Natural Sleep. Getting a good night sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our mind and body happy and healthy. Unfortunately for the majority of us, we just don’t get as much quality sleep as what we need.
Because of our long work hours, busy schedules, as well as substances we consume (like coffee, alcohol and other medications), and other electronic stimulants, our length of quality sleep suffers, and we wake up feeling mentally and physically fatigued. This quite often leads to more medications to help us sleep, but these are more often than not, unnecessary.
There are many natural and safe measures we can take to improve the quality of sleep, which in turn helps us feel more alert, positive, healthy and productive in our waking hours.
One of the best remedies for sleep and overall health is exercise. Studies show daily exercises can help improve the quality and quantity of our sleep. Exercise may help reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms. It also helps lift your mood and reduces your stress levels. Exercise can help strengthen your circadian rhythms (your body’s 24 hour clock. Often referred to as your Body Clock), which helps promote daytime alertness and helps bring on sleepiness at night time. Everyone is different, and some people may become too stimulated to sleep easily if they have engaged in high intensity training too close to their bedtime. If this is the case, make sure you keep your exercise routines to as early in the day as possible.
Exposing our eyes to natural sunlight first thing in the morning, will also help strengthen our circadian rhythms (our body clock), and our sleep cycles. It helps our body clock to know when it’s morning, and when it’s night. A great way to do this is by exercising outside first thing in the morning, which as previously mentioned, also aids in our quality of sleep.
Eliminate bright lights at night time. Our bodies get confused when it is night time outside, yet we are surrounded by bright lights throughout our homes. It is ideal to mimic what is going on outside to signal to our bodies that it is bedtime. We can do this by reducing the amount of unnecessary lights on in our homes, as well as dimming lights. Darkness starts to stimulate hormones, particularly melatonin, which helps promote a restful night’s sleep. Avoid using computers, watching TV, using our phones or tablets and other devices just before bed, as this will delay the production of the Melatonin hormone, and it is ideal to sleep in total darkness, as this will help in the production of the melatonin hormone. This means no devices in the bedroom which may give of light when you sleep. Even the smallest amount of light can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Another natural remedy which may actually differ from person to person is noise. Some people prefer total silence, where as others may benefit from white noise. White noise is a sound similar to static noise heard when there’s no signal on your television or radio. It’s a noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities. This is useful for people who are woken by disruptive sounds during the night. White noise works by creating a sound masking effect, so there is a steady background noise. The idea is that the masking effect from the white noise will prevent other sounds from waking you during the night.
Weighted Blankets are a great way to help you fall asleep naturally. With the correctly weighted blanket (ideally 10% of your body weight), it can help you fall asleep faster, and have a better night sleep. A weighted blanket works very similar to being embraced in a hug. The same way a hug is comforting, so is a weighted blanket. The more technical explanation is Deep Pressure Stimulation. Deep pressure stimulation helps the body to relax, buy applying gentle pressure. It helps your brain switch from its “Fight or Flight” mode, to its “Rest and Digest” mode, calming your mind and body naturally, helping you get a better nights rest.
The mind calming practice Meditation can help to fight fatigue and insomnia. Practicing mindful meditation that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment can help calm a racing mind which may be keeping you up at night.
Another way to help you relax before bed is an Acupressure Mat. These mats (otherwise known as a bed of nails) work by stimulating increased circulation, and can help release muscle tension and pain, helping you relax before bedtime.
Essential oils have been around for many years, and can be a very pleasant and natural way to help promote a good night sleep. Which essential oils work best may vary from person to person, but some popular oils to use at bedtime include Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang and Bergamot. These oils are known for their calming and soothing properties, and can help calm the mind and body promoting a better sleep. When using essential oils, it is always important to use a well known and sourced essential oil. Many cheaper brands can contain synthetic fillers to get the correct fragrance, and others may be diluted, therefore being ineffective. Pure Essential Oils are the safest to use.
Stop taking stimulants after 3pm. If you are having trouble falling asleep, and having a quality sleep, it may be due to the stimulants being consumed, and at what time. This includes coffee, soda, chocolate, green/black/white tea, sugary foods and smoking. Consuming these things will increase wakefulness, alertness and overall energy levels, which is not something you want too close to bedtime.
Being consistent is one of the easiest ways to naturally improve the quality of your sleep. Our bodies run on an internal clock, and consistency will help it run efficiently and effectively in getting you to sleep. Try and create a bedtime routine, and if time tends to get away from you, which is common in our busy lives, it may be a good idea to set an alarm to start your bedtime routine, to make sure you get to bed at the same time each night. Your bedtime routine may include a warm bath with Lavender oil, some meditation or a warm drink.
A healthy diet and not being too full or hungry just before bed will also avoid any disruptions during your sleep, as will creating a comfortable environment and temperature. If you are having trouble falling asleep, and keep looking at the time, tossing and turning, it is a good idea to get up and do something relaxing, like listening to some music, until you feel tired enough to fall asleep.
Finally, don’t give up. If you stick with these natural methods, you will be on your way to having a better quality sleep, and feel better for it. For the majority of us, it’s our lifestyle that affects our sleep, which means it can be changed, or altered, to help us sleep better without the use of any medications.