My Top 7 Tips To Getting A Good Night Sleep, Naturally
My Top 7 Tips To Getting A Good Night Sleep, Naturally
You know those nights where you lay awake tossing and turning watching the clock tick closer to morning? The nights where you are clearly tired but you just can’t fall to sleep? And no matter how hard you try to switch off, your head continues to run a hundred miles an hour thinking of everything you forgot to do and making lists of everything you need to do? You’ve laid on your left side, your right side, your stomach, your back, you’ve counted sheep, I name it – you’ve done it. Well YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I too have had my fair share of restless nights and broken sleep and after lots of trial and error, I feel I have found the 7 natural prerequisites to a solid night sleep.
What was it that sent me in search of these natural super sleeping powers? The one time experience I have had of sleeping tablets. Never again. Now most of you would know I’m a big supporter of using natural products. Well lets just say desperate times call for desperate measures, or so I thought. It was the last semester of my last year of uni and it was exam period. I had just taken a new part time job where I was working night shift (good money, lousy lifestyle) and my body couldn’t adjust. It was at this point all I had managed was a 20 minute nap during a ‘lunch break’ at 2:00am in in just over 72 hours. I needed to study but I also desperately needed to sleep in order just to to do basic human functions before I could even consider studying. So down to the pharmacy I went. Popped these two little prescribed pills and I was out for a good 12 hours. I woke expecting to feel refreshed and ready to study, and instead I was greeted with the total opposite. I felt sluggish, had a heavy head, heavy eyes, I felt nauseous, sluggish, and just sick in general. I woke feeling worse than before I went to sleep. I was not comfortable at all feeling this way, so it was at that point I vowed never again. I also gave that job up pretty quickly too.
What inspired me to write this blog was that last night (or should I say this morning) at 3:00am, I was lying awake wondering why I couldn’t go back to sleep. It wasn’t until about 4:00am when it hit me, I literally did none of my sleep prerequisites before I went to bed. Not even my one non-negotiable that I do so often now I’ve basically created a new habit. But I didn’t even do that before I went to bed. So I quickly put a drop of lavender oil onto my pillow (tip 2) and the next thing I remember is waking up to my 5:30am alarm thinking either this stuff is heavily underrated or that placebo effect worked good. Either way, it worked.
So here they are, my top 7 tips for getting a good night sleep. Just remember, everyone is different. So play around with some of these and see what works best for you. What might work really well for me might not work so well for you. However I promise you one of these or at least a combination of these will help you fall to sleep soundlessly 99% of the time.
- Write It Down
One of the biggest reasons we find ourselves unable to fall to sleep is because we can’t switch off. We tend to spend the night laying in bed processing the ‘have done’s’ of today and ‘to dos’ of tomorrow. In doing so our brain gets anxious that we may forget something or that something might not happen so it remains stimulated out of this fear. The best way to work with this is to keep some sort of note taking system by your bed. A diary, a notepad, whatever works. So when a thought comes to mind that you can’t seem to move on from, write it down.
- Lavender Oil
Also known as a little bottle of liquid magic and my non-negotiable. This is what put me back to sleep at 4:00am this morning. How could I forget it last night?! Research has shown that lavender’s sleep inducing properties are so effective that it has proven to reduce insomnia and anxiety by increasing slow-wave sleep, also known as ‘deep sleep’.
I like to put a drop on my pillow before I go to sleep, but you can also put a drop on your neck, your temples or your wrists. You could also have a lavender oil infused bath or use lavender candles or scent diffusers (a safer option if you’re going to sleep).
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is recognised as a natural sleep inducer due to its ability to help the body relax and calm the mind. There doesn’t seem to be any set rule as to how long before bed to drink chamomile tea, I personally like to have a cup between dinner and bed. I probably only do this 2 or 3 times a week, but the calming effect is so strong that I think I really need to add this to my list of non-negotiables.
Now I’m sure there are a few of you out there reading and thinking “yuck chamomile tea, no thanks.” If that is the case but you feel that you’d still like to benefit from it’s sleep inducing effects, you could always try a tea blend instead that contains chamomile.
- Stretch It Out
It doesn’t have to be a full on 30 minute advanced yoga session, all I’m asking is you roll out your mat, a towel, or even just jump jump into your bed for that matter. Take 5 minutes to sit quietly and do some basic stretches. Think forward folds, happy baby stretches, that kind of thing. This will allow your body to relax by easing tension and stress.
- Get Rid Of The Stimulants
If you are someone who has a very sensitive response to stimulants such as coffee or pre-workout (not a fan, you should just give that one up anyway), make a cut off time for yourself. Say, no more caffeine after 3:00pm?
- Read A Book
Reading is a great way to calm your thoughts and your mind before bed. Now I know not everyone considers themselves an avid reader, and neither do I. But I always tend to have a book on the go next to my bed that I’m eventually getting through. And remember, there are so many different types of books that you are bound to find one that resonates with you. For example, I’m not a big fan of fictional books. This tip ties well in with tip number 7.
If you’re currently looking for a new read, I have just finished You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero – I highly recommend.
- Put Your Phone Down
I know most of you are probably as guilty of this as I am. The screen is one of the last things you look at before you decide it’s time for sleep. Unfortunately the light from the screen can actually activate certain stimulating neurons in the brain, increasing alertness and decreasing melatonin (the hormone which controls your sleep cycle), therefore keeping you awake. If you feel you need to stimulate your brain before bed, open up a book (tip number 6). Or maybe start by putting a time limit on your phone use. Depending on your usual bedtime, say its 9:30pm, perhaps start with no more phone usage after 9:00pm and work from there?
This one is definitely still a work in progress for me.
Image credit to: @elsas_wholesomelife