You know you’re an adult when you find yourself envious of kids’ nap time. That’s because, as you grow up, you realize how crucial sleep is: for the body and for the soul. Lack of sleep can be linked to more serious medical conditions and has the ability to negatively impact both your health and your happiness (not to mention the serious implications of not getting your beauty sleep). Luckily, there are a variety of natural methods for improving your snoozing, including using essential oils for sleeping and employing various easy and effective behavioral changes to your lifestyle.
Experts, including individuals working with The Sleep Foundation, find that the underlying causes of insomnia are plentiful. For example: psychological problems like anxiety and depression, disturbances to your circadian rhythm (jet lag, anyone?), pain and discomfort, stress, ingesting substances like drugs (and coffee, yes), as well as an array of sleep hygiene problems. If one is seeking an alternative to medications, the most practical solution for treating sleep problems is good sleep hygiene (habits that help improve sleep quality).
Your body is unique, so it may help to try a couple different recommendations to determine what works best for your quality of sleep. Please note: If you have a more serious sleep condition, consult your doctor before making any changes in your routine. These tips are not intended to replace any doctor’s recommendations.
In her 2016 book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington explores the topic and solutions of sleep deprivation, an epidemic she notes has worsened with our increasing digital dependence. While it may not be surprising to learn that 71% of Americans sleep next to their smartphone (myself included), this habit is seriously messing up our sleep patterns. That’s because smartphones emit blue light that causes the brain to stop producing melatonin.
Like not taking your phone to bed, there are many behavioral changes that are easy to enact and can positively impact your sleep. Creating a nighttime routine can also be helpful, which includes setting a sleep schedule (bedtime and wakeup time). When your sleep is consistent and you stick to a schedule, your biological clock syncs up with your other bodily functions, making the whole system (including sleep) run more smoothly.
Other sleep tips from The Sleep Revolution:
That’s a lot of things to avoid, but it’s not all bad news. Happily, there are foods to help you sleep. Certain snacks contain melatonin with its lullaby-like qualities. These tasty treats include: almonds, walnuts, raspberries, pineapple and cottage cheese, to name a few. A cup of tea (decaf, of course) can also help soothe you to sleep. Try chamomile, ginger and peppermint, as these can have very calming effects.
Meditation comes in a variety of forms—including mindfulness, spiritual meditation and focused meditation. The practice is designed to quiet the mind, focus on breathing and let your stresses and problems go. According to dermatologist and yoga teacher Sheila Jalalat, M.D., meditation is anecdotally and scientifically shown to reduce stress—among other benefits. If you aren’t sure where to begin, a guided meditation app like Headspace can help you learn the basics of clearing your mind.
When creating your healthy sleep regimen, a good start would be to familiarize yourself with natural sleep enhancers: melatonin and essential oils. Melatonin is the naturally produced hormone that tells your body you’re ready for sleep. Exposure to light at night as well as other interruptions in your sleep schedule can hinder its production, so your insomnia could be caused by a lack of melatonin. Fortunately, it’s available in supplement form.
Certain essential oils can simply and naturally answer the question of how to fall asleep faster and help you to experience better quality sleep. According to studies compiled by The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Physician Data Query (PDQ), essential oils in aromatherapy may help promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. This is because your sense of smell is directly related to your emotions. Just like a familiar smell can bring back memories from the past, certain essential oils like lavender can trigger feelings of calm and relaxation.
Having trouble falling asleep every once in a while isn’t a big concern and can be aided using natural methods, but chronic insomnia can be linked to more serious conditions and you should consult your doctor if you have concerns that your sleep problems are persistent.