Natural Sleep Remedies That Really Work

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If you or someone you love suffers from insomnia or has trouble sleeping, you know how hard it can be.

It can be tempting to try pharmaceuticals, but sometimes natural sleep remedies can be just what you need to be off to dreamland quickly–and stay there the whole night long.

Woman sleeping on white bed - Natural Sleep Remedies

And while it’s hard for adults who can’t sleep, it’s really hard when your child is suffering.

Any child can have a hard time getting to sleep, but for parents of children with special needs, bedtime can be particularly difficult.

What should be a pretty simple concept of putting a child to bed can become an ongoing series of night upon night of stress and anxiety that makes bedtime a source of nothing that resembles rest at all.

Now, we have not solved all of the sleep problems in our family by any means, but we have learned some things that I hope will be helpful for you, wherever you are along this path of parenthood and whether you have special needs child or not.  In fact, all of us could use more sleep these days, so read on — no matter your age or your stage :-)!

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Trouble Sleeping in Our Home

This has been an ongoing problem that started when our oldest was still an infant.  He would not sleep for any period longer than 30 minutes at a stretch in any given night.  And typically the total amount of sleep that I got was only 5 hours.

I was a zombie.

When that same child was about 6 years old, we would put him to bed only to have him come out over-and-over-and-over again, telling us that he just couldn’t sleep.  And that would go on until midnight or later, when we all finally collapsed.  Not a good recipe for family peace.

I know, most people would just say, “Why don’t you just put him in his room and tell him that he’ll get a punishment for coming out or a reward for staying in.”  For us, the anxiety that resulted was simply untenable.

We’ve done a bit of work in this area.  And these days, our son needs someone in the same room with him, but he at least gets to sleep quickly.

So while it is not a perfect situation, we are all getting approximately what we need in the sleep department — and that works for us.

Possible Causes for Sleep Problems

Physical Disturbances

Special needs children often have heightened sensitivities.  What might be a non-issue to a typical child might be a “big deal” to a special needs child.  As such, you may need to pay special attention to the physical aspects of your child’s bedroom.

Allergies

It turned out that our son’s frequent wakings were due to food allergies.  When he was nursing, I was eating foods that he was allergic to as a result he had horrible eczema.  Once we had testing done and the foods were eliminated (completely!!), the itching stopped and he slept.

Temperature

Sleeping in a room that is too cold or too hot can cause anyone’s sleep to be disturbed.  Maintaining a comfortable sleeping temperature can be a big help.  Also, cold feet can be a big problem, so if your child’s bedroom is a bit cold, make sure that you try having your child wear socks, in particular, to insure a good night’s sleep.

Noise

Due to kids’ sensitivity, any noises may make it hard for your child to sleep. 

Toxins

Typically we think about air pollution as being from cars, factories, and the like. However, indoor air quality is getting more and more attention as it should. Modern houses are more tight and modern products typically have more VOCs and synthetics than in previous generations.

You could consider improving the air quality of your home and bedrooms by purchasing a quality air filter or simply bringing some air purifying plants into your home.

Emotional Disturbances

We all know that stress disturbs sleep.  Here are some possible causes and remedies.

Anxiety

Anxiety from all sources can cause problems in slumber-land.  Our son has gotten worked up from many things, but mainly from family stress and frightening reading material.  Reducing how much stress your child is exposed to and limiting exposure to material that may be frightening is a big help.  Even material that may not be ostensibly frightening but can cause mental confusion (like fantasy stories) can be too much for some children to handle.  For obvious reasons, violent and occult media content should be completely avoided.

Stimulation

This is one area that, together with anxiety, has been hard for us to curb.  Listening to the stimulating radio music or broadcasts (that means sports for our son), or being on the internet too late at night can cause sleep disruption, including waking too early.

Woman sleeping on white bed - Natural Sleep Remedies

Natural Sleep Remedies

We’ve worked with a number of practitioners and have done a lot of research over the years,  and we have found the following natural sleep remedies to be helpful.

Melatonin

We’ve found melatonin to be a real help in our household on and off.  We don’t use a whole capsule; we just open the capsule up, pour it in a container, and give him about 1/10 of the capsule before bed.  (We use Now brand 3 mg capsules.) You can also buy tablets and break them as needed.

Some practitioners think that a small amount is best. Personally I’ve found that to work best for me – about .25 – .50 mg per day. Saves money too :)!

Magnesium

Magnesium can be taken orally or can be used as a foot or bath soak (in the form of magnesium crystals or epsom salts) or in a magnesium oil or lotion.

Some people say that skin absorption is best, but that’s hard to know. Either way, magnesium is a big deal for relaxing your body.

GABA

Promotes a relaxed state of mind. GABA works in a pinch, but some practitioners say that taking it ongoing causes your body not to produce enough of it.

In that case, it would be better to eat foods that promote your body to make it like brown rice, soy beans, adzuki beans, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sprouted grains, chestnuts,mushrooms, and sweet potatoes.

Valerian

Valerian herb is known for sleep-inducing qualities, but it’s also known for being really stinky…seriously.  Buying a standardized version is often recommended but we make our own tincture sometimes.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have helped me on and off throughout the years.

I have had these essential oils for adrenal support help me over and over when I couldn’t sleep.

Herbal Blend

This Relaxing Sleep herb blend is a nice combination of herbs that support sleep (including valerian that I mentioned above). I have found it work well.

Kava

Kava is a great herb that can really help with stubborn sleep problems. Like most herbs you can get it in either capsule or tincture form.

White Noise

Having some kind of white noise can help your child sleep. A simple fan or air filter can work.

We’ve tried several white noice machines, but this sound machine is the best one that we’ve found.

I Recommend
LectroFan White Noise Machine

LectroFan White Noise Machine

This White Noise Machine is the best we've tried. It has varying loudness levels and also 20 unique sounds (10 fan and 10 white noise) and no looping!  

Phototherapy Patches

One new thing that’s helped me us a lot is these phototherapy patches. They interact with your body to create changes that result in homeostasis.

There are a number of patches to choose from, but the Silent Night Patches enhance your quality of sleep. For some, they make a huge difference.

The Silent Nights Patches combined with SP6 and Aeon really help me. Reach out at adrienne@wholenewmom.com for proprietary info about how to use these and if you’d like, you can join a Facebook group that I’m a part of as well. The group includes practitioner support plus 70 protocols for all kinds of issues.

You can get wholesale pricing to try these out as either a Preferred Customer or Distributor. Here’s how.

1. Go to https://lifewave.com/adrienneurban/enrollment/packs

2. Click JOIN at the top right

3. Select your country

4. Click JOIN NOW. If you already have an account click LOG IN. You can make your username FirstLast or whatever you like.

5. I recommend the Bronze or Silver Starter Kit for getting started, depending on how many patches you want to buy initially. The more you buy, the more you save. The X39 30-day supply equals the price of 2 of any of the other patch pack. The Price breakdown is as follows:

  • BRONZE: You get 2 regular patch sets or 1 X39. $124.95 = $62.47 each
  • SILVER: You get 6 regular patch sets or 3 X39s (or a combo). $299.95 = $49.99 each.
  • GOLD: You get 11 regular patch sets or 5 X39 + 1 (or a combo). $499.95 or $45.45 each.

There’s a helpful group on Facebook that I can add you to where you can see other options for using these.

Of course, for any of the above suggestions, you should consult with a professional health care provider regarding your individual situation.

How about you?
What natural sleep remedies or techniques have helped you?

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46 Comments

  1. Great article, thank you for the recommendation definitely going to try them out.

    One of the most effective solutions I’ve found for sleep problems is lavender, it promotes relaxation and calms your mind down and puts you in a sleepy state, it can be used in different ways and it is really effective in improving the quality of sleep, You should check it out.

  2. After changing your thoughts on essential oil companies have you found an essential oil blend from NAN that you like for sleep? I initially bought YL, but the more I learn the more I am interested in trying other brands. The insane shipping for YL is a huge turn off. After reading your blog I’ve really gotten interested in the NAN oils. Thank you for doing so much research!

    1. Hi there. I would try their Tranquility. Personally I don’t have it yet – it’s in my shopping cart :). But I have heard from others (including the reviews on the site) that it is a great blend and I diffused some of its components in my home when I was feeling anxious the other week and it really helped. Hope that helps! The other thing I would consider is from Ava Anderson. They have a natural EO based perfume called Hope that I really enjoy for it’s calming properties, and they also have a “Monster Spray” that many mothers lean on at bedtime. It is also said to help with hot flashes :). You can see more about the company and products here. https://wholenewmom.com/ava-anderson-non-toxic/

  3. This is very interesting.. especially about the distillation process..
    One thing that apparently is not known is : doTERRA us to be with the high ups in Young Living
    so they got all of the formulas and just changed the names and started their own company.

  4. I can’t believe I just discovered your blog! Love it! Stumbled upon it b/c we were researching “the BEST” EOs to buy and use. Having been a sort of rep (only purchased for my own use) for DoTerra – but not liking the $$ anymore – we were looking around for information to make an educated choice – truly enjoyed your post on ALL of that! Whew! But then I started looking around your blog and found SO many other helpful posts! We have a son who struggles with Sensory Processing Issues – so we have done many of the therapies and interventions you mentioned. Have the book you mentioned (plus many, many more) in our arsenal, and have him on a mostly whole food and organic GFCF diet (makes cooking a chemistry class, no?) Add that to the fact that we are Christian home schoolers, and well, there is so much common ground here on your page, I could get lost here for days lol!

    But there IS a question in here, I promise, not just a comment.
    After all of your research into the EOs, have you found anything new that works in helping your son go to sleep? We employee ALL of the other stratgies you mentioned, and have played around with lavender, peace and calming, serenity (all DoTerra), but are looking for something that may work better.
    We have also been giving him Hyland’s Calms Forte and a liquid vitamin that helps with calming just before bedtime – and these things work nicely together most of the time. Just looking for some good EOs to maybe speed the process a bit as I am often still “helping” him to sleep until 10pm – and that makes for a tired mama 😀

    Thanks for all that you do!
    God Bless

    1. Hi there -thanks! How old is your son? I so appreciate your kind words.

      Sleep is HUGE. I really need to do another post – I am working on some new things myself and am working w/ a new practitioner for myself and my son. I would be happy to give you her name. I have used lavender and serenity (from Native American) and have thought of purchasing their Grounding. They are changing names so you might have to check what they are using now.

      I am going to start my son on B-6 today and tryptophan. Have you tried those? This is not medical advice – sorry, but I have to say that.

      1. thanks so much for responding!
        My son is 9. I would LOVE a new practitioner’s name – we are staved for holistic types where we are 🙂
        I was looking at the Grounding as well 🙂
        I have done B-6 – but during the day, never thought of it at night – but maybe I mentally throw it in with B-12, and that would be a huge mistake lol! Tryptophan – no! Why did I now think of that?? It could be b/c for a long time we were avoiding turkey – I equated it with turkey. His Dr. at the time said most turkeys are fed diets that included grains to which he is allergic – and that pastured chickens were better b/c they eat very few of those grains naturally. I will definitely look into those suggestions! thanks SO much. Looking forward to your allergen free meal plan ideas too 🙂 Got hooked on meal planning at kitchenstewardship but need more gf/cf ideas.

        1. I was told to do the B6 in the morning. I will have to see what we are doing w/ the tryp. It’s an empty stomach thing.

          I will get moving on the meal plan – busy this week but hopefully soon. I’ll email you.

  5. I read your post on NAM essential oils and are thinking of trying them. Which ones do you recommend for helping my son with ASD to sleep at night?

    1. I am thinking the owner would recommend Serenity or Grounding or just plain lavender for starters. Let me know if you need more help. Thanks!

  6. Hi, May I know what diffusers do you use ?
    I need to find one that wont tamper with the essential oils properties.

  7. Meditation is an important part of my night time routine. I put on my favorite meditation music, guided meditation or listen to anything inspirational until I fall asleep. This can take more than an hour some nights. But, I am not tossing and turning and getting frustrated because I can’t fall asleep. I am doing something useful to help my body and mind relax. You should try it and add it to the list!

  8. Hi,
    I’m wondering about the melatonin. My daughter is 7 and we’ve been giving her 1/2mg melatonin every night since she was 4. It has been a “lifesaver” for helping her sleep. I’m starting to wonder though about long term side effects. I haven’t been able to find anything, and when I do search, some info seems negative about using it. I’ve also had people (average person, not md) tell me you’re only supposed to use it for a short period. Have you come across anything about long term side effects?
    Renee

    1. Renee, I have had the same concerns. I have heard from some people that you should take one night off every month. The practitioner whom I am working with now is not concerned about it at all. I am taking about 3 mg daily and she says that as you age it really helps. So it is a curious thing. What have you heard / read? I know that for me, not getting sleep is a huge problem. I wonder if perhaps as my health and my son’s improves if we might be able to stop using it. I am sorry that I don’t have definitive answers for you. One option might be to alternative different sleep aids like melatonin, valerian and magnesium and cut the doses. Just now I looked on the internet and there was one article by Mayo Clinic, but nothing showed up. The next one that looked promising was from Vanderbilt U and they said there were no disconcerting side effects. So I guess we just do what we can and try to learn. O I hope that helps.

  9. Great tips; I use melatonin to sleep and it works wonders! So happy to have found your blog. Have a great night.

  10. I LOVE that you mentioned the Peace & Calming blend!! I put some on my son before I read this post. We also use Lavender a lot. Sometimes I’ll use the Tranquil blend on him.

    I LOVE the essential oils. We haven’t had to go to a doctor in 4 years. 🙂

    1. I am so encouraged to hear that. I have just started using the oils. I haven’t tried the Tranquil yet. I am wondering if you would be so kind as to share what diffuser you like. I have never diffused oils and am wondering about which to choose. Thanks!

      1. Hi Adrienne,

        I have the old school diffuser. Back when I joined YL I got a 50% off coupon for any diffuser, so I got that one. It’s the one with the glass top (Item 3660 on the products page of Young Living’s website). My friend has the “home” diffuser (item 4468) and she loves it. I’d like to get one when I have enough pennies saved up. 😉

        If you haven’t already I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy of the Essential Oils Desk Reference. It’s my go-to book for everything. There is a much less expensive pocket version of the book. Go here: https://www.lifesciencepublishers.com/
        It’s only $17.95. The big hardbound one is $49.95.

        Oily yours,
        Kirsten

        1. I have 2 pendant personal diffusers I wear. Not both at the same time. My favorite one is a little ceramic heart that Young Living sold last Christmas time. You put a drop of oil on a tiny piece of cotton ball and put it into the top of the heart. I’ll see if I can find something similar online so you can see what it looks like.

  11. Melatonin is a staple in my household! Calcium also works when taken right before bed for me.

    Thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop.

  12. It’s so funny….I have the Peace & Calming blend, but it has the exact opposite effect on my 17-month old. It’s like a shot of sugar or something for her! So, we’ve banned P&C at nighttime. Absolutely not allowed! I’ll check into the melatonin though!

    1. Hi April,
      Have you tried Lavender or the Gentle Baby? There is also RutaVaLa blend. They might be better as perhaps your daughter is reacting to the Ylang Ylang in the Peace & Calming. Let me know how the melatonin works!

  13. I am interested in becoming an Independent Distributor for Young Living essential oils, can you please give me more information.

  14. We also had a child with sleep problems and found out that the issue was food allergies. Identifying the foods and changing his diet has worked wonders.

  15. I love Young Living Oils! They are a necessity at our house. I have a few diffusers and use different oils at certain times of the day. Like I love citrus mid day because it’s so uplifting and I use peace and calming in the evening. They are great!

  16. We haven’t had too much of a problem in this area..but have always used calms/calms forte – a natural relaxation aid. Even my mainstream pediatrician agreed it was perfectly safe and healthy!
    Blessings!

  17. Adrienne – You’re right… I am sure that adrenal fatigue has a great deal to do with it (as does nutritional deficiencies). I started seeing an intuitive healer when my daughter had unexplained allergic reactions and have learned so much about my own health in the process of her healing. I appreciate the links to additional information!

  18. I am so upset I did not have this info when I wrote my July 12 post on sleep deprivation (“If you’re not gettin’ any, it’s all you think about)! You have provided some great information here. As one who suffers from reoccurring insomnia, I appreciate the in-depth look at this topic.

  19. Here are a couple of things that have helped us. We use these things in combination on a regular basis. 1) Hot Milk Toddy: 1 cup warm milk, 1/2 tsp. sweetner, two drops of vanilla or almond flavoring.
    2) Spray or instantly dissolving melatonin. 3) Get up at the same time every day – no matter what time you went to sleep. Experts say going to bed at the same time matters. I’ve found that getting up at the same time every day makes the real difference.

  20. My parents used to give me a book. They would leave the lights on and I’d ‘read’ myself to sleep and when they went to bed they’d take the book off my face (I’d use it like a mini tent to not see the light)and turn off the light and I’d sleep all night long. Gave me a lifelong love of reading too, I still read before sleeping.