Guest blog post provided by Elizabeth Henningan from Mattress Advisor
We have all fallen victim to restless nights of tossing and turning. In fact, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or deprivation. Some adults are so desperate for a good night’s sleep they’d be willing to give up booze and social media for the rest of their lives in exchange for a lifetime of restful sleep.
Sadly, the problem goes far beyond lack of sleep. When faced with troublesome sleep, many turn to sleeping pills rather than natural remedies. Dr. Frank Lipman, New York Times best-selling author, explains that sleeping pills increase the risk of dementia, addiction and harmful behaviors. That’s because sleeping pills contain sedative hypnotics which are potentially addictive and can cause memory and attention problems if used over a long period of time.
All this to say, sleeping pills should not become the crutch that gets you through the night. Rather, consider these natural remedies to help you get the shut eye you so desperately long for.
1. Snuggles with your pup (in some cases)
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Yes. Your dog can help you sleep!
Research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has found that positive human-animal interaction reduces psychological stress and increase levels of oxytocin in the brain (aka the feel good or ‘love’ hormone that creates a calming effect when released).
It’s no secret that stress tends to rob us of sleep. That’s because at night, cortisol levels should naturally decrease. However, if you are experiencing chronic stress, cortisol levels stay elevated. The result? Your body fails to relax so you can’t fall asleep.
However, oxytocin counteracts the effects of stress. When experiencing a positive bond with your pet, such has cuddling in bed, oxytocin levels increase. The release of oxytocin the the brain reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels.
If you have had a stressful day, snuggling with your fur baby can decrease cortisol levels which may help you to relax and fall asleep easier come bedtime.
2. A warm bath
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Temperature is one of the number one factors that impacts sleep. That’s because, in order to fall asleep, our core body temperature must drop a few degrees. This happens naturally each night before going to bed.
Soaking in a warm bath for 30 minutes about an hour before bed will cause your core body temperature to rise and then drop rapidly. This rapid drop in body temperature will help relax you and is said to put you in a deeper sleep.
For extra relaxation, add Epsom salts or a splash of lavender essential oil to the bathtub.
3. Essential oils
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While we are on the topic of essential oils, research shows certain scents can help you overcome symptoms of insomnia and fall asleep. That’s because this type of aromatherapy helps put your body in a state of relaxation. The best scents for bedtime are lavender, frankincense and Roman chamomile. Lavender, in particular, has been proven to increase the amount of deep, restorative, REM sleep we all need.
Consider using two to three drops in an essential oil diffuser or to applying directly to the skin, depending on the oil.
4. A cup of chamomile
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A cup of hot tea before bed is still the tried and true remedy for insomnia. Although you should avoid caffeine before bed, many herbal teas, like chamomile, peppermint and valerian, aid in fighting insomnia.
Next time you feel restless, try brewing your favorite sleepy time tea to help your body relax and unwind.
5. Mindful meditation
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
Speaking of relaxation, the practice of mindfulness, or meditation, helps sleep-deprived folks turn their attention to the present moment and away from the frustrations of the day and the errands of tomorrow.
Meditation reduces psychological distress by triggering “relaxation response” that has the opposite effect of stress (which keeps you up at night). This type of meditative response has been proven to reduce the impact of depression, anxiety, and insomnia
Other studies indicate that those who have practiced meditation over years spend more time in deep slow-wave sleep. This is the most restorative stage of sleep that we all so desperately need.
If you are struggling with insomnia on a regular basis, you may need to address the problem from a holistic point of view. Are you experiencing low back pain that is keeping you from getting comfortable?
You may need to take a look at your sleeping structure. Is it time for a new mattress? After all, the average lifespan of a traditional innerspring mattress is seven to ten years. It may be time for an upgrade.
Are there other disturbances to your sleep such as light, noise and temperature. Assess your sleeping environment for possible disturbances and make adjustments accordingly.
Sleep is an integral part of overall health and wellness. It’s important you take the appropriate steps to protect it.