Natural Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Feeling tired can be one of the most debilitating things for productivity, happiness, and enjoying your life. Being sleepy may lower your brain function, ability to concentrate, result in becoming overweight, cause mood swings and lead to serious dysfunction in many body organs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discusses these common facts by suggesting that over 1/3 of all American adults regularly don’t get enough sleep due to sleep problems like insomnia, health issues, or stress at work.
What is sleep hygiene and how can you follow it?
According to the WebMD team, there is such thing that a sleep hygiene. It is a combination of environmental factors and rituals that may help sleeping more quickly and more deeply. The Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine named 2 most important factors resulting in healthy sleep hygiene:
Keeping in sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle
Being in sync with your body sleep-wake cycle (scientifically known as circadian rhythm) is one the first things that you need know in terms of natural sleep remedies. You can achieve this synchronization by:
- Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. A normal sleep-wake schedule may set your internal “clock” and optimize the quality of your sleep. Consider choosing a bedtime when you personally feel tired, so you can fall asleep without tossing and turning. If you get enough sleep, waking up without an alarm will not be a problem. If you can’t wake up without an alarm, go to bed earlier;
- Sleeping in on days off may lead to signs similar to jet lag. If you don’t get enough sleep at night because of personal problems, consider taking a nap throughout the day, instead of sleeping more in the morning;
- After-dinner drowsiness should not turn into an after-dinner nap. If you give in to this drowsiness, it may result in waking up later in the night and then suffering from insomnia.
Controlling the light exposure
Melatonin can be your best natural sleep aid because this is a naturally produced hormone. Melatonin is controlled by light exposure capable of regulating the sleep-wake cycle. More melatonin is produced when you are surrounded by darkness, that is how you become sleepy. The secret of melatonin is simple – before going to bed, turn off the lights and just wait, if your melatonin is properly regulated, your body will fall asleep naturally.
How can you prepare yourself for better sleep?
The U.S. National Sleep Foundation gives hints that may help you get a better night sleep by preparing for it properly throughout the day:
- Being active and exercising may help you sleep better at night. You may stick to light exercising – like walking, at least, 30 minutes a day, especially before bedtime. However, vigorous workouts should be finished 3 hours before bedtime to give your body time to relax after vigorous activity and to prevnt sore muscles that can wake you up at night;
- Avoid bright screens for 2 hours before your bedtime. Your smartphone, tablets, laptops or TV may over-stimulate the brain making it harder to relax and get ready to sleep. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from laptops, TVs, and smartphones mimics daylight and can disturb your natural melatonin response.
- Use heavy curtains to make sure that your bedroom is fully protected from streetlights, moonlight, and the morning sun rays. Alternatively, try wearing a sleep mask that can also be your best sleep aid while traveling;
- When getting up at night, consider turning on a dim nightlight in your bedroom. Opt for a small flashlight for night bathroom visits. These lighting tips may help you fall asleep again faster;
- Check the noise level in your bedroom. If you can’t avoid the noise from traffic and neighbors, consider buying a sound machine or using earplugs with relaxing music;
- Adjust the temperature in your room. Sleeping in a bedroom that is too hot or too cold may interfere with the quality of your sleep;
- Double-check if your bed is comfortable. The bed covers should leave enough space to stretch your limbs and turn around comfortable while sleeping. If you have a sore neck or back in the morning, consider changing the mattress firmness, pillows, and foam topper to get more or less support.
Relaxation techniques and ways to sleep better
Anxiety and stress can keep you awake in a similar way to a sleeping disorder. Worries make your brain over-stimulated during the day, making it harder to slow down even at night. There are a few expert tips offered by WebMD that may help you relax:
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, making each breath deeper than the previous one;
- Try to achieve progressive muscle relaxation – start by tensing your toes and slightly moving to the top of your body. After tensing, relax all your muscles in the same order;
- Imagine a peaceful place where you feel relaxed and safe from troubles;
- Reading a book (not the digital one) by a soft light can be also helpful. Alternatively, you may listen to audiobooks;
- Listen to soft and calm music;
- Taking a warm bath is one of the best natural sleep aids.
Dietary tips for people who want to sleep better
Your daily diet affects every aspect of your health. No wonder that there are dietary tips that may help you sleep better at night, even without any medical or natural sleep supplements:
- Limit your intake of caffeine and nicotine. For example, caffeine may result in sleep problems even within 12 hours after drinking it;
- Avoid eating large meals at night;
- Fatty and spicy foods may also interfere with your sleep by causing heartburn and stomach problems;
- Drinking alcohol can be also a bad idea because it may damage your natural sleep cycle;
- Drinking plenty of liquids in the evening may result in frequent bathroom visits during the night;
- If you desperately need a bedtime snack, consider eating healthy foods like:
- A turkey sandwich;
- Granola bar with yogurt and milk;
- A small bowl of low-sugar and whole-cereal.
Insomnia: causes and medical sleep remedies
The U.S. National Sleep Foundation defines insomnia as a sleeping disorder making a person unable to fall asleep at night even feeling tired. What causes insomnia:
- Disturbed sleep-wake cycles;
- Certain biological and external factors like a stressful environment or bad diet choice;
- Medical disorders like acid reflux, sinus allergies, nasal problems, endocrine problems like hyperthyroidism, asthma, arthritis, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, chronic low back pains;
- Certain medications – like drugs for the common cold and nasal allergies, thyroid disorders, hypertension, heart diseases, oral birth control pills, asthma meds, and antidepressants.
There are 2 ways you can try as a home insomnia treatment. According to WebMD, using any natural remedies for insomnia like drinking warm milk with honey before bedtime can be useful , but only if you have rare episodes of disturbed sleep. In other cases, your home remedies for insomnia can be based on taking certain sleeping pills.
All pills can trigger certain side effects and are to be taken after getting a doctor’s recommendation.
In order to have a relaxing night’s sleep to be active and energized throughout the following day, you can try many natural and medical remedies. If you have severe insomnia and you feel tired even after a full night of sleep, seek medical assistance.