What are your top suggestions for better sleep?

Q. Dear Terry, “What are your top suggestions for better sleep?”– Libby L., Madison, WI

A. Dear Libby, Sleep quality and quantity are both incredibly important to our overall health. Many Americans are sleep deficient, which can set us up for many chronic diseases seen today. Fortunately, there are some botanicals and natural options that can really make a difference.

Lemon balm has been used medicinally for centuries. It is a calming agent and mild sedative. Recent studies have shown that lemon balm may bind to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which help the nervous system calm down.

Lavender is another natural sleep aid. Scientific studies suggest that lavender oil helps to relieve anxiety, has mild sedative properties, and can help with deep sleep. People who use lavender also experience more energy and alertness in the morning.

Mandarin is traditionally used to help settle the nervous system and induce sleep. Scientists believe that the compounds in mandarin peel work synergistically to promote relaxation and sleep.

Lastly, ravintsara helps to relieve insomnia, reduce depression, and alleviate nervous tension.

To assist with a restful night’s sleep, I would take a combination of mandarin zest extract, lemon balm leaf, ravintsara leaf oil, and lavender aerial oil. I recommend 250 mg of these ingredients 30 minutes to an hour before bed.

Additionally, you may want to consider trying melatonin. When it comes to the timing of melatonin, ideally it should be taken about 1-2 hours before desired bedtime. Because melatonin is quickly metabolized by the body, some supplemental forms can be completely cycled through in as little as two hours. If you want more sustained release benefits from melatonin, you could consider looking for a form that slowly administers itself into the bloodstream over time. I would try 5 to 10 mg of a sustained-release melatonin, which is the same form used in clinical research to support our circadian rhythm.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally