Tips, Tricks and Natural Remedies for Improving Your Sleep

Tips, Tricks and Natural Remedies for Improving Your Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. However, many of us struggle to get the recommended amount of sleep each night due to factors such as stress, anxiety, or physical discomfort.

Fortunately, there are a number of tips, tricks, and natural remedies that can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep.

Did you know that 50-70 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder? That 30% to 40% of adults in the US complain of insomnia symptoms?

Covid made it worse for health care workers. The insomnia rate among them increased to 64% from 44.5% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are very worrying statistics, and we should take them rather seriously. It’s about time to make some serious changes in our lifetime and to understand the importance of good night’s sleep for our well being.

Establish a Routine

A bad night of sleep isn’t necessarily a big deal on its own, but long-term lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Identifying an underlying cause, such as sleep apnea, and taking steps to correct it can help you get better Zzz’s.

One of the best things you can do for your sleep is to create a bedtime routine and stick with it.

Developing an evening wind down ritual, like reading, gentle stretches or meditation, can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

Keeping your electronics out of the bedroom (and even off) can also help you turn off the noise and distractions that can keep you awake.

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed is another great way to help improve your sleep. Caffeine can remain in the system for up to three or more hours, and is a stimulant that can make you feel wired right before bed.

Try drinking a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea instead. Some herbs, such as chamomile, have been shown to have calming effects and can become a pleasurable part of your sleep routine.

Just be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any herbs as they may interfere with some medications.

Optimize Your Bedroom Environment

The way your bedroom looks, feels and even smells can have a much bigger impact on your sleep than you realize. That’s because the environment in which you sleep is vital to your overall well being. It can affect your energy levels and mood, how rested you feel and even your weight.

Keeping your bedroom cool, dark and relaxing can help improve your sleep. Rizwana Sultana, a pediatric sleep medicine specialist at University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, says you can also consider painting the room in soothing colors, like blues or greens, to create a calming atmosphere. She suggests avoiding warmer hues, which have been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Another great way to enhance your bedroom’s sleeping conditions is by using light-reducing curtains, blackout shades or eye masks for better sleep. According to Web MD, exposure to bright light can keep you awake by signaling your body that it’s time to wake up and suppressing melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone.

It’s also important to keep the room as quiet and free of distractions as possible. Clutter can cause anxiety and it’s difficult to unwind if you’re constantly tripping over things or getting interrupted by your alarm clock, TV, phone, tablet, or other gadgets.

You can also try adding a white noise machine or earplugs to block out distracting sounds from outside or inside the house that may keep you up.

Exercise Regularly

It may seem counterintuitive that exercising regularly will improve your sleep, but this is exactly what researchers have found.

Moderate exercise boosts the amount of nourishing slow-wave (deep) sleep you get and helps your body restore its normal REM cycle. It also makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Even just a few sessions of moderate aerobic exercise a week can improve your sleep. And you don’t have to go all out at the gym; even low-intensity leisure activities, such as walking, gardening and yoga, can have a positive impact on your sleep.

Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts your adenosine levels, which are responsible for your sleep-wake cycle. This causes you to feel more tired, which will then help you fall asleep faster and more easily at night.

It also improves your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, and boosts your energy levels – all of which can aid in a better night’s rest.

Just make sure to time your workouts properly; doing vigorous exercises too late in the day can prevent you from falling asleep at night, while working out too early can leave you feeling exhausted throughout the day.

You should aim to finish your workout at least three hours before bed, but if this is not possible for you, try doing some low-intensity exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evenings instead.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

While a cup of coffee and sleep might seem like two of life’s greatest pleasures, drinking caffeine too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect.

Caffeine is a stimulant and increases brain activity, making it harder to fall asleep. It interferes with the body’s natural sleep process by blocking the effects of adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep.

It can also cause people to wake up more frequently and make them feel less rested. Alcohol, on the other hand, can disrupt sleep because it is a diuretic and causes people to urinate more often throughout the night.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 6 hours before bedtime. Instead, have a warm glass of milk or tea, which contains the amino acid tryptophan.

Tryptophan is a natural sleep inducer and is converted to serotonin in the body, which works as a natural sedative. Tryptophan is also found in a variety of foods, including turkey, bananas and dairy products.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can be effective sleep aids, but they take time to learn and require regular practice.

They are often more effective when used in combination with other sleep hygiene habits like keeping a consistent schedule, cultivating daytime habits that promote sleep, and using relaxation exercises during the day.

Several different types of relaxation techniques exist, but most involve tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to create a feeling of calmness.

One popular technique is progressive muscle relaxation, where the individual tightens and then releases each muscle group, starting with the toes and working their way up to the head and neck.

Another type of relaxation is visualization, where the individual forms mental images to help them feel relaxed and centered.

Breathing exercises can also help people to feel more relaxed, especially when combined with visualization techniques.

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise, for example, involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.

Practicing this exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.

Avoid Naps

A short nap during the day can help you feel refreshed, boost your memory, and improve your performance throughout the day. However, taking naps too often can interfere with your ability to get good quality sleep at night.

Napping too late in the day can disrupt your sleep cycle, leaving you feeling exhausted all through the night.

When you nap, you enter a different phase of the sleep cycle than when you’re awake. In this phase, the muscles relax and blood pressure decreases, while slow brain waves form. This is why waking up from a long nap can make you feel groggy for hours afterward.

To avoid this grogginess, try to limit your naps to about 20 minutes. If you do need a nap, be sure to set an alarm for yourself so that you don’t oversleep.

Drinking a cup of coffee or having 100 mg of caffeine right before your nap can provide an alerting boost upon awakening. It can also reduce the post-nap grogginess and improve your mood and cognitive functioning.

Natural Remedies

One simple option is a glass of milk and honey. The milk contains the amino acid glycine, which works as a natural sedative. The honey combines with carbohydrates to boost the levels of serotonin in your brain, which is another natural sleep inducer. Try this remedy about a half hour before bedtime.

Another common natural sleep aid is chamomile tea, which is loaded with calming compounds like apigenin and coumarin. You can brew some in your kettle or make it into a soothing herbal tea bag. You can also take a supplement of this herb in capsule form, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Passionflower, a flowering plant with colorful blossoms, is another natural sleep enhancer that can be taken as a supplement or brewed into tea. It contains compounds that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep and can reduce insomnia, according to the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Last Thoughts

There are many different things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Make sleep a priority and take steps to create a healthy sleep environment.

That way you can enjoy the benefits of a good night’s rest, including increased energy, better concentration, and improved overall health and well-being.

So if you’re struggling to get the sleep you need, don’t despair – with a little effort and experimentation, you can find the strategies that work best for you and start enjoying better sleep tonight.