Natural Tips and Tricks for Better Sleep

Most people at one time or another will experience a period of insomnia. It’s never pleasant, and is one of those annoying things that the more you worry about, the worse it gets. Insomnia is often brought on by a lifestyle change like a new job, new living arrangements or stress. Using devices such as smartphones and television before bed can also cause sleep issues. While it may be easy to find the cause of your sleeplessness, it’s not always so easy to fix it.

Sleeping tablets are easy to obtain, simple to use, and will usually help you to sleep. So why should you not take them? Of course, pharmaceuticals do have their place and they can provide a short-term solution to temporary insomnia. But for several reasons, they’re not good long-term options:

 

Side Effects

 

Many people experience daytime tiredness, a dry mouth, dizziness and headaches when they use sleeping pills.

 

Tolerance

 

You may not suffer from side effects while using sleep medication, but most people will develop a tolerance. After a while, the medication no longer works, requiring higher doses to produce the same effect.

 

Finding a healthy, sustainable way of getting a good night’s sleep is the better option for a lot of people who suffer from regular insomnia. With that in mind, here are some lifestyle changes you may want to explore, as well as some of the more effective herbal remedies out there to improve your sleep quality.

 

Regular Exercise

 

There’s an enormous amount of evidence proving that physical exercise aids good sleep. One study published in the journal Sleep showed that people who exercise for an hour five days a week get more REM sleep than people who don't. REM is the vital stage of sleep where we consolidate memories, and when learning processes and moods are regulated.

 

Another study concluded that just thirty minutes of exercise four times a week helps people sleep better than their couch potato counterparts. Specifically, they sleep for an hour longer and wake up less often during the night. The researchers also found that morning exercise seems to bring the most benefit.

 

Exercise reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well-being and relaxation, thereby aiding sound sleep. Exercising outdoors in a social setting seems to bring the most benefit.

 

Exposure to Sunshine

 

It may seem strange that sunlight can help us get more sleep when we associate rest with darkness. But sunshine helps us excrete hormones, such as melatonin, that make us sleepy at the right time of day.

 

Our bodies need natural light to work out what time of day it is, and we rely on the sun to know when to be wakeful and when to sleep. Melatonin is not released during the day, so you’ll feel alert and energetic. The release of the hormone at night, however, will cause us to feel sleepy.

 

On a practical level, you should throw open the curtains in the morning when you wake up and let the natural light in. This will boost your energy levels. If you work in an office, try to work beside a window. If that’s impossible, try to get outside during your lunch break. This simple step alone has been shown to help people sleep for an hour longer at night. Also, plan outdoor activities on weekends instead of staying indoors all day.

 

Stress Management

 

Almost 40% of the population say that stress causes them to feel fatigued and have difficulty sleeping. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to deal with stress. The trick is to find which method or remedy suits your personality and lifestyle.

 

Some people find that journaling at the end of the day helps them to worry less at night, and consequently, sleep better. Others find that a short yoga practice before bed not only helps to keep them flexible but also helps reduce their stress levels.

 

If yoga’s not your thing, maybe practising progressive muscle relaxation is. Once you’re in bed, repeatedly tense and release different muscle groups throughout your body. This releases the physical signs of stress and helps you to relax.

 

Diet Changes

 

There are a number of foods known to aid sound sleep. What makes these foods even more attractive is that they come without the many side effects of pharmaceuticals:

 

Nuts

 

Almonds, in particular, contain the amino acid tryptophan. This helps our bodies produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel sleepy and relaxed. They also contain calcium and magnesium, two minerals that help with muscle relaxation and aid sound sleep.

 

Whole Wheat Crackers

 

Any carbs make us feel drowsy by rapidly increasing our blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s best to avoid too many carbs for lunch. One healthy option is to include snacks of whole grain crackers you can freely nibble throughout the day.

 

Turkey and Cheese

 

These two are also high in tryptophan. Try snacking on a couple of whole grain crackers topped with turkey and cheese before bed.

 

Omega 3s

 

Oily fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines are all rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. The results of a major British study showed that high levels of Omega 3 can promote good sleep.igh l

 

Cherries

 

This delicious fruit is the only known edible source of melatonin. They make a great bedtime dessert and if they’re not in season, frozen ones work just as well. One study showed that drinking two glasses of tart cherry juice a day helped people sleep for an hour and a half longer each night.

 

Bananas

 

Here’s another fruit that makes a great bedtime snack. Ripe bananas provide a good carbohydrate boost, plus they contain muscle-relaxing potassium and magnesium.

 

Herbal Remedies

 

Chamomile Tea is a pleasant tasting alternative to coffee and hot chocolate at bedtime. Chamomile works as a mild sedative and helps to relieve stress. It’s best taken as a strong brew for the most noticeable benefit. St. John’s Wort is a small, yellow flower that makes a tasty and relaxing tea, perfect for drinking just before you turn in for the night.

 

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