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Do you get enough sleep? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. According to a CDC study, over one third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. In order to remain healthy and feel well rested, it’s recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep.
What should you do if you’re having trouble getting enough sleep? Many Americans turn to sleeping pills. So many, in fact, that the amount of ER visits due to overmedication of sleeping pills from 2006 to 2010 doubled from around 22,000 to 42,000.
In addition to causing emergency room visits, sleeping pills can cause dependency issues later down the road, making it nearly impossible to sleep without them.
Prescription sleeping pills probably aren’t looking too appealing right now, but don’t worry if you’re suffering from insomnia. There are tons of natural ways to fall asleep that don’t involve taking any kind of medication. Let’s visit the most effective.
5 Natural Remedies That Guarantee Restful Sleep
Avoid synthetic drugs and opt for a safer, healthier alternative. From eating certain foods, drinking herbal teas or altering your lifestyle, these methods are guaranteed to give you peaceful sleep.
1. Eat Smart
Does eating Thanksgiving turkey make you feel incredibly tired afterward? It’s not because you’ve been cooking all day. It’s due to a compound in turkey, called tryptophan, which is a chemical component of sleep-inducing melatonin. This isn’t the only food that helps sleep — snacks that combine proteins and carbs will also help you get some shuteye. Magnesium rich foods, such as bananas, almonds, oatmeal and even a glass of tart cherry juice are helpful too.
Optimal pre-bedtime snacks:
- Oatmeal with honey and dark cherries
- Bananas and almond butter
- Glass of tart cherry juice
- Kale or spinach
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy foods within a few hours of going to sleep. Adding one of these light snacks to your pre-bedtime ritual will give your brain a boost of the sleep-inducing chemicals it needs!
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils have been gaining popularity lately, and it’s for good reason. They can do all kinds of things: fix a stomach ache, make the room smell better and even help you fall asleep. There are two ways to use essential oils: aromatherapy or topical.
Studies have shown using essential oils for aromatherapy promotes relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep. By using the same oil every night, you’ll associate the calming scent with sleep. This method requires you to have both the essential oil and an oil diffuser.
Topical application is a bit different, and you don’t need a diffuser for it. With this, you’ll rub oil onto a certain part of your body, such as your wrists, neck or feet. Personally, I use this method and it works wonders. I rub two drops of lavender oil on the bottom of my feet, and it knocks me out. It’s pretty amazing, I was shocked at how well it worked the first time I used it.
The best essential oils for sleep:
3. Valerian Root
This ancient has been used for thousands of years to cure insomnia and anxiety. Ingestible as a tea, Valerian Root not only helps you fall asleep faster, but also increases quality of sleep. How does it work? This root encourages GABA in the brain, which is the chemical responsible for relaxing the body and quieting the mind.
Valerian Root is most effective after being used for a few weeks, so it might not work immediately. But once it does start working, it’s said to work wonders.
Other teas that are great for sleep:
- Lemon Balm
4. Lifestyle Changes
While this one isn’t anything you have to ingest or diffuse through the air, it’s incredibly important. There are a few lifestyle changes that can drastically alter how well you sleep at night.
- Avoid screens an hour before bed
- Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Don’t have piles of bills of cluttered clothes staring back at you while you’re trying to fall asleep — this will only cause anxiety and stress.
- Separate the bedroom and living room. Don’t sit up watching TV in bed. If you lay down and aren’t able to fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something else until you get tired.
- If you use any electronic devices, use ones illuminated with red light, instead of blue. iPhones and Macbooks have a “night shift” mode that switches the device from blue to red light, making it easier on the eyes and calming for the brain.
- Establish a bedtime ritual. This could be anything from drinking a cup of tea to reading a book, but whatever it is you have to remain consistent. It holds you to a schedule, while also relaxing your mind and getting you into a calm mindframe before falling asleep.
- Invest in a good mattress, comfortable pillow and potentially an eye mask or white noise machine. Good sleep is important, and you need the best tools so you can achieve it.
5. Boost Melatonin Levels
Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces that tells your brain it’s time to go to sleep. The secretion of melatonin follows the natural light cycles of day and night — it only starts being released when it’s dark outside. Bright lights inhibit the production of melatonin, which explains why sleep can be interrupted by starting at screens too close to bedtime. Your body might think it’s daylight and won’t release the proper amount of melatonin needed to make you tired and keep you asleep.
Your body should produce enough melatonin for sleep. However, that’s not always the case. Taking a natural melatonin supplement could help with an unnatural sleep schedule, or trouble sleeping. You can purchase melatonin at most health food stores or online.
Curbing insomnia naturally could involve anything from sipping a calming tea to researching the best mattress that fits your personal sleep needs so you know you’ll get a restful slumber.
Suffering from lack of sleep can start to affect other aspects of your life, such as work, personal time and even relationships. With these natural remedies, there’s no reason to turn to prescription sleeping pills that could cause even more sleep issues down the line, as well as some unwanted side effects.