Natural ways to fall (and stay) asleep at night
August 2, 2022
If only getting a good night’s sleep were as easy as it seems. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, fall asleep quickly, and peacefully doze through the night.
Too many of us know that is not even close to reality. Instead, we occasionally find ourselves wide awake, wondering how to fall asleep, counting the minutes of lost slumber with every tick of the clock. Even those who fall asleep quickly can sometimes be plagued with waking in the middle of the night to a similar scenario.
In fact about a third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep and about the same number of Canadian adults report poor sleep quality. We know sleep is important to our health, and when we continually struggle we wonder: Should we talk to a doctor? Do we need sleep medication?
If you find yourself continually struggling to get a good night's sleep without medication, it could be the sign of a serious sleep disorder and you should consult a physician. For those of us who occasionally struggle with falling asleep or restless sleep, it all comes down to healthy habits and using strategies that act as natural sleep aids.
Wondering how to sleep better at night naturally? Here are some suggestions to think about the next time you’re staring at the ceiling!
We know breaking or changing a habit is hard. It’s why most people stick to what they know, even when it’s not working for them. When it comes to sleep, creating healthy habits is essential to fighting the sleep deprivation monster. Here are a few to start with:
Your phone might be disrupting your circadian rhythm, which is the way your body responds to light. Light from electronic devices at night can confuse our biological clocks and contribute to sleep difficulties.
The artificial blue light from our phone simulates daylight. That decreases melatonin, and less melatonin makes it harder to fall asleep. We know those TikTok®* rabbit holes can be fun, but they’re not worth losing sleep over—literally. Try to set your phone down 30 minutes to an hour before you’d like to go to bed. You’ll be surprised how calm and ready for rest you are.
For those of us who relish that late afternoon hit of caffeine, whether it’s a fancy coffee or our favorite energy drink, this one might hurt: Consider cutting caffeine off after 2 p.m. You see, that shot of caffeine doesn’t only provide an immediate effect, it’s likely one of the things keeping you awake hours later or contributing to poor sleep quality. Caffeine has a half-life of up to six hours, which means six hours after that cup of coffee or energy drink, half of that caffeine is still in your system.
Caffeine also disrupts your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and can leave you feeling groggy the next morning. That will make you want more caffeine, which will only perpetuate the cycle of sleep disruption.
Perhaps the best habit you can embrace is to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Try your best to go to bed around the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning. Your circadian rhythm memorizes the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up, but it can only do that if it’s consistent. By creating a regular sleep schedule, you’re allowing your body to adapt to your lifestyle.
Believe it or not, one of the keys to healthy sleep is nutrition. Yes, the food you eat can be a natural sleep aid. Think about it—just like protein promotes muscle growth and vitamin C supports immunity, nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and melatonin can support healthy sleep.
For many of these nutrients, the benefits can be gained through a nutritious, balanced diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly. That means your daily calories should mostly come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein and healthy fat.
Without proper nutrition, your body is unbalanced, and more prone to illness, fatigue and low performance. Paying attention to your macronutrients – your protein, fat, and carbs – as well as the vitamins and minerals in your food is one way to achieve a balanced diet and improve your sleep.
In addition to the whole foods you eat, you can consider vitamin supplements to help fill any gaps, as well as natural sleep aids. They come in a variety of formats including teas and gummies. n* by Nutrilite™ Sweet Dreams – Sleep Gummies, for example, includes melatonin and magnesium as well as some botanicals that support sleep.
Remember, unless you have a serious sleep disorder, you can likely skip the medication and find success with these tips. In today’s world, there’s probably more than one thing weighing on you and keeping you up at night.
But if there’s anything to slack on, sleep isn’t it. Sleep is essential to our mental and physical health, so we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect and intentionally nurture our rest. The bottom line is we need sleep – might as well make it good!
*TikTok® is a registered trademark of Bytedance Ltd.
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