Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for our health and well-being. Sleep quality can be enhanced by a variety of natural sleep remedies that support the release of essential relaxing hormones that help induce sleep.
To find out the best natural sleep remedies, we spoke with qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist Helen Ridge, the founder of Alive Natural Health. Helen develops natural health and wellness programs, taking a modern approach to a healthy lifestyle and infusing evidence-based practices with traditional therapies.
These are Helen Ridge’s expert insights on natural remedies to help you sleep.
How hormones impact your sleep
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, you don’t typically consider the role of your body’s hormones. As it turns out, our hormones play a vital role in helping us naturally fall to sleep. Quality sleep allows many of our hormones to naturally replenish so that we can enjoy the benefits of optimal energy, along with boosted immunity, a balanced appetite and an increased ability to adapt to stress. Hormones also control many of the body’s processes including growth, development, reproduction, stress response, metabolism and energy balance – replenishing our hormones is important for a healthier life.
Understanding the connection between hormones and sleep may help to improve our slumber and overall well-being. For example, when under stress we release the hormone cortisol, which makes us feel alert and ready for action. It’s been found that this hormone tends to be higher in people with insomnia. If we get less sleep than normal, our levels of prolactin may also become out of balance and we can wake up with a faded immune system, difficulty concentrating and carbohydrate cravings.
Here are our top natural sleep tips for a replenishing night’s rest.
Five natural remedies for inducing sleep
There are many reasons that people have trouble sleeping – such as poor sleep hygiene (eg, a bad choice of pillow, an old or unsupportive mattress, or a room that is too cold or warm), shift-work, caffeine, anxiety, medical conditions and breathing disorders like sleep apnea.
Whatever your reason to want to improve your sleep, listed below are the best natural remedies for deep sleep.
TAKE AN EVENING STROLL
Exercise is one of the best natural sleep aids. Watch the sunset or walk under the stars to remind the brain and pineal gland that it’s time to rest and repair. Your body will naturally want to repair after exercise and is looking for sleep in order to speed up the process. The pineal gland resides in the brain and produces melatonin, a hormone that modulates our sleep patterns and our sleep/wake cycles. The melatonin hormone is released with darkness and tells our body it’s time to sleep. This is why bright light before bed (including the blue light from our electronics) can affect our sleep and stop the release of melatonin.
RELAX WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
For centuries, cultures around the world have turned to essential oils and natural herbal sleep remedies in their ongoing quest for wellness. Some essential oils have been found to help release tension and soothe muscles, making aromatherapy a great natural sleep remedy. The recommended essential oil scents for sleep are: lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, angelica and chamomile. Cedarwood essential oil naturally supports the healthy function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin. Try mixing this scent with lavender and rub it onto the bottom of your feet before bed. You can also add essential oils to a soothing bath, or make home-made linen spray (water plus a few drops of your favourite calming essential oils) and spritz onto your linen.
TAKE AN EPSOM SALT BATH
Simply taking a hot shower or bath before bed is one of the most effective natural remedies to help you sleep. Doing so will help you to relax and boost your melatonin levels. We recommend you indulge with a calming candlelight bath, adding Epsom salts for enhanced relaxation. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulphate, which become absorbed through the skin. This replenishes magnesium levels, to increase relaxation and aids serotonin production, improving sleep. Insomnia is a common symptom of a magnesium deficiency and people with low magnesium often experience restless sleep, waking during the night. Magnesium is a great natural aid for deep, restorative sleep.
TRY TART MONTMORENCY CHERRIES
Tart Montmorency cherries are a highly effective natural remedy for sleep due to the high levels of phytochemicals, including naturally occurring melatonin that they contain. This results in improved sleep quality while powering your antioxidant capacity. One study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, revealed consumption of the sleep supplement tart cherry juice concentrate improved sleep duration and quality. Tart Montmorency cherry concentrate can be taken in sleep supplement form and is best taken for at least one month.
HUG ANOTHER PERSON (OR YOURSELF)
Recently, sleep expert Dr Ramlahkan revealed how you can get to sleep in just minutes by hugging. The act of hugging another person or yourself releases hormones in our brain, such as oxytocin and serotonin, which help us to feel good and allows us to naturally fall into a deeper sleep. Dr Ramlahkan said the comforting gesture helps us to ‘feel safe’ and could be the key to getting the recommended 7-8 hours sleep per night. Dr Ramlahkan added “simply place your right hand under your left armpit, and place your left arm over your right arm, with your hand gently but firmly resting on your right shoulder. Focus on breathing deeply, relax and you’ll be asleep”.
Natural sleep facts
WHAT ARE THE BEST NATURAL SLEEP SUPPLEMENTS?
In addition to the tips outlined in this article, natural sleep aids in the form of sleep supplements can help to fight insomnia naturally and achieve a better quality of rest. The best natural sleep aids include:
These natural sleep supplements can be found as over the counter solutions or in a calming essential oil or night-time tea.
WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE NATURAL SLEEP REMEDY?
Why should you use a natural sleep aid? Many studies have identified natural sleep remedies can work wonders to further enhance your sleep. These sleeping aids include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and practising aromatherapy. In addition to these, we believe that the foundation to a good night’s sleep is having a supportive and comfortable bed.
WHAT IS THE HOME REMEDY FOR SLEEPLESSNESS?
Understanding the connection between hormones and sleep can be key to improving sleeplessness at home. For example, when we are stressed, we release the hormone cortisol, which makes us feel alert and ready for action. In this situation, the best natural home remedy for sleep is to engage in a stress-relieving activity before bed such as meditation or mild exercise.
Achieve better quality sleep every night
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