Sleep plays a tremendously crucial role in our overall health and well being, yet very few of us actually manage to get the recommended 7-8 hours of beauty sleep per night. Failing to get a good night’s sleep can do more than just decrease our energy and motivation levels the next day.
In fact, a lack of sleep can affect our mood, memory, concentration, libido, and in the long term can lead to more serious health issues like weight gain, depression, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and more.
We know the importance of sleep and we’d all love to get more quality shuteye but our hectic schedules often mean that our beds are the areas we neglect most. Luckily there are some surprisingly easy, Nodoz-free ways to sleep better at night and rediscover our happy, healthy selves. Here are just 10 of them:
1. Get Your Body Adjusted To Day & Night
They say that one of the biggest reasons people find it difficult to fall asleep at night is because the modern world has made it confusing for our bodies to sense the difference between day and night. Most of us spend our days inside an office or away from sunlight (which in itself poses a risk of vitamin D deficiency) and then spend our nights under bright lights throughout our homes.
This disturbs our body’s natural production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates our sleep/wake cycle and is controlled by our exposure to light. Getting our bodies adjusted to day and night can be one of the top ways to ensure a much better sleep come bedtime.
Try receiving more sunlight during the day through early morning walks or eating lunch outside, and embracing night time by dimming your household lights or using candles at the dinner table.
2. Give Yourself Time To Wind Down
After cooking dinner and racing around doing last-minute chores, we glue our eyes to glary computers and TV screens and then expect to fall into a deep slumber the moment our heads hit the pillow. But our bodies need enough time to properly wind down and it’s important to adequately prepare them for sleep.
Try opting for no computers or TV at least an hour before bed. Instead, you could read a book or listen to soft music. It’s also a good idea to fine-tune the temperature of your room to be slightly cooler so that you’re comfortable throughout the night and you won’t be tossing and turning from heat.
3. Exercise Daily
Not only is exercise great for our physical health but can additionally improve our sleep quality. Some studies show that burning more energy through daily aerobic exercise makes it easier to fall asleep at night and promotes more regular sleep patterns with undisrupted cycles.
It is believed that people who frequently exercise are less tired throughout the day and sleep better during the night, however exercising right before bed is not advised as it can have the opposite effect.
It is also said that those who are overweight have a higher risk of developing Sleep Apnea (to stop breathing during sleep), which is even more reason to maintain healthy body weight through diet and exercise.
Meditation is one of the best methods of relaxation to calm the body and relieve stress. It helps to clear the mind, dissolve mental clutter, get rid of disempowering thoughts, and eliminate any negative feelings we might be harboring.
This is really important as our mental and emotional states play a big part in our ability to sleep well. Meditating can be done in a dark, quiet room for around 20-30 minutes before bed.
To get yourself into the meditating mood you could burn your favorite incense and put on a meditation CD (nighttime nature sounds also work).
5. Limit Your Intake of Caffeine
Caffeine is one of the most common drugs consumed without too much thought of the consequences. Although caffeine can be a source of energy to keep the brain alert, it can also disrupt the nervous system and its effects can last in our bodies for up to 7 hours or more.
Excess caffeine can bring about symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, which means that having caffeine-rich foods and drinks late in the afternoon could be affecting your sleep.
Try becoming more conscious of what time you drink your last coffee for the day. * Alcoholic drinks should also be avoided.
6. Drink a Bedtime Herbal Tea
Specifically formulated bedtime herbal teas are great to drink half an hour or so before bed to comfort and relax the body. Teas that contain lemongrass, chamomile, lavender, kava, valerian root, and hops can help you fall asleep faster.
7. Discover The Benefits Of Lavender
Lavender has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for insomnia. Its scent supposedly acts as a sedative that can increase the total number of hours you sleep for and cause you to wake feeling more refreshed.
Try taking a warm bath in lavender before bed, sprinkling a few drops of lavender on your pillow, or burning lavender oil in the corner of your room while you sleep.
8. Establish Your Bed As a Place Of Sleep And Intimacy Only
Too often we get into a routine of using our beds for far more than just sleeping, so our body can’t register that it’s time to fall asleep just from us climbing beneath the sheets.
By avoiding the temptation to work, check emails, watch TV, or browse the internet while lying in bed and reserving this purely as a space for sleep and sex, we can program our bodies to associate the process of hopping into bed with either being intimate or sleeping.
9. Avoid Eating Or Drinking Before Bed
Drinking lots of fluids in the lead up to bedtime can mean an increased likeliness to wake during the night and use the toilet, which interrupts the sleep cycle and can make it difficult to fall back to sleep.
Eating a heavy meal right before bed might also affect sleep as it stimulates the digestive system at a time when the body should be relaxed and calm.
10. Try Natural Supplements
When all else fails, natural sleeping aids can be a savior for those who really need a good night’s sleep but do not want prescription medication. Herbal remedies for sleep disorders and insomnia can be found at most health food stores or can be obtained from your Naturopath.
It is a good idea to research the supplement before you purchase it and to be cautious of the associated side effects. It is also important to understand that while sleeping aids may help temporarily, they are not a cure for the problem so finding out the underlying cause of your sleep issues will serve you better in the long term.