You’re snuggled up in bed under your favorite comforter, your sound machine is on, and the lights are out…but your mind is racing! If you’re struggling to get a great night’s sleep, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, approximately 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, and those problems can be more than a simple nuisance. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, reduce your memory and attention span, and increase chronic conditions such as depression. How can you naturally improve your sleep, you ask?
Let’s get up on the right side of the bed with these FIVE natural sleep aids, proven to encourage a peaceful, nourishing slumber:
Warm milk, chamomile tea, and tart cherry juice may help you fall into a deep sleep. It’s a common belief that warm milk is associated with chemicals that simulate the effects of tryptophan, and chamomile tea is believed to have flavonoids that may interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that are also involved with the sleep-wake transition. Consider adding this soothing brew to your bedtime routine!
Daily exercise has been proven to improve sleep and it can also help you fall asleep more quickly. It’s important to keep in mind that exercise does release endorphins which are chemicals that can actually keep some people awake. Every body responds differently, but it’s generally best to wrap up your workout at least 1 – 2 hours prior to bedtime. So, get out there and feel the burn, give yourself time to cool down, and then get ready to drift off to dreamland!
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally released in the brain up to four hours before you feel a sense of sleepiness. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, consider taking a melatonin supplement. These supplements are formulated to mimic your body’s natural hormones and they’re the perfect sleep aid for those nights when you can’t seem to stop tossing and turning.
According to the Harvard Medical School, your body begins to drop in temperature right before you fall asleep. During sleep, your core temp is reduced by 1 to 2°F, as a way to conserve energy. Sleeping in a colder room (between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit) will help you drop to that level faster, which will help you fall asleep (and stay asleep) more quickly.
If a natural melatonin supplement isn’t for you, it might be time to hit the lights. Darkness helps stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep quickly, and it also helps keep you asleep through the night’s sleep cycles. Darkness also promotes relaxation which can help you fall asleep more quickly and it doesn’t hurt that eliminating light means putting those electronics to bed, too!