Natural Sleep Remedies

LavenderHaving trouble sleeping through the night? Here are a few suggestions to get some extra zzz’s.

Lavender
Essential oils like lavender are strong, so drip just a few drops onto a tissue and place near your pillow at bedtime. If the scent becomes too strong, move the tissue farther from your pillow. Lavender is not recommended for those with lavender allergies and is also marked as contraindicated for pregnant or nursing women according to WebMD and Botanical Online. However, this blog suggests that it may be okay. One thing is sure, whenever using essential oils, avoid applying them directly on the skin, and if using them topically always use a carrier oil to dilute them first. I suggest avoiding skin altogether and placing the essential oil on a tissue so that it can be moved away if needed.

Dark
Turn off the television, computer, tablet, mobile phone, or other screen device. Studies like the one shown in this article say that late-night screen time may be linked to increased insomnia. Plan a consist time of night to turn off all electronics, and make reading or a short restorative yoga practice your nighttime routine instead. One trick is to turn off the television at a certain time of night no matter what, but allow yourself to go to sleep whenever you want. Your body will naturally settle down and crave sleep a short while later.

Make your bedroom a sanctuary meant for sleeping. Darken your room by purchasing dark curtains or make your own from blackout fabric from your local fabric store. Curtain hardware is relatively cheap and the payoff will be worth the effort.

Light
Especially in the winter, having a happy lite or a full-spectrum light on for a few minutes in the morning can remind your body that it’s time to kick the daytime hormones into action. Light therapy does have some side effects as noted in this study, so work with a qualified health provider when embarking on a light therapy regimen.

Nix the nightcap
Before reaching for a drink before bedtime, consider that a review of studies on alcohol and sleep in Science Daily revealed that all amounts of alcohol delayed the onset of the first REM cycle and reduced REM overall. To maintain high-quality sleep, swap your nightcap for chamomile tea or warm milk.

Set your alarm clock for the same time every morning-try it for one week
You may have noticed that many of these suggestions revolve around restoring your body’s natural rhythm in relation to the sun. Having a consistent schedule and waking at the same time every day may also help balance your biological clock. For parents of young children who wake at night, this one may not be possible or practical. For those without children, set your alarm clock for the same time every morning and try observing how this changes your pattern after doing this for a full week.

Exercise and Diet
Exercise and diet are the answer to a lot of our health woes, but also often prove the most difficult to get on board with. Consider working with a health practitioner to create a plan to evolve into a healthier you with a whole-foods diet and an exercise plan. In this study from 2010, exercise improved sleep quality as well as feelings of vitality during the daytime.

Summary – Changing your Habits
Try one or two of these ideas faithfully for a full week and observe how it makes you feel. Even one or two nights of sleep is a success that should be celebrated with a pat on the back and the knowledge that you worked hard to change your habits and your life. Each time you challenge yourself to follow a healthier path with a small change, your build self-control and confidence that will flow to other areas of your life.