The benefits of a good night’s sleep go beyond keeping you energized for the day and erasing under eye bags. Getting an adequate amount of shut-eye is crucial for boosting your mood, immune system and mental functions. Sleep strengthens the memories or skills acquired while awake, whether it is a new language or a new dance move. It can also improve your learning skills and attention span, encouraging a sharper mental focus and alertness. Getting fewer hours of sleep has also been shown to increase blood pressure and inflammation in your body, leading to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Enough sleep has been linked to weight loss as quality sleep ensures quality metabolism. The average person should sleep around 7.5 hours a night.
Despite this knowing all of this, we understand that the stress and static of daily life often get in the way of proper rest. Here are some of the best natural remedies for sleep:
A Good Night’s Feast
Certain foods that contain particular amino acids and vitamins can help ease your way into dreamland. If you are craving a bedtime snack, try these superfoods 1-2 hours before bedtime in small portions so as not to tax your digestive system:
- Dairy foods like greek yogurt, milk and cheese contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin levels and enhances sleepiness. Other tryptophan-rich foods include walnuts, bananas and eggs.
- Eat carbohydrate-rich foods with high glycemic indexes in order to trigger greater amounts of insulin, allowing more tryptophan to reach the brain. Try some jasmine rice, a bowl of cereal, or a slice of bread.
- Vitamin B6-rich foods, such as salmon, halibut and tuna, are essential for making melatonin, which is necessary to reset sleep cycles, improve sleep quality and induce sleepiness. You can also try eating potassium-rich bananas or making a green salad with chickpeas. Kale and collard greens are filled with calcium, which can help the brain use tryptophan to manufacture the melatonin. Try a bowl of fresh cherries for a melatonin boost.
- Magnesium and potassium rich foods can also help replenish electrolytes lost during the day to promote sleep. Try whole wheat grains or almonds, along with bananas or soybeans.
- Sip a cup of caffeine free herbal tea in order to help you unwind and find your center. Chamomile tea, in particular, can relax your muscles and can act as a mild sedative. Mix in a spoonful of honey to raise insulin and allow tryptophan to work more effectively.
Avoid protein rich foods as your bedtime snack because they are harder to digest. Activating your digestive system can disrupt sleep cycles and encourage nighttime trips to the restroom. You should also avoid alcoholic drinks for a good night’s sleep. Though it may help you fall asleep faster, alcohol can induce less restful sleep, night sweats, and headaches. If you are drinking alcohol in the evenings, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute its effects.
Counting sheep may be an effective method to quiet your mind and let your worries fall away, but you can also try the right, relaxing yoga poses as the perfect sleep supplement. Yoga before bed has been shown to lower stress levels, relieve tension and calm the mind. The best part? You can do all of these yoga poses in bed!
- Legs Up Against The Wall (Viparita Karani)
Sit facing your wall or headboard at a distance of about 5-6 inches. Lie back and extend your legs up against the wall, letting your arms rest by your sides. Breathe gently and feel the stretch in the backs of your legs. This pose not only calms your mind, but it also relieves tightness and cramping in the legs and back.
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels. Fold your torso over your bent legs with your arms extended outward or to the sides. Breathing deeply, rest your forehead against the ground. Child’s pose gives us an opportunity to breathe into the back of our torsos and stretch out our spines. It can also ease tension in our thighs and hips while giving you a quiet space to relax.
- Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie flat on your back with your arms outward, palms facing up. Let your body relax and feel heavy. Often the last pose of any yoga session, the corpse pose allows your body to focus your attention on your breathing. By focusing the mind, you can more easily let go of the day’s stresses and worries. Get your body into sleep mode with a simple corpse pose, focusing the attention on the body and breath, and letting go of the day's worries.
The necessary sleep hygiene reminders!
You know many of these already, but this post wouldn't be complete without the standard sleep hygiene reminders, so read on! Your nighttime ritual plays a big role in your journey to deep sleep. Try doing the same things each night in order to set your body on the course to unwind. Relaxing, routine activities can help ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. Make sure your bed sheets are breathable and clean to reduce sweat, body odor, and skin irritations. Put away your electronic devices and bright screens, as they can interfere with your sleep cycles. Try a warm bath before bedtime to raise your body temperature. When you get out, you’ll rapidly cool down, mimicking the natural drop in body temperature in your body when you sleep. Add a few drops of relaxing lavender essential oil, chamomile essential oil or ylang ylang essential oil to your bath or your pillowcase to ease you restful mood and feel refreshed in the morning. Find out how other essential oils can impact your mood here.
Also, check out our ayurvedic remedy for the best sleep, the Pure Rest Wellness Oil, to unwind and naturally relieve nighttime restlessness without causing dependence or side effects!