May 24, 2024

Improve Your Sleep Naturally. Here’s How.

More people these days have trouble sleeping. It’s not just the neuro-diverse… we are all experiencing mental overload and chronic muscle tension due to  rampant, constant phone and screen use.

People are struggling to balance home and work life, and it’s overwhelming. Many juggle multiple gigs and ever-changing schedules. 

If you have trouble settling down at night, look into these natural ways of getting better sleep.

It’s reasonable to think that people can’t sleep. It’s also reasonable to want to find solutions for this problem. Here are some natural sleep aids to try. 

Do daily yoga, especially at bedtime.

Different yoga routines offer different benefits. The best type of yoga to wind down at bedtime includes gentle, stress-relieving poses.

To enhance relaxation, focus on deep, slow breathing throughout your yoga session. Move in a steady, slow-paced, mindful way. Each pose should be held for at least six breath counts before moving on to the next.

The following yoga sequence should help to ease your tension and relax you before bed:

  • Mountain pose
  • into downward-facing dog
  • into plank
  • into child’s pose
  • into cobra
  • into upward dog
  • into child’s pose.
  • Back to mountain pose,
  • then forward fold
  • then on your back into shoulder stand
  • then bridge
  • into plough pose
  • hug the knees
  • into reclined twist (left and right)
  • into shoulder stand
  • into plough
  • hug the knees
  • then corpse pose

If you have never done yoga before, I recommend the following teachers who deliver both in-person and virtual yoga class options for their students:

If you need a great Yoga Bible resource to learn basic yoga poses, I recommend this one by Tara Fraser:

Yoga for You: A Step by Step Guide to Yoga at Home for Everybody

 



Walk or jog, every day.

If you currently don’t exercise at all, a brisk walk (even a slow walk) is a great start to get you back on track.

Walk at whatever pace works for you at this time. If you can only shuffle along and make around the block for now, that’s okay.

Keep up your walking habit every day, and you’ll gradually get faster as your muscles grow stronger and your heart health improves.

A walk after a meal helps stabilize blood sugar. Walking also releases cortisol, the stress hormone that keeps our nervous system in fight-or flight.

Use calming essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and clary sage (for women).

 

Essential oils bring about different reactions in the body. Lavender and chamomile act as mild sedatives. Ease into a calm and restful state before bedtime with aromatherapy using these oils.

A few drops (literally 2 to 4 !) of lavender or a combo of lavender and chamomile added to a diffuser can help slow down your nervous system while purifying the air of your home and bedroom.

Clary sage and rose geranium help to balance female hormones, and can ease PMS or the irritability/restlessness of menopause.

 

Learn more with the Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Bible – order on Amazon.



Eat plain yogurt to ease digestive upset.

Insomnia can be the result of an upset stomach, even if you don’t seem to feel actual pain. Eating foods that coat the gut and soothe tender tummies can help promote healthy sleep.

Plain yogurt that contains active cultures helps your body break down undigested food and relieves gas, bloating, and other digestive symptoms.

Relax with an epsom salt bath.

Sleeplessness can be caused by nervous system disruption resulting from mineral deficiencies. Some of the important minerals our body needs to rest and repair include calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and iron.

Mineral deficiency can occur as a result of acute or chronic stress. Your body can also lose minerals after diarrhea and /or vomiting.

We sweat out minerals with excessive exercise. We also lose minerals after taking a course of antibiotics, or from drinking too much coffee, tea or eating too many acidic foods.

Magnesium relaxes the muscles and calms the nervous system. It is best absorbed in Epsom salt form, as a bath soak.

You can also add a supplement containing calcium, vitamin D and magnesium, which absorb more easily when taken in combination.

Order Epsom Salt in bulk on Amazon



Sip some Sleepytime tea before bed. 

Sleepytime Tea from Celestial Seasonings is a blend of calming herbs designed to ease you into a restful night’s sleep. Chamomile acts as a natural, mild sedative. Peppermint soothes the stomach which can also promote restful sleep.

Drink home brewed chai (with milk only, NO black tea). 

To make chai, fill a quart pot 3/4 of the way up with a crushed cinnamon stick, fresh ginger, 3 cloves, 4 peppercorns, and other warming spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on low heat.

When the liquid level reaches 1/3 of the way down, your chai brew is ready. Pour into a mug with milk, and sip before bedtime.

Chai is commonly added to black tea, with milk and sweetener, but that version should be saved for daytime because black tea contains caffeine, and sweetener will raise your blood sugar levels, making it difficult to get or stay asleep.

We talked about mineral deficiency and how lack of minnerals messes up the nervous system. Chai (traditional Indian tea blend of spices) can replenish minerals the natural way.

Common spices used to make chai include cinnamon sticks, cloves, black pepper (works to enhance absorption of other spices), ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom.

If you don’t have all of these spices on hand, you can still steep a potion of them using what you do have. Warming spices are mineral rich and can replenish your mineral stores, including iron (cinnamon) and zinc.

Chai also heals the digestive tract by way of the antifungal and antiviral properties of the warming spices used. If you can get spices in whole form, and use fresh ginger, you’ll get the best quality chai possible.

In addition to enjoying chai with milk as a relaxing pre-bedtime drink, you can also store the chai liquid in a jar and add to any recipes where you would use warming spices. Pour a little on your oatmeal with apples. Add to baked apples, peaches, or pears. Use it in pies. Pour a little into your coffee or hot cocoa.

Order a chai spice mix on Amazon here.

There are many more ways to induce healthy sleep beyond herbal and natural remedies. These include the following, which we can discuss in a separate post:

  • Unplugging from electronics at least an hour before bedtime
  • Putting your phone on Do Not Disturb an hour or two before you’re due to go to sleep
  • Making the last few hours of your evening about things that you find relaxing and enjoyable, such as reading, writing, crafting or enjoying a movie or TV show that relaxes you (not on your phone – view from a distance
  • Praying or meditating
  • Spending quiet time with your dog, cat or other pet
  • Reading or enjoying some pleasant conversation with your kids (age appropriate)

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