Top Ten Natural Sleep Remedies
for Insomnia Treatment

These natural sleep remedies relieve stress, increase your brain’s level of calming serotonin, and are proven insomnia treatments.

Why you can’t sleep...

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Need essential nutrients
  • Light and toxins in bedroom
  • Too much brain stimulation before bed
  • Foods/beverages that keep you awake
  • Medications and stimulants
  • PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Lack of exercise

Top 10 Natural sleep remedies

1. Magnesium

Lack of magnesium is the number one nutritional reason most of us have trouble sleeping. 

Magnesium is one of the very best natural sleep remedies. Yet in the US alone, 4 out of 5 people DON’T get enough! That’s almost 250 million Americans who are magnesium-deficient, what with all the processed foods we eat and mineral-depleted soils where food is grown. No wonder so many of us are looking for an insomnia treatment.

You need magnesium for good sleep, for relaxing your muscles - including muscle recovery after exercise, for heart health, and for your health in general. It helps to relieve restless leg syndrome.

Good choices are citrate, orotate, or glycinate. I like mineral drops that contain magnesium along with other mineral cofactors.

Add potassium if you have leg cramps at night or are under stress, since stress uses up your potassium.

You can also increase your magnesium levels by taking an Epsom salts bath and then spraying magnesium oil on your skin.

Read more about magnesium and its powerful effects on your sleep, and discover the most effective forms of magnesium for your body.

2. Holy Basil

Also known as Ocimum Sanctum or Ocimum gratissimum, Tulsi or “Queen of Herbs,” Holy Basil is a time-honoured natural remedy for sleep. Tulsi means "the Incomparable One."

Holy Basil or Tulsi is an adaptogen used in Ayurvedic medicine for many different conditions as well as insomnia.

It's an amazing herb that calms physical and psychological stress, lowers blood pressure, protects your cells from chemical damage and pollution, and reduces anxiety and depression. It is analgesic (relieves pain), anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.

I have used Holy Basil as capsules that contain a liquid extract and as an herbal tea - it comes as the loose herb or in bags. Caps and tea are both fine as natural sleep remedies.

3. Chamomile tea

An old-fashioned insomnia treatment that works. Chamomile herb is known for calming stress and anxiety, probably because of its high mineral content that includes calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium.

Natural sleep remedies: Chamomile tea is known for calming stress and anxiety. © Karen Alison

Avoid chamomile if you’re allergic to ragweed. In fact, if you’re using natural sleep remedies on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to rotate them. Have three or four from this list on hand and use a different one every night so you don’t sensitize to any of them.

Dr. James Balch says that if you use chamomile too frequently for a long period of time, it may create a ragweed allergy.


Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a calming neurotransmitter that inhibits the firing of neurons in the brain. As a supplement, it acts as a natural tranquilizer, so it works well as a natural sleep remedy.

GABA works best as an insomnia treatment if you take it with magnesium and vitamin B6.

GABA supplements are not recommended for people who are depressed because it slows down your neurotransmitter activity and may increase depression. But if you're not depressed, it's a great natural remedy for sleep!

Besides taking GABA itself, another way to boost the levels of GABA and serotonin in your brain is to take L-Theanine. Theanine is found in green tea, although the amount in a couple of cups of tea probably won’t be enough to help you sleep. (And I don’t know about you, but green tea keeps me awake.)

L-theanine increases your alpha brain wave activity, which is the same state you are in during meditation or when you’re asleep and dreaming, so it is very relaxing. Animal studies show that L-theanine has a protective effect on the brain and memory.

5. L-tryptophan

An amino acid that is a mild hypnotic or natural sedative, L-tryptophan is the precursor to sleep-inducing neuro-chemicals serotonin and melatonin. Research studies have proven that it combats chronic insomnia, and reduces pain, PMS, and depression. There is some evidence that it can help prevent migraines.

You can increase your levels of tryptophan and serotonin with exercise and, if done correctly, with food, however, you may prefer the convenience of a tryptophan supplement for stressful times when it’s difficult to sleep. As with GABA, it’s helpful to take L-tryptophan with magnesium and vitamin B6.

Interestingly, a 2007 article in the Journal of Affective Disorders pointed out that industrialized nations with a higher intake of tryptophan have a lower incidence of suicide.

L-tryptophan is not available without a prescription in some countries.

6. 5HTP

5HTP or 5 Hydroxytrytophan is similar in effect to tryptophan and raises serotonin levels in your brain.

You can’t get 5HTP from food. It’s made into a supplement from the seeds of the African plant, Griffonia simplicifolia.

5HTP became popular back in the 1980’s, when tryptophan supplements were banned in the U.S. because of a contaminated batch that caused EMS, eosinophilic myalgia syndrome, a potentially fatal condition, in some users.

However, the source of the bad batch was identified and L-tryptophan came back on the market in the 21st century. (Just to be clear, it was not the tryptophan that caused the problem, but the contamination.)

5HTP has also been used for migraine prevention. As with all natural sleep remedies, consult your doctor about interactions and precautions if you are on medication.

7. Tap away your stress

Stress and anxiety are two of the most common reasons people look for natural sleep remedies.

They make it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep because your body responds to stress and worry by flooding your bloodstream with adrenaline and cortisol – two stay-alert hormones.

When life had a slower pace, our bodies got a chance to relax. © Karen Alison

In the past, when life had a slower pace, there was enough time for all that adrenaline and cortisol to leave the bloodstream before another stress came along. Our bodies got a chance to relax.

But with today’s fast-paced lifestyle, there can be so many stresses in your day that your body has no time to get rid of the extra stress hormones.

And what’s worse is that the cortisol from chronic stress affects...

  • your immune system
  • your ability to absorb calcium and your bones (think osteoporosis)
  • digestion
  • insulin resistance (excess weight, diabetes)
  • memory and cognitive function
  • blood pressure
  • and many other aspects of your health. 

In fact, some researchers think stress is the cause of most illnesses, not just insomnia.

Stress is a fact of life – you can’t change that. What you CAN change is your response to stress so it doesn’t harm you or keep you awake.

The easiest and most powerful method I’ve found for relieving stress and anxiety is called EFT Tapping.

It’s one of the best natural sleep remedies because it relieves worry, fear and overwhelm - three emotions that raise your cortisol. EFT Tapping has been clinically proven to lower cortisol levels. 

You can also use it to help you get back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

What is tapping?

Natural sleep remedies EFT Tapping

EFT Tapping is a simple self-healing technique based on acupressure (like acupuncture but NO needles.) You use your fingers to tap lightly on specific healing points on your face and torso while you keep your mind on an issue or problem.

Does the issue or problem magically go away? Of course not. What happens is that your reaction to it changes.

After all, stress is not created by what happens to you but by the way you react to what happens. Once you’re able to feel neutral about something that used to light your hair on fire, it no longer stresses you.

Dr. Christiane Northrup points out that EFT Tapping "significantly reduces cortisol levels," allowing you to relax into sleep.

8. Breathe!

When you’re stressed or anxious, you’ll find that you don’t breathe very deeply. This keeps you from taking in the oxygen you need and makes you even more stressed.


Because, when you’re not getting much air, your body thinks your survival is at risk and then you panic.

So, when you’re stressed, remember to take some long slow breaths until you start to relax. Deep breathing will help to put you to sleep.

But here’s the trick:

Make your inhale shorter than your exhale. So, when you inhale, count to three but when you exhale, make it last to a count of six (or four and eight or five and ten – whatever you can manage.) And hold your breath for a few seconds between the inhale and the exhale.

When I first did this, I found I had to start with a BIG exhale. I couldn’t make myself take in a deep breath until I had forced all the air out of my lungs (really push on your diaphragm with your abdominal muscles.) When you’ve exhaled all your air, you pretty much have to take in a deep breath.

Using your breath to calm your nervous system is a method that has been around since ancient times. So has…

9. Yoga

Yoga is one of the classic natural sleep remedies. It’s time-tested and it works.

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you probably noticed how relaxed you felt afterwards. That relaxation is partly because of the deep breathing and meditation, and partly because of the way the yoga poses balance your nervous system.

A study at Harvard had participants with chronic insomnia follow a regular yoga practice for eight weeks. They had significant improvements in several areas: how long it took them to get to sleep, how well they slept, how long they slept, the number of times they woke up and how frequently they woke during sleep.

Yoga can also help with sleep apnea.

10. Palming

palming for relaxation - a great natural sleep remedy © Karen Alison
Palming for relaxation © Karen Alison

Palming is a simple and very relaxing technique I learned when I took some classes in natural vision improvement. The point of palming is to completely relax your optic nerve – the nerve that goes from your eyes to the vision processing center at the back of your head.

What makes this one of the best natural sleep remedies? And how does palming help you to relieve stress?

Because your optic nerve is connected to your whole nervous system and when you relax your eyes, your nervous system relaxes. When you’re stressed it is NOT relaxed.

I find that when I lie in bed and do some palming when I’m trying to fall asleep, I have a deep, restful sleep and wake feeling refreshed. Many other people have told me the same thing happens for them.

Read more about palming and how to use it as an insomnia treatment.

Does PTSD 
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder -
keep you awake?

PTSD is a special kind of chronic stress that happens because of a traumatic event – or several of them. Sadly, many people suffer from this terrible condition for decades. It can ruin your job, your relationships, your life, and definitely your sleep. And it is far more common than most of us realize.

PTSD is very serious, whether it has been caused by wartime experiences, an accident, difficult childhood or family events, a relationship ending, or the death of a loved one. There are many causes of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nightmares
  • Hyper-alertness and anxiety
  • Physical and emotional health problems
  • Addictions
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A person with post traumatic stress cannot “snap out of it,” even when the original trauma happened years earlier. There are complex reasons for this because of the way the brain reacts when it believes you are in a dangerous situation and are helpless to escape it.

If you would like to know more about this brain process, visit the website of trauma pioneer, Robert Scaer, MD and read his revealing articles.

Dr. Scaer is a scientist and several of his articles are quite scholarly. The one entitled “The Precarious Present” is a good place to start for us non-scientific types.

Natural sleep remedies for PTSD

Dr. Scaer points out that medication and talk therapy have not been very effective for people with PTSD. To heal this condition and get back to sleep, he recommends techniques that engage your mind and body simultaneously, like EFT Tapping.

Gary Craig, who developed EFT Tapping, wrote an excellent book called EFT for PTSD. It is packed with information that will help you or your loved ones recover from post traumatic stress. You can definitely use tapping as an insomnia treatment as it helps to

  • relieve stress and PTSD
  • calm anxiety
  • lower your startle response 
  • neutralize traumatic memories 
  • and reduce nightmares. 

Tapping also helps with addictions that are so often part of post traumatic stress and insomnia. Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol are often used by PTSD sufferers because they seem to provide temporary relief.

Unfortunately, they backfire by interfering with normal sleep. And addictive substances don't address the real issue, which is the unbearably painful memories and experiences of PTSD. You can address these memories without revisiting them with EFT.

EFT Tapping has been scientifically tested and shown to lower cortisol levels. When you have PTSD and/or are stressed, your cortisol levels are chronically high and this causes problems for sleep.

In cases of severe PTSD, you may want to visit an EFT professional. Whether you choose that route or work with EFT Tapping on your own with the help of Gary Craig's book, you will find it is one of your best natural sleep remedies.

You will also benefit from the other natural sleep remedies for stress that are listed above.

Related Articles

Palming - the unique and little-known natural sleep remedy that's an easy and surprisingly effective insomnia treatment.

Of all nutrients, this miracle mineral is the most effective natural sleeping remedy you can take!

How to Eat Your Way to a Good Sleep - Are unsuspected food ingredients keeping you awake? Do you know which foods will help you sleep? Find out and sleep well!

EFT Tapping - this cutting edge technology for stress relief will help you improve your sleep. What is it?

Use these simple instructions for How to tap.

What Causes Insomnia? 7 big reasons you didn't suspect.

Find more articles on our Site Map and Articles List


Have health questions or questions about natural remedies? Ask them here. Your success stories, comments and ideas are welcome, too!

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