs, but high in protein and healthy fats. The tryptophan in almonds will enhance your brain’s natural melatonin production.

5. Raw Honey

Honey will refill your body’s depleted glycogen stores before you go to sleep. When the glycogen store in your liver is filled, your brain has enough energy during the night to go through the sleep cycles and give commands to your body. Also, honey naturally contains tryptophan, one of the most effective natural sleep aids. You should choose raw honey as it contains more minerals, antioxidants and antibiotic elements than processed honey. It restores liver glycogen up to 22% better according to beekeepersnaturals.com. However, if you have no natural honey at hand, don’t worry. The usual, pasteurized honey will do the job as well!

natural raw honey helps with sleep
Some natural honey I found at home!

6. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is said to be one of the best sleep-inducing teas you can drink before going to bed. It has already been used by ancient Egypt as a natural sleep herb. Chamomile tea is traditionally used to treat anxiety, nightmares, and insomnia and is known for its calming effects. The stress reduction causes better and deeper sleep. As it doesn’t contain any caffeine like other teas (e.g. black tea contains a lot of caffeine), it is the beverage of your choice before going to bed. A study about chamomile tea as a herbal medicine shows that 10 out of 12 people fall asleep faster when they drink chamomile tea. Also, it does not contain any calories, so it’s a great choice if you’re on a diet.

natural sleep remedy chamomile tea

7. Black Beans

Black beans are very low in nutrients. They contain little fat and just a few carbs. But they are a great source of dietary fiber. Because your body can’t digest fiber, it slows down the digestion. It also slows down the rise of blood sugar and research links it with restorative and deep sleep.

8. Bananas

Just like black beans, bananas are high in fiber, which makes them great for sleep. But not only that. They also contain lots of calcium, tryptophan, and potassium. While the tryptophan helps you to fall asleep, the potassium in bananas helps you to stay asleep and reduces the risk of waking up in the middle of the night. Also, bananas contain vitamin B6 which your brain needs to produce melatonin. With all of that in mind, bananas are one of the best fruit for sleep.

9. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are very high-volume food. That means, that even though you can eat a lot of them, they don’t contain much that causes weight gain or lots of digestion efforts. When you eat chickpeas with your dinner, you’ll notice that you eat less. Normally, we are used to overeating. With chickpeas, you make sure that you eat just the amount of food that you need. That causes your body to be able to focus on sleep when you go to bed instead of heavy digestion. Also, chickpeas contain choline, which helps you with sleep disturbances and supports your circadian rhythm (the inner clock of your body).

10. Oats

Oats are a great source of vitamin B1, which is also known as the anti-stress vitamin. This will help you calm down in the evening. The complex carbohydrates will supply your brain with energy throughout the entire night. On top of that, oats are a great source of tryptophan as well, which will induce sleep. But pay attention: Don’t overeat oats before you go to bed. The bloated stomach would prevent you from falling asleep. Instead, eat a small portion. 3-4 tablespoons together with warm milk work great.

Another option would be to eat oatmeal at night. Oatmeal is useful when you feel like your stomach shouldn’t do much digestion during the night.

11. St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a plant that is known for medical purposes for centuries. You can use it as an antidepressant, to fight insomnia and anxiety. How St. John’s wort exactly works is not known, but there are some indicators why it is so effective as a sleep aid: First, St. John’s wort stimulates a receptor in our brain that releases sleep-inducing chemicals. And also, it enhances serotonin production, which is the hormone that makes you feel happy. St. John’s wort as a living plant is poisonous. But there are different ways to consume it:

  • As a tea
  • in capsules and pills
  • in tinctures

St. John’s wort will make a big difference in sleep quality. Some people report they sleep much better after only three days on St. John’s wort.

st johns wort sleep herb - find natural sleep remedies outdoors

12. Valerian

Valerian is a herb that promotes your sleep by increasing the concentration of GABA, a chemical that has a calming effect, in your body. The effects of valerian are scientifically not very established. That is because some studies claim that valerian has no effects on your sleep, while other studies show that about 400mg of valerian did in fact improve the sleep of 128 participants. Also, they showed that 600 mg valerian relieved the symptoms of insomnia after about 2 weeks of consumption. So, there are studies that claim it doesn’t work and others that claim it does work.

I took a deep dive at both studies and I got the answer: The study that says valerian doesn’t improve sleep only investigated what happens up to 2 weeks of intake. The study that shows that valerian works, says that the first results show up only after 2 weeks. So, both studies don’t contradict each other.

Now we know that valerian makes a significant difference in sleep. But you will need to wait for about 2-4 weeks until you notice it.

Valerian is available as a tea or simply as pills (usually each pill is about 500mg).

13. Kava Kava

In the last few years, kava (or sometimes called kava kava) became more and more popular as a natural sleep remedy. Similar to valerian, it is a herb that you can use to reduce anxiety, relieve stress and cure insomnia. Various studies showed that kava kava has sleep-inducing effects. However, the side effects of kava are not properly backed up by research yet. Also, for each study there appears to be a counterstudy that proves the opposite. Some say it causes indigestion and headaches. While kava might work well for sleep, it’s not the best candidate in this list, because of its side effects and the lack of evidence.

14. Passionflower

Similar to valerian, passionflower increases the level of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in your body. It will help you fall asleep and stabilize your mood. Therefore, it seems to be suited for insomniacs. Passionflower became popular because it seems to make you fall asleep faster. And also, passionflower makes you sleep longer. The side effects of passionflower go hand in hand with falling asleep. It can make you feel drowsy and dizzy. When you fall asleep anyways, that’s not the biggest problem. When you try passionflower just pay attention to how you feel when you wake up in the morning. If you feel refreshed, then everything is fine and you can keep using passionflower. However, if you feel drowsy and dizzy in the morning (which means the side effects last too long), passionflower is not something for you.

15. Melatonin

Here’s one of the most well-known natural sleep remedies: Melatonin. It is responsible for you becoming tired. When your body notices that the melatonin level rises, it slowly shuts down and makes you feel tired. Your brain produces melatonin when it gets dark. That means that if you watch TV in the evening or you are in a bright room, your melatonin production is stopped completely. The reason is that your body thinks, it’s still daytime.

Melatonin is suited for everyone because everyone produces it on its own. In case you can’t fall asleep melatonin is a sure-fire way to help yourself. It is backed up by studies. Mostly, it is available as pills.

However, because melatonin works so well as a natural sleep remedy, it must be consumed wisely. Your body can easily become dependent on it. Only use it occasionally and if you feel like melatonin doesn’t work for you after using it for 1 week, stop it completely. 

16. California poppy

California poppy is a beautiful orange flower. It activates the neurotransmitter GABA in your body which will improve your sleep. It serves as an alternative treatment of insomnia. It’s also interesting to know that some people say it’s a potent sedative as it is a relative of opium. The sedative effects of California poppy are well researched and accepted by science. The experiments in these studies have used animals as participants. The effects on humans should be similar though. Similar to other herbs, California poppy is available in capsule form, as tea, and as liquid drops.

17. Hops

You most likely know hops as an ingredient of beer – and it’s likely to be the most unusual natural sleep remedy on this list. During medieval times, people noticed that the workers on hops fields fall asleep more often than workers on other fields. So they came to the conclusion that hops somehow promotes sleep. And they are not far from the truth. Hops improves your sleep. In a study where participants drank non-alcoholic beer in the evening scientists could see that these participants slept better than usual.

However, the beer must be non-alcoholic. The alcohol itself would decrease the time you need to fall asleep, but it would lower your sleep quality and you would wake up feeling groggy.

18. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a herb that smells like lemons. People use lemon balm leaves for over 2000 years now. Lemon balm is a very universal herb that you can use for many different issues. It helps with headaches, improves sleep and supports your brain functions. One specific study looked at how lemon balm performs when people with interrupted sleep use it. And no surprise (I mean people use it for thousands of years): It turned out to be a working alternative to other sleep aids.

19. Magnolia Bark

Magnolia is a tree that you can find in China. It works because it contains several compounds that reduce stress and anxiety and some of them also have sedative effects. The stress reduction and sedative effects of magnolia bark combined make up an effective natural sleep remedy. On top of that, it stimulates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain which creates a calming effect. Similarly to the other natural herbs in this list, it is able to increase the GABA level and increases the duration of REM and deep NREM sleep. Magnolia bark has only little side-effects and is well tolerated by adults.

20. Lavender

Here’s one of my favorites. Everybody knows the smell of lavender. The smell alone calms you down and makes you fall asleep. There’s a reason there are scented sleep masks and lavender pillow sprays for sleeping. However, not only the smell is pleasant, but there are some solid facts that make lavender a great natural sleep aid.

Studies showed that lavender improves the quality of deep, restful sleep. It helps to relax the muscles and brings down blood pressure and heart rate. The next morning after using lavender, you often feel more refreshed and energized.

Lavender is often available as an essential oil. Before going to bed you dab a drop or two on your wrists and you are set to go. Also, you can spritz your pillow with lavender spray. You can even make your own lavender pillow spray with water, alcohol (you can simply use vodka) and a few drops of essential lavender oil.

lavender is an effective sleep aid and a famous natural sleep herb

21. Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce is another herb that has similar effects as opium. It calms you down and relieves stress. Also, it has little side effects. It works as a painkiller  Some people even smoke it to calm down. Robert Bisset, a first-time consumer who always struggled with sleep, says “Last night I didn’t get up at all. I did wake up a few times but went back to sleep. Got up this morning without the usual early morning aches and pains feeling rested.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It looks like dried wild lettuce is something you should substitute your cigarettes with if you want to sleep better.

22. Lime flower

Lime flower is generally a good choice if you have a cold. It relieves symptoms like coughs and flu. The additional sedative and stress-relieving effects of lime flower help with insomnia. Some even claim that lime flower was the herb of choice of world war II soldiers who wanted to calm down. The doctors brew a strong lime flower and used it as a tranquilizer. Tough, we don’t know whether they did that because it works so well or because they had no other alternative.

23. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (especially its root) is a herb that people have been using for over 3,000 (!) years. If you take ashwagandha for over a month, you can expect your cortisol levels to drop by up to 30%. Cortisol is the hormone that causes stress and reduces the function of your immune system. That is a remarkable result for a natural remedy. And as you might already know, lower stress levels also cause better and deeper sleep. Especially the time you need to fall asleep decreases.

Aside from that ashwagandha increases your strength, reduces your blood sugar and boosts your memory. It’s an all-in-one package. Because it interacts (positively) with so many different parts of your body, please don’t take it together with other medication as it might cause some unexpected side-effects.

24. Wuling

Wuling capsules contain powdered Chinese Wuling mushrooms. For the Chinese, it is a known medicine. However, recent studies about them have shown that they are not any more effective than a placebo.

25. Bacopa

Bacopa is another herb that humans use as a natural sleep remedy for thousands of years now. It has many different benefits including improved memory, reduced stress, and better cognition. You can use bacopa as a tranquilizer which might explain that some people also use it for sleep. Also, it can make you drowsy and dizzy. The relaxing and tranquilizing effects cause improved sleep. However, there are no studies that show that bacopa has a direct impact on your sleep.

26. Motherwort

Motherwort is a herb that is part of the mint family. It can improve your heart conditions. It lowers the blood pressure and regulates the blood thickness. You can think of motherwort as lubrication for your heart. Additionally, it calms you down while at the same time stabilizes your mood. If you feel angry or sad, motherwort might help. Motherwort does not directly induce sleep. But you will be able to sleep better as it calms your heart and nervous system.

27. CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the main contents of cannabis. It is, unlike the THC, not psychoactive so it doesn’t make you high. A study showed that when the participants consumed a 25mg capsule of CBD, about 67% of people reported improved sleep. The number of side effects is very low, only 3 out of 72 people couldn’t tolerate CBD. CBD improves your sleep by calming the activity in your brain. Also, it has reduced anxiety and promotes relaxation.

28. L-theanine

L-theanine is a natural amino acid that you can find in green tea. A study shows that L-theanine together with GABA increases REM-sleep up to 99.6% and NREM (deep) sleep by 20.6%. Don’t worry, you won’t need to create your own GABA and L-theanine mixtures. When you consume L-theanine, it already promotes GABA production. Together they will improve your sleep significantly, lower your stress levels and also regulate your emotions. It is usually available as a powder or in capsules.

29. Hawthorn

Hawthorn has an unbelievable amount of benefits. It helps you with weight loss, fights cholesterol (which is a fatty substance in your blood) and prevents cancer. An also (otherwise you wouldn’t find it on this list) hawthorn reduces stress and anxiety and improves your sleeping patterns. That means it helps you to sleep through the whole night and reduces the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night. You can make the tea yourself by boiling 4 hawthorns for 10 minutes. Or you simply buy one. You can find it in every grocery store.

30. Corydalis

Corydalis is a purple-flowering herb you can find in East Asia and Siberia. It is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Corydalis can treat insomnia and it relieves pain. It also helps with mental disorders, balances mood and helps with depression. Corydalis is, however, most famous for its pain relieve. That makes it a good sleep aid, especially when you have a cold, you are suffering from headache or back pain.

31. Jujube Seed

Jujube seeds are an incredible source of nutrients. They contain lots of vitamins A, B and C. Also, they are rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron. And they contain healthy fats. Jujube seeds help you fall asleep by triggering the GABA production in your brain, which is a neurotransmitter that induces sleep. Additionally, the vitamins and minerals make sure your body doesn’t lack nutrients during the night. This makes your sleep more restorative and deep. A study of jujube seeds shows that it extends the sleep time. The same study also says that jujube “benefits our brain by calming down the mind and improving quality of sleep”. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Additionally, jujube seeds help with digestion, protect your body against cancer improves your brain functionality and it improves your heart’s health.

jujube seeds as a sleep remedy

32. Magnesium

When I was a kid, my mother always gave me magnesium to reduce the pain in my legs after a hard day. And as a teenager doing sport, magnesium always helped me to prevent cramps. The research found out, that magnesium is especially well suited for elderly people as it helps them fall asleep faster. Also, magnesium increases the GABA levels in your brain, which induces sleep. Banana is rich in magnesium. So: A banana a day will keep the sleep doctor away.

33. Calcium

Similar to magnesium, Calcium is a mineral we absolutely need. A study has shown that the calcium in our brain controls how long we sleep. The exact way it works is, however, unknown. The researchers only found out that calcium is important for your sleep. If you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, you shouldn’t worry about your calcium levels. Especially milk is rich in calcium. However, if you feel like you are lacking it, the best idea is to talk to a doctor in order to find out whether you need to eat more calcium or not. A glass of milk or a yogurt a day might already do the job.

34. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is one of the most important vitamins regarding your sleep. As you’ve previously found out, all foods that are rich in tryptophan are great sleep boosters, as tryptophan is converted to serotonin which regulates the melatonin levels. However, your body needs vitamin B6 in order to convert tryptophan. Vitamin B6 acts as a natural melatonin booster. Just a short reminder: Melatonin is the hormone that induces sleep in your body. You can find vitamin B6 in nuts, cottage cheese, bananas, and chickpeas. All these foods are on this list as well. A coincidence?

35. Almond Milk

We’ve already had almonds on this list. For similar reasons, almond milk is a great sleep booster as well. It contains tryptophan which will have a noticeable impact on your sleepiness level. Almond milk is a great alternative to warm milk and to almonds. It has the benefits of both. Personally, I also prefer to drink something before going to bed. A small cup of warm almond milk will already improve your sleep.

36. Yogurt

A low-sugar, plain yogurt is a great natural sleep remedy. It helps your digestive system and is a good source of minerals such as vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin, which will help you to sleep deeper. The best thing about yogurt is that you can combine it with other natural sleep remedies. For example, you can pour in a small amount of tart cherry juice which is rich in tryptophan. Then, you’ll have a tasty cherry yogurt which is rich in minerals and natural sleep-aiding contents.

37. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is not the same as the usual cheese. It is very low in fat and full of amino acids and protein. Because it is so rich in protein, it also contains a vast amount of tryptophan, the amino acid that increases serotonin and melatonin levels. When you eat cottage cheese, your mood will increase and you will become sleepy. Cottage cheese is a natural melatonin booster. On top of that, cottage cheese does not cause any weight gain when you eat it before going to bad as it only contains protein and nearly no fat and carbohydrates.

cottage cheese is among the best dairy natural sleep remedies

38. Peppermint tea

Everybody knows the taste of peppermint, which comes from the essential oil menthol. Peppermint is a herb that is well researched. It helps with digestion, relieves tension and migraine and calms you down which helps with better sleep. An interesting fact is that peppermint oil relieves sleepiness during the day, but promotes sleep during the night. To me, that looks like the sleep effects of sleep are not researched well enough. At least it’s caffeine-free, unlike some other teas (like black tea).

39. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds become more and more popular as a super-food. They are packed with healthy nutrients and only a few teaspoons of them already have great benefits for your help. The vast amount of nutrients will make your sleep more restorative, help with brain functions and the antioxidants will restore cell damages during your sleep. Chia contains a very little amount of tryptophan, the sleep-inducing amino acid. Way less than other natural sleep remedies in this list. However, the amount of vitamins and minerals balances your health and helps with restoration. Chia seeds are not a direct sleep aid, but they are a strong “support” when you combine it with other sleep-inducing food.

40. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are high in tryptophan. You can get sesame seeds in absolutely any grocery store because they are so common. They are great when you combine them together with other seeds and nuts and mix them up in yogurt. That would be an effective sleep booster.

41. Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower and broccoli are the kings of tryptophan when it comes to vegetables. They will benefit your sleep by enhancing and regulating melatonin production. However, you should not eat cauliflower and broccoli right before going to bed. They contain slow-digesting fiber that prevents quick digestion of the tryptophan. Cauliflower and broccoli release their sleep-inducing effects only slowly. So, it’s a good idea to eat them with your dinner.

42. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are packed with Vitamin D, which will help you fall asleep. According to this vitamin D study which takes a look at the link of vitamin D deficiency and sleep disorders, vitamin D lowers the risk of having problems with your sleep. Additionally, they contain tryptophan, our number 1 sleep booster in natural sleep remedies.

43. Kiwi

A study that investigated the effects of kiwi consumption on our sleep revealed something very surprising. Normally, I’d say that fruit before going to bed is not a good idea (see this article: Can Oranges Affect Your Sleep?). However, the researchers found out that eating 2 kiwis 1 hour before going to bed reduces the time you need to fall asleep by up to 40%! But you have to be patient, as it will take 3-4 weeks for the effects to fully develop. Also, your sleep quality and duration will improve by up to 13%. Kiwis are one of the best choices when it comes to eating fruit before going to bed.

kiwis are one of the best fruit natural sleep remedies

44. Pineapple

A study on the melatonin levels of different fruit found that pineapple is one of the fruits with the highest natural melatonin levels. When you drink pineapple juice or eat pineapple the peak melatonin level is reached after 120 minutes. So, drinking a small glass of pineapple juice 1 or 2 hours before going to bed can actually help you fall asleep. However, pineapple juice at night might lead to weight gain as it contains a lot of fructose (fruit sugar). Also, the fruit acids might cause acid reflux when you lie down to fall asleep if you have a sensitive digestive system. So, pineapples are only suited for you if you don’t worry about your weight and you have a stable digestive system.

45. Cashew

Similar to almonds, cashews contain lots of magnesium and tryptophan which acts as a natural sleep aid. Also, they are rich in healthy fats and vitamins. So, depending on which taste you prefer you can either eat almonds or cashews before going to bed. A good choice is to simply mix them and eat both.

46. Quinoa

Like chia seeds, quinoa contains lots of nutrients like vitamins and minerals which act as a great nutrient supply when you are asleep. You shouldn’t use quinoa sleep as a sleep aid on their own, but use them as a nutrient source that helps you during deep sleep. You can combine them with other natural sleep remedies to get the best results.

47. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are rich in tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids. They can reduce stress and anxiety. The tryptophan in them will enhance the serotonin production which will then regulate your mood and improve your melatonin production. Additionally, they are a good source of magnesium, which I also listed here as a natural sleep remedy.

Which of these Natural Sleep Remedies are the Best?

Now you know a lot of natural sleep remedies. But which of these natural sleep aids are the best? Which of them work the best and which are the most reliable. Here are the ones I recommend:

47 Natural Sleep Remedies & Aids – The Outline

Most Natural Sleep remedies work because they contain tryptophan, which is a natural sleep enhancer. It enhances serotonin production. And the serotonin will help you regulate your melatonin levels. Other natural sleep aids work because they contain melatonin (like kiwis do). Or they contain big amounts of healthy minerals which will help with the restoration during your sleep. That improves your sleep quality.

Natural sleep aids are always a great choice. I recommend you try a few of them. For sure, you’ll find one that suits you. If you don’t, please get some medical advice from a doctor. By the way:

I hope you have learned something about natural sleep remedies today. I have learned a lot while researching this!

If you are curious on other ways to improve your sleep, check out my other articles. And also feel free to leave a comment!

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