In our modern fast-paced, high-stress society, one of the first things to get sacrificed is a good night’s sleep. Not getting the required eight hours loses priority under work, stress, and sometimes even fun.
Sometimes it seems all too easy to dock an hour of sleep here or there in favor of other priorities. What many of us do not realize, however, is that not getting enough sleep can have dangerous, lasting effects.
For example, those that don’t allow their bodies to sufficiently rest are more susceptible to illnesses and diseases. For instance, if you’re consistently not getting enough sleep are more likely to suffer from depression, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Studies have found that those not catching a sufficient amount of sleep suffer from decreased productivity, higher mortality rate, and suffer from a reduced quality of life.
Not getting enough sleep may even affect the lives of others, for example, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that those not getting enough sleep were more likely to get into car accidents and increase the risk of getting involved in occupational, medical, and industrial disasters.
Natural Sleep Aids
If you are worried about not getting enough sleep, there are several steps you can take to get your sleep schedule back on track. Our bodies rely on a natural sleep-wake pattern called circadian rhythm.
This cycle is the key to getting quality sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to start the day when you wake.
Along with setting up a natural sleep-wake pattern, you can do things like avoiding coffee before bedtime and removing all electronics from the bedroom to establish a healthy sleeping routine and environment.
Avoiding these two sleep blockers along with the help of some natural sleep aids, you’ll be on your way to a night of quality, restful sleep.
Growing up, you have probably heard the myriad of reasons of why calcium is an essential part of a balanced diet. But did you know that getting enough calcium is essential to getting enough sleep?
One study found that a large concentration of calcium is utilized during the REM cycle of sleep. If you do not reach the REM phase of sleep, it could be because you’re suffering from a calcium deficiency.
Calcium is essential to the sleep cycle because it encourages brain cells to use tryptophan, which is responsible for producing melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that helps you fall asleep.
- To boost your calcium intake and make yourself sleepy, try the classic cure: a warm glass of milk.
If you find that you are consistently having a hard time falling asleep, it may be due to a magnesium deficiency. Getting the required amount of magnesium means you will enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep.
To ensure proper absorption of magnesium, make sure you’re getting enough calcium too. To get more magnesium in your diet, try adding the following into your diet: pumpkin seeds, spinach, dark chocolate, and kefir.
If you find adding these foods to your daily diet difficult, try taking a magnesium supplement. Consult your physician before taking a supplement.
3) Passion Flower
Anxiety is a major source of sleep deprivation for many people. We live in stressful times and it often gets in the way of getting a full night of restful sleep. Passion flower is a great way to help relax the body and help the brain turn off for the night.
Taking a passion flower supplement is a great natural way to get restful sleep without leaving your feeling groggy the next day.
4) Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great natural way to help calm your mind and relax your body enough to able to fall asleep and stay asleep for a full eight hours.
Many people prefer essential oils to traditional sleep aids because they have little to no side effects without the risk of developing a dependency, which is a common fear associated with sleeping pills.
Aromatherapy is a great way to create a relaxing environment while helping to target specific variables that may be getting in the way of sleep such as anxiety or depression.
If you are interested in using essential oils as a natural sleep aid, consider using bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, mandarin, and frankincense essential oils.
- There are a number of ways you can incorporate essential oils into your bedtime routine but either applying them topically (diluted with a carrier oil, of course), adding them into a nice relaxing bath, or infused in a diffuser.
5) Valerian Root
Valerian root if a natural herb that is commonly used as a sedative and a natural anti-anxiety remedy. People commonly use valerian root to calm down because it boosts GABA production, relaxing the nerves and producing a relaxing effect.
- Valerian root is a great natural sleep aid for those who lose out on sleep due to high levels of anxiety. To take valerian root, you can either drink it as a tea or take it in a capsule form.
6) St. John’s Wort
Insomnia is a common problem associated with depression. Those looking for a way to treat their depression and the resulting insomnia may find that St. John’s Wort is an affective cure.
Research has found that St. John’s Wort is an affective antidepressant because it contains two active compounds called adhyperforin and hyperforin. These two compounds boost the mood, helping to alleviate depression.
It should be noted, however, that St. John’s Wort is only recommended to treat mild depression. Those suffering from depression should seek the medical advice of professionals. St. John’s Wort can be taken as a supplement in capsule form.
Ever wonder why you feel so sleepy after a large Thanksgiving dinner? Sure, the massive amount of food you consumed certainly plays a role in that, however, it’s mostly due to an amino acid found in turkey called tryptophan.
Tryptophan calms the mind, helping you drift off to a restful sleep. Tryptophan starts a relaxing domino effect in the brain: tryptophan converts into serotonin which then converts to melatonin, the ultimate sleep aid.
You can quickly get a good dose of tryptophan by drinking a tart glass of cherry juice before bedtime.
Some Other Helpful Tips:
Along with the previously mentioned natural sleep aids; there are some other things to help develop a healthy sleep routine:
- First of all, you need to create an environment appropriate for falling asleep. This means turning out the lights and removing distracting technology, such as your phone, laptop, iPad, television, etc. It is recommended to sleep in total darkness as even the slightest light can interfere with your sleep.
- During daylight hours, make sure you get enough sunlight. This helps your body to know when to wake and when to go to sleep, helping to establish a good circadian rhythm.
- Regulate your naps. Taking a short nap in the middle of the day may be beneficial, but taking too long of a nap can throw off your circadian rhythm.
- Try getting eight hours of sleep every night. This means eight hours of actual sleeping, not just lying in bed watching TV.
- Getting enough exercise can help your body relax enough to attain restful sleep.
- Set up a bedtime routine that will let your body know its time to relax and wind down for sleep. Try doing things that make you feel relaxed such as taking a warm bath, using essential oils, or mediation and breathing exercises.