Have you found yourself tossing and turning in bed, exhausted and still unable to sleep? Here’s a few, helpful suggestions that might induced those much needed zzzz’s that your body needs:
Establish a schedule and stick to it.
Varying number of hours of sleep or when you sleep can affect your bodies internal rhythms, making it difficult for you to sleep when you want to and making your body constantly fatigued. Set a time for sleep and stick with it for at least few weeks before deciding to try another option with your schedule.
Get some exercise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “People who exercise regularly enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often, and sleep longer.” Try to run, jog or brisk walk for about fifteen minutes to half an hour. A yoga instructor based in Los Angeles suggest doing a short, slow yoga routine like a handful of yoga postures such as “child’s pose” in the bed before your turn in. It helps relax the mind and prepare the body for sleep, focusing on deep breathing and letting go of the day’s tension.
If you are unable to do strength exercises and experience trouble sleeping during the night, try lying on your back with your feet spread slightly apart. Raise your palms upward, inhale deeply, and then count to 5. Exhale as you count to 8. Repeat the exercise 20 times.
Any exercise should be done a few hours before you go to bed, otherwise, it may keep you awake.
Treat yourself to a warm bath.
The warmth of the water has a calming effect which can you relax, reduce stress and can therefore promote sleep. Some even use herbs, essential oils and bath salt to produce a more relaxing and aromatic effect. Herbs conducive to use in a warm bath include lavender, chamomile and lemon balm. Oatmeal, cornstarch, almond, milk and other additives having non-irritating, calming, moisturizing, hydrating, smoothing and soothing properties can also be added to the bath.
Prepare your body for sleep.
Relax with a glass of milk and a mild snack. Eat a light snack such as a little fruit or bread, about an hour or two before bedtime to help keep you from waking up hungry in the middle of the night, but avoid some of the few that I’ll mention at the end of this list as they prevent the body from relaxing and can therefore reduce sleep.
If all these fail, you can always try natural herbs and food that you may find in your garden or your cupboard.
Valerian – The valerian is a perennial plant with roots and rhizomes that are used as a sedative to treat insomnia, reduce stress and anxiety. The herb has sedative properties, though it is not addictive. Take Valerian root at least 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime. Do not use it while driving or operating heavy machinery, if you are pregnant or if have liver disease.
Lavender – Lavender scent has a calming effect. The herb itself can be made into a tea, but it is most often used in the form of an essential oil. It can be added to a warm bath to calm the nerves and to promote a restful state. Dried lavender can be used to make a sleep pillow or sachet. According to one study conducted at England’s University of Southampton where they placed two separate groups of adults in a non-scented room and a lavender-scented room, lavender can ease sleeplessness and encourage relaxation. The adults who slept in the rooms scented with lavender ranked their sleep quality 20% higher than when in the non-scented room. This is because lavender increases slow-wave sleep, a very deep sleep in which the body is completely relaxed, the heartbeat slows, and the brain organizes memory.
Try sprinkling a few drops of pure lavender oil on a tissue and place it under your pillow before bed.
The herb chamomile, which has a light, apple fragrance, has a sedative effect. It acts as a muscle relaxant and antispasmodic to induce sleep, relieve stress and can relieve nausea and heartburn.
Chamomile’s flowers are edible, and its dried petals can be used as an additive to bath water to aid in relaxation. It can also be easily made into tea by steeping 2 to 3 teaspoons of crushed flowers in a cup of boiling water for five to 10 minutes. People with allergies, asthma or on blood-thinners should be cautious. Do not use chamomile for a long time or daily.
John’s Wort is an herb which treats insomnia because of its calming, relaxing and sleep-inducing properties. It is most often taken in the form of a concentrated pill.
The Passion flower has sedative properties and causes relaxation by mildly depressing the central nervous system. This may be used in the form of an herbal tea (as a dry herb) or an herbal supplement (capsule form) This herb. Passion e herb is not habit-forming. Take 4 to 8 grams of the dried herb daily in divided doses or the capsules, which come in 200 to 400 mg doses, can be taken two to three times a day. Although there are no major side effects, do not use passion flowers with prescription sedatives because it may produce a cumulative effect.
Lemon balm is an herb with lemon-flavored leaves that can be made into a tea. Historically, lemon balm tea has been used to reduce stress and to promote sleep. The herbs lemon balm and chamomile may be combined into a tasty bedtime, sleep-inducing tea.
Tart red cherries contain high amounts of melatonin,a natural brain-produced hormone that triggers sleepiness at night. According to WebMD, research shows that drinking tart cherry juice might improve sleep patterns in some people.
Tryptophan found in cheese raises brain serotonin that converts to melatonin. Tryptophan can also be found in foods such as milk, peanuts, turkey, chicken, and almonds.
A native to California and found along the entire western coast of the United States, California Poppy can be use as a diffusion, tincture or powder. Make tea diffusions with 2 grams of dried herb for each 150 ml of water and drink it two to three times daily. California poppy is child safe and has no major side effects. However, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Cowslip, a perennial with sweet-smelling flowers that have yellow petals with orange dots on it, can help relieve anxiety and insomnia. The flowers produce mild sedative effects and can be used to help children sleep. When used as a tea or infusion, drink a cup three times per day at mealtimes. Do not use this herb if you are pregnant women or taking anticoagulant medications.
For a good night sleep, avoid the following:
Smoking before bedtime. The nicotine and tar from cigarettes can cause waking up during the night.
Too much alcoholic beverages before bedtime can cause waking during the night as the body dehydrates.
Carbonated drinks before going to bed. They can cause bloating and stomach gas which create discomfort and sleepless nights.
Avoid sugar before bedtime. Sweets increase the heart rate and can keep the body awake. Chocolate acts as a stimulant and should not be eaten before bedtime.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine increases the heart rate.
Avoid too much food in general, since the digestive system will work overtime digesting this food, which may interfere with sleep. Avoid spicy foods that may cause heartburn, especially before going to bed as heartburn may keep you awake.
If work permits you to sleep during the evenings, do not nap for more than an hour or so after 3:00 pm.