When you feel like you need an extra hand getting to sleep, but don’t want to rely on sleeping pills, you may turn to a popular folk remedy for help. There’s no denying the efficacy of the good old placebo effect, and indeed, a favourite family remedy that you trust may actually help you relax and fall asleep faster. That said, it’s worth knowing which remedies have garnered some approval from the scientific community. Read on for five popular folk remedies and whether or not they’ve been proven to work.
A warm glass of milk before bed
The jury is still out on this one. Consider this: On one hand, milk is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to melatonin, which is an important sleep-inducing hormone. However, the amount of tryptophan in a single glass of milk is probably too low for you to actually feel the effects. However, the positive psychological associations you might have with milk may do the trick. It won’t do any harm, so if it makes you feel better, drink up!
A few drops of lavender oil on the pillow
The deep, flowery scent of lavender oil is touted by many aromatherapy enthusiasts as an effective relaxation and sleep aid. The research says that they’re probably right. Multiple studies have shown that lavender has a sedative effect on the nervous system and may help improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Valerian root, taken orally
Valerian is an herbal supplement, popular throughout Europe as a relaxation and sleep aid. The studies on valerian are inconclusive. Some have shown that it helps reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, but they may have been poorly designed. It’s been repeatedly proven to be safe in normal doses, so it’s at least unlikely to do any harm.
A hot cup of herbal tea
There haven’t been many studies on the effects of herbal tea on sleep, but some preliminary research shows that chamomile and passionflower tea may actually help you get to sleep. One caveat is that if you’re pregnant, or just the type of person who needs to go the toilet a lot, a big cup of tea right before bed may result in a middle-of-the-night toilet trip.
This is one of the best-researched home sleep remedies, and the research is overwhelmingly positive. Slow, relaxing music has reliably been shown to improve sleep quality in adults. Check out this list of songs that may help lull you to sleep.