We've all been there; whether there is an important meeting, a big trip, or a long to-do list, sometimes our minds just won't shut off at night. There are many lifestyle factors that can possibly impact sleep, but here are some of the best natural ways to bring balance back to your body - and mind!
Lavender Essential Oil - Aromatherapy can solve many of the body's problems naturally. Lavender oil promotes relaxation and stress relief. Smelling lavender can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. If you do not have a diffuser for essential oils, dab a bit of lavender oil on your temples and wrists before getting into bed. If you have sensitive skin or would like a more subtle scent, consider mixing lavender oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
Chamomile tea- Not only does having tea every night before bed create a nice ritual, chamomile has been shown to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Magnesium - Magnesium has been shown to both lower cortisol levels and calm the nervous system. If you are someone who gets leg or foot cramps in the middle of the night, this is another solution making magnesium perfect for you. Magnesium supplements are a great option as opposed to melatonin since it is not as harsh on the body, and it has been proven to help the body naturally produce melatonin instead. Some magnesium rich foods you can incorporate into your diet include pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado and banana.
Deep breathing - You can do this on your own or with a meditation or breathing app on your phone or fitness tracker. Try to really clear your mind and focus on your breath... in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Stretch - Bedtime yoga can be a great way to calm the mind and body before you fall asleep. Legs up the wall is a great way to drain lymph and lactic acid from the legs after a long day on your feet or being cramped at a desk.
Room temperature - Ideal room temperature for a proper nights sleep is said to be somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidifier might also be a good idea to increase airflow throughout your room.
Reishi Mushroom - Adaptogenic herbs are a great way to naturally balance hormones and cycles in the body. Reishi can activate the body's natural sleep cycle while decreasing stress and increasing calmness. Try drinking reishi tea or elixir an hour before bed. Four Sigmatic has a reishi elixir and reishi hot cacao that are great options.
If you need more assistance to help relax and calm the mind and body, try CBD oil in your tea or nighttime elixir. I am not a fan of taking a melatonin supplement because that is a hormone our body should naturally produce and not take in excess. CBD is another great natural option in addition to tea, herbs, and functional mushrooms to aid the body in relaxation during times of stress.
If your environment is loud or disturbing your sleep, consider a white noise machine. Lets face it, I live in an apartment in NYC where I have neighbors of all ages and sleep schedules combined with cabs, ambulances and construction. This has been life changing for me, and can help anyone whether you live in a city, have noisy roommates or neighbors, or have construction nearby. Not only does it cancel out surrounding noise, it also can relax the mind and improve sleep quality.
Keep a routine so your body has a rhythm - generally similar bedtimes and morning alarms, regular exercise, healthy diet, and so on.
Lifestyle factors that can affect sleep negatively:
Caffeine - If possible, plan your last cup of caffeine to be at least eight hours before you will fall asleep. Some people are more sensitive to this than others, but eight hours is a good rule of thumb. This includes coffee, energy drinks, and even green tea or matcha.
Lights - Try not to use your cell phone an hour before bed (if you must, dim the brightness). Make sure there is no artificial lighting affecting total darkness in your room from a laptop, television, or any other device. In the morning, open your shades right away to let the sun in and create natural signals throughout your body.
Meal timing - If you do not have a balanced meal before bed, you are more susceptible to waking up in the middle of the night due to a blood sugar crash. Make sure this meal is eaten at least two hours, preferably three hours, before bed.
Whatever you do, it is best to try solving the root cause of your disrupted sleep naturally rather than masking it with sleeping pills. Create a relaxing nightly routine and become more mindful of what your body needs! Sleep is important for proper brain function, healthy skin and hair, and mood stabilization... get sleeping! :)
*If these natural sleep aids are not helping, have a conversation with your doctor about what your next step can be.