Want Better Sleep? Here’s Help!

sleep remedies

I’m finding more and more information about the close relationship between sleep and overall health. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more in tune with the topic because I often have trouble sleeping or if the connection between getting a good night’s sleep and health is becoming more well known. According to experts on the subject, people who sleep well live longer, live better, and have fewer chronic diseases. So what do you do if, like me, you find yourself wide awake at 3 am more often than you’d like?

Get on a schedule

The general consensus is that you should go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning (including your days off). Sleep experts seem to agree that 10 pm is the sleep “sweet spot.” That’s because our bodies produce melatonin between 10 pm and 2 am, and we need melatonin to relax and get to sleep. Most of us need seven or eight hours of quality sleep each night.

Go into sleep mode

If you’re involved in some kind of stimulating activity just before 10 pm, the chances are slim that you’ll be sleeping during those prime melatonin-producing hours. So instead of watching TV, having a heated debate with a family member or getting some work (or homework) done after 9 pm, try something relaxing instead. Doing a bit of restorative yoga, listening to calming music and meditating are good things to try.

Sleep in the dark

This may seem obvious, but many of us do not do it. In order for your body to create melatonin, you need to sleep in as near to pitch black darkness as possible. That means the light from streetlights streaming through windows (and in my case, through skylights in my bedroom), glowing clocks, cell phones and nightlights or a television kept on while you’re trying to get to sleep are all no-nos.

And it’s not just while you are trying to fall asleep that you’ll need darkness if you want to sleep well; you’ll need it for at least two hours before you fall asleep. Of course, if you’re like most people, turning the TV off before bed or getting off the computer at night is not going to happen every night. But it turns out that if (like me) you’re that stubborn about flipping the TV off early, there are a couple of ways around it.

If you’re going to watch TV or surf  the net at night, wear sunglasses while you do it.  I learned seemingly odd tip from the Dr. Oz show, tried it the next night, and to my pleasant surprise it actually did help! According to Dr. Oz, the sunglass remedy works because certain dark lenses block out the blue light that prevents the body from producing melatonin.

Wear a sleep mask. (It’s a lot more comfortable than trying to sleep with your sunglasses on.) This may be the single best thing I ever added to my sleep routine. Credit for this idea goes to my brother!

Get help from herbs

Herbs like chamomile and valerian root can also help improve sleep. You can take them in capsule form or drink a cup of tea containing calming herbal ingredients before you go to bed. (If you drink tea, brew it well and drink only a few ounces so you won’t wake up to go to the bathroom!) When I’m feeling sleep deprived or worried that I’m going to have a restless night, I take valerian root capsules to help me stay relaxed.

Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy works wonders for the sleep-challenged. This simple practice is my favorite trick for getting a better night’s sleep simply because I’m in awe of the tools that nature has provided in the essential oils of plants.

Science has shown that the aromas from essential oils have many remarkable properties, and one is to calm the mind, relax the body and promote sleep. Oils that are great for sleep include lavender and ylang ylang, as well as blends created just for sleep. I use “Perfect Sleep” aromatherapy blend from the Chopra Center when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep.

You can use aromatherapy oils in a diffuser that fills your bedroom with the scent through the night, or, if you don’t have a diffuser, simply dab some oil on a piece of cotton or even right inside the rim of your lower nostrils.

Sweet dreams!

I’ve tried all of these remedies, and they work for me at least 80 percent of the time (which is great, considering that at one point I was lucky if I slept through the night once a week). If you have trouble sleeping and these or other natural fixes don’t work for you, it might be worth visiting your doctor to see if you have a more serious sleep disorder that is caused by a treatable medical condition.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Benefits for Calming Mind and Body | Third Eye
  2. Trackback: Valerian Root: The Sleepy Time Herb | Third Eye Well-being

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Maria Kuzmiak, M.A. is a health and well-being writer with a background in nutrition, psychology and education and a passion for yoga. Over the last 10 years, she has written hundreds of articles, blogs and newsletters for clients in health-related fields, particularly those specializing in yoga, natural medicine, nutrition, and spiritual health and healing. Maria has also worked as a nutritionist, teacher and technical editor. Learn more about her writing at www.wellbeingwriter.net.
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