A lot of people struggle with sleep, either not getting enough, not being able to fall asleep, or not being able to stay asleep. I’ve also had my fair share of sleep troubles. And everyone knows just how painful elusive sleep is. It can be so frustrating, not to mention damaging to our health.
“Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.” – CDC Report On Sleep
Sleep is so important to our health and, many times, it’s the last thing we think about. Many people fall into the trap of believing that sleep should come naturally and easily, and I’ve been one of them. But in the day and age that we live in, it’s becoming harder and harder to sleep well. This is due to our diets, the cities that we live in, and not respecting the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies.
Our bodies operate off of rhythms, and our sleep cycles are not exempt from these patterns. Before we had stressful jobs, lived in hectic cities, and led busy lives, people would fall asleep with the sunset and wake up with the sunrise, causing a natural rhythm in the body to occur. Our bodies still want to follow this natural rhythm. So, if we can aline our bodies with these cycles by using some simple tips, then we can find sleep easily and stay asleep through the night.
Before you reach for a pill or a supplement to help you sleep better, try these tips for a few weeks. You might be amazed at how working with our bodies, instead of against them, can help us sleep better naturally.
10 Natural Tips For Better Sleep
- Don’t Take Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone, naturally produced in the body to regulate sleep and biological cycles. When you take melatonin, you are using hormone therapy, which is very complicated and should only be done when monitored by a professional. If you are taking melatonin as recommended by your doctor, low dosages of 0.3 mg, as well as plant-based supplements, are recommended. For even more great info about the risks of melatonin check out Empowered Sustenance’s 3 Reasons To Avoid Melatonin.
- Avoid Blue Light Before Bed – Our bodies produce melatonin naturally, based on certain indicators that let the body know it’s time for bed. One of those indicators is light. Before man created his own light, our bodies learned to fall asleep with the sunset and wake up with the sunrise. We can mimic this same rhythm on our own by avoiding blue light after sunset and before bed. Blue light comes from our indoor lighting, phones, and televisions, all of which are difficult to avoid after sunset. However, we can trick the brain by manipulating the blue light into orange light, allowing the brain to release melatonin even when there is blue light present. Install Flux on your computer to change blue light into orange light as the sun goes down. iPhones also now have the ability to do the same thing with the Night Shift feature. I also invested in a pair of Blue Light Blocking Glasses to wear at night, at least one hour before bed, to be less affected by indoor light and televisions. Surrounding yourself with orange light at least one hour before bed will help encourage the production of melatonin, helping you sleep better naturally.
- Sleep In A Dark And Cool Environment – Any amount of light at night can affect our sleep patterns and sleep hormones. Invest in some black-out curtains, and cover all of the lights in your bedroom, even light from a smoke detector or bedside clock. Any amount of light at all can affect the way we sleep. Also, sleeping in a cool environment, below 70 degrees, allows the body to produce melatonin at an optimal level.
- Keep The Same Hours Everyday – Once again our bodies work off of rhythms, so if we wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, our bodies will get used to this routine and start falling asleep naturally when that hour rolls around. The trick to this is really waking up at the same time every day. Our bodies will naturally start to fall asleep at a reasonable hour if we wake up at the same time. This also means waking up at the same time on the weekends. It may be a sacrifice at first, but once you start experiencing great sleep you won’t mind losing that opportunity to sleep in.
- Try A Sleep Meditation – I absolutely love Headspace for my nighttime meditation. It prepares me for sleep and helps my body relax. The guided meditation is only 10 minutes long, but it helps me unwind and prepare for sleep.
- Diffuse Calming Essential Oils – I have a diffuser right next to my bed that allows me to diffuse essential oils while I sleep. My favorite essential oil to use is Lavender, however, Cedarwood and Vetiver are also used to promote sleep.
- Use Magnesium Oil – A deficiency in magnesium can cause sleep disturbances. Using some magnesium oil on your body before bed will have a calming effect and ensure that you are not deficient in this important mineral. My favorite magnesium oil is Ancient Minerals. To apply, spray a few squirts into your hands and rub them over your body. The magnesium can have a tingling effect, so I like to use it on my feet, and not on more sensitive areas of the body.
- Avoid Sugar, Grains, and Processed Foods – Eating these foods before bed affects our blood sugar levels, preventing us from going to sleep or causing us to wake up in the middle of the night. These foods also affect hormones, and melatonin is a hormone. Any foods that affect or change our hormone cycles can also affect sleep. Eating a full dinner, filled with protein and healthy fats before 7 pm, ensures a good night’s sleep. Eating any later than is, or eating the foods mentioned above, can disturb our sleep.
- Soak Up A Little Orange Light – Add some orange light to your bedroom as you wind down for sleep. A Himalayan Salt Lamp or Beeswax Candles add orange light to your room while purifying the air. Both salt lamps and beeswax candles clear the air of allergens, pollutants, and dust, making your bedroom a natural, healthy place to fall asleep.
- Get A Wake-Up Light – I haven’t had the opportunity to invest in one of these yet myself, but many natural bloggers rave about them, and it’s definitely on my list of things to get. A wake-up clock naturally wakes you up like the sun would outside. The light gradually gets brighter and brighter until you wake up naturally. Doesn’t that sound so much better than being jolted awake by an annoying alarm? Lauren from Empowered Sustenance recommends this Wake-Up Light.
These tips have really helped me and I hope they can help you too. Remember to be patient, it could take a couple of weeks for your body to fall in line with your new patterns. I also have to say that it is beneficial to get 9 hours of sleep every night. That may seem like too much to a lot of people, but sleep offers so many health benefits, we want to make sure we are getting enough of it. Furthermore, studies have shown that falling asleep before midnight has additional benefits. And avoiding any and all afternoon caffeine will help you get a better night’s sleep. Sleep well!
What are your natural tips for better sleep? What’s in your natural sleep routine?