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Frequent waking during the night and temporary sleeplessness can cause havoc with your health and wellbeing. However, sleeping pills are not the answer in the long term. Many people prefer not to resort to prescription sleep aids at all. In fact, it can be dangerous to take sleeping pills if you suffer from sleep apnea, even if you are on Cpap treatment. They can also add to the daytime sleepiness that many apnea sufferers have to cope with. Irrespective of the reason for needing a sleep aid, sleeping pills can be addictive and interact with other medications.

A far safer and gentler option is an herbal remedy to help you sleep better. Some are recognised natural sleep aids, while others can help you relax before bedtime and restore healthy sleep patterns over time.

The 3 best herbal sleep promoters in sleep aid products available in SA:

Rather than a list of brand names, the following lists herbal ingredients commonly found in herbal products to assist sleep. They may the only herbal ingredient in some products. Many products contain a combination of these herbals, such as Solgars ‘Sleep Support’. Other natural sleeping aid products will contain one or more of these along with other supplements – hormones, amino acids, and vitamins – that can help restore healthy sleep cycles.

Valerian Officinalis (also called Valerian Root): assist sleep by raises GABA levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that normally increases at night to ’quiet the brain’. Anxiety and disrupted sleep cycles can lead to low GABA. This often associated with an inability to fall asleep.

Passiflora Incarnata (Passion Flower): Another tried and tested herbal sleeping remedy that raises GABA

Chamomile: A tried and tested herbal ingredient in herbal sleeping products that will raise GABA, Chamomile is also available as an herbal tea. It does not impact on alertness as a tea, promoting relaxation instead. Drink instead of coffee in the evenings to feel the full benefit.

There are other herbal sleep aids on the international market, but they too raise GABA. Stick with the above, adjusting dosage as needed, for safe alternatives to sleeping pills.