Why didn't the creator of the snooze button also create a fall asleep button? Anyone who has struggled with falling asleep easily at night wishes for an easy way to drift off to sleep and awake refreshed each morning. Getting plenty of sleep is not only important for keeping our brain functioning at its best, but good rest is also vital for maintaining a healthy weight.
Although exercise during the day and avoiding alcohol near bedtime are general ways to promote healthy sleep, what if those simply aren't enough? Sleep medications often come with a long list of side effects, and should be considered as a last resort. We have found some natural remedies to try that have proven effective for many people that have struggled with falling asleep.
All-Natural Ways to Help with Falling Asleep
Sniff a sleepy scent.
Lavender not only smells lovely, but some studies have shown that sniffing this flowery scent prior to bedtime can actually make falling asleep easier. Mix a few drops of lavender oil with water in a spray bottle and spritz over your pillow. Inhale deeply.
Trying natural supplements or herbs could be beneficial, especially when you're already eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. Although valerian root and melatonin are the most toted cures they don't work for everyone (all of our bodies are very different) and should be used as directed. Remember that supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, so not all brands are equally effective. Talk to your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist about a sleep supplement that might work for you.
Aim for an earlier bedtime.
For many people the optimal sweet spot for falling asleep is sometime between 9:30-10:30 P.M. That isn't the time we should turn off the T.V., but when our heads should actually be hitting the pillow. Anytime after that can create a second wind and cause an increase in energy again, making it even more difficult to wrap our minds around snoozing. If your bedtime ritual usually starts around 10 P.M., try heading to your bedroom a little earlier than that.
Just get up.
This might seem like strange advice, but sometimes the reason we can't fall asleep is because our minds haven't been given the opportunity to wind down. If its been anywhere from 30-40 minutes that you've been tossing and turning, get out of bed and find a task to complete. Be sure the task is not too complicated or requires a lot of light. Writing your thoughts down in a journal, folding laundry, or reading a chapter in a book are all good options. Just be sure to resist the smartphone!
Soak yourself sleepy.
Resting your body in warm water is a wonderful way to relax, and it even mimics the natural body temperature changes that happens during sleep. When you get out of the tub your body temp drops slightly, which triggers a response in the brain for sleep. Make it even more effective by adding lavender oil to your soak.
Part of the reason we can have difficulty settling in to a calm rhythm at night is that once we've found a moment to relax, our brains finally have time to work through all of our worries and problems. Meditation is a way to help focus the mind and prepare the body for sleep through breathing and visualization exercises. It doesn't take much effort, and it proves how powerful your mind can be in working to overcome sleep issues.
Drinking plenty of water each day is important for all of your body's cycles to run properly, and sleep is no exception. Start hydrating early in the day, then taper off after dinnertime. Drinking too much water or Sleepytime tea before bedtime will just have you getting up more frequently for the bathroom.
If you continue to have sleep problems, take a step back and consider your current lifestyle. Are you drinking coffee more frequently? Have you been exercising enough each day? Are you staying up later than usual? Are you eating enough vegetables? Consult your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist for more tips on how to balance lifestyle changes while supporting a healthy and natural sleep cycle.
[Credit: Klein, Sarah. 13 All-Natural Ways to Fall Asleep Faster. Huffington Post.]