Thursday, October 6, 2016

Natural Sleep Aids for a Good Night's Sleep


Everyone has had those nights where, for what ever reason, you find yourself wide awake even though you are exhausted. It's an awful feeling, especially knowing that the alarm is going to go off in a short few hours right after you finally slip into a good sleep. Over the counter and prescription sleep aids may help you sleep, but, as with any drug, can leave you with nasty side effects. There are some great natural remedies you can use that are gentler on the body.

 Your sleep environment can play a big part in getting a good night's sleep. Your bedroom should be a peaceful place, free of clutter and electronics. Avoid hopping on your computer or smart phone while you are in bed. Studies have shown that the light from these devices will throw off your body's natural cues to sleep.


Cherries and Bananas 

Cherries are a natural source of melatonin and bananas contain tryptophan, which is converted to melatonin. Bananas also contain magnesium, which aids in relaxing your muscles. While tart Montmorency cherry juice contains the highest melatonin levels, as its name suggests, it can be unpleasant to drink straight. Another alternative is to combine the power of bananas and cherries into a yummy calming smoothie. Combine a half cup almond milk, one banana, a half cup cherries (fresh or frozen), a teaspoon honey, one tablespoon almond butter, and two teaspoons ground flax seeds in a blender and enjoy about an hour before bedtime.


Essential Oils 

Several essential oils are known for their relaxing properties. Lavender oil is at the top of the list. Other oils to use for a good nights sleep include vetiver, bergamot, Roman chamomile, cedar wood, ylang ylang, and sandalwood. I like to put a couple drops of lavender oil in my diffuser at bedtime. You can also dilute the oils with sweet almond oil and apply on your temples, back of your neck, and wrists. Try a mix of oils like lavender and bergamot. The oils can also be added to a warm bath.


Meditation 

When we are under a lot of stress we can lose sleep from an overactive, worried mind. Most of us have experienced nights of restless tossing and turning as we play out different scenarios in our heads. We can't shut off long enough to relax into sleep. We may even give up on sleep altogether. Getting in the habit of meditating can train your brain to quiet down even in times of high stress. You can find many guides on meditation online and at your local library or bookstore.


Magnesium 

This important mineral is plays a big part in the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It's needed to keep the GABA neurotransmitters in proper order. GABA receptors calm the nervous system, leading the way to sleep.


Chamomile Tea

Chamomile has long been used as a home remedy to help you sleep. While chamomile tea bags are available, I recommend using fresh organic chamomile flowers, or buying the dried flowers in bulk. Use about 1/4 cup fresh flowers or 2 tablespoons dried and steep in hot water for for five minutes. Add a little honey and milk to taste. The milk will also help you sleep.

If you are allergic to chamomile, or are looking for another herbal tea to help you sleep, both St. John's Wort and Valarian Root teas are also great for helping you fall asleep. 




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