If you’re feeling sleep-deprived then within this article you’ll find 24 things to try tonight for a good night’s rest.
A nice cup of herbal tea before bed can be soothing and calming.
Take chamomile for instance, one of the most ancient herbs known to mankind; it’s widely regarded as a sleep inducer and has been used for many years to treat insomnia.
It contains a large amount of apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to specific receptors in the brain to decrease anxiety and encourage sleep.
A study involving 60 nursing home residents, over 28 consecutive days, demonstrated just how much of a sleep aid it can be.
People who received a dose of 200mg of chamomile extract twice a day, had a significantly better night’s rest in terms of quality than those who didn’t.
2. Essential Oils
Scent is a powerful force, with essential oils like valerian (a common ingredient in herbal teas), bergamot and lavender scientifically proven to help improve sleep quality.
Bergamot makes you feel tranquil and signals to your body it’s time for bed, while lavender has been deemed a powerful catalyst for an excellent night’s sleep.
It lowers blood pressure, the heart rate and body temperature – everything you need to initiate sleep.
A study has demonstrated that smelling lavender not only provides better quality slumber, but can also help treat mild insomnia.
With older people, basil, juniper and sweet marjoram were shown to reduce sleep interruptions and improve overall well-being.
Investigators at Kagoshima Medical University in Japan explained that lavender can also reduce anxiety, often a key cause of poor sleep.
Plants have amazing health benefits. There’s a stack of research that reveals that they improve sleeping environments.
The highly regarded NASA Clean Air Study, a project led by NASA in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), explored ways to clean the air in space stations.
Results indicated that common indoor plants may provide a natural way to remove toxic agents from the air.
NASA research suggests having at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space.
“What plants shall we buy?” we hear you ask:
The study indicated that aloe vera, english ivy and the green spider plant are among the best when it comes to air filtering.
Vitamin deficiencies are quite often a root cause of poor sleep.
“We need adequate levels of key nutrients to get good quality sustained sleep.”
So which vitamins should we focus on?
There are many that nutritionists have suggested: vitamin C, iron, magnesium, Vitamin B12, tryptophan, potassium, calcium and omega 3.
Before you start taking any, please check with your physician as you need to make sure you’re taking the correct amounts.
Too much could be bad for you and too little will do nothing for your slumber!
Certain foods can make us sleepy, as some contain those much needed vitamins, so you might want to rethink that grocery list!
Here at The Good Body we’ve listed the foods that will help you catch those all important Zzzzs:
- White Rice
To learn more read our article on foods to help you sleep, including some to avoid!
All of these foods have one or a mix of calcium, potassium, magnesium, tryptophan and B6 – just what the doctor ordered.
If you suffer with insomnia, you’re going to want to invest in kiwis.
Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University found that eating one a day was linked to substantial improvements when it comes to sleep health.
Volunteers in the study ate two kiwifruits one hour before bed for four weeks and not only did they fall asleep more quickly, they slept more soundly and for longer.
Complete silence isn’t the answer to nodding off; a little background noise can work wonders. We have a couple of different sleep solutions for you to try.
First up is white noise. This is a mixture of noise frequencies that can be used to mask sounds.
Pink noise is also a useful sleep aid. For those not in the know, it consists of a mix of high and low frequencies with more intensity at the lower end.
A great example is nature – it is full of loads of pink noise sounds. Just think rustling leaves, wind, waterfalls and rain. Two studies have highlighted the benefits:
If you’re looking for the perfect treatment to beat sleepless nights then you need music in your life. It’s pretty cheap and has zero negative side effects.
Did you know it has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system?
This is sometimes referred to as ‘the rest and digest system’. Basically it helps you relax and settles you for a great night’s rest.
A report published in 2008 unearthed that classical music has been known to lead to more restorative sleep, so you might want to download some Beethoven, Wagner or Bach tonight.
Ninety-four 19-28 year olds listened to classical music at bedtime for three weeks. Depressive symptoms faded significantly and there was a reduction in overall sleep problems.
8. Acupressure Mat
It helps people sleep better and wake up less frequently during the night.
In one randomized clinical trial, patients reported improved sleep quality as soon as they started receiving acupressure massage.
A study honing in on the effect of acupressure on sleep for menopausal women shared that it was improved significantly post treatments.
For better slumber, the pressure points associated with relaxation and stress relief need to stimulated. This is why acupressure mats are so handy as they hit all of these points at once.
If that’s not enough for you, there are many more health advantages that will make you want to get your very own mat.
9. Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is often called the ‘sleep hormone’ because it works together with the circadian rhythm – the internal body clock. It starts to rise when it’s dark outside and brings on sleepiness.
It’s made naturally in the body, produced in the pineal glands in the brain, and can be found in other parts such as your eyes, bone marrow and gut.
Things like stress, smoking, exposure to too much light at night and a lack of light during the day can have a negative impact on production levels.
Many turn to melatonin supplements in a bid to counter low levels and normalize the body clock.
In a meta-analysis involving 1,683 study participants, melatonin decreased the amount of time that it took the participants to fall asleep and increased sleep duration.
There is no recommended dosage for adults, however the Sleep Foundation reports that between one and five milligrams is normally effective.
Beware, as too much melatonin can actually disrupt sleep so always start at the lower end and gradually build up to the upper limit.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should talk to a physician before taking any, especially if you have any other health conditions.
10. CBD Oil
In a recent Consumer Reports survey, approximately 10% of Americans reported trying CBD oil to help them sleep and the majority of these people said it worked.
The oil has become an increasingly popular natural remedy among the sleep deprived. Research has indicated that using CBD oil about an hour before bed can help you get a restful night.
So what is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis.
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like hemp seed or coconut oil.
It’s a legal product because all CBD is only allowed to contain traces of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive substance in cannabis (which it’s worth noting can potentially interfere with antipsychotic medication).
Do be aware though that there are many CBD products that are completely free from THC.
Be sure to do your research first and speak to your physician to check whether they are suitable for you.
11. Cut Out Alcohol
A drink or two will help you sleep, won’t it?!?!?!
Alcohol may well send you to sleep quickly, however it can drastically reduce your chance of good sleep.
In 2018 an observational study carried out by Finnish-based researchers involving 4,000 people, demonstrated the harmful effect that alcohol has when it comes to the restorative quality of sleep.
A low alcohol intake decreased the physiological recovery that sleep normally provides by 9.3%.
Even one drink was shown to have a negative impact on sleep quality. Moderate alcohol consumption lowered restorative sleep quality by 24% and high alcohol intake by as much as 39.2%.
The results were similar for men and women, with alcohol negatively affecting both sedentary and active people but, surprisingly, more pronounced among younger people in comparison to seniors.
If this isn’t enough to make you stop and think before that night cap, just consider how many times your bladder is going to wake you up in the night as you to run the bathroom?
12. Create a Caffeine-free Zone
Caffeine is undeniably the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world.
The FDA has recommended that healthy adults should be consuming no more than 400 milligrams a day (roughly four or five cups of coffee) as it can pose a danger to health.
It can also play havoc with the amount of deep sleep and total sleep time.
One study uncovered how it can make your circadian rhythm fall out of sync.
As part of this research, five people were given either a double-espresso caffeine dose, exposure to bright or dim light or a placebo just before bedtime. The caffeine delayed their internal clock by 40 minutes.
The time of day you consume caffeine is important, too. Even as long as six hours before bedtime can reduce your total amount of time spent asleep by one hour.
It’s worse for older adults, as the older you are, the longer it takes for your body to process the drug.
13. Have Sex
Sex is brilliant for your overall health. Fact.
Did you know it works wonders for more restorative sleep?
After what we’re about to tell you, you’re going to want to find a lover and quick!
Shawn Stevenson, one of America’s leading sleep experts, explains in his book, Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success, that orgasms are basically like sedatives.
Orgasms release a mix of chemicals to help you get that all important shut-eye, these include:
- Oxytocin (the love hormone)
- Serotonin (contributes to wellbeing and happiness)
- Norepinephrine (helps to regulate sleep and balances responses to stress)
- Vasopressin (increases sleep quality and decreases cortisol)
- Prolactin (associated with improving the immune system, great sleep and quality of life)
14. Keep Cool
You’re going to want to ditch your bedclothes to initiate sleep (and reap loads of other benefits), as your core temperature has to be at the right level.
Matthew Walker, author of New York Times bestseller Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Dreams and Sleep explains that your core temperature needs to decrease by two to three degrees Fahrenheit.
He states that a bedroom temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit is a good target to aim for to help this happen.
This is why it’s always easier to drift off in a bedroom that is too cold as opposed to too hot.
You also might want to have a dip in the bath before heading to bed, as it helps to lower the body temperature.
As we have learnt about the power of scent and lavender, we suggest you drop in a few essential oils.
15. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Stress and upsetting thoughts can create a night of tossing and turning.
Mindfulness and meditation can leave you feeling calm and more likely to get a good night’s sleep.
A fascinating observational study examined the impact of mindfulness-based meditation programs on sleep and split participants into two groups.
One practiced meditation, while the other didn’t. Those who meditated fell asleep sooner and also experienced a longer sleep duration compared to those who didn’t.
Meditation is also seen to offer rest that is even deeper than sleep, plus many other surprising benefits.
16. Exercise at the Right Time
When you’re looking for things that help you sleep, exercise is great and considered a ‘virtual fountain of youth’.
After pumping iron you feel good and ready to tackle the world, but the time of day you exercise is really important.
Appalachian State University’s exploration into this very topic uncovered that working out in the morning is the optimal time if you want to get the best night’s rest.
Researchers explored the sleep patterns of people exercising at three different times:
People who exercised at 7am had a much deeper sleep cycle, slept much longer and experienced up to 75 per cent more time in the ‘deep sleep’ stage at night.
Night time isn’t ideal for exercising; it can leave you feeling wired and unable to drift off.
Sleep expert, Shawn Stevenson mentions the reason for this in his aforementioned book:
Exercise before bed dramatically changes your core body temperature and it can take five to six hours for it to come down again.
We have to keep it cool for shut-eye!
17. Try Yoga
Yoga is a healthy sleep aid for everyone no matter your age.
The National Institute of Health found that over 55% of people who did yoga slept better.
Yoga is especially good for insomniacs. Performing yoga each day is shown to increase sleep duration, help you fall asleep much quicker and get back to sleep more easily if you wake in the night.
Check out these top yoga poses to help you nod off faster and wake up feeling rejuvenated.
18. Check Your Lighting Conditions
Light massively influences our internal clock and the knock on effect is our slumber. Sometimes it makes it difficult for people to fall asleep, but actually the right type of light can help us drift off.
As explained by Harvard Medical School, blue light is the one to watch out for just before bedtime.
It’s beneficial during the day because it boosts attention, reaction times and mood but it suppresses the secretion of melatonin at night and, as we know, this is bad news for our slumber.
An experiment conducted by researchers at Harvard compared the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light compared to green light – both with the same levels of brightness.
The blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long as the green light and shifted the circadian rhythm twice as much – three hours in comparison to 1.5 hours.
According to sleep psychologist Michael Breus, we need more red light at night as it helps you fall asleep more easily.
He explains that “red light aids melatonin production”, so it might be time to change your bulbs!
19. Remove Electronic Items
Now we know the dangers of blue light before bed, make sure you remove massive sleep disruptors such as smartphones, iPads and televisions from your bedroom.
You want to keep your sleeping environment an electronic-free zone and stay off any devices in the immediate hours before heading to bed.
Robert S. Rosenberg, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, recommends steering clear of any type of light-emitting technology at least one hour before bed because of how it messes with the production of melatonin.
20. Read Something
The more relaxed and calm you are, the more likely you are to get forty winks.
That’s why there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book at bedtime – the old fashioned way, not on the Kindle!
Not only will it keep you from scrolling on your phone and watching television, but it will help enhance brain power, improve creativity and reduce stress.
The University of Sussex carried out an experiment that involved raising the stress levels of respondents then attempting to reduce them.
Cognitive Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis stated: “reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent”.
21. Recite an Affirmation
Reciting “I easily fall into a deep and restful sleep” before bed, might not seem like the most effective sleep strategy.
She went on to explain how it’s essential that you tailor your affirmations to your specific circumstances.
Focus on why you’re struggling to fall asleep, for example if you’re worrying about work, say “I choose to release work stress”, to help clear your mind before your head hits the pillow.
22. Gratitude Practices
Being grateful and happy with what you have in life can help to keep anxiety at bay.
So it’s not surprising that constantly counting your blessings has been proven as a great way to boost happiness, increase chances of success in life and paves the way to a good night’s sleep.
Two psychologists from the University of California, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, came to a similar conclusion.
They asked people with neuromuscular disorders to map out a list of all the things there were grateful for. After just three weeks, participants reported greater sleep durations and more restorative rest.
23. Download an App
There are loads out there so you might want to test drive a few to see what works for you.
Calm is one option you could consider, and has lots to offer sleep hungry people, including sleep stories, music, meditations, breathing exercises and our friend, white noise.
24. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Sleep medicine experts encourage a regular sleep pattern as positive bedtime behaviors will lead to a healthier, happier life.
Going to bed and waking up at erratic times each day will mess with your internal body clock. There needs to be consistency.
We suggest you hit your pillow early and not burn the midnight oil as there are numerous benefits, which might just surprise you!