Getting adequate sleep every night is essential to your health, happiness and well-being; especially as you age. Your cells reproduce at a slower rate and less efficiently in your golden years, so every moment counts to make sure your body and mind is repairing and maintaining itself properly. Most of this restorative process happens in your sleep, just as most growth occurs in sleep during your childhood and adolescence. Sleep is a critically necessary function that helps to regulate many of your bodily systems, including cognitive processes, motor dexterity, digestive and cardiovascular functions, memory and mood. So what are a few natural ways to help wind down from the day and get that restful and restorative sleep you crave?
1. Stop Electronics
Power down your smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs at least 20 minutes before bedtime for the best effect. The electronic waves emanating from these mini-machines and their light wave patterns disrupt your sleep signals and keep your brain stimulated when it should be relaxing. You can set most of your devices on schedule to snooze or shut off at a certain time to keep you on track. But if you need some help getting up in the morning and use your phone or other handheld electronic device to wake up, try switching the alarm clock app out for a good old-fashioned analog bell-ringer or clock radio.
2. Ambient Noise
If you just have to have some electronic device on or at your side to get to sleep, use it to play or make ambient noise. The low whirring of a fan works wonders, and pulls double duty, cooling the room. You can also play the sounds of nature, meditative music, chanting or brainwave patterned sounds like hemi-sync or theta waves to help you dose off and stay asleep.
3. Regular Exercise
Working out regularly does a lot more than increase muscle tone and cardiovascular health. It helps regulate both mood and sleep; even helping you recall your dreams and dream more vividly. Regular moderate exercise in the morning or afternoon can help you get to sleep and stay asleep at night. It’s not just the physical exertion that does the trick, but the chemical and hormonal processes that go along with it. But keep from exercising too close to bedtime, as the endorphin rush can have the opposite effect and keep you up later.
4. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can provide all kinds of fantastic health benefits for the body. One of them is a more regulated system overall, increasing the likelihood of better sleep. Fermented teas, like Kombucha and Jun, or fermented juice beverages can also do the trick; just take your pick!
5. Herbal Teas
Drinking tea in the evening can help relax you and prepare you for restful sleep. Herbal varieties like chamomile or lemon are popular choices, but any non-caffeinated tea of your preferred flavor palate would work well. Try white tea instead of caffeinated green tea or black tea. Or herbal teas like mint, ginger, rooibos and other healthy varieties and blends.
6. Cooler Room
Lowering the temperature of your room with an open window, fan or air conditioner can also help you sleep better. Lower room temperature helps the body stay in its normal sleep patterns, where warmer room and body temperatures could disturb this delicate balance.
7. Meditation and Yoga
Many forms of meditation and yoga are available to practice and perfect. Clearing your mind and providing a healthy outlet for your stress will help you unwind by the end of the night and relax into a deep, restorative sleep. The physical exertion from yoga can greatly enhance this effect.
8. Natural Sleep Aids
L-theanine, L-tryptophan and melatonin are naturally occurring chemical compounds that promote relaxation and feelings of well-being. They are also safe and non-habit forming, and won’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning. But always follow the recommended dosage and advice of your physician. Valerian root is also another common natural sleep aid; it comes in capsule form or can be brewed into tea.
When you don’t get adequate, restful and uninterrupted sleep, your body, mind and spirit suffers. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep depriving irregularities can even have fatal consequences if left untreated over a long period. In these severe cases, a physician’s professional recommendation is advised. But if you are just in need of some sleep assisting tips to keep your energy levels and mood more stabilized throughout the day, these tips should get you into good shape in no time.