WASHINGTON — A bedtime routine is an important way to wind down and prepare for a good night, and that routine might include a glass of wine, a mug of tea, a pop of melatonin, or even a dose of CBD.
In our ongoing coverage of Sleep Awareness Week, we took a look at what we know about some common sleep aids.
The sedative effects of alcohol may help you wind down and fall asleep, but that’s also been linked to poor quality, shorter sleep as the alcohol works through your system.
Johns Hopkins Medicine sleep specialist Dr. Hassan Chami says he regularly sees patients who wake up in the middle of the night because of drinks hours before bed.
“They come to us like, 'oh, we wake up at 3 a.m., I don't know why,” he said. “Do you drink a glass or two with your dinner? Yes? Let’s stop that. And the problem tends to go away.”
How about a glass of herbal tea — like the kind that’s marketed as good for bedtime?
The benefits of natural remedies like lavender and chamomile have been studied for centuries, and this NIH study finds drinking herbal tea can help alleviate insomnia symptoms.
But Dr. Chami says if you don’t have any on-hand—a warm cup of water may work just as well in helping you relax.
Of course, make sure you’re not accidentally drinking caffeinated tea, or so much that your bladder will wake you up.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in your body that helps you fall asleep at night. It’s also available in pill form.
The Mayo Clinic and National Sleep Foundation say taking melatonin can help with short-term sleep issues like jet-lag or schedule changes.
Our sources say it’s not generally habit-forming, but can cause headaches, next-day drowsiness, and even bad dreams.
It’s important to know, even though it’s readily available over the counter in various doses, melatonin supplements are not actually fully FDA regulated, and the National Sleep Foundation says it’s important to talk to a doctor before making any dose part of your routine.
Another increasingly common, largely un-regulated sleep aid: cannabidiol, or CBD, in various forms.
This NIH study found proper use could help alleviate anxiety-related sleep issues, but says more research is needed. The Sleep Foundation explains even in existing research, it’s still unclear if the CBD is actually helping with sleep, or alleviating other issues like stress and pain that keep us awake.
Oils and drops are usually metabolized faster and work more quickly–gummies and edibles break down in your stomach and work over time.
But because studies are ongoing, and it’s also not FDA-approved, Dr. Chami says it’s not something many sleep specialists would recommend at this time.
At the end of the day, when it’s time to go to bed, you know what works and what doesn’t, but if you have a good, healthy bedtime routine but you’re still having a hard time getting quality sleep at night, you might want to talk to your doctor about more specific adjustments and suggestions.
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