Sleep is crucial to us in so many ways, for our energy levels, weight control, brain function and overall well being. The average adult needs around 8 hours sleep and unfortunately in this technology driven world the average is only getting around 4-5 hours which is just not enough to be at our true optimum.
With so many of us struggling with our sleep the market place is saturated with loads of wonderful and magical products to help us nod off into a world of dreams. Unfortunately these are either quick fixes, full of artificial chemicals or don't work at all for some of us.
With sleep issues being a sign of maybe an even bigger issue and being so important to our over all function and affects on our lives it is so important we make it happen and do it right. Therefore I have complied a list of 8 fantastic and natural remedies to get you to a good nights sleep in no time at all.
1. Create a sleep schedule and keep to it
I know it's not easy especially after a night out or when you are invited to a event or even on vacation but it is so important. Decide on a regular sleep routine, meaning go to bed and wake up everyday at the same time, even the weekend. Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies for sleeping better. Remember if you need a nap to be smart about it, even though great for making up for lost sleep they may the reason your having issues nodding off in the first place and therefore should be limited to 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon. If you feel tired before your scheduled bedtime get up and do something slightly stimulating, such as preparing for the next day. If you give into this drowsiness you risk not to stay asleep the whole night.
2. Be aware of what you eat and when
Eating late and too much can cause uncomfortable bloating and your digestive system to work on over time. Causing all the blood to rush to your intestines to help with digestion. Therefore try not to eat to close to your scheduled bedtime. Same as not eating enough can cause you to be hungry and wake up earlier to eat or even disturb your sleep. If you want natural remedies to enhance your need to fall a sleep try eating turkey, a sugar free cereal, granola or a banana in the last meal of the day.
3. Balance Fluid intake
It is very important to avoid stimulating substances such as caffeine and alcohol, be aware these take hours to ware off and even though alcohol may make you feel sleepy at the beginning it can disturb your sleep during the night. Drink enough fluid at night to keep from waking up thirsty, but not so much and so close to bedtime that you will be awakened by the need for a trip to the bathroom. Hydrate well during the day so you have less of a need as you reach bedtime. Remember hydration in general is good for overall health and well being.
4. Control light exposure
It is extremely important that you create a dark sleeping environment. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light making you more alert. Therefore start by dimming the lights just before you go to bed and ensure your sleeping environment is in complete darkness. The same applies in keeping you awake in the day, let the light in and expose yourself to as much natural daylight as possible. This is why light from a screen such as a TV is really not recommended, and an hour or two before bed should be dedicated to winding down.
5. Relax and manage stress
It is really important to rid yourself of the days issues and concentrate solely on the job on hand, relaxing and getting to sleep. As I recommend to minimize screen time and light before bed what better time for stretching, meditation or yoga. These movements help empty the mind and relax the body and soul. Another form of emptying the mind is through preparation and organization. Make a list of the things you need and want to do setting priorities and delegating tasks. Or even jot down what is on your mind so you can set it aside to the next day. Mediate by regulating your breathing and visualizing a beautiful nights sleep. Again as screen time should be limited try taking a nice warm bath, listening to a book on tape, soft music or winding down doing a hobby.
6. Get regular exercise
It is scientifically proven that people who exercise regularly sleep better and feel less sleepy in the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. However it can be several months before you experience the full affects of regular exercise on your sleep, so keep at it and develop a regular exercise routine. As exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature, and stimulates hormones such as cortisol be careful not to work out too close to your bedtime as it could interfere with your sleep.
7. Create the perfect sleeping environment
Create that perfect environment, not only by blocking out all light as previously mentioned but also sound and regulating the room to the correct temperature. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light. Keep the temperature between 19 and 21°C and the room well ventilated. And make sure your bedroom is well equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows. Strengthen your mental association that your bedroom is just for sleep and maybe sex of course, by keeping out screens such as TVs and computers and all work material.
If after all these adjustments you still see no improvement please seek professional advise from a doctor, or even a nutritionist as nothing is more valuable than your health and as previously mentioned sleeping problems could be your bodies way of letting you know there is a bigger problem.