By Megan Barber, Co-op Owner, Grocery and Wellness Buyer, Merchandising Manager
Tricks to help you fall asleep have come a long way since the days of counting sheep. Aside from giving you the satisfying feeling of being well-rested, sleep helps your brain and memory, aids your immune system, improves your appearance, helps you function better, and more!
These days, people who have trouble falling asleep or who are restless sleepers can enlist the help of a variety of natural sleep supplements for a good night’s rest. In the current state of the world and even your city, it’s no wonder people are having trouble relaxing enough to fall into sleep. Here is a mix of lifestyle changes and natural aids to help you get the rest you deserve every night!
Some lifestyle changes and adjustments to your diet and actions could help provide relief:
- Not eating or drinking caffeine should be an easy solution, but certain foods have sneaky caffeine levels. These include: chocolate, hot chocolate, some teas, soda, some headache medications, some ice creams and cereals containing chocolate and coffee ingredients, and even decaffeinated coffees still contain caffeine levels that could impact your sleep. Also try avoiding nicotine due to its stimulating effects on the body. Avoid spicy foods late at night as well as eating before bed in general.
- Exercising during the day has been shown to reduce the stress that can lead to inability to fall asleep. If you have the time and the inclination to roll out of bed and fit in a morning workout, it may help you wake up and feel ready to tackle the day as well. If not, a workout in the daylight hours is still great. Just avoid exercise right before bed when you’re trying to relax – not get pumped up!
- Create a bedroom that’s an oasis of comfort by decluttering the space and deep cleaning the room, mattress, and bedding. This will automatically help you feel relaxed when you know everything is in order when you fall into bed! A calming laundry scent like lavender is an added bonus! Lowering the room’s temperature is also good idea as your body temperature naturally drops when you’re about to fall asleep. Closing the curtains and avoiding unnecessary light (like your phone screen or the television) will help your body know it’s time to rest. And, if you’re like me, you may have to consider kicking out any pets that sleep on the bed as they often create noise and motion that can wake you up or jostle you out of deep sleep even if you don’t fully wake up at the time.
- Create a regular routine before dropping into bed at night. Try showering, reading, meditating, putting on quiet relaxing music, or a combination of the above to get your body thinking about snoozing. Going to bed at the same time every night also helps your body and mind learn when it’s time to sleep. Waking up at the same time is also beneficial unless you’ve lost a few hours of sleep recently. In that case, sleeping in or going to bed earlier can help your body reclaim that lost time slumbering.
- Avoid napping during the day unless you cannot schedule 7+ hours at night. Naps can further disrupt your sleep. If you need to nap, aim for an hour in the afternoons and never after 3:00pm typically. Those of us up well before the crack of dawn often need a boosting nap to be able to stay up until late evening!
When lifestyle changes just aren’t enough, don’t seem to be creating improvement, or aren’t applicable, supplements may be of assistance. (Do make an effort to change a few habits in your routine before looking to supplements though!) Some of the most popular natural supplements include:
- L-Tryptophan: is absorbed into the brain where it is converted into serotonin and melatonin which in turn promote relaxation and drowsiness. These natural chemicals are produced by your body to help you achieve a better mood and regulate your sleep schedule.
- 5-HTTP: assists with serotonin creation in the brain which impacts sleep, mood, appetite, and body temperature. Because 5-HTP helps produce serotonin which then converts to melatonin, the body can then use the melatonin to maintain healthy patterns of waking and sleeping.
- Melatonin: you can also take melatonin by itself, usually in low doses, to naturally maintain sleep regulation, the immune system, and provide digestive support.
- Valerian Root: has been used since ancient Roman times to assist in sleep. It works to calm the brain and nervous system and associated stress. Studies have shown people that take valerian both fall sleep faster and wake with more energy. Valerian can be found as a ingredient in ‘sleepy’ teas as well.
- Passion flower: has also been used since around the 16th century as a calming and sleep aid. It has been shown to reduce stress and nervous tension while helping users fall sleep quicker and wake less throughout the night. This can be found as a supplement and a tea!
Disclaimer: As always, if you find your waking life drastically impacted or impaired, you can’t sleep well for days on end, you are already taking medications, or this is an ongoing issue, you should consult your physician or a sleep specialist before starting any supplements as there may be side effects and interactions.