The Importance of Quality Z’s


I’m a big-time fan of sleeping pills. I’m not addicted, I don’t need an intervention; I just think they’re really great when you need them. Those times being: an 8 hour flight or a much needed dreamless sleep after 3 nights of no sleep (jet lag, a Homeland marathon, a breakup or anxiety).

I think it’s fair to say that most people, whether they believe in a natural approach or not, would prefer a natural sleep aid rather than a notoriously addictive sleeping pill.

“Do natural aids even work? Can I be confident that they’ll send me to snoozeville? Will I wake up feeling rested? I’m not a hippie, so will they even work on me?”, are common questions. The answer is, ya, probably.

I’m a serial early-riser. With no alarm set, I’m up at 7:30. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed and it doesn’t matter what I do the day/night before, 7:30 is when I wake up. There’s no closing my eyes and laying there for a while, there’s no falling back to sleep. When my eyes open, my brain wakes up and immediately I have to get out of bed and start the day. Most the time, I really like this trait, but sometimes it makes me wanna pull my hair out.

The last 2 weeks I’ve had some major trouble getting to sleep which means 8 hours of z’s a night has dwindled down to about 6, and I ain’t down with that. Excuse me? I’m losing 2 hours of sleep because I toss and turn thinking about what I should blog about next, how many hours of studying I should aim for this week, what new exercises I can do, what to pack for the South of France, and if my parents’ dog might miss me too much? That’s not ok! Those aren’t real stressors! This 2 hour loss results in a short attention span, retaining schoolbook info at a rate of zero and a tendency to cut my workouts short.

Thank whoever is up there, I saw this post from Urban Naturale. Deborah lists some great uses for lavender and I took note. While I was at my local health food store buying pure lavender essential oil, I decided to do a little experiment so I bought melatonin {3 mg} and Valerian root extract as well.

I slept! I’ve had 3 glorious nights of sleep! Very deep, but not dreamless. I’d tell you my weird dreams but then you’d know how many reality shows I watch on E! channel, and I don’t want that.

3 nights ago I used melatonin. One 3 mg pill that sits under the tongue to dissolve is all it took. I fell asleep quickly and woke up feeling pretty good! Melatonin is a hormone our pineal glands produce to keep our sleep cycle in check with our environment a.k.a. day time and night time hours. Younger people don’t need to supplement as many milligrams as older people because melatonin production decreases as we age.

The 2nd night I sprinkled some lavender oil in my hands and spread it all over my pillows and the top of my duvet. Immediately, I knew this would be something I do for the rest of my life, regardless of sleep troubles. Head over to Urban Naturale for lavender’s benefits! I also took 3 ml of Valerian root extract in a glass of water. Gross! But it worked! I had an amazing drowsy feeling before I turned off the light and I had just enough time to feel cozy and comfortable before I fell into a deep sleep. I woke up a little bit foggy but it passed quickly. Valerian root’s effects are almost on par with prescription sleeping pills, with less side effects! It acts as a sedative on the nervous system which means buh-bye stress. There are some side effects (for pre and post surgery and for pregnant woman to name two) so make sure you look into it, and don’t only take my word for it.

I considered trying the melatonin and Valerian root together on the 3rd night for this post’s sake, but upon further research I decided not to. As with every subject, the more you google the more opinions you read. I found many sources that claimed taking the 2 together was harmless, and a few that advised against it. Since each have worked on their own for me, I’ve decided to leave it at that.

So on the 3rd night I performed my new ritual of drenching my bed in lavender oil, and diluted the Valerian root in a hot cup of mint tea instead of water. It tasted way better. I didn’t fall asleep as fast as I did on the 2nd night, but I did get to sleep. However, my mom, who has had long-term sleeping troubles, also had Valerian root and didn’t sleep a wink.

I’ve got what I wanted and now I’m done. I feel caught up on my sleep, I’m back to full-on sweat sessions, and I studied for 5 hours yesterday! Until next time supplements…

Melatonin is not something I want to get in the habit of taking. I think this might be better for jet lag and of course is a much better option than a chemical-packed sleeping pill. Again, the more you read, the more opinions you’re informed of. Apparently melatonin only works if you aren’t producing enough of your own and doesn’t work if your sleep problem is derived from stress and anxiety. I’m sure that was my problem so I’m not sure what to believe. Is it a placebo effect? Was I at ease because I took something, so all I had to do was lay there? I think I’m the type of person who wouldn’t let hypnotism work on me, and I feel the same about the placebo effect. Maybe I’m wrong because I’ve also read both melatonin and Valerian root need to build up in your system. From my experience, I disagree.

I also believe that these supplements, even though they’re natural, are best kept as a last resort. Exercise, a healthy amount of time spent outdoors, good stress management (whatever that is!) and a wholesome diet are the first steps to a better nights sleep before any kind of aid. As with anything, do your research to see if something is right for you. These are not supplements I plan to take on a long-term basis. I’ve already got what I needed from one dose of each!

In a week, I’ll be landing in Europe for the millionth time this year, so stay tuned for travel tips and to see if melatonin will help my jet lag!

Feel free to share some of your tried, tested and true sleep remedies!

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  1. Victoria Woeste says:

    thanks for this Hil.. Cody has a really hard time sleeping… always has.. im going to get these things for him! I will let you know how they work. xoxoox

  2. Deborah Davis says:

    For years, I suffered from insomnia! I tried Sleepytime tea, melantonin, over the counter sleep aids and accupuncture. Nothing really gave me the deep prolonged night of sleep that I needed. I finally tried magnesium supplements and lavender essential oil. I apply a little lavender oil on the soles of my feet, my temple and the back of my neck every night. Then I take a deep breath and inhale. These two items have changed my life. I am finally able to get some sleep! Thank you so much for referencing UrbanNaturale’s lavender post in your article. I really appreciate it!,
    Deborah Davis recently posted…How to Look Good Naturally: 10 DIY Natural Skin Care RemediesMy Profile

    • Hilary says:

      No problem! When I read it I was like ‘duh’! I knew lavender was a relaxing scent, but never thought to rub it on my sheets. I love it!

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