On any given day, as many as one in five adults suffers from an insufficient amount of sleep! Insomnia affects adolescents, adults and the elderly. And as we age, sleep can become even more elusive, so developing good sleep habits when you’re younger can pay off later in life.
Many people think the term “insomnia” refers to a complete lack of sleep. In truth, insomnia encompasses a host of sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, early morning awakening, and non-restful sleep.
Some simply lifestyle changes could be the answer.
Make Time for Exercise
Being physically active is essential for sleeping well. Evidence shows that people who exercise regularly tend to snooze better, especially when it comes to those with chronic insomnia.
Rise with the Sun
One way to keep our bodies on schedule is by flooding it with light as soon as you get out of bed, which sends a clear message to your body that it’s time to wake up. Try opening your blinds, exercising outside, or even just enjoy your morning cup of herbal tea bathing in the sunlight.
If you consistently find your your mind racing, stress could be stealing your ability to fall asleep. When you’re wiped out during the day from not getting enough sleep, you tend to feel even more stressed, anxious, and irritable. Over time, the whole stress-sleep thing can turn into a vicious cycle. Which is why taking steps to manage your stress is so critical for achieving deeper, more restful sleep. To manage your stress you could start journalling, take a yoga class, attend a relaxing sound meditation, try to get to bed earlier, or incorporate the use of stress relieving essential oils into your daily routine.
Look at your Eating Habits
It might seem surprising, but the things that you eat and drink could play a role in whether you drift off to sleep soundly or spend half the night tossing and turning. In fact, many edibles actually contain chemical properties that can make you feel relaxed or drowsy. For example, bananas are rich in sleep-promoting carbohydrates and tryptophan, but that’s not all, they also contain potassium and magnesium, which can help promote muscle relaxation. And cherries are the only edible source of the sleep hormone melatonin, so consider having a bowlful for dessert. A few things to avoid in the name of getting a better night’s rest would be caffeine, alcohol and spicy or fatty foods.
The blue light emitted from your smartphone, tablet, or computer is sort of like an electronic version of caffeine: It leaves your brain feeling revved up, rather than relaxed and ready for sleep. Make it a point to turn off your devices at least an hour before turning in.
Run Yourself a Relaxing Bath
The heat from a warm, pre-bedtime bath sends the message to your nervous system that it’s time to relax and slow down, encouraging you to feel sleepy.
Aromatherapy for Relaxation
You might not think so, but scent can have a powerful effect on your mood. Consider taking advantage of aromatherapy to fill your bedroom with aromas, or add to your bath, that help to ease anxiety and promote relaxation, like lavender, spikenard, vetiver, frankincense, myyrh, and clary sage.
Here are some sleep-promoting herbal remedies that could also make it easier for you to nod off:
Simple, delicious, and effective. Chamomile tea has been used as a relaxation aid for centuries, but it’s more than just a folk remedy. Chamomile acts as a mild sedative, helping to calm the nerves, reduce anxiety, and ease insomnia. And don’t be afraid to make a strong brew. Some experts recommend using two or three tea bags to get the full, sleep-promoting effect.
St. John’s Wort
The yellow, weed-like flower is commonly used to ease depression symptoms like anxiety and insomnia, and you can steep it to make a tasty tea. Just take care to avoid direct sunlight when you take the stuff, since St. John’s wort can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
Like chamomile tea, folk practitioners have turned to the root of this flowering plant to easy anxiety and promote relaxation. And it works: Valerian root is shown to help people doze off faster and sleep more soundly. It might not be ideal for long-term use, though, so do your research.
The tropical flower acts as a mild sedative—and, bonus, it tastes delicious. Try steeping a teaspoon of passion flower in boiling water for 10 minutes before drinking... and then drift off to dreamland.
People don’t often want to feel sluggish and lethargic. But when you do, like right before bed, make California poppy your pick. Steep the bright orange leaves in hot water for at least 10 minutes to make a tea that will erase your anxiety and leave you feeling relaxed and ready for bed.
Finally, don’t discount the powerful effect of a super comfortable bedroom. Adjust the temperature, turn off the lights, turn down the noise, pick comfortable bedding and a comfortable mattress, and reap the benefits that these simple changes can have.
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