It’s 2 a.m. and you’re wide awake. Your arthritis symptoms are under control. You’ve given up caffeine, naps and late-night TV, and you practice yoga and deep breathing, but these changes haven’t worked for you. Before resorting to prescription sleeping pills, consider trying one of the following natural remedies. But remember: Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement.
This mineral helps relax muscles and is vital for the function of a neurotransmitter that calms activity in the central nervous system.
THE SCIENCE: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that magnesium helped older adults fall asleep faster, wake up later and sleep better overall.
HOW MUCH: Up to 400 milligrams (mg) at bedtime. Magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium aspartate are the best absorbed forms. Avoid hard-to-absorb magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate and oxide.
CAUTIONS: Except for magnesium glycinate, high doses can have a laxative effect.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the endocrine system that helps regulate one’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Supplements are chemically identical to the melatonin produced by your body.
THE SCIENCE: A 2013 meta-analysis in PLOS One found that melatonin increased sleep quality and quantity in children and adults, supporting previous research.
HOW MUCH: Start low – 1 mg or less – 45 minutes before bed. Time-release formulas may help you stay asleep longer. Mayo Clinic’s Brent Bauer, MD, recommends working with your doctor to find the best dose.
CAUTIONS: May cause daytime sleepiness or dizziness; can interact with blood thinners, certain immunosuppressants (including corticosteroids) and diabetes drugs. Avoid taking with other sleep medications.
The root of this herb has been used to treat insomnia and anxiety for more than 2,000 years, although how it works isn’t known.
THE SCIENCE: Research results are mixed. A 2000 study showed valerian was as effective and safer than prescription sleeping pills. Other research, including a small study looking specifically at arthritis-related insomnia, found it was no better than placebo.
HOW MUCH: In studies, 450 to 600 mg of standardized valerian root taken one hour before bed; this dose may be too high for some people.
CAUTIONS: Avoid taking with other sleep medications
Author: Linda Rath
- Arthritis Foundation Supplement & Herb Guide
- 9 Supplements for Arthritis
- Supplements Can Help for Arthritis, But Choose Wisely