A sleep aid is a substance or technique that relaxes the body and mind to encourage good sleep. Marianna Kilburn, our Sleep advisor explores the different sleep aids available - from sleeping tablets prescribed by your doctor, to over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies.
In general, sleeping aids are most suitable for short-term use – for example when suffering jetlag they can help you get back to a normal sleep pattern. It is not unusual to have the occasional sleepless night, especially if there is something exciting happening the next day - this should not require a sleeping aid.
You may have a sleepless night if you are, for example, nervous or excited because of a long-awaited holiday. If you do not want to be tired for this big event, you could take a single dose of a sleep remedy, giving you the best chance to feel bright and alert the next day.
If you are suffering from sleep problems or a sleep disorder, it is important to discuss your problems with a healthcare professional so that you can find something that is safe and effective for you. It is important to remember that the side effects of some sleeping aids (particularly sleeping tablets prescribed by your doctor) become apparent only after long-term use.
Many people look to herbal remedies as an alternative to prescription medicines or over-the-counter sleeping aids. These have become increasingly popular and are available from your local or high street health food store and pharmacy.
Such herbal remedies include:
Valerain herb – this is perhaps the most popular herb used to aid sleep. It can be used on its own, but is often combined with other herbs such as Passion Flower or Hops. One example is Dormeasan® Valerian & Hops drops containing extracts of freshly harvested valerian root and hops. It comes in the form of a liquid tincture and should not leave you feeling drowsy the next day
Chamomile – this is often used as a tea to help relax the body and induce sleep
Lavender Essential Oil – this is very popular as an aromatherapy remedy. The scent from a few drops placed on your pillow can help to calm your body and mind.
Some people seek sleeping aids which do not come in the form of a tablet, capsule or tincture. Complementary therapies to aid sleep include:
Hypnotherapy – this teaches you to relax and switch your thoughts off. If you believe that you can’t sleep, then you won’t sleep. Hypnotherapy tries to counteract these thoughts, inducing a good night’s sleep
Yoga – we know that this is a technique which can help you relax. It helps your body to wind down and your mind to switch off thoughts, helping you to drift into sleep
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is a behavioural programme which teaches you to replace thoughts preventing you from sleeping with ones that help induce sleep
Bright light therapy – light affects the release of melatonin in the brain. Exposing your brain to light at the correct times of the day helps to reset your biological clock and improve your sleep pattern. Light therapy can also help if you are feeling low in mood, especially during the darker, winter months of the year.
Join experts Eileen Durward and Alison Cullen in the beautiful A.Vogel garden as they talk about sleep and why it is the one remedy we cannot do without. Discover their tips on how to improve your sleep quality including lifestyle changes and how herbs such as Hops and Valerian can help promote a better night’s sleep.
Join today for lots of simple energy-boosting tips and advice from our nutritionist Emma and her team of experts sent to you over 6 days to help revitalise your energy levels, as well as a sample of our Balance Mineral Drink which is packed with energy-boosting minerals.