There is nothing like it after a busy, hectic day. Curled up all nice and toasty in comfy blankets, a nice cool pillow under your head. A sigh of relief escapes you with the promise of a brand new day come morning.
Sleep is absolutely essential for achieving a healthy, happy life. But for whatever reason, sometimes falling asleep can feel like a chore rather than a simple closing of the eyes. And as for those sleeping pills, well, they don’t do much of anything. Personally, they’ve only kept me further awake!
Thankfully, the Good Lord has got it covered in His Creation. Where modern medicine fails, nature heals. Plus, there are certain measurements we can take to help positively affect our quality of sleep.
If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep—and you’ve just about had it with those darn pills—there are some helpful all-natural remedies and tips to help you catch some Zs.
Lavender oil makes an awesome natural sleep aid. The oil’s refreshing aroma affects the autonomic nervous system, which then helps to calm, ease anxiety, and treat insomnia. Try adding a few drops to your pillow or blanket at bedtime. Or try adding it to a oil diffuser so the clean scent fills the bedroom.
Another essential oil you can use to both ease stress, anxiety and insomnia is cedarwood oil. It’s a natural sedative that encourages the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that both calms and creates fatigue; an essential component in getting you to fall asleep naturally. Like lavender oil, you can add the oil to a diffuser, or place a couple drops on your blanket or pillow before bedtime. Since cedarwood and lavender oil both blend well together, you can add them both to your oil diffuser.
Chamomile has a long history of being a reliable remedy for easing stress, reducing anxiety, and promoting a good night’s sleep. It contains certain anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relax muscles, and induce sleepiness by affecting the central nervous system. Along with lavender oil, this is a personal favorite of mine. It tastes great, and helps me naturally wind down after a busy day before hitting the hay.
As a I mentioned before, melatonin is a big deal when comes it to sleep, and it helps keep our internal clocks in check. So, if you’re having trouble dozing off you’ll want to get as much melatonin as you can. You can take it orally as a natural supplement. Or you can try eating certain foods to help encourage the natural production of melatonin such as cherries, bananas, pineapples, and oranges.
Another important asset for sleep, and for an all around healthy lifestyle, is the mineral magnesium. This stuff is so important yet most of us are not getting our needed share of it, even athletes. But in the case of working as a sleep aid, magnesium can successfully calm your central nervous system, helping you to relax, and put you in a better state to prepare for bed. Plus, it’s also a great muscle relaxant, which means if you suffer from pesky nighttime leg cramps or muscle cramps then this will do you a world of help.
You can take magnesium as an oral supplement, or try having a banana before bedtime. A single medium-sized banana contains about 33 mg of magnesium.
Avoid TV & Electronics Before Bed
This may sound tough to do, after all our modern lives are simply inundated with these devices, spending most of our waking hours staring at some screen or another. But as helpful or entertaining as they may be, they do have their drawbacks.
Recent studies have shown that blue-light-emitting electronics such as laptops, cell phones, tablets, and TVs can adversely affect sleep. Using some of these devices before going to bed may make it harder for you to fall asleep and even remain asleep since the blue-light suppresses melatonin, and signals the brain to wake up. Granted, the blue-light from the TV set are normally several feet away, but smartphones and tablets are literally in your face as well as far more interactive than watching TV.
Plus, it could prevent you from feeling alert and rested upon waking in the morning regardless if you received 8 hours of sleep. Speaking from my own experience, when I tried cutting back time on my laptop or tablet before bedtime, I definitely felt the difference the next day. I felt recharged, and less groggy!
Try limiting the activity of these devices at least an hour before preparing to go to bed so that your body is able to naturally secrete needed melatonin and get a proper good night’s sleep. You could do some light reading (printed books, of course), listen to some sleep-inducing audio, meditation/prayer, or take a relaxing warm bath.
Take Back The Bedroom
The bedroom is just that; a room with a bed. It is a place to relax, to rest the mind and body, and a retreat from all that stresses us out. Chances are if you’re using it to watch TV or as an office you’re more likely bringing stress in, and creating more ways to keep you awake instead.
The most important thing you want to establish in a bedroom is a sense of relaxation, and zero distractions. If you’ve got a TV in your bedroom, you may want to reconsider keeping it there. And as for your laptop and cell phone, they’re going to have to go somewhere else. No more smartphones sitting on your nightstand.
Keep the room clean and neat. Clutter and mess produces stress by reminding you of unfinished work, which only prevents you from resting.
Limit Alcohol Before Bedtime
For a long time many folks have had a nightcap, glass of wine, or some other alcoholic beverage to help them fall asleep easier due to its sedating qualities. Although it’ll get you to doze off quicker, your quality of sleep will be poor, and you’ll most likely have trouble staying asleep as well, because while alcohol is a sedative it is also a stimulant.
According to several studies, drinking before bedtime can cause wakefulness through the night, decrease timespan of REM sleep (which is the most restorative and vital sleep phase for the body), sleep apnea, raise body temperature, sleepwalking, and vivid dreams or nightmares.
The timing of drinking and how much makes all the difference in whether you’ll get a good night’s rest or not. So, if you enjoy the occasional drink at dinnertime, that’s fine. Just skip the nightcap or that glass of wine right before bedtime.