You’ve had a long day. You snuggle under the covers, ready to greet your dreams, and instead you’re up until at least two a.m. trying desperately just to fall asleep. There’s nothing worse than a poor night’s sleep. Every year 40 percent of adults suffer from insomnia and 10-15 percent have chronic insomnia. Sleep is important to our overall health. Poor sleep can result in weight gain, reduced immunity, and up your risk of diabetes and heart disease. These are some natural ways to combat trouble sleeping and re-catch your Zzzz’s.
1. Listen to soft music.
Energizing music gets us going during a workout and relaxing music can have the opposite effect. Let it calm you down and let relaxation take over. Try putting together a playlist of relaxing music you love or check out this list of podcasts that make it easy to fall asleep.
2. Turn electronics off one hour before bed.
I know. I know. Checking Facebook or watching your favorite show is something you NEED to do. You don’t have to give it up completely, but the blue lights in our phones and other electronic devices keep our mind spinning long after we’ve shut it down. Try turning your devices off an hour before bed to get your mind back to neutral.
3. Practice gentle yoga.
Yoga is an incredible way to work your muscles. Certain yoga poses can help relax your muscles and ease any tension you might be holding onto that is keeping you from sleeping comfortably. Try this simple yoga routine before bed. The best part is you can do all these moves in your pjs on your bed. Score.
4. Get moving (in the morning).
Exercise is key for a better quality of life. A study by the Sleep Foundation found that physical activity impacts your overall quality of sleep. By exerting that effort during the day, you’re releasing tension in your mind and muscles that can otherwise lead to anxious thoughts before bed or even leg cramps in the middle of the night. Be careful exercising right before bed though as your body might not have enough time to cool down and relax into sleepy-time.
5. Eat some sleepy food.
Eating certain things can help your sleep quality. Bananas and milk both contain tryptophan, that lovely ingredient in turkey that makes us all 100 percent nap ready on Thanksgiving. Try a warm glass of milk before bed just like when you were a kid. Try to avoid eating a large meal before bed though as this can have the opposite effect.
6. Say bye-bye-bye to caffeine.
Most of us know that caffeine in the afternoon or later can disrupt our sleep at night, but it could be contributing to your inability to sleep overall. Everyone has a different sensitivity to caffeine. Trying cutting it out for a couple of days and see if helps you nod off a little faster.
7. Take a warm bath.
I’m a bath person so anything that tells me I should take a bath for my health is a-ok by me. After you’ve turned off your phone and TV, try running a warm bath with essential oils like lavender or Frankincense. Calming oils like these will help stop the running to-do list in your head and make you smell divine in the process.
8. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
You may have seen this one making it’s rounds on the internet lately. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is supposed to instantly relax your mind into a state of peace and calm. It's is based of the ancient Indian breathing practice of pranayama means, "regulation of breath." This has a similar effect to meditation in that it focuses your mind on your breath therefore releasing any tension you might be holding onto.
9. Herbs and supplements.
Breathing and bathing didn't work? You can always try certain herbs and supplements. Melatonin, magnesium and valerian are just a few natural options that help release hormones that calm you down and put the anxiety at bay.
Have you tried any of these remedies? What’s your personal key to a good night’s sleep?