Natural Sleep Aids
Sleep. Is there anything more natural? When our bodies begin producing melatonin during the evening the lure of sleep becomes undeniable. So when your bed calls and you climb into it with the promise of a long and lovely restorative sleep and you suddenly find yourself awake, and I mean AWAKE! It feels like you have been cheated; and laying in bed wired feels anything but natural!
So what can we do?
There are many ways we can help ourselves to sleep using natural sleep aids. Just as when we are suffering with a cold and we prepare ourselves with a ritual that we hope will help us get through the day: steaming, olbus oil, cough mixture, water by our side… so we should treat a bout of insomnia in a similar way.
You should start by watching what you eat in the hours before bedtime. An uncomfortable tummy that is forced to work over-time on rich, spicy or fatty food, or alcohol, is not a happy one and will definitely keep the boss awake!
So what should you eat?
Carbohydrate + protein= A good sleep!
A combination of carbs and protein releases serotonin (the happy hormone) which in turn releases melatonin (a calming neurotransmitter) so, porridge and warm milk, or cheese and crackers make an ideal bedtime snack. Avoid a protein- overload though as too much protein on its own gives you more energy, which is not what we are looking for here.
Some teas that have sleep-inducing properties which are worth sipping in the evenings are: Passionfruit, contains somniferum, which means ‘sleep-bringing’ and makes a nice change from the usual cuppa. If passionfruit is not your thing, other sleep inducing heroes are lemon-balm; which soothes digestion and agitation. Sage, chamomile and valerian.
Bananas contain magnesium, which acts as a muscle relaxant, and a huge amount of potassium (422mg) which helps regulate sleep and the nerves.
Cherries are champions when it comes to sleep. They are one of few natural foods that contain melatonin. Studies have shown those who consume cherries (two glasses of tart cherry juice or equivalent) sleep slightly longer. Try a banana, milk and cherry smoothie.
Turkey, like milk, contains tryptophan which is one of natures sedatives, but you would need to consume a lot of it to have any serious effect of your sleep, however it is the better choice over anything fatty or spicy.
Sweet potatoes are a sleeper’s dream. Not only do they provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, they also contain that muscle-relaxant potassium.
Jasmine rice is high on the glyclemic index meaning it is digested slowly. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming jasmine rice four hours before bedtime cut the amount of time it took to fall asleep in half when compared with eating a high-glycemic-index meal at the same time interval.
An ideal meal?
A glass of cherry juice when you get in from work, followed by a light evening meal of fish (tryptophan) and Jasmine rice, or sweet potato. Try a small bowl of porridge made with milk and topped with a banana if you fancy a snack a bit later, then follow with a cup of one of the aforementioned herbal teas and that will see you a long long way towards slumberland.
So, what else can I do?
Light a candle and read by candlelight. The Neom French Lavender,Geranium & Juniper travel candle is a deeply relaxing scent that will leave you in a state of perfect calmness, ready for a good night’s sleep…
…and spray your pillows with a sleep-friendly scent too for added insurance. Have a look at the ‘This Works’ sleep range, which includes a Sleep Spray, the Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle, Shower Gel, Sleep Balm, Bath Soak and more. The full range can be found at Amazon
In the few hours before bed, ideally you should step out of your techno bubble (and this includes the T.V) and dare to try an evening like that of life before iphones, laptops and tablets. Dim the lights and block out any street lights. The night is meant to be dark! In our world where everything is illuminated around the clock, how can we be surprised many of our sleep habits are shot to bits?
Play some relaxing music instead,
Try some soothing nature sounds:
Try listening to the most relaxing classical music in the universe!
or use a sound machine: (read Best Sleep Sound Machines)
Yes! The body needs exercise. Physical activity helps you feel more alert during the day while helping you sleep sounder at night. For more information about what exercise you should be taking and when to take it read: Exercise and Sleep.
Bedroom ambience is very important. We could go on and on about which colours are conducive to sleep, what the ideal room temperature is, feng shui and relaxation techniques, which are all important, but know this, there is not much more important than an awesome bed! Bottom line is you MUST have a good bed. In our opinion it is the best investment you will ever make.
I recently became a convert to quality bedding and sheets. Paying over the cost of a night out on sheets makes me uncomfortable, but when someone bought me a luxurious Egyptian- cotton bed set with a through-the-roof thread-count, I cursed myself (and him) that I hadn’t been wrapped up in such lavish blissfulness far sooner in life. Don’t get me wrong, if you are the type of person that can sleep anywhere (why would you be reading this article?) this isn’t so relevant to you, but for those of us who have sleep issues, take the plunge. Trust me! They keep you at just the right temperature which is crucial for staying asleep once you fall asleep. Besides if all else fails and you still find yourself laying awake in the dead of night; you will at least be a comfortable insomniac 😉
Finally, ban the bedroom clock, or at the least cover the display at night. Seeing the time in floating lights invading the darkness of your bedroom is unnatural and causes anxiety. Choosing a more natural sound (or light) to wake to is all the rage and for good reason. Check out this range and never leap three foot off your bed to the evil jarring shrillness of the traditional alarm clock again.
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I hope these natural sleep aids give you some ideas of how to tweak your sleep routine. Wishing you many sleep-filled nights.