The demands of daily life can lead to a frazzled and stressed state of mind. The pressures of work and family can interfere with your sleep at night, further exacerbating your anxiety. It is estimated that over 60 million people in the United States rely on some form of sleeping pill to get a good night’s rest.
However, even the most common sleeping pills have serious side effects that can affect the way you function mentally and physically the next day. Luckily, there are natural ways to address sleeping problems and avoid the doom of tossing and turning every night.
6 Natural Solutions For Deeper Sleep
Deep sleep is essential to overall health, and solid slumber has been linked with everything from slowing the aging process to improving mental performance and satisfaction with one’s life. Here are six natural solutions that have been proven to improve the quality of sleep so you can reap its rejuvenating effects.
1. Unplug Your Electronics
For many of us, the hour just before sleep involves feverish checking of emails to prepare for the next work day. It is all too tempting to stay up late working on the laptop, tying up loose ends and staying on top of correspondence. For others, watching television is the go-to method for getting into a sleepier state of mind. In terms of sleep quality, both of these evening activities are problematic.
Screen time late at night has been proven to interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythms which govern how we sleep and wake. Circadian rhythms are extremely sensitive to light, and scientists have found that artificial light from electronic devices can interfere with your brain’s ability to enter a sleeping state. To replace the late-night screen habit, begin a new evening ritual by unplugging at least an hour before you intend to fall asleep.
2. Keep It Moving
The multitudes of health benefits of exercise extend throughout the day. Just 15 minutes of aerobic exercise like walking, jogging or dancing can improve the quality of your sleep. However, try to limit your daily exercise to the morning and afternoon hours if possible. Exercising too close to your bed time can actually cause problems with your sleep. Research has found that aerobic exercise extends the deep sleep phase for most people.
3. Cut the Caffeine
You have probably already received the message countless times: Take caution when ingesting caffeine because it can keep you awake. You might not know that even if you feel that you can fall asleep just fine after caffeine, you are likely experiencing a lighter sleep. This can add up over time as you go night after night without entering truly deep sleep. To minimize the detriments of caffeine, avoid ingesting it after noon. Limit your caffeine intake to one or two cups of coffee or tea, and avoid sugar-laden energy drinks that can often include up to three or four times the recommended safe daily amount of the ubiquitous uppity molecule.
4. The Magic of Massage
It’s not necessary to get a professional massage to reap the relaxing benefits of the ancient art. Gentle self-massage techniques can help you both fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Self-massage releases feel-good hormones that support sleep, including serotonin, and can slow your breathing rate and lower your blood pressure. Gently massaging your neck, shoulders, arms and legs with a scented oil such as coconut, almond or sesame can be part of a sleep-supporting evening ritual. Self-massage can become an integral part of your evening hygiene and supports your physical and mental health. You’ll also be less likely to wake up on the wrong side of the bed if you devote time to self-massage before you snooze.
5. Herbal Teas for Happier Sleep
Nature provides remedies for nearly everything that ails us, including insomnia. Several delicious garden herbs can be used as teas that support your sleep health. Herbs used as safe, non-toxic sleep aids can be a wonderful alternative to using chemical-laden sleeping pills. Traditional sleeping-time teas include the fragrant brews of peppermint, lavender, lemon myrtle and linden flowers. One of the most effective and well-studied sleep-supporting beverages is chamomile tea, which is known to promote deep relaxation. Chamomile flowers also have well-established anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties that can help you wake up refreshed.
6. Lullabies Are Not Just for Babies
Perhaps you have memories of the songs your parents would sing to you when you were a baby. Their bedtime crooning actually had scientifically-proven benefits in terms of helping you catch your Z’s. Slow, melodious and repetitive music supports the brain in achieving states optimal for entering the various stages of sleep. While it’s fairly difficult to sing yourself a lullaby, you can experience the benefits of the slow sweet songs by setting up a sleepy-time playlist for yourself. When you get in bed, zone out to the gentle music and you may enter your dreams with greater ease.