If you’ve ever had a rough night’s sleep (and who hasn’t) you know how much it can ruin your day or even set you back for the rest of your week. In my last post, I spoke about all the ways sleep can benefit your life and the sneaky habits that can ruin your sleep quality. Today’s post is a more positive discussion on sleep. After all of my years experimenting with how to improve my sleep, I have come up with a bunch of easy and natural home remedies for good sleep. This can be your go to list for better sleep.
Put the NyQuil Down
When I was in college and had issues falling asleep, I unfortunately would reach for the NyQuil bottle to help me get some sleep. Now that I know how bad NyQuil is for your liver and how it gives you an awful groggy hangover (this one from experience), I use other more natural methods to fall and stay asleep.
Some of these recommendations include herbal supplements. Please consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. They will let you know if any of these herbs interact with any medication you are on or if you should avoid them due to underlying conditions. If you can’t use the herbs don’t worry, I have a bunch of other recommendations!
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Reading a Book
Since blue light screens are harmful for your sleep, I definitely recommend reading before bed instead of playing with your phone or watching tv. Reading a physical book also tires your eyes. Personally, I have felt the difference at night reading a book versus any other activity. It is a great kick starter to falling asleep. Right now, I’m reading The War of Art (if you were looking for a book recommendation).
Blue Light Glasses
In a perfect world I would turn off all screens at least an hour before bed to get the best sleep possible. A lot of nights I’m able to do this because I like to get into bed early to do some reading but there are many nights where this isn’t possible. Sometimes I have to work late at the office, other times I just feel like watching a movie at night with my boyfriend.
Since we are not perfect human beings, blue light glasses give us a solution. They are pretty cheap and widely available online. Mine were less than $12 and they work really well. I legitimately notice that I get tired more easily on nights that I wear them versus nights that I forget to use them.
However, this doesn’t prevent your mind from racing based on what you see on your screen so it is best to avoid anything at night that may stress you out such as social media, work emails, late night local news (which seems to only be about death and violence), etc.
Teas for Sleep and Anxiety
Similar to the concept of giving warm milk to a child to fall asleep, a warm drink at night is a great way to feel cozy and relaxed. I have a preference for teas when it comes to sleep because many teas have mellowing properties that can jump start a great night’s sleep. There are a lot of different tea companies that have special blends for calming effects. If you want a simple solution, chamomile is the king of the sleep teas. It is always easy to find, a great relaxer, and even soothes the stomach. I always keep some chamomile tea in my kitchen cabinet but I also like to change up my nighttime tea ritual with tea blends.
Sleep Specific Tea Blends – There’s a few brands that actually combine teas to put you to sleep. The brands I have tried, all seem to work in a similar manner so I like to shop around online or at my local grocery to grab one that isn’t too overpriced. So you can look around as well, some of the ingredients that I have found to be common in these blends are:
Stress Relief Tea Blends – Similar to the sleep teas, there are combinations that are specifically made for de-stressing. They tend to make me tired as well so they are a great way to unwind before bed. Some of the common ingredients I have found in these are:
- Skullcap Herb
- Licorice Root
- Reishi (a type of medicinal mushroom)
A dark room helps you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. It helps trigger your mind to rest. In my current apartment, I have blackout curtains on my windows and they are incredible. It is surprising how much of a difference it makes, but even the light from the moon can keep you from falling asleep as fast as you could with a good pair of blackout curtains.
There are times where your partner might want to read or check their phone in bed while you’re trying to fall asleep. Blackout curtains won’t do you any good in this case. This is where a good eye mask will come in handy. I personally haven’t found an eye mask that doesn’t feel too tight on my head so I do an unorthodox method instead which is my t-shirt method. All you need is a very soft and light t-shirt to place over your eyes to fall asleep. I like that I can throw it in the laundry whenever I feel like it and it gently lays across my eyes.
Ever since I was a kid I needed some form of white noise to fall asleep. Some people use fancy white noise machines but I use a few old school methods. In the summer I keep a small fan on low in my room and in the winter, I like to use a humidifier. If your humidifier doesn’t make much noise, using both a humidifier and fan help works as well. Both of these methods end up killing two birds with one stone. You keep your room cool with the fan and keep your room from getting dry with the humidifier.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, a cool room is important for quality sleep. I live in an older building, on the top floor, where you can’t control the exact temperature of the apartment so I can’t give you an exact temperature for what is “cool” but I can give you a description on what it should feel like. In my experience, a cool room should feel chilly as you change to put on your sleepwear and first hop under the covers. If after 5 to 10 minutes under the covers you are still cold, then the room is too cold. If you are warm while changing into your sleepwear, the room is probably too hot.
For this recommendation you will need an essential oil diffuser and a start pack of essential oils. The diffusers tend to be reasonably priced (under $50) and many times come with a starter pack. This one is an affordable choice with a starter oil pack just like I started with. The key is to make sure you have at Lavender oil at the very least. Lavender is a great relaxer so I use this by itself or in a combination with other oils almost every night. It definitely enhances my sleep. Some of my favorite essential oil combinations for sleep are:
- Lavender and Lemongrass
- Lavender, Lemongrass, and Eucalyptus – This one is great for if I have a stuffy nose. The Eucalyptus clears your sinuses in a way that reminds me of Vicks vapor rub.
- Lavender, Orange, and Bergamot
Although these are some of my favorite combinations, using essential oils with a diffuser is more of an art than a science. Feel free to swap some oils out for others and experiment to find what you like the best.
Consistency with Bed Time
Your sleep cycle loves routine. Try going to bed at a consistent time including on the weekends. This way your body can truly recover each night.
There are several different meditation apps (including some great free ones) out there that you can use to help you get into a deeper state of sleep. The free app that I use, has a category of tracks for sleep so you can pick and choose which one works best for you. I almost always fall asleep before the track ends and wake up feeling energized. Other people I know have paid for apps or meditation tracks and swear by them. Before committing to purchasing a meditation product, definitely try out the free apps. You have nothing to lose and great sleep to gain.
Doing a relaxing and quick yoga session right before bed helps put me to sleep really quickly. I put on some really comfy clothes, dim the lights and turn on the oil diffuser or a scented candle to set a calming mood to tell my body that it is time for sleep. Since I’m not a yoga teacher, I turn to the internet for quality bed time yoga sequences. YouTube is a great resource for free yoga and since you can stream it from your living room or bedroom, you can head straight to bed afterwards.
If stress is keeping you up at night, I definitely recommend breathing techniques. There’s many out there such as the Wim Hoff Method and the 4-7-8 method that de-stress you and help to get you sleepy. I personally recommend the above two because they have helped me de-stress before bedtime. The how-to steps are available online but so are many other breathing techniques that you can try. Experiment with different ones to find your favorite.
My Emergency Solution
Although I try my best to follow the solutions I’ve mentioned above, there are days where I just know that I am going to have issues falling asleep. Sometimes this is due to stress in my life or a weekend of partying. Either way, I like to be prepared for when life isn’t going as planned. Recently I’ve discovered this herbal remedy from a stand at the famous Pike Place market in Seattle when visiting some friends. I have never found a natural solution that has worked this well for deep sleep that also doesn’t give me a groggy hangover in the morning. This is not a sponsored post by the company. I just want to pass along to others what has helped me and give the company credit for a great natural product.
The stand was called Sister Sage and the remedy is called Dream On. The guy at the stand said not to take it every night so I only take as needed, hence why I call it my emergency solution. As I mentioned, at the beginning of the post, consult your doctor before taking any new supplements. The ingredients are Valerian Root (Valerian officinalis), Oats (Avena sativa), and Catnip (Nepeta cataria).
This may not be a home remedy but it is all natural. It is a simple recipe which I appreciate for a few reasons. Since the ingredients are simple, you can easily make a similar version. It isn’t hard to make a DIY copycat version for a home remedy for good sleep. Another alternative is to find another product with similar ingredients.
Every person’s body reacts differently to each method, so experiment and see what works for you. When it comes to my body and trying new things, I like to try one new change at a time so I can see if it is making a difference. I would love to hear if any of these work for you or if you have any sleep enhancing methods to recommend.
Wishing you all a great night’s sleep.