12 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Naturally
If you read my article Sleeping Pretty, then you are already aware of some of the negative ways your body is impacted by lack of sleep. The good news is that you can get a better nights’ sleep without the use of medication! Many of the medications on the market come with a hefty list of scary side effects. Your body can even become dependent of these medications making it nearly impossible to sleep without them. Look at what happened to Michael Jackson…he relied on medication to sleep and by the end of his life he was using a potent anesthetic reserved for surgery and ICU patients on ventilators!
Here are my top 12 tips for getting better quality sleep naturally:
1 – Establish a Routine
Wake up at the same time every day, go to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends). Create a bedtime routine, you had one as a child for good reason. A routine helps to let your brain know it’s time to slow down and get ready for bed. A bedtime routine should be whatever is relaxing for you and not stimulating for your brain. Maybe it’s bath or hot shower, drinking some herbal tea, or meditating.
While we’re talking about routine, I want to mention environment. Your bedroom should be for two things-sleeping and sexy time. You should not be doing work in there or letting your kids play in there. Your bedroom should be a place where you can relax and unwind, not where you feel stressed or chaotic.
2. Turn the Lights Down Low
There is a ton of research showing how blue on the light spectrum stimulates the brain. This includes light from TVs, computers, phones, lamps, etc. It’s a good idea to swap out some light bulbs for something with a softer glow and put a dimmer on your screens after 7pm. If you can’t do any of that, try getting yourself a pair of amber glasses. They are awesome at blocking out that blue light but still let you watch TV or work on your computer if you need to.
3. Chill Out
No one likes trying to sleep in a hot, stuffy room. It’s just not comfortable! In addition to the research on the effects of light, researchers are finding that your body also needs to be cool in order to sleep and get into those deep sleep states. Keep your bedroom cooler at bedtime.
4. Take Your Meat Pill
If you struggle with nighttime waking, and you want to see if it may be related to your blood sugar, try taking a “meat pill” before bed. It’s not an actual pill, but a small snack of protein or fat-like a slice of turkey or ham, or a small handful of nuts. Having the extra nutrients on board can help to stabilize your blood sugar overnight and prevent the night waking. You do not want to eat a snack high in carbs because those will spike your blood sugar which then results in a “crash” that makes you get really hungry and wake up.
5. Take an Epsom Salt Soak
Epsom salt is high in magnesium and magnesium is essential for quality sleep. You can add it to your bath, or if you don’t have time to take a bath, just do it as a foot soak. You will absorb the magnesium right through your skin. Added bonus-if you struggle with constipation, magnesium can also help that! 😉
6. Essential Oils
My family and I have had great success using essential oils to improve quality sleep. You can place a diffuser in your bedroom or diffuse prior to bed. You can also use a carrier oil, like coconut oil, and rub essential oils into your skin like a lotion to get the benefits. If you don’t want to smell the oils all night, you can rub them into the bottom of your feet (great excuse for a foot massage)! My favorite essential oils to support sleep include: Vetiver, Lavender, Frankincense, Cedarwood, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, and Sandalwood…if you need to access high quality essential oils, click here.
Meditation has so many incredible benefits for your body and mind. Studies have shown it helps to lower blood pressure and stress levels. You don’t have to meditate before bed, you can do it any time of the day that works for you. Sometimes I like to meditate before bed to help quiet the chatter in my brain. And if you fall asleep, no big deal! There are lots of different ways to meditate and even apps or guided videos to help you get started.
8. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are a great way to help relax your mind and body for sleep. Breathing exercises can even be incorporated into meditation, so you get a 2 for 1 bonus! There are lots of different types of breathing exercises, but one of my favorites is alternate nostril breathing. I like this one because it helps to regulate the Vagus nerve in your body. The Vagus nerve is a long winding nerve that touches almost every major organ in your body and is involved in the fight or flight response. The Vagus nerve is also responsible for controlling how well your intestines move, so it’s also helpful for regulating your bowels.
It’s easy to do too. Make sure you nose is clear (you don’t want to force this one). Occlude one nostril by using your finger to press it closed and inhale through the open nostril. Then occlude the nostril you just inhaled through and exhale through the opposite nostril. Keep repeating this pattern for as long as you can working up to several minutes.
9. Avoid napping
I can’t believe I just said that! I love a good nap as much as the next person and normally, I would say rest when you’re tired. I would advise avoiding naps if you are having sleep problems at night. If a nap doesn’t affect your ability to have a good night’s’ sleep, then more power to you! But if you are struggling, take naps out of the equation. It may be confusing your brain.
10. Cut the processed food
You could be having sleep issues due to a lack of nutrients. Processed foods (think anything that comes in a package or can) tend to have higher levels of sugar and chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. Instead, eat a variety of vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and fruit. Balance is the key. You could even be eating a food that can disrupt your sleep. For example, we learned that my husband is intolerant to nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.). When he eats something with a nightshade in it he cannot sleep. His heart races, his skin itches, and it is a bad scene. If you suspect a food could be causing problems for you, try an elimination diet and keep a food journal to see if you notice any patterns.
11. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping
This is a wonderful tool that everyone should try! I once worked with a client who was having trouble sleeping and we figured out it could be related to an unresolved emotional issue. I taught her how to tap on that issue and she finally started sleeping through the night for the first time in 7 years! EFT is a great tool that can be used for a variety of health and emotional issues. To learn more about it, you can check out the free resources at this site https://www.emofree.com/.
12. See Your Health Care Practitioner
If you’ve tried things on this list and still aren’t getting quality sleep, you should think about talking to your health care practitioner. There could be an underlying medical reason why you’re not sleeping-like a thyroid disorder or sleep-related breathing problem, that needs to be addressed.
Have you tried any of these to improve your sleep, or do you have other methods not on this list? I’d love to hear how it worked for you! Leave a comment with your experience.
If you’re looking for personalized support with sleep and other health issues, send me a message to find out how my coaching can help you!
Oh and just so you know, I may collect a modest compensation from links in this article.
Holistic Life and Wellness Coach
I’m a mom, wife, and busy with my career and I have been there. There was a point in my life when I was drifting through life and didn’t even know who I was anymore.
I specialize in helping you stop taking on the burdens of taking care of everyone else first, and start prioritizing yourself.
I can show you that you are worth taking care of yourself. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for the sake of anything else. I help the caregivers finally take care of themselves.
Sign me up for news, Videos, and Updates Straight to your Inbox