7 All-Natural Ways To Get Amazing Sleep
Sleep is a beautiful thing. After a good night’s sleep, I find I can tackle even the most annoying tasks with a smile on my face. And sleep does much more than making us feel good. People who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis are at a higher risk for serious health issues, including diabetes and obesity. Shockingly, a Swedish study found that even one night of too little sleep can induce glucose intolerance, a precursor of diabetes.
Still, the sad fact is that nearly half of Americans say they do not get enough sleep. And women lead the under-slept pack. That got me thinking about what we can do to improve sleep performance besides popping sleep-inducing pills (which is not the way to go!). Here are seven all-natural practices that will help you get a fantastic night’s sleep:
SEE ALSO: 9 Scientific Benefits Of Aromatherapy
Prepare for Sleep
At least an hour before bedtime, start winding down. Walk away from the computer, put down your smartphone and read a peaceful book. Take a hot bath or shower — the immediate cool-down post-bath is a strong signal to your body that sleep is near. Meditate and do some deep breathing. To get stuff off and out of your mind, put your thoughts on paper. Write a journal entry about the day went by.
Set the Alarm for Bedtime
How many times have you intended to go to bed at a reasonable time and got engrossed in a TV show, a phone call, or other distraction? The key to good sleep is having a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up. What better use for your alarm clock than having its buzz announce: “Time for bed.”
Tip: Our bodies do most of their recharging from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Please take advantage of the health-building natural cycle by syncing your bedtime to it.
Create a Perfect Room for Sleep
Cozy pillows, covers, and a good mattress—check. Also, keep the room cool—70 degrees or under. The reason: The body’s temperature is lowest during sleep; by being in a cold room you jump-start the process, and that helps you rest. A quiet and dark place (more on that in a moment) also helps induce sleep. If you aren’t able to find or create a dark space for rest, I find wearing a sleep mask over my eyes is just enough to block incoming light. Also, take advantage of natural oils. Lavender essential oil is famous for its calming properties, so spray some in the air or lightly on your pillow.
Helpful Tip: Wear socks to keep your tootsies warm. Now we’re ready for some rest!
Eat and Drink for a Great Night Sleep
However much you love your morning coffee, all that caffeine can linger in your system causing wide-awake nights. If you have trouble going to sleep or staying there, review your caffeine habits. Some people are okay with caffeine until about noon; others can’t tolerate it at all, making decaf the way to go. Know what your limit is regarding sleep.
Helpful Tip: Eat light foods at least two hours before bedtime and steer clear of alcohol and—sorry to say—chocolate for several hours beforehand as well. Alcohol seems to induce drowsiness, but it interferes with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is its most restorative phase. Chocolate, alas, has caffeine in it as well as sugar that gives you energy when you don’t want or need it.
Get some Melatonin Going
The hormone melatonin regulates sleep and wake cycles. When melatonin levels go up, it signals the brain that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is available naturally in food. The winner in high amounts of melatonin is tart cherries (and tart-cherry juice); readily available online and at some farmers markets. Also good: Walnuts and under-ripe bananas. Darkness is the cue the body relies on to increase melatonin production, which is why it’s so important to shut out all the light from your bedroom. Spend time in the morning’s bright sunlight to cue a melatonin decrease and help your body establish a strong day/night melatonin cycle. Take your breakfast outside!
Vigorous exercise helps fatigue muscles, which makes for a more restful, restorative sleep. But forget about doing it late in the evening—the stimulation makes it hard to fall asleep. Instead, do some light yoga stretches. Child’s pose is especially good for relaxation. Lie face-down on the floor and curl into yourself, then breathe deeply into your rib cage and your back. Wrap up this mini-yoga session by lying on your back and continuing to breathe deeply in Savasana.
Visually Scan Your Body
Lying on the floor or the bed, visualize each part of your body, from your head right down to your toes. Be alert to any place where you are holding stress or tension. Stop there and breathe deeply into it until you feel it relax. Bring your attention to the place that feels stressed and gives it some loving’.
Then move on to the next area.
No judgment here, just relaxation.
Schedule in these extra sleep-well boosters so that you can maximize your slumber!
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