Good quality sleep is crucial for your health. Remember, poor sleep can affect both mental and physical health of a person. According to the Center for disease control and prevention, people between the age of 18 and 60 should get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night. However, most human beings don’t get enough sleep. However, about 50 to 70 million people experience sleeping disorders.
Chronic sleep problems increase the likelihood of getting depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Tiredness, drowsiness, and lack of concentration due to lack of enough sleep increase the risk of getting injured when operating industrial machines or when driving.
The most common sleeping disorder is insomnia. Routine change, medications, and stress are leading causes of short bouts of Insomnia. Long term insomnia, on the other hand, is caused by sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety. Either way, loss of sleep makes you feel irritable and exhausted.
In connection to that, insomnia can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. When insomnia strikes, most people rush to the prescription of sleep aids. Sleeping pills may provide short term solutions. However, they come with side effects like dizziness, constipation, dry mouth, headaches, fatigue, and sore mouth.
You do not always have to get prescriptions to get a good sleep. There are several easy natural sleep aids. Luckily we have put together natural remedies to help you sleep better. Let us get started.
Valerian root is a home remedy that has been used to cure sleep disorders since time immemorial. It is one of the most common natural remedies for insomnia. In addition to improving the quality of sleep, valerian enhances the speed of sleep and deep sleep. It has sedating attributes and helps people fall asleep.
Valerian is brewed as a tea or consumed as a supplement. This herbal remedy is used to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. Ideally, valerian is believed to affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the body. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for relieving muscle spasms and alleviating menstrual pain.
Typically, you should take a 45 mg valerian supplement before sleeping. If taken during the day, it can cause drowsiness. During the day, valerian is often taken with food in two doses of 300 mg. However, using valerian root requires a great deal of patience, given that it can take weeks to show effect. It is imperative to follow label instructions and consult your doctor before use.
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is also helpful in treating insomnia. Chamomile is a traditional herb used to reduce anxiety, soothe digestion, and reduce muscle tension hence improving the quality of sleep. You should not drink chamomile tea while you’re very close to bedtime. The ideal time to take a cup of hot chamomile tea is after dinner.
- L theanine
L theanine is an amino acid present in green tea leaves. However, the amount of L theanine in green leaves is not enough to boost REM cycles. This amino acid alleviates anxiety, which affects sleep. Also, it reduces heart rate and stress immune response and increases the amount of feel-good hormone in the body. But that is not all. L-theanine induces brain waves responsible for relaxation. It also promotes calmness during the day. Consider using pure L theanine, which is available in stores.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking patterns in our bodies. It controls and drives our sleep. Melatonin also lowers body temperatures, causes drowsiness, and initiates sleep mode. Using melatonin enhances sleep in people who have insomnia. Due to purity issues, you should only use melatonin under close supervision by your doctor. Some experts may recommend taking high doses of melatonin. However, studies show that lower doses of melatonin are more effective. High doses can cause infertility and risk of depression.
- Warm milk
Sipping warm milk before sleeping can help you get a good sleep. It is a natural insomnia remedy that contains calcium, which helps the brain in melatonin production.
Not all snacks are natural remedies for sleep. Sleep time snacks should contain protein and carbohydrates. Consider taking a tablespoon of peanut butter with half a banana. Another great snack for sleeping disorders is whole wheat crackers with cheese. But remember to eat your snack 30 minutes before sleeping.
Lavender oil has calming attributes that naturally induce sleep in people with insomnia. People with sleep disorders should take a hot bath with lavender oil before retiring to bed to calm the mind and the body.
Magnesium plays a vital role in getting good sleep. If you lack magnesium, the brain will have a hard time settling down. The good news regarding this is magnesium is readily available in foods. Great sources of magnesium include wheat germ, almonds, green leafy vegetables, and pumpkin seeds. Magnesium supplements are also beneficial, but be sure to consult with your doctor. Here is a word of caution. Too much magnesium intake can affect medication and can lead to serious health problems.
- Light Exposure
Light hinders the production of melatonin and causes jet lag. You should, therefore, keep your bedroom as dark as possible even if it means removing the TV. Also, turn off or remove other appliances from your bedroom. If you have to use electronics in the bedroom, they should illuminate red light instead of blue light.
Your body uses natural light to determine the time and produce hormones that will either energize you or make you feel sleepy. When the hypothalamus, the gland that regulates energy levels and sleeps, detects any change in light intensity, it increases or reduces melatonin production. Remember, melatonin is a sleep hormone.
The human body produces fewer quantities of melatonin during the day and increases productivity during the night. Therefore you should expose yourself to natural light during the day. This increases sleep time by about one hour.
Getting more light in the morning can also help if you have delayed sleep syndrome or problems falling asleep. Light exposure essentially helps the body to determine when to wake up and when to sleep. You should, therefore, aim to get light exposure the first thing in the morning or 30 minutes of light therapy.
Another problem is advanced sleep phase syndrome, where you find yourself waking up very early in the morning. Light therapy for about 3 hours in the evening or an outdoor walk late afternoon will prove to be helpful.
Without a doubt, exercising enhances sleep and general health, and being physically active promotes sound sleep. According to a study on exercising, REM sleep for people who exercise for 60 minutes five days a week is more reasonable than those of inactive people. Moreover, people who sleep about thirty minutes 3 to 4 times every week sleep longer and wake up less frequently at night compared to inactive people.
Exercising, especially in the morning, is a great, natural way of improving sleep quality. Exercises reduce anxiety, stress, and depression while promoting the feeling of relaxation. Also, staying active balances your sleep-wake cycle.
The effectiveness of exercise may depend on the time of day and the amount of exercise done. Moderate intensity exercises for 30 minutes every morning significantly reduce sleeping problems in women. The reason for the scenario is that body temperature is associated with interplay between sleep and exercise. However, it is vital to give your body time to cool down after an exercise because better sleep is associated with cooler body.
- Take care of your sleep surrounding
You should keep your bedroom tranquil to enjoy a cool undisturbed night’s sleep. The surrounding should create a sense of sanctuary. This means that clutter, a stack of bills, and a heap of clothes can affect your sleep. You should, therefore, keep your bedroom clean and organized. A well-organized space will not only make you feel relaxed but also sleep well.
Also, do not let your bedroom get very cold or very hot. Here is another crucial point. Make your room dark. You can install room darkening shades or wear eye cover to block LED display and street light.
Another thing is investing in a quality mattress and breathable linens. Given you will spend about a third of your life sleeping, a good mattress is worth investing in. The biggest names in the quality mattress sector are Casper and Purple. Casper is an all-foam mattress that provides pressure, relief, and a sense of balanced feel. On the other hand, Purple provides great cooling support and good bounce. Before settling on one of them, you should check out a detailed difference between Purple vs Casper to make an informed decision.
You should also get good quality linens. Breathable linens reduce skin irritation, body odor, and sweat, which can affect your sleep quality. Also, do away with unwanted sounds. You can use a white noise machine to block these noises.
Meditation enhances sleep quality by slowing breathing and lowering stress hormone levels. Mediation is a technique that relaxes the body, calms the mind, and upscale awareness by consciously directing attention to a sound, word, or any other object of focus. Types of meditation include vipassana meditation, guided meditation, body scan, and yoga Nidra. Mindfulness and relaxation response are meditation techniques that will help improve your sleep.
You can also try visualization, which involves actively focusing on a relaxing scene. You can try visualization for about 20 minutes before sleeping. Try to involve all your senses. The more senses you involve, and vivid visualization is, the more effective it will be in enhancing sleep. Some examples of visualization is imagining the sweet smell of a flower or listening to waves. Meditation can help with insomnia and improving sleep.
Yoga is a technique for exercise, relaxation, breathing, and healing that has roots in India. It unifies the body, spirit, and mind. Yoga can relieve the symptoms of insomnia. Instead of vigorous yoga, go for gentle yoga, which will energize your body. Do simple and yoga stretch while in bed, and finally do meditation.
Your diet affects your ability to fall asleep. It is essential to eat food that helps you sleep. One of the useful nutrients is Tryptophan, which is a naturally occurring amino acid. Tryptophan is helpful in the production of serotonin, which is eventually converted to melatonin. The amino acid is found in whole-grain crackers and other carbohydrate snacks.
Vitamin B6 helps the body to convert tryptophan. Food rich in vitamin B6 includes sunflower seeds, bananas, and wheat germ. If possible, eat these food types before bedtime. You should, however, eschew tryptophan supplements because they are associated with eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome.
Here is another important thing. reduce sugar intake. Sugar causes short-lived energy burst that, in turn, leads to uneven blood sugar level. As the sugar level falls, it can affect your sleep in the middle of the night.
Also, limit alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine intake. Nicotine and caffeine affect sleep significantly by causing restlessness and insomnia. Caffeine is present in soft drinks, tea, and coffee. Other sources of caffeine include cough medicine and chocolate. Alcohol consumption can make you stay awake the whole night.
- Magnesium and Calcium
Calcium and magnesium boost sleep. But note, these minerals are more effective when used together. Magnesium cancels out heart problems that are potentially caused by consuming calcium alone. If you have sleep problems, take 200 milligrams and 6000 milligrams of magnesium and calcium, respectively each night.
Hops are a female flower used in beer production. However, the same plant has been used widely as a mild sedative to treat insomnia and anxiety. For sleep purposes, use between 20 and 120 milligrams before sleeping.
The importance of sleep cannot get overemphasized. To improve your sleep quality, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake. Also, eat light meals at least two hours before going to bed. Additionally, avoid screen time before sleeping.
If you do not get sleep after 30 minutes, it is recommendable to read or get up, walk out of your bedroom but go back there when you feel tired. Insomnia and other sleep problems can be symptoms of underlying issues. There are also various tips and resources to help you sleep better. If the sleeping problem continues even after using natural remedies, you should seek medical advice. Your doctor will advise you accordingly depending on the sleeping disorder and other conditions.