27 All Natural Tips for Sleep
If you are one of the millions of Americans that suffers from sleep related problems, whether it is chronic insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, a tendency to wake up frequently throughout the night, or simply a pervasive sense of feeling exhausted throughout the day, you may want to try one or more of the following techniques to improve the quality and quantity of your rest.
My current favorite for insomnia aid is Sleep Already, by Stone Age Wellness. Sleep Already is an all-natural sleep aid that promotes gentle, relaxing sleep without any harmful side effects.
- Sleep in as dark an environment as possible. Exposure to light while your body is at rest can potentially disturb your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which are important sleep aids, and it may also throw off your circadian rhythm. If you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, be advised to use as little light as possible. Turning on a bright light after your body has been at rest may completely terminate your body’s production of melatonin for the remainder of the night which will inhibit your ability to fall back asleep.
- Go to sleep as early as possible. It is in our nature to sleep with the rise and fall of the sun, which is what nearly all humans did for centuries before electricity was invented. Therefore, going to bed at 3 a.m. and getting 8 hours of sleep is not the same as going to bed at 10 p.m. and getting 8 hours of sleep. Most of our systems recharge predominantly between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., which occurs at the same time that our gallbladder is releasing toxins. If you are awake during this process, it can back up your entire system and jeopardize your health as well as your sleep.
- Use an eye mask. If you aren’t able to sleep in total darkness, wearing an eye mask can block out light and increase your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, as described above.
- Try listening to a soothing CD as you fall asleep. Today, there is a large market for this type of sleep aid, and there are a host of relaxing CDs available geared specifically toward this purpose. Whether it is listening to the sounds of a rainforest or the ocean waves, many people find that experiencing the calming sounds of nature helps ease them into a peaceful sleep. Gentle music may also help.
- Avoid watching television before bed. Contrary to popular belief, having the television on as you lie in bed does not make it easier for your body to relax. The TV’s stimulation will overwhelm your brain and interfere with the proper functioning of your pineal gland, in the same way that bright lights will disrupt your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
- Try reading material that is relaxing. Reading something that contains a lot of action, like a mystery novel, may make it difficult for your body to settle down when you eventually decide to try and fall asleep. You may also unintentionally get in absorbed in something that keeps you preoccupied for hours, therefore preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. Instead, try reading material that will help you to unwind, such as a book that is spiritual or religious in nature.
- Keep a nightly journal. It is very common for people who have difficulty falling asleep to feel that their mind is racing before bedtime. Putting down your thoughts on paper may help you to detach from the stress of your day, and it may also put your mind in a more relaxing state.
- Avoid working before bed. Putting your work away at least an hour or two before bedtime will prevent you from lying awake due to anxiety and stress.
- Refrain from eating before bedtime. Consuming late at night, especially grains and sugars, will raise your blood sugar and make it difficult for your body to relax as it is digesting the food. It also may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night when your blood sugar drops too low, therefore impairing your ability to fall back asleep.
- Use the bathroom right before bed. This will decrease the likelihood that you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night.
- Keep your socks on. Your feet are the first area of your body to get cold, as they have the poorest circulation. Studies have shown that keeping your feet comfortable will prevent you from experiencing a disturbed sleep.
- Sleep in a temperature of 70 degrees F or cooler. Many people keep their bedrooms too warm, which actually inhibits sleep. The best sleeping conditions are a cool (not cold) room with enough covers to remain comfortable.
- Supplement your sleep with the hormone melatonin. This can be induced orally through a pharmaceutical, which I would advise against, or you can try it naturally, by increasing your exposure to bright light during the day, and avoiding exposure to light when you go to bed. Sleeping in complete darkness is ideal.
- Eat a snack that is high in protein, as well as a small piece of fruit a few hours before going to bed. High protein foods such as fish, poultry, nuts and eggs contain tryptophan, which can be an effective sleep aid. Consuming the fruit will enable the tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier and contribute to your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
- Avoid using drugs whenever possible. There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that have serious sleep related side effects. Whenever possible, try using natural remedies like the ones suggested on this website to avoid relying upon these types of medications.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Many people will experience the effects of caffeine long after they’ve consumed it. If your body is not able to metabolize caffeine efficiently, you may find that an afternoon cup of coffee or tea can impact your sleep even hours later. Also be sure to take note of any medications that you use that contain caffeine, as these will inhibit sleep.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that obesity can increase your risk of sleep apnea, a condition where your body has difficult breathing while you are asleep, which can seriously damage the quality of your rest.
- Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that exercising for at least 30 minutes a day will improve the quality of your sleep, and make it easier for you to fall asleep at night. However, this should not be done right before bed, as your body needs time to return to its normal state.
- Stay away from foods that disagree with your system. Certain foods, like dairy and wheat products, can cause gastrointestinal problems and congestion for people who are sensitive to them, therefore causing discomfort while sleeping.
- Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol is often treated as a nightcap, its effect is short lived. Alcohol interferes with your body’s sleep cycle and when consumed in excess, it may prevent you from entering the stage of REM sleep, which is essential to your health.
- Enjoy a hot bath or shower before going to bed. If you increase your body temperature before bedtime, as it falls back down it may help your body relax into a state of sleep.
- Avoid electrical devices. Keeping an alarm clock or cell phone close to your bed will disturb your sleep if it goes off, so it is best to keep electrical devices as far away from your sleep area as possible.
- Remove any clocks from your line of vision. If you have trouble falling asleep, staring at the time will only increase your anxiety and make it even more difficult for you to achieve a state of rest. It is best to keep the clock as far away from your bed and your mind as possible.
- Avoid using your bed for non-sleep related activities. Many people tend to engage in other activities, such as watching TV or using the computer, while they are in bed. Doing this may cause you to dissociate your bed from the notion of sleep, and therefore make it difficult for you when it is actually time to go to bed.
- If you are premenopausal or menopausal, consult a physician. Sleep problems caused by hormonal changes may create more severe, long term problems if not addressed.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Establishing a sleep rhythm will make it easier for your body to relax at night and get up in the morning.
- Create a bedtime routine that works for you. Find something that relaxes you, and try to engage in it every night before going to sleep. This could mean a hot bath, aromatherapy, meditation, or maybe a massage from your partner. If it works, repeat it each night and see if it helps you to achieve a more peaceful sleep.