An awakening has happened, no pun intended, regarding the importance of sleep. Sometimes referred to as the “sleep revolution,” people are realizing the necessity of a good night’s sleep.
Impaired sleep and insomnia can be extremely detrimental to the human body. The repercussions of sleeping less than five solid hours per night can begin as fatigue, moodiness, and impaired cognitive response. These can quickly escalate into more serious health conditions like weight gain, weakened immune system, and high blood pressure. Natural remedies may be a good option.
Natural Remedies to Improve Your Sleep
There are natural remedies for nearly everything today; impaired sleep and insomnia included. One can easily find pills at their local drugstore to quickly put them to sleep. The medicinal cocktail contained in these can leave the person feeling even more sleepy or fatigued the next day.
Luckily, there are many natural remedies to help fall and remain asleep. Herbs, essential oils, bedroom plants, and meditation are all ways to potentially assist with better sleep and may offer little to no side effects.
1. Herbs and Herbal Tea
Herbs are a natural and potentially effective alternative to sleeping pills. If you are struggling with falling asleep or staying asleep, it could be affecting your physical or mental health. Before taking chemicals or pills that might make the side effects worse, you may want to start with natural remedies like herbs or herbal tea.
Here are some herbs that are known for possibly helping you to sleep more soundly:
Valerian, a crawling plant with small white or pink flowers, is known for its sedative properties. In depth studies have shown that it may lessen the time it takes to fall asleep as well as potentially enhance the quality of sleep. After taking Valerian, dizziness, drowsiness, or difficulty concentrating is possible so it is important to be cautious with this herb.
Chamomile, a member of the daisy family, is another herb widely known for promoting calmness. It has potentially anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, possibly aiding in a more restful, relaxed sleep. The great thing about chamomile is that it is readily available in a tea, so you can easy make a cup of tea before bed and you may get much better sleep.
Passionflower, a climbing evergreen plant, is yet another herb recognized for its sedative abilities. It may help with insomnia as well as potentially calming gastrointestinal issues. The calming action in passionflower is very similar to the calming action of benzodiazepines.
If you are losing sleep because you have digestive problems, then this may only will help make you sleepy, but potentially reduce those effects and further help with your sleep disturbances.
Since the FDA considers herbal supplements a food, manufacturers of the supplements do not need to provide proof of safety or efficacy. It is always important to exercise caution when taking any supplement.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils are another natural and popular alternative for enhancing sleep. Essential oils come directly from different parts of plants, flowers and herbs through an extraction process. They are extremely potent, so they are potentially very effective, but should also be used with caution.
These are the phytonutrients plants themselves use to protect against infections, pests, temperature extremes, and to repair tissue. It makes sense that humans would benefit from them as well. Most of the time, essential oils are used as aromatherapy. They may be spread through a room with an oil diffuser, applied topically, or used in bathwater.
The best essential oils for sleep include:
Lavender oil is widely used to promote sleep because it induces relaxation. Not only is this a great herb and herbal tea to use for better sleep, but the essential oils are amazing for you.
An easy way to use lavender for sleep is to add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser that is turned on in your bedroom. The aroma will fill the air and help you to relax during your nighttime routine. If you also take a bath in the evening, you can use lavender in the bath water as well.
Bergamot oil is a citrus, fresh, bittersweet scent that has calming effects. If you are a fan of more citrus scents, use this in the evening to help you get better sleep. This can help you to feel refreshed and reduce stress, which is really going to help you sleep.
Sandalwood and Cedarwood
Sandalwood and Cedarwood oils are both warm, woody scents that help with sleep. All of these oils work on the sense of smell; one of the strongest scents. Since these are a bit strong, it is a good idea to start small with how much you use in your diffuser (or other methods). Add just a couple drops, then see if a little more might be needed.
Vetiver and roman chamomile are some other essential oils that can be wonderful for improved sleep.
3. Dietary Changes
This may not be what you want to hear, but changing your diet might be just what you need. Not only can your diet help to improve your sleep, but other foods might be derailing good sleep.
Here is a look at foods to eat and foods to avoid that can help with your sleep.
What to Eat
Have you ever had a big Thanksgiving dinner with lots of turkey, then felt instantly like having a nap? This is not just from carb overload and being stuffed, but because of the turkey itself.
Turkey has a nutrient called tryptophan that can help make you sleepy. Not only that, it is a healthy protein that will regulate your appetite during the day, so it is always good to have around.
Unless you are on a carb-restricted diet, there is nothing wrong with having carbs. However, it is best that you avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread and rice, and stick to your complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes and whole wheat. These carbohydrates go really far in helping to produce serotonin, the sleepy hormone.
Nutrients You Need in Your Diet
There are many other foods that are nutritious and are going to help you sleep, directly and indirectly. With the right vitamins and minerals in your diet, you have a healthier mindset, healthier body, and less stress.
Some nutrients you should have in your diet include:
What to Avoid
Naturally, there are also some foods and drinks you want to avoid if you are struggling with insomnia and sleep deprivation. These include:
While you don’t have to completely avoid all caffeine, you should at least reduce how much of it you have. This is especially true when it comes to consuming it in the evenings. Many people enjoy coffee at night, but unfortunately this could be affecting your sleep.
Try to reduce all sources of caffeine, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. Even some medications contain caffeine, so it is good to check.
Alcohol can play tricks on you, making you believe you need it to sleep better. While it might help you to fall asleep quickly, it is not helping you to stay asleep or get restful sleep. Your body and mind goes through a lot when you are sleeping after drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, which is why you might feel like you didn’t sleep a wink the next morning.
As far as food is concerned, reduce how many spicy foods you are consuming. These can affect your digestion, and increase discomfort when you go to sleep. The spicy foods might cause heartburn or acid reflux, which is going to irritate your airway and cause sleep disturbances. If you enjoy spicy food, stick to eating it earlier in the day.
It is also a good idea to reduce acidic foods that irritate acid reflux, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits.
4. Bedroom Plants
Keeping plants in the bedroom is incredibly beneficial to a good night of sleep. Plants help to clean the air, using the carbon dioxide humans exhale. In turn, they provide oxygen.
Like its essential oil, a lavender plant induces relaxation. In studies, lavender helped calm crying babies and helped them to sleep. In women’s studies, it was shown to potentially lessen the time it took to fall asleep.
A jasmine plant could help to lower anxiety levels for a deeper sleep. It is a delicately scented, busy plant. It is also very beautiful, so it adds to the aesthetics of your bedroom while also improving your sleep.
Snake plants raise the level of oxygen in the room. They are also known to potentially clean toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. All of these toxins are commonly found in the home from items like furniture.
Spider plants may also clean formaldehyde from the air, absorb odors and fumes, and improve the quality of the air. Have at least one or two spider plants in your bedroom to possibly help improve the quality of air, and therefore keep your allergies from disturbing your sleep.
English Ivy and Peace Lily
English Ivy and Peace Lilies may help to improve asthma and allergies. They might overpower airborne germs which allows allergy sufferers to get better rest. You may not be waking up in the middle of the night anymore from an allergy attack.
5. Meditation and Mindfulness
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of meditation and mindfulness as natural remedies when it comes to encouraging better sleep.
This might be the easiest natural option because it can be done with or without additional supplies. One can use a guided meditation in which one listens to a person talk them through calming relaxation techniques.
Unguided meditation may be accompanied by a relaxing sound such as rainfall or waves crashing on the beach. This meditation requires concentration to reach a state of ultimate mindfulness.
Practicing meditation along with yoga may help to relax the mind and the body. Yoga includes a series of stretches that assist in preparing the body to sleep. Both can help the practitioner to release the worries and stresses of the day.
Clearly, there are many natural remedies to help achieve better sleep. Herbs can be useful as long as proper precautions are taken. Essential oils use aromatherapy to help induce calm restfulness.
Plants in the bedroom make a beautiful decoration and offer natural air cleansing. Yoga, along with meditation can help relax and prepare the body for sleep. All of these options are potentially effective alternatives to synthetic sleep aids and most may have very little to no side effects.
**Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.