I do not know about you, but if I do not get enough sleep at night, I am not the happiest person the next day. If I am sleep deprived, I struggle to concentrate, my moods fluctuate, and I am lethargic. All production for me simply goes right out of the window. Unfortunately, I do not always get a great night’s sleep, and not because I was hooked on a series and went to bed late, but because I battle with anxiety and I have repetitive “panic” dreams. I may be lying comfortably in bed, but my mind just keeps ticking and stops me from getting a great night’s sleep.
Many factors may be affecting why you are not sleeping well at night including mattress quality, a noisy environment, lighting, poor bedtime routine, and perhaps you suffer from insomnia, stress, and anxiety that prevent you from peacefully getting the 40 winks you need. We hear you! This article will detail 10 ways to sleep better, and no, counting sheep is not one of them!
Let’s tuck in!
1. Honey and Milk
Put the glass of wine down and close the day with a warm cup of milk and honey. The secret behind this warm bedtime blend is the combination of tryptophan, an amino acid that is known to induce sleep, and carbohydrates. Tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin in the brain which is a hormone that is a natural sedative. Carbohydrates, like the honey, help transmit the serotonin to the brain much faster.
Make a warm cup of milk with a tablespoon of honey stirred into it, half an hour before bed, to enjoy a peaceful night’s rest.
I recommend eating a banana
with this combination because it contains Vitamin B6 which helps convert tryptophan to serotonin.
2. Chamomile Tea
Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed works wonders for a good night’s sleep because chamomile contains flavonoids that interact with benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. These receptors are involved with the body’s “sleep-wake transition”.
Chamomile is commonly known as a mild tranquillizer or sleep inducer. The calming effects of this plant are attributed to its abundance of apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to specific receptors in the brain that decrease anxiety and stress and induce a night of peaceful sleep. In addition to calming anxiety, drinking chamomile tea can also reduce inflammation and treat insomnia.
Drink one cup of chamomile tea 45 minutes before bed to induce sleepiness. This allows your body enough time to metabolize the tea and to process the chemical compounds that will offer the sedative effects.
3. Green Tea
While we are still on warm drinks before bed, green tea is another excellent option to exchange the glass of wine or cup of coffee for.
Green tea contains beneficial plant compounds, including sleep-inducing theanine. This natural compound works by reducing stress-related hormones and neuron excitement in the brain. The reduced stress levels help the brain to relax.
Since green tea does contain caffeine, it is recommended to drink this warm beverage in the early hours of the evening, 2-hours or more before going to sleep.
This is my favorite remedy to help me relax and to get a night of better sleep. The soothing fragrance of the lavender plant helps enhance sleep. Several studies have shown that just smelling the beautiful lavender oil before going to bed can improve your quality of sleep.
Other studies have shown that lavender aromatherapy before bed is effective at improving sleep disturbances, increasing the total sleep time, and it helps fewer people to wake up at earlier intervals at night.
Lavender works as an anxiolytic, an anxiety reliever, and as a sedative to help bring about sleep and to calm the body and mind. Lavender interacts with GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps quiet the brain and the body’s nervous system. This decreases frustration, anger, and restlessness and induces a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Since ingesting lavender has been linked to nausea and stomach cramps, I always suggest using the essential oil. Always mix your lavender oil in a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil. You can smell the oil before bed, massage it onto your pressure points, or add a few drops to a diffuser.
Magnesium is a natural mineral that is involved in hundreds of processes within the body. This mineral helps to quiet the body and the mind and makes it easier for us to drift into a deep sleep.
Studies have shown that magnesium’s relaxing and calming properties are partly due to its ability to regulate melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that is released by the pineal gland which is responsible for regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Magnesium can also increase the levels of GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, a messenger in the brain that offers calming effects.
Magnesium oil can be applied to the skin before bed or if you are not keen on taking magnesium supplements, why not add some Epsom or magnesium salts into your bath water and soak in the bath to relax. Add 1 cup of magnesium flakes to your evening bath so that the mineral can be absorbed into your skin.
Also known as Passiflora incarnata or maypop, this plant is an excellent herbal remedy to help you sleep better.
In a recent study, those who suffered from insomnia who took passionflower extract over 2 weeks, experienced a significant improvement in their quality of sleep. Another study showed that drinking passionflower tea increased sleep quality by up to 5%.
Passionflower helps boost the level of GABA in the brain and helps enhance a more relaxed seep. It is especially useful in fighting insomnia and you may be interested to know that this plant contains GABA too.
Many people drink passionflower in the form of herbal tea. The dried flowers can be steeped in near-boiling water in the same way as any other loose-leaf tea. Drinking this tea an hour before bed should have you resting well.
Glycine is an amino acid that plays an important role in the body’s nervous system and studies have shown that it helps improve sleep. It is not known exactly how this amino acid works, but research has shown that it plays a part in lowering the body’s temperature at bedtime because it signals the body that it is time to sleep.
Not only has research proven that glycine is excellent for inducing better sleep, but it helps improve daytime performance in individuals who are temporarily sleep-deprived.
Glycine can be taken in tablet or powder form and dilutes easily in water. The recommended dose is to take up to 0.8 grams/kg of body weight per day. Consuming this amino acid immediately before bedtime will help you fall asleep faster and it will also improve your quality of sleep.
Glycine also occurs naturally in the following foods:
- Animal products such as meat, eggs, fish, and poultry
We briefly touched on this naturally occurring hormone and how it signals the brain that it is time to sleep, but let’s look at this hormone as a natural supplement on its own.
Melatonin’s cycle of production and release is stimulated by the time of day. Its levels naturally rise in the evening and decrease in the morning. This is why this supplement is used as a common sleeping aid at night.
Melatonin can help you fall asleep more quickly and it improves the quality of your sleep. Researchers found that during a 2016 study that melatonin significantly improved sleep patterns in those who were suffering from insomnia and cancer. Their quality of sleep was improved between 7 and 14 days.
You can take 1 to 5mg of melatonin 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime, however, taking this hormone in excess is a big no-no and carries some side-effects if you exceed 5mg.
Okay, so we know what to drink, inhale, and consume to help sleep better, but what else can improve your sleep?
9. Move More!
You need to get some exercise and get that body moving. You can choose to go running, cycling, gym, or even do yoga; just get moving.
Researchers in Northwestern University’s Department of Neurology and Physiology found that previously sedentary adults who started doing aerobic exercise at least 4 times a week improved their quality of sleep. The bonus for these former couch potatoes is that they had increased vitality, decreased fatigue, improved concentration, and fewer depressive symptoms.
Just make sure that you wrap your workout up a few hours before going to sleep, you do not want to be too “pumped” before bed.
Yoga, in particular, has been found to have a positive effect on sleep quality and it alleviates anxiety and stress, improves physical functioning, and helps boost your mentality too. Choose a style that focuses on moving meditation or breathwork. Slow, controlled movements help keep you focussed. Try to aim at doing 20-minutes of yoga a day. Performing the postures slowly before bed can help you relax and offer you a better night’s sleep.
10. Change Your Diet
Maybe not something everyone wants to hear but changing your diet can actually improve your quality of sleep. Always make dinner your lightest meal of the day and make sure you finish it a few hours before going to sleep. Sleeping on a full stomach may have you waking up during the night with digestive issues.
To get a better night’s sleep, ensure you eat a well-balanced diet throughout the day that includes whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins that are a rich source of B Vitamins (fish, poultry, eggs, meat, and dairy). B Vitamins help regulate the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycles more effectively.
Avoid the following foods before bedtime and try eliminating their consumption by mid-afternoon:
- Soft drinks
- Spicy or heavy foods that can trigger heartburn or indigestion.
- Alcohol should be avoided because it disrupts the pattern of sleep and the brainwaves that help you feel rejuvenated in the morning.
For a great night’s sleep that will have you feeling fresh in the morning and ready for the day ahead, aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Avoiding chemicals such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol will certainly improve your quality of sleep, and even something as simple as avoiding screens 1-2 hours before bed will help offer a night of better sleep.
I like to take a hot shower or bath before bed, and I find that keeping my bedroom dark and cool really helps give me an extra push into a deeper sleep. Stop counting sheep and adjust some lifestyle routines; you may be a much happier person for it!
If you find the information helpful, leave a comment below
Until Next Time