6 Natural Sleep Remedies (You May Not Have Tried)

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » 6 Natural Sleep Remedies (You May Not Have Tried)

I’m firmly convinced that we are only beginning to understand how important sleep is for health, but we already know that sleep is important for proper hormone function, blood sugar regulation, cell regeneration, and much more.

The Best Natural Sleep Remedies (That Really Work)

I’ve seen so many articles with natural sleep remedies that include many of the basic things like avoiding caffeine, regular exercise, and creating a good sleep environment. These things are all definitely important, but I’ve also gotten comments from readers who have tried all of those things and still struggle with sleep.

For those who have tried creating a normal sleep routine, using magnesium oil, creating a completely dark bedroom, and even taking supplements, but still can’t sleep, these unusual sleep remedies may help.

Of course, anyone with a serious or long-lasting sleep problem should also find a good doctor or functional medicine doctor who specializes in sleep to make sure there isn’t a deeper issue.

These unusual natural sleep remedies are extremely effective, in my experience, but they aren’t often recommended. The good news is, they are all either very inexpensive or free, so they are worth a try!

1. Put Your Feet Up – The Right Way

I got this tip from a friend who had reversed his own health struggles through diet and lifestyle changes. Many of us are standing, walking, or (hopefully not) sitting for most of the day. As a result, blood and lymph fluid can collect in the legs.

Swelling of the legs is more often noticeable during pregnancy or if there is an underlying medical condition. If you’ve had kids, did you notice your feet and ankles being slightly more tired/sore/swollen at night when you were pregnant?

An inversion of some type can help reverse this. You don’t have to be a yoga master to get the benefits of inversion, either.

Remedy: The simple and free remedy is to just put your feet up for 15-30 minutes at night. The two ways that seem to be most effective are lying on the ground and resting the feet on a couch or chair at a 90-degree angle. You may also lie on the ground or bed and rest the legs straight up against the wall (more difficult).

What We Do: I try to do this every night because I really do seem to sleep better. Some nights, we do this as a family while we read books or do our family nighttime routine. Sound boring? Try reading or listening to a podcast while sitting there.

Overachiever Version: If you want the benefits of elevating your feet along with the benefits of full inversion, consider trying gravity boots or even an inversion table. We got both our boots and table from this company because they are independently tested for safety and FDA approved.

2. Honey and Salt

This remedy actually indirectly came from my grandmother who told me once that kids sleep better when you give them something sweet and salty at night. Her theory was that it helped regulate blood sugar, which is probably true, but I’m not sure if her choice of a sweet/salty snack for her kids was a real food one.

Turns out, there may be some scientific backing to this decades-old idea…

According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, salt can help lower cortisol levels and balance blood sugar levels, which is what you want at night for restful sleep. Natural sugars can help by elevating insulin slightly, which helps lower cortisol (this is one of the reasons my doctor suggests consuming carbohydrates at night and not in the morning if you are trying to balance hormones).

Carbohydrates of any kind may also help tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier and improve melatonin production.

My kids call this “honey salt” and ask for it some nights. The idea is that the combination of sweet and salty in a small amount can help promote restful sleep. From our small-scale trial of this (7 people), there does seem to be an effect.

What to Do: Combine a tiny amount (1/2 teaspoon) of a natural sugar (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.) with a sprinkle of natural salt and consume 15-20 minutes before bed. Alternately, stir the mixture into a cup of chamomile tea and add a teaspoon of gelatin powder (optional).

Turbo-charged Version: Use this hemp honey for an extra dose of relaxation!

3. Deep Breathing in a 4-7-8 Pattern

My massage therapist recommended this natural sleep remedy. She said that she learned it from Dr. Weil. It basically involves a slow and patterned breathing that helps oxygenate the blood and promote relaxation.

When I researched this type of breathing, I found that many religions use some variation of it for meditation or prayer. Recent information suggests that it may help the body shift from sympathetic nervous activity (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (relaxation).

Either way, it is a quick and simple technique that seems to really help promote restful sleep and that doesn’t cost a thing.

What to Do:

  1. Sitting in a relaxed position or lying down, breathe in through the nose as you count to four.
  2. Hold your breath as you count to seven.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth as you count to eight.
  4. Repeat 3-4 times or until you feel relaxed.

4. Cherry Juice

This unusual remedy comes highly recommended in online reviews but has some scientific backing as well. Studies show that it may help with insomnia, improve melatonin levels, and reduce inflammation to promote restful sleep. It may even help improve how long we sleep.

According to this article:

Researchers from Louisiana State University had seven older adults with insomnia drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks of no juice, and then two more weeks of drinking a placebo beverage. Compared to the placebo, drinking the cherry juice resulted in an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time each night.

What to do: I drink a tablespoon of tart cherry juice at night to help with sleep quality, especially on days with intense workouts since it also seems to help with muscle recovery and stiffness. Cherry juice can even be added to chamomile tea or other relaxing herbal teas (with the honey salt remedy above) to help improve the taste. I definitely recommend organic cherry juice if you can find it since it is concentrated and cherries are typically on the Dirty Dozen list.

5. Sleep Journal

You’ve probably heard that going to bed at night and waking up in the morning at consistent times helps with quality sleep, but I never realized how true this was until I started keeping track in a journal. I quickly realized I wasn’t as good at a sleep schedule as I thought!

What I Did: Every night, I wrote down the time I ate dinner, when I turned off electronics, and what time I turned out the light. The next morning I added my wake up time and a brief note about how I slept. Even after only a week or two sleep journaling, I saw some interesting patterns (or lack of patterns) and knew what I needed to work on to get better sleep.

High-Tech Version: If you’re not a pen and paper kind of person, there are plenty of sleep trackers and sleep tracking apps available, but I only use a tracker that works in airplane mode to limit EMFs at night.

6. Morning Exercise

Of course we know exercise is good for us, but the time you exercise could help you sleep deeper at night. Sleep expert Shawn Stevenson shared in this podcast episode that even 4 minutes of exercise in the morning can reset the cortisol cycle to its natural levels. In studies, exercising in the morning resulted in a 25% reduction in blood pressure at night and improved melatonin production (the hormone that helps us sleep).

What I Do: If you have an autoimmune condition like I do, opt for heavy weights or a program like this one over strenuous cardio. A 4-minute Tabata session or time on the rebounder will also do the trick.

More Natural Sleep Help

How is your sleep? Do you have a bedtime routine or something that helps you sleep well? 

These unusual natural sleep remedies can help promote sleep naturally and quickly: elevating feet, 4-7-8 breathing, honey salt and tart cherry juice.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


52 responses to “6 Natural Sleep Remedies (You May Not Have Tried)”

  1. Bonnie Jean Bauer Avatar
    Bonnie Jean Bauer

    Hakf a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before bed helps me sleep for at least three or four hours.

  2. Tony Avatar

    Hi Katie and others,

    Love all of the advice but still have trouble sleeping all the way through the night, done many of yours and others suggestions but now I’m at a loss. Losing about three hours each night and am becoming frustrated, getting to sleep is no problem but staying asleep is the issue. When I’m on vacation I can make it all the way through but that involves about 11 miles of walking and being on my feet for 8 hours, therefore I think that’s more about exhaustion and I cannot do that everyday as I have the typical 9-5. Done 3 sleep studies so I know it’s not apnea, do you have any suggestions which I’m missing?


  3. Jennifer Avatar

    Natural calm has a cancer warning prop 65 in CA. Are you sure it is safe to use as a magnesium supplement?

      1. Jennifer Avatar

        Thank you so much Katie for responding. Your site is amazing and has helped my family and I sooooo very much! Some of us have severe mutiple chemical sensitivities and allergies and your advice, homemade remedies, and suggestions have been life-changing for us and have eased our symptoms! Thank you so much and best of luck to you!

  4. Monica Orosco Avatar
    Monica Orosco

    Dear Wellness Mama,

    I’m deeply grateful for your site and especially these tips. I’ve ordered blue/green light blocking glasses today; I had never heard of them until I read your article! I have struggled with insomnia for 12 years, contemplating suicide often due to the dire straights of exhaustion I endure! I had never thought about the blue light emitted from our various screens. I hope these eyeglasses will aid my return to deep, nightly sleep. I have ordered tart cherry juice as well since I’m probably low on melatonin at this point.

    I ordered these child’s pairs since I have a petite face. In addition they are deep red lenses to block the most blue & green spectrums. Thank you for your article.

  5. Shay Pascale Avatar
    Shay Pascale

    I now workout in the morning and find that helps set my day and makes me very sleepy at night when it’s time for bed. When I have anxiety I use a similar breathing pattern or pranayama as we call it in yoga. Counting to 4 on an inhale, hold for 2, exhale for 4. And slowing building to 10 seconds in, hold for 5, and exhale for 10, which isn’t easy btw. I created a bedtime routine that makes me feel ready for sleep as well.

  6. vikram Avatar

    Thanks for posting key points related to sleep. Writing diary could be helpful activity to slow down thought process. Thinking about positive and negative during the day forgiving people for their misbehavior could be good exercise leading to sound sleep.

  7. Julie Saldana Avatar
    Julie Saldana

    How wonderful, simple way to improve sleep that I now know.I will try and tell you the results. So I do longer, is the effect increased?

  8. shridevi Avatar

    Thanks for sharing a such a good natural remedy sleeping problem which has become common in the young generation also, keep sharing such good and result oriented remedies.

  9. Angela Avatar

    CBD oil! I found this out by chance on my search for natural pain relief. I am fortunate enough to live in a state that has legalized natural medicine. For those who don’t know, CBD does not get you high. That would be THC.

  10. David Avatar

    I really appreciate your four remedies for sleep. It really works for me. I would like to share one more tip in your post which had really helped me in getting rid of sleep disorder. That is getting the cold shower before going to sleep. It lowers the body temperature down and soothes your mind and prepares you for fresh sleep.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    Does anyone know which cherry tree the juice comes from? I am interested in growing cherries and making my own juice.

  12. Janis Avatar

    I found this channel in youtube “Relaxing Sounds For Sleep”. Nature sounds seems to help.

  13. Lucy King Avatar

    4-7-8 works because the way your brain gets you to sleep is by slowing your breathing. If you are breathing fast, you are awake and if you are breathing slow, you are asleep. If you have a fast heart – because you are excited, angry, ADHD, chemical reaction (chocolate, coffee, etc), your heart needs more oxygen so you are breathing fast. Your vagus nerve controls your heart, lungs, digestive system, nervous system and immune system. When you hold your breath, it re-sets vagus. You can feel your heart slow down during the count to eight.

  14. Emily Hazlett Avatar
    Emily Hazlett

    I find that my insomnia is due to my inability to shut my mind off. The breathing methods work sometimes, but my go-to trick is to write a “worry list” right before I head to bed. I dedicate 20-30 minutes each night to this type of journaling. I have a notebook by my bed for those “just in case I forgot” moments, but for the most part, I can get it all out in one session. I write down everything that’s on my mind, including things I think I might forget for work the next day, upcoming deadlines, and sometimes things that are too exciting that I would spend all night thinking about (i.e. my next vacation)!

    When I really have trouble falling asleep, I use an organic homeopathic product called Sleepology by Genexa. It’s organic, non-GMO, and completely natural so I don’t have to worry about side effects. With the medicine I’m on I have to worry about interactions with other medicines, so this one is perfect for me and my sleep issues. I was able to pick it up at CVS near my house in LA, but you can get it on Amazon, too.

  15. Li Avatar

    Thank you very much for your wonderful advice everything that you said made a lot of sense.

  16. Jane Avatar

    Due to several years of sustained and unrelieved stress, my adrenals were shot. I would fall asleep hard, wake up after 2 hours and every hour after that until I would finally get out of bed around 3 am, exhausted and frankly, grumpy! My ND put me on an evening regimen of adrenal supports as my cortisol levels were rising at night instead of falling. For a while I also took an herbal supplement with valerian & a custom compounded hormone cream. After a month, I was sleeping better and by 2 months, I was off the herbal supplement. I used to like to read before going to sleep, but now as soon as my body hits the mattress, I am sleepy. The hormone therapy is ongoing as I am still out of whack there (hey, I’m 59!). And the source of the stress is now healing too, so I look forward to a continuing recovery.

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