Most of us will have had problems sleeping at some point in our lives. I myself rarely have a good night’s sleep. Some people find that they can improve their sleep with sleeping pills. However, sleeping pills have a range of side effects and can be pretty addictive, which is why using natural ways to help you sleep is a much better alternative.
Sleep patterns vary from person to person depending on a range of things, including age and lifestyle.
While the recommended sleeping time for adults is anywhere between seven and nine hours, some people can survive and thrive on significantly less.
However, if you have noticed that you are experiencing difficulty with sleep, such as trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night, rising early in the morning and feeling tired during the day, then you are probably suffering from insomnia.
Insomnia can be caused by a range of things, including depression, anxiety, stimulants and underlying health conditions, all of which will require separate treatments.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
It is without a doubt that most of us do not practice good sleep hygiene, which for some people is all that is needed for a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and behavior that you do that may positively or negatively affect your sleep. Doctors will often recommend good sleep hygiene as a basis for treatment of sleep disorders.
Don’t nap during the day because while it may be tempting to have a quick afternoon nap, it can seriously mess up your sleeping pattern.
Get up and go to bed at the same time each day as this will help your body get into a routine. This means actually having a bed time and not snoozing your alarm. I know this may be a bit too much to ask but attempt this on non-working days too.
Avoid Stimulants before bed and this includes alcohol, coffee, and even nicotine. While alcohol is often associated with helping you get to sleep – a nightcap often used as a remedy for sleep induction – experts believe that it actually disturbs sleep, meaning you won’t feel refreshed when you wake up.
Use your bedroom as a bedroom only. By this, I mean for sleep and intimacy. Nothing else.
Make your bedroom a comfortable environment; this means making sure your bed and pillow are nice and comfy. Also, you should aim to have the temperature just right.
Do not eat a large meal near bedtime because not only does this cause acid reflux, but it also sets your metabolism going, which could make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Create a bedtime routine as this will help your body and mind get ready for bed.
Get in Some Exercise
Exercising is one of the best natural ways to fall asleep at night. Studies have shown that doing moderate aerobic exercise can aid sleep by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and increasing sleeping time. I know that the days I work out or even go on a long walk, I have a really good sleep.
It is important to note here that you shouldn’t exercise too close to bedtime as it may have the opposite effect.
Wind Down Before Bed
After a long and stressful day, you may find it difficult to fall asleep because your mind is still racing with the day’s events and, unfortunately, there is no off switch.
It also doesn’t help that most of us sleep with our phones, which means there is nothing to stopping us from answering work emails last minute.
Winding down before bed can help you to relax and get into sleep mode. Do this by getting rid of your phone and avoiding anything that could stimulate your mind, which will keep you awake.
You could use this time to have a bath, have a hot drink, read or anything else you think may help you to relax.
Switch off Your Electrical Devices
We live in a world where technology is always around us and we are always connected, so much so that a lot of us sleep with our smartphones. However, studies have shown that our obsession with these devices is leading to a rise in sleep disorders.
Experts believe that the main reason that electronic devices, like tablets, smartphones and televisions affect our sleep when left on, is because of the artificial light that they emit. They believe that the type of light produced from these devices – even at a small amount- is enough to suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone mostly made by the pineal gland in the brain.
Melatonin for sleep is important because it regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, our internal clock that lets us know when it’s times to go to bed and wake up. So, in the evening, at around 9 pm, the body increases melatonin, making us feel less alert and ready for bed.
Therefore, having lower levels of melatonin which, as noted above can be caused by electronic screens, means you will take longer to fall asleep and possibly suffer from sleep disturbances.
White Noise Helps Sleep
Some people find they sleep better with the fan on; not because they are hot but instead because the noise of the fan helps them fall asleep. This may sound weird but there is a good reason why this works and it’s because the fan is essentially white noise.
White noise often associated with the sound of television static, is basically a constant sound that helps by masking unwanted background noises, whether that is a member of your family in another room or noise from outside.
This may not work for everyone but is especially good for light sleepers who often find they wake up from sound disturbances White noise doesn’t have to be the static TV noise, but can be the sound of the sea, rainfall, fire crackling, anything that you like the sound of that has a constant noise.
There are mobile apps that can do this, but as mentioned above, it’s not a good idea to have your phone on when you are sleeping. Instead, there are special machines you can buy that produce white noise.
Herbal Teas for Sleep
Drinking an herbal tea before bed is a really good way to unwind and get yourself ready for sleep. Chamomile tea, currently one of my favorites, is a very popular natural remedy for insomnia.
It’s effectiveness is said to be down to the compound chrysin, a flavonoid found in the tea that is said to reduce anxiety, relax muscles and promote an all-around better sleep, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert in the morning.
Another tea that contains this compound is passion flower tea, which is also a popular natural alternative for insomnia.
Valerian, the Alternative Sleeping Pill
If you’ve tried other natural ways to help you sleep, but haven’t found success, then you should try valerian.
Valerian, a plant native to Europe and parts of Asia, has long been used as a natural remedy for insomnia and today is an ingredient used in a lot of alternative sleep aids.
Valerian contains sedative-like properties that some studies show can offer a better sleep without the side effects of prescribed medication. It is even used by people who are trying to wean themselves off sleeping pills. Valerian is generally taken as a pill or tincture. Note: Valerian should not be taken by pregnant women.
Increase Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is an amazing mineral that is needed by the body to keep everything running smoothly, including cardiovascular health and bone integrity.
A magnesium deficiency increases your risk of inflammation in the body, which can result in various health issues.
Magnesium can be taken as a supplement or you could increase your dietary intakes by eating foods, such as:
Magnesium is important for sleep because if your body is deficient, then it will disturb the production of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone mentioned above.
Having trouble sleeping can really impact your daily life and can lead to pretty serious health conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
While you may feel like you’ll never have a full night’s sleep again, you will eventually find something that works for you.
Hopefully, some of the natural ways to help you sleep listed here will work for you.
If you have found a natural sleep aid that helps you, please do share…