Sleeping Disorders and Natural Sleep Remedies

We provide these articles and links to help you in your search for herbal sleeping aids for better sleep. If you have articles or websites on natural sleep remedies to suggest, please let us know at

The Sleep Foundation

This group has excellent information on sleep disorders, sleep apnea, jet lag, insomnia, sleep and aging, sleep and pregnancy, depression, and more -- including the Sleep in America Poll.

Web MD

Web MD has helpful information on sleep problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation, restless legs syndrome, how the natural hormone melatonin affects sleep and wakefulness, and much more.

A good first source for getting basic information and definitions of sleep disorders, snoring, sleep apnea, and more -- and what can be done to help.


The Natural Ingredients in PearlyDreams

This report was prepared by a consultant to Dr. Z in the development of the all natural sleep aid, PearlyDreams.

Report on Proposed Herbal Product
For Arthur Zuckerman, DDS
By Amanda McQuade Crawford, BA, MNIMH, Member, AHG

The following herbs and one supplement have been studied for a proposed toothpaste, used at night to improve sleep. The expected dose of toothpaste is calculated at 2 grams. The ingredients have been assessed for range of daily does for best effects, toxicity in normal range, recommended proportion of each, and water solubility of key constituents.

Name: Lemon Balm (Balm Mint)

Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae, the Mint Family
Parts Used: Herb, leaves, volatile oil and polyphenols

Research question:
In the proposed toothpaste lemon balm has potential for the treatment of:
Viral sores
Minor Digestive Spasm
Menstrual Cramps

Daily dose range for prime efficacy:
1-3 grams of the ground, dried herb in capsules or tablets, 1-3 times a day
1:5 tincture: 2-6ml, 1-3 times per day, best between or before meals of one daily does at bedtime
1:2 tincture: 1-3ml, as needed, or one daily dose at bedtime
Tea: 1 ounce of leaves, stems, flowers to a pint of water. Boil water, pour over herb, steep 5 to 10 minutes, drink 1-2 cups or more per day

Recommended Percent in Toothpaste Formula:
10% due to Lemon Balm’s potent flavor and its mild sedative properties. When bruised, the aerial parts smell like lemon and mint. Fresh plant material may be used if it meets pharmacopoeia standards when the sample is dried.

Safety and Toxicity in Recommended Dosage Range:
No restrictions for ingestion or topical use are found.

US: Generally recognized as safe
UK: General sales list
Canada: Approved as an over-the-counter drug
France: Traditional Medicine
Germany: Commission E approved as an over the counter drug

Active Coumpounds:
Essential oil .06 - .375% with monoterpene aldehydes geranial & neral (citral a & b), citronellal
Flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol, quercetin
Up to 4% rosmarinic acid, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
Ursolic, oleanolic acids

Water extracts have been found to have antiviral effects (ESCOP monographs, European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy On The Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs, Exeter, UK, 3/1996).

Sedative effects long appreciated in folk medicine have been confirmed only in animal experiments using water/alcohol extracts given by injection.

Melissa had been used for centuries. References are found in Roman writings. The Arabs relied on it to treat depression and anxiety. There are references to balm an aid to longevity. John Evelyn, the seventeenth century diarist said about the balm, “Balm is a sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy.”

Newer research has shown the antiviral component is the labiate tannins, not the essential oil, as older texts suggest.

Name: Melatonin

Research question:
In the proposed toothpaste has potential for the treatment of:
Sleep Disorders

Note: A melatonin sleep aid will produce a sedative effect in people who melatonin levels are low

Daily does range for prime efficacy:
1 to 20 mg, thirty minutes before retiring. For sleeplessness due to low melatonin, the dosage range is 2-10mg. The lower dose may be taken for at least three days, then gradually increased by 1-2mg every three nights up to 15mg if results are not what was expected. Higher doses, 20mg up to 50mh, have been used for patients on chemotherapy.

Recommended Percent in Toothpaste Formula:
Percent depends on milligrams one dose of toothpaste can provide. The more there is the greater the chance some will be absorbed orally. In a 2 gram dose of toothpaste 5mg (5ml) of melatonin may be the upper limit that can be accommodated.

Safety and Toxicity in Recommended Dosage Range:
The best oral dose for treating sleep disorders has not been established. No toxicity is expected though studies of melatonin’s safety are limited, with isolated reports of exacerbation of depression, fatigue and restriction of coronary arteries.

Melatonin supplementation can disrupt the normal circadian rhythm. In one study, a daily dosage of 8 mg a day for only four days resulted in significant alterations in hormone secretions.

High doses have been linked with contraception; avoid in pregnant or breast-feeding women.

People under the age of 20 make more melatonin that adults; due to insufficient data it is best used with caution, i.e. under 10mg less than 2 months.

The Pharmacist’s Letter Natural Medicines Database recommends avoiding driving or using heavy machinery within 5 hours of dosage (p724).

Melatonin has been called the body’s own natural sleeping pill. It plays a key role in the sleep cycle by helping one fall asleep. Low melatonin levels can cause sleep-onset insomnia. The body changes serotonin into melatonin, a hormone stored in the pineal gland. The pineal releases melatonin only when the level of light is low. For most people melatonin is secreted only at night, during sleep unless lights are left on. The presence of light is a sign to the brain to shut down melatonin production.

Travelers have started using melatonin sleep aids to “reset their clocks” after flying across one or more time zones, and some studies seem to confirm the use of a melatonin sleep aid in combating jet lag and restoring restful sleep patterns.

Name: Passion Flower

Scientific Name: Passiflora incarnate
Family: Passifloraceae
Parts Used: The leaves, stems, and flowers before the vine fruits

Research question:
In the proposed toothpaste Passionflower has potential for the treatment of:
Muscle Spasm
Emotional Upset
Viral Sores
High Blood Pressure

Passion flower has a depressant effect on the Central Nervous System. The herb is used for its sedative properties, to lower blood pressure, and prevent tachycardia. The alkaloids and flavonoids have both been reported to have sedative activity in animals. Many of the flavonoids, such as apigenin, are well-known for pharmacological activity, particularly anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory activities. It is the herb of choice for treating intransigent insomnia.

According to Potter’s, Passion flower aids the transition into a restful sleep without any “narcotic” hangover (Potter’s, p209).

Passion flower may be used wherever an anti-spasmodic is required: in Parkinson’s disease, seizures, and hysteria. It can be effective in nerve pain such as neuralgia and the post-herpetic viral infection of nerves, shingles. It may be used in asthma especially where there is bronchospasm due to emotional triggers, or any condition worsened by associated tension.

Daily does range for prime efficacy
2-4 grams of the ground, dried herb in capsules or tablets, 1-3 times a day
1:5 tincture: 6-12ml, 1-3 times per day, or one daily dose all at bedtime
1:2 tincture: 2-4ml, as needed, or one daily dose all at bedtime
Tea: 1-2 ounces to a pint of water. Boil water, pour over herb, steep 15 minutes, drink 1-2 cups or more per day, or as needed at bedtime

Recommended Percent in Toothpaste Formula:
20%. Many European products combine passion flower with other sedative herbs to treat moderate anxiety. It is effective as a water extract and the flavor is well-tolerated. The European literature involving passion flower recommends it primarily for anti-anxiety treatment. It is often combined with valerian, lemon balm, and other herbs with sedative properties.

Safety and Toxicity in Recommended Dosage Range:
Passion flower is generally safe and has not been found to negatively interact with other sedative drugs. However, some experts suggest not using passion flower with MAO-inhibiting antidepressant drugs. Passion flower has not been proven to be safe during pregnancy and lactation.

The American Botanical Safety Handbook lists Passion flower as category 1: no restrictions.

Active compounds:
Alkaloids: harmine, Harman, harmol, harmaline, harmalol, and passaflorine

No less than 8% flavonoids: apigenin and various glycosides, homo-orientin, isovitexin, kaempferol, luteolin, orientin, quercitin, rutin, saponaretin, saponarin and vitexin. The flavonoids in passion flower are the primary constituents responsible for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects.

Medical use of the herb by Anglos did not begin until the late nineteenth century in the United States. Passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms. The effects of passion flower were believed to be primarily on the nervous system. Its effects were particularly touted for those with anxiety due to mental worry and overwork.

The name passion flower dates back to the seventeenth century. They mystery of the beautiful blossom out of the unassuming bud was compared to the Passion of Christ, with each pistil, stamen, and plant part revealing a symbol of divinity’s signature. For people undergoing their own ordeal, Passion flower is reputed by herbalists to improve tolerance of pain, sleep cycles, and long term immunity, known to suffer from chronic high stress.

Name: Valerian

Scientific Name: Valeriana officinalis
Family: Valerianaceae
Parts Used: Root and rhizome
Research question:
In the proposed toothpaste Valerian has potential for the treatment of:
Blood pressure

Daily does for prime efficacy:
A wide range experimentally and in clinical trials exists, from a minimum of 60-120mg per dose up to 300-500 mg of the ground, dried herb in capsules or tablets, 1-3 times a day or one daily dose 1 hour before bedtime
Note that some authorities recommend up to 3-10 grams dried root/rhizome daily.
1:5 tincture: 5-20ml, 1-3 times per day, best between or before meals or at bedtime
1:2 tincture:2-6ml, as needed, or one daily dose at bedtime. Best taken in two doses: one hour before bedtime, and again just before retiring, for a minimum of five days in a row.
Tea: ½-1 ounce to a pint of water. Boil water, pour over herb, steep covered 15 minutes, drink 1-2 cups or more per day or one daily dose at bedtime.

Children 6 – 12 years old respond to half of the adult dosage.

Valerian is effective as a water extract (in some animal experiments more so than water/alcohol extracts). Commission E recommends it be used as a bath additive to promote sleep: water extraction combine with transdermal absorption.

Recommended Percent in Toothpaste Formula: 40%. This amount reflects the herb’s primacy in an oral, water-extracted, herbal formula designed for helping sleep. Despite popular misconceptions the flavor is not bad. The aroma is the kicker: if the odor can be masked the heavy weighting of Valerian in this formula is recommended. Though fresh root is pleasant (contains trace vanillic acid), when dried, valerian roots smell.

Safety and Toxicity in Recommended Dosage Range:
No adverse effects are expected when taken within recommended dosage ranges. The FDA lists valerian as generally safe.

There is a paradoxical and idiosyncratic, reverse effect of Valerian causing anxiety and sleeplessness in approximately 10% of the population. As an herbalist I have seen it personally in practice in ten people over twenty years. I have given Valerian with expected (sedative) benefits to more patients than not; the reaction appears not to correlate to any expected factors: patient history of drug use, sensitivity to other medicines, or dependence on substances of abuse as variously reported in the literature.

Valerian has a long history of exceptional safety, which has been confirmed by clinical studies.

While taking valerian, caution should be used when driving or operating machinery (like the recommendations for Kava). Unlike Valium, valerian is not associated with dependence or addiction. While valerian is not synergistic with alcohol, it is recommended to avoid combinations since sedatives should never be combined with alcohol.

Although no cases of drug interactions have been reported, animal studies have demonstrated that valerian can potentiate the effect of phenobarbital and benzodiazepines. It can also aid in the withdrawal of benzodiazepine tranquilizers and sleeping pills, but this should only be done under a doctor’s supervision.

There are no known contraindications to using valerian during pregnancy or lactation.

Concern over potential cytotxicity of valepotriates in vitro led to studies of oral ingestion where no harm resulted (Mills and Bone, p 583). These constituents do not survive the acidity of the stomach, and form safe decompostion products.

Consuming large amounts of valerian may cause headache, giddiness, blurred vision, restlessness, and nausea.

Herb: drug interactions: A theoretical-only interactions exists between CNS depressants and Valerian, including alcohol. Animal studies do not support the fear that valepotriates add to the depressant effect of alcohol. A human study may confirm that alcohol, Valerian, and St. Johnsswort together did not reduce the efficacy of Valeria for helping sleep (Mills and Bone, p587).

Active Compounds:
0.35-1% essential oils (not less than 5ml/kg) including monoterpenes (borneol), sesquiterpenes (beta-bisabolene, valerenal in fresh root), esters of valerianic, isovalerianic acid
Iridoids, 0.5%-2%, a.k.a. valepotriates and decomposition products inclusing valtrate, isovlatrate, dihidrovaltrate, acevaltrate
Valerenic acid, its derivatives
Aminos, lignans

The essential oils (aroma and flavor) contribute perhaps 1/3 to the sedating properties of the herb. Many constituents are thought to synergize for its sedative effects. Central nervous system sedation is regulated by receptors in the brain known as GABA-A receptors. Valerian weakly binds to these receptors for a sedating effect.

Its Latin name is variously interpreted as “To be of Highest Value,” or “Worthy Medicine.” It has been used as currency. Valerian root has a history that predates the Spice Road. The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended valerian for a host of medical problems. Use of valerian for insomnia and nervous conditions has been common for many centuries. By the eighteenth century, it was an accepted sedative and was also used for nervous disorders associated with a restless digestive tract.

Valerian is the most widely used sedative in Europe, where over one hundred valerian preparations are sold in pharmacies. Valerian is growing in popularity throughout the world because of its reputation for relieving anxiety and insomnia. It has been used for nervousness and insomnia for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in India and in traditional Chinese medicine. Valerian was very popular herbal sleep aid in the United States until it was displaced by synthetic drugs after World War II.

Clinical studies have shown that people taking valerian had shown significantly improved sleep quality without morning grogginess. Some researchers have compared valerian to benzodiazepines such as Valium (to which it bears no relation, either etymologically or as a source for drug development). However, valerian is a much milder and safer sedative. Unlike Valium, valerian is a natural sleep aid and is not addictive or does not promote dependency. Valerian’s sedative effect is not significantly exaggerated by alcohol and barbiturates, unlike Valium.

Recommended dosage of valerian does not cause morning grogginess. Valerian is not linked to any birth defects, unlike Valium.

Herbalists use it this herb in sub-sedative doses to relax smooth and skeletal muscle in a variety of ailments from digestive spasm to menstrual pain.

Valerian is shown to have some anti-tumor effects similar to that of nitrogen mustard. It may play a role in the treatment of cancer. Valerian is shown exhibit anticonvulsant effects that may help in the treatment of epilepsy.

It is still used in colic, low-grade fevers, to break up colds, and also for small kidney stones (as an antispasmodic and anodyne). It is considered healing for stomach ulcers, possibly as an antispasmodic and sedative for tension. It is used in combination for prevention of fermentation and digestive gas. The tea is vulnerary when applied to sores externally, but is best taken internally at the same time. As a sedative it may relieve palpitations of the heart, and for this reason appears as a small component of many perimenopause formulas.

A 1996 study compared valerian to benzodiazepines and placebo in the treatment of insomnia. Side effects were reported by 50 percent of the subjects in the benzodiazepine-treated group but only 10 percent of the subjects treated with valerian. Valerian and benzodiazepines were similarly effective for alleviating insomnia.

Clinical studies on the use of valerian in insomnia have shown that valerian extract, standardized to 0.8% valeric acid, may be effective at a dose of 300 up to 900 mg one hour before bedtime. Valerian, however, does not produce as dramatic a sedative effect as a benzodiazepine. The use of valerian extract can take two to three weeks before significant benefits in sleep are achieved. It may not be an appropriate medicine for acute insomnia because of the delayed onset of action. Once valerian extract takes effect, it does promote natural sleep without risk of dependence.

Valerian extract at a does of 50 to 100 mg taken two or three times daily has shown to relieve performance anxiety and the stress of driving in heavy traffic. Larger doses of valerian extract may be necessary for patients who have been using benzodiazepine prescriptions for anxiety.

Physician’s Desk Reference, 23 Ed., Montvale NJ 2002, Thomson Medical Economics., ICBS, Inc.
2002 ICBS, Inc., September 27, 2002

McGuffin, M et al, Ed, American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Boca Raton, 1997, CRC Press.

Mills SY, Secretariat, ESCOP, Personal communication, 1/14/2003.

ESCOP Monographs, European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy On The Medicinal Uses of Plan Drugs, Exeter, UK, 1996

Jellin J et al, Ed, Pharmacist’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Stockton, California, 2002, Therapeutic Research Faculty.

Wren, RC, rewritten Williamson, Evans, Potter’s New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, Essex, UK, 198, Saffron Walden.


Read our Testimonials - trusted by Doctors, Athletes - and Rockstars!

"PearlyDreams is a revolutionary product because it combines the best ‘natural’ sleep aids into your daily routine, thus making it the easiest product to use. I have recommended it to all my clients who suffer from sleeping disorders."
Dr. Steven Margolin, Founder of Longevity Health in NYC, Celebrity Wellness Center

You would think that as a single mother with 4 children, working 3 jobs and raising a new puppy, I would fall asleep the instant my head hit the pillow. Unfortunately, just the opposite was true – I needed help with sleep. I would lay awake for hours, worrying about finances, my teenage daughters, my extensive to do list for the next day... So, when Dr. Zuckerman asked me to try his new toothpaste, I couldn't get it fast enough. Sleeping pills were not in my budget, but toothpaste sure was! And I loved the fact that there were no drugs involved, just all natural, non addictive ingredients. The first night I tried it, I fell asleep quickly and woke up refreshed, energized and ready to go! I would recommend this toothpaste to anyone who needs a little help unwinding at the end of the day.
It works like a dream!!

LJ, Canandaigua, NY

I’m a wife, mother and a full time student and to say my life is busy would be an understatement. My eight hours of sleep is essential to my success. Before trying Dr. Z’s Sleep enchancing toothpaste, I thought I was getting a good night sleep but would awake feeling groggy and not wanting to get up. The morning after trying the toothpaste for the first time, I woke up feeling rested. I actually never realized that I needed help with sleeping and I wasn’t getting a GOOD night sleep until I experienced what that felt like.
Thank you Dr. Z for a wonderful product that I didn’t know I needed.

DB, Orange County, CA

Working long and stressful hours in the Financial District, it's very important that I am well rested and can think clearly. After many years on the popular prescription sleeping pills, a friend of mine gave me your product. I have to admit, I was very skeptical but promised to try it.
Dr Z, your a genius!
Not only did I have a great night sleep but I woke up refreshed and ready for my day. All naturally (my favorite part).
Thank you for my new night time partner.

AZ, San Fran, CA

"Pearly Dreams" truly works! You are an amazing individual that has realized the needs of so many lives and provided a remarkable solution.

"Pearly Dreams" is a Dream Come True...

I have been very inspired and impressed with the results I have had with "Pearly Dreams" and the product’s advertisement does hold true! I have been sleeping without interruptions through the night for the first time in seven months! I am in awe, elated and convinced! I truly believe that this remarkable product will also change other people’s lives forever.

"Pearly Dreams" Can Make Your Dreams Come True...

People that can not sleep night after night experience a very difficult existence. The lack of sleep has been deteriorating my health, my energy, and my appearance causing deep, deep dark circles, a very unappealing and exhausted look—it has aged me! I needed help with sleep and a change. I wholeheartedly believe in this product and my life has transformed with a very simple solution in just a short period of time. I am amazed that I am actually sleeping! What I love about the product is that it is safe, natural and organic.

Truly, it's a blessing that can help people who are severely in need of a remedy! And it is contained in a toothpaste! Unbelievable! But Pearly Dreams is something I certainly believe in!

Thank you!
ML, Red Bank, NJ

“This is amazing! The combination of the melatonin and the organic herbs make me relax and sleep. And I love that it’s not another pill…I just brush my teeth and go to sleep, like you said! Thank you!”
AC, New York, NY


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