The Natural Way To Get A Better Night Sleep
With the change in the weather, now more than ever it is important to get a good night sleep. Not only is it good for your body, lets your cells regenerate, preps your for the next days work or school... but it also feels so good. Waking up fully rested and not having to go through a day hearing your bed calling really gives you time to get things done.
When I was still in university, I remember not getting the best sleep, which is normal because of late night study sessions and working two jobs while being a full time student. But I thought that after I finished school and graduated, things would change. Two months into my first big girl 9-to-5 office job, I'm still finding I'm not getting the sleep I need. I lay awake at night and my mind just cannot sit still.
On average, it takes me at least 1 hour to fall asleep (im a bit of what you call a self diagnosed insomniac). I've tried everything under the sun from meditation to sleep hypnosis, but there has got to be a better way. Before I reach for the sleeping pills, I wanted to try a more natural route.
Here are a few things that I've started doing to get a better night sleep, naturally.
SKIP THE NIGHT SNACK
I always find, if I stay up late enough, no matter how much I've eaten in the day I get so hungry around 2 AM. Try to fight the urge to eat food before bed, as much as possible. When we eat, our bodies use a lot of energy to digest the food, and extract the vitamins and nutrients from what we ingest. When you're sleeping, the body is supposed to be focused on rejuvenation not digestion. The energy in your body will prioritize digestion over relaxation which will keep you up at night.
This is probably the easiest way to get your body in the mood for sleeping. A nice, warm cup of tea soothes and calms you down to get ready for a relaxing night sleep. I typically like to leave sugar out of my tea before bed since sugar gives your body more energy which is the opposite of what we are trying to do. For night time, the best tea's are herbal, floral or citrus. Some of my favourite teas include Chamomile which is a natural sleep time tea, Lemon (because duh) and any Raspberry or Orange tea I can get my hands on.
LIGHT A CANDLE
Much of our energy comes from the light around us. Set the mood around you for sleeping by dimming the lights and using candle light as your only light source. The florescent lighting is too harsh for night time, and gives you the false pretence that you have much more time than you actually have. Long ago, get this, people went to be with the sun and woke up with the sun. There was nothing you could really do in the night time because there was no electricity. While the lightbulb did make things so much easier, it also made the days seem longer. Not only does cutting out the lights this save electricity, it smells great too!
Ahh, my favourite. Anybody who knows me, knows that I am addicted to scents. I love things that smell nice so naturally, I gravitate to essential oils. These are potent natural oils that have amazing benefits for the skin, mind and body. Not to mention, Aromatherapy is an amazing tool to use for sleeping. Certain essential oils release fragrant in the air that naturally calm the body down and make you sleepy. You can add this to your routine using natural scented candles, oil diffuser, or a nice warm bath. Here are two of my favourites that calm the body and help you fall asleep better, Chamomile, Lavender.
At night, you want nothing more than to reduce the amount of stimulants around you, technology plays huge role in that. Everything from your phone, to the laptop and everything in between stimulates your senses and keeps you awake. The blue light emitted from these screens tricks your eyes into believing it is day time, making this a huge contributing factor in prohibiting your restful night sleep. Try putting your gadgets away for at least an hour before bed to minimize the effects of blue light.
READ A BOOK
Now that we've put down the tech, there must be something you can do to for the next hour to keep you occupied. Put down the phone and pick up a book. Reading not only teaches you something, but it also allows your mind to focus on one thing at a time. Calming your thoughts is the quickest way to calm your body. Grab a physical book or listen to an audio book, which ever you prefer, just as long as you are not looking at a screen. Give your eyes a break.
This tip is as old as time, but exercising during the day gets the blood flowing throughout your body. Whenever I exercise, I find I sleep so much better. The body is already exhausted because of the workout and will practically beg you to sleep. Let your tired muscles pull you into a deep sleep.
BED FOR SLEEPING
I spend a lot of time in my bed. I'm serious, I eat in my bed, I read in my bed, I watch Netflix in my bed - and of course I sleep in my bed. Try making your bed your happy place and only relax in it. Making this a habit tricks your mind into being tired once you get into bed. Train your mind to associate cozying up under a warm blanket with sleep rather than other things and you'll see how fast you drift away into bliss.
SET A NIGHT ROUTINE
Lastly, create a night routine for yourself. We are creatures of habit. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Just like learning a sport, playing a new instrument or learning a new language, the more you do it and set time aside to practice it, the better you become at it. The same way after learning to walk, we now walk without thinking about it you can learn to fall asleep without thinking about it too. Your brain will start to associate sleep with whatever steps you do before bed. It will take some time to make it a habit but it is worth it.
Here is an example of my sleep routine: