5 Tips to Naturally Improve Your Sleep
It’s ironic that as children we don’t want to go to bed and as adults many of us just want a nap. We all need sleep. Many of us feel we need more of it but to some it seems elusive. We might feel tired all day yet when it’s time for bed we are wired. Does this sound familiar?
There are everyday things we do that might be getting in the way of us getting a good night’s sleep that we are unaware of. Sometimes changing a few small things or adopting better habits can make a big difference.
Let’s start with something obvious like caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant and wakes you up. If you are a caffeine drinker, it is a must that you pay attention to how it affects you and how long those effects last. You also need to realize that it may be staying in your system longer than you think, so making a cut off time for that last cup of coffee in the early afternoon instead of early evening might be a better idea for you. Play around with it and see if that makes a difference in how easily you fall asleep. Keep in mind too that it’s not just coffee. Sodas, teas and even chocolate have caffeine in them and some people are very sensitive to it. Pay attention to what you are eating and drinking and at what time.
Consistency is Key
Getting a good night time ritual can be very helpful. It’s hard for your brain to transition from a lot of activity to sleeping. It needs time to wind down. Taking a shower or bath, having quite time with some decaffeinated tea or listening to relaxing music can all help you let go of the day and rest. It’s also good to look at where you sleep. The bedroom should be for sleep. It’s fine to have a book next to your bed for a little reading before sleep but not your laptop, tablet, and a pile of papers from work.
On that note, one of the most important things you can do is also something a lot of people never consider before they go to bed. No Screens! Meaning shut off the TV and computer and put down the phone at least an hour before bedtime. Get the TV out of your bedroom. The light from TV and electronic devices is stimulating for your brain and can definitely make it harder to fall asleep. If you are having trouble falling asleep this is a big one to consider. Also, if you wake up in the night keep the light to a minimum and don’t look at your phone or turn on your tablet to read a bit, it will only wake your brain up more and make it more difficult to sleep. It’s also very helpful to sleep in a completely dark room. Consider black out shades or curtains and switching to a battery powered clock instead of one with the light shining all night long. If there is a lot of noise consider ear plugs or a white noise machine to block out the sounds that might be keeping you from deep sleep.
If you have done all this already and still have a hard time falling asleep it may be time to consider some supplements. The first one most people try is Melatonin. It’s something your body makes naturally and it helps you relax, sleep and stay asleep. However stress, diet and the natural effects of aging can reduce your ability to produce melatonin thereby making it harder for you to sleep. Start with a small dose an hour before bed and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. 5-HTP is another supplement that can help not only with sleep but many find it helps with depression as well. It’s an amino acid that your body uses as a building block to make melatonin and also serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps you feel happy. If you are deficient in 5-HTP you may have trouble regulating your moods and sleeping well. There are also herbal supplements such as skullcap and valerian that are natural relaxers. They can be taken alone but are also often found in combination with other herbs like passion flower in combination supplements designed to help you relax and sleep. Even trying a nighttime tea can be helpful.
If you try all this and still are having issues with sleep see your natural health practitioner. They can do tests to find out if your adrenal function is off or if there is some other issue affecting your sleep cycle.
There are a lot of easy ways to make a big difference in our lives by getting a better night’s sleep. Give them a try!