If you’re one of the thousands of Americans who has trouble sleeping, you know how insomnia can suck the joy out of your life. Even worse, if you have already tried cutting caffeine, staying away from screens and exercising regularly and are still struggling with getting to sleep, you might be thinking about trying CBD or melatonin. In the wake of the FDA’s recent “black box” warning about insomnia medicines such as Ambien and Lunesta, which may be linked to serious injuries and death related to sleep walking, many are looking for natural solutions.
The first thing sleep experts usually suggest are behavioral cures that involve changing your habits for good.
“For example, going to bed only when sleepy and getting out of bed if unable to sleep for more than 20 minutes, avoiding naps, using bed only for sleep and sex, and waking up at the same time everyday no matter how much sleep you get,” says Janice Raj, a Doctor of Psychology at Kaiser Permanente’s Milpitas Medical Office. “The goal of this is to spend no more time in bed than the time you are actually sleeping. The most important thing to remember is never try to sleep, let it happen naturally because sleep is a biological process and it will eventually happen when you take pressure off of yourself to sleep.”
But if keeping your sleep routine super regular is off the table because of your job, your kids or other factors, here’s the skinny on two popular natural remedies.
Medical experts say that one way hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, may help with sleep is by easing anxiety. One recent study, posted in the January issue of The Permanente Journal, published by the Kaiser-Permanente health insurance company, looked at the health records of 72 patients treated with CBD for either anxiety or poor sleep. The three-month study showed that anxiety levels declined, even in those people whose primary complaint was poor sleep. Being more chill can help you get more shuteye.
Your body naturally produces this hormone but some people don’t seem to produce enough of it to fall asleep easily and stay asleep until morning. That’s one reason melatonin aids actually work, experts say.
“Even sound sleepers have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once in a while,” says Luis F. Buenaver, Ph.D., a sleep expert at Johns Hopkins, as the Johns Hopkins website noted. “You may want to try melatonin for sleep if you have difficulty for more than a night or two.”
Studies show that melatonin supplements may help people with insomnia fall asleep slightly faster and may have bigger benefits for those with delayed sleep phase syndrome—falling asleep very late and waking up late the next day.