Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for improving our overall wellbeing.
Insomnia, lack of sleep or even regularly getting a bad night’s sleep can not only make us tired, but it can negatively affect both our mental health and even physical health.
Whilst you may be tempted to go straight to the doctor when you are having sleep issues, taking a synthetic supplement should really be your last resort when aiming to get a better night’s sleep.
We all know prescription drugs aren’t natural and they can cause some unwanted side effects.
Even if you do turn to a prescription to help you sleep, it should only be temporary. It’s much better to find the cause of the sleep issue and solve it naturally.
You really don’t want to become addicted to sleeping pills! It’s for this reason that most doctors will only prescribe them for a limited amount of time.
10 natural ways to get a better night’s sleep
Solving your sleep issues using natural methods is better for you and your body.
Here are five natural remedies that can help you sleep easier and five tips for a better night’s kip.
Give these a go and see if you can solve your sleeping issues.
Lavender is a well-known and popular aromatherapy sleep aid. The smell of lavender is calming, soothing and can improve the quality of sleep you have.
Lavender is readily available as essential oils and can be used topically, as an aroma, in bedtime baths or even sprinkled on a pillow.
In some studies, lavender has proved as effective as sedatives:
“A study of an oral lavender medication showed it improved sleep quality and lowered anxiety about as effectively as a low dose of the sedative lorazepam (the drug Ativan).” The Sleep Doctor
Melatonin is a hormone your brain makes naturally to control your sleep cycle. This is actually a naturally-occurring compound found within the body, one that is more active during night time hours.
Some people produce more melatonin than others, so if you are the latter, you might consider taking a melatonin supplement before bed.
3. Herbal teas
There are several night-time, or bedtime, teas that can help you feel more relaxed in the evenings and drift off to sleep easier. They are widely available in supermarkets and natural health stores.
Bedtime teas contain a variety of herbal remedies that are known to reduce insomnia and promote relaxation such as lavender, chamomile and valerian root.
4. CBD oil
CBD oil has become very popular in recent years as a natural remedy for pain relief, anxiety, depression and a whole host of other health issues. You can also use CBD for sleep issues caused by external factors.
CBD can reduce anxiety that might be preventing you from sleeping properly. It may be able to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you have pain keeping you awake at night then CBD can help to relieve the pain so you can drift off easier.
CBD is now widely available both online and in popular health food stores. You can take CBD all sorts of ways orally as oil, capsules or gummies. CBD can also be applied topically and is sold as an ingredient in creams and massage oils to relax and soothe muscles.
Taking magnesium supplements 1-2 hours before bedtime can aid your sleep. Magnesium has been shown to improve sleep quality and prevent insomnia associated with restless leg syndrome.
Magnesium also has a calming, relaxing effect which will help to promote sleep.
Whilst you can take a magnesium supplement, you can also increase the magnesium in your diet to ensure you are getting enough. Here are some of the best plant based dietary sources of magnesium:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Leafy greens
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
By eating a variety of wholefoods, fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, you will get plenty of magnesium.
A healthy diet will help to ensure you have the right nutrients to promote a healthy night’s sleep.
6. No caffeine after 4pm
It is widely reported that the effects of caffeine can last up to six hours and prevent you from sleeping. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to stop any consumption of caffeine at least six hours before you wish to sleep, and longer if you know you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
That cup of coffee you have at 4pm might really be all that’s keeping you up at night!
If you wish to sleep at 10pm then have your last caffeine, if needed, no later than 4pm. Remember, caffeine is also in chocolate, not just tea and coffee.
Choose caffeine free drinks after 4pm and skip chocolate desserts or chocolate bars.
If you are still struggling to sleep, then try having your last caffeine of the day at 3pm or 2pm. It might take some trial and error, but work out when it’s safe for you to have your last dose of caffeine in order to get a good night’s sleep.
7. No blue light at bedtime
Blue light can block the melatonin hormone that prepares your body for sleep. If you use an electronic device with a blue glow in bed then this might affect your quality of sleep or ability to get to sleep.
Instead, switch off all electronic devices around one hour before you wish to sleep. Read a book instead or have a bath before bedtime.
If you must check your phone then use night-time mode to emit an orange glow rather than blue. It’s also possible to buy blue light glasses which can block around 99.9% of the blue light.
There are so many benefits of exercise for both physical and mental health, but did you also know that regular exercise can help you sleep better?
Working out can help you have a more restful night’s sleep and improve sleep duration.
Exercise helps you use more of your body’s energy during the day and sleep is needed for muscle repair and recovery.
9. Improve your bed set up
Mattresses, pillows and bed frames don’t last forever. It might be possible that the cause of your bad sleep is simply your bed setup.
The Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your mattress every 6-8 years. Some premium mattress companies offer 10 year guarantees, so it’s worth shopping around and paying for a quality mattress that will last a long time.
Pillows also need replacing regularly and advice ranges from every 6 months to 36 months for a replacement. It will depend on the quality of your pillow to how long it lasts. Again, some premium bedding companies will offer a 36 month guarantee on their pillow.
If your mattress feels uncomfortable or your pillows are flat and lumpy, then it’s a good sign you need to replace them.
A creaky, lumpy bed will do no good for helping you to drift off to sleep comfortably and stay asleep as you move position in the night. It might even cause you to wake up with body pain!
10. Consistent sleeping times
Finally, there’s nothing quite like a consistent bedtime routine so your body knows when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up. A good bedtime routine works well for kids and also for adults.
Once you know how many hours sleep are optimal for you, usually between 6 and 9, choose your bedtime sleeping hours and stick to them.
We are creatures of habit and this is the same when it comes to sleep. Our bodies and brains will get used to our sleeping pattern if we keep it the same. Maintaining the timing of our body’s internal clock can help us go to sleep easier and also wake up easier.
When to see a doctor?
If the natural remedies don’t work for you, it may best for you to consult a sleep expert. Other sleep problems can also contribute to a bad night’s sleep. There are other treatments for sleep disorders that will not need synthetic supplements.
In conditions like sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is usually recommended. CPAP machines help improve the air pressure in your throat so you can breathe easily during your sleep.
Behavioural therapy is also used for other conditions like insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
Seeking professional advice will help you find out the reasons behind your sleep issues and the proper remedy for your condition.