For most people, sleeplessness, restless sleep, and night-waking are inevitable parts of life. Repeatedly not getting a full night of restful sleep can seem to push one to the edge of insanity! Though some people may need professional medical care to deal with a diagnosis of insomnia, there are natural alternatives for those with less severe cases who simply wish to increase the quantity and better the quality of their sleep. Through my own trial and error, I’ve successfully used the following tips to both evaluate common causes of sleep disruptions and also enhance the quality of my sleep.
Tips for falling asleep:
During the day, avoid strenuous exercise after 5 PM; otherwise the body may become too over-stimulated to fall asleep. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid nighttime dehydration, but stop an hour before bedtime.
It is difficult to sleep when one’s body temperature is too high; drinking something hot an hour before bed, such as a cup of hot water with lemon and honey or decaf or herbal tea, will cause the body to cool itself and make it easier to drift off into sleep. Taking a fairly hot shower or bath produces the same results.
For several hours of deep sleep, take 1 or 2 spoonfuls of honey about an hour before lying down. I accidentally discovered this method while using honey before bedtime to try increasing my metabolism.
The supplements calcium and magnesium may also improve sleep. Before using them regularly, check with a health care provider. Taken together in a ratio of two to one–for example, 1000 mg calcium to 500 mg magnesium–calcium and magnesium enhance each other’s benefits. The citrate or liquid forms are more easily absorbed by the body. In my experience, these supplements work best when taken about an hour before lying down; if taken right before falling asleep, one might tend to fall asleep quickly but wake up in the middle of the night. Also, the body uses a large amount of water to process calcium, so one might wake up feeling quite thirsty in the night or the next morning if she did not drink enough water during the day.
Establish a regular bedtime routine. For example, 30 minutes before bed, turn off all electronic devices and begin winding down. Take the time to pamper yourself before lying down. Brush your teeth; wash, tone and moisturize your face; and brush your hair gently and thoroughly with a boar’s bristle brush, distributing the natural oils down to the hair’s ends. Because one’s skin excretes toxins during nighttime sleep, it is important to establish a routine of evening facial cleansing.
Finally, relax and let go of mental stress. As the day’s activities come to a close, one can tend to start thinking more and more even while physically resting. But without mental rest sleep will be disrupted, perhaps full of breathless dreams of either running from something for hours or frantically cleaning a preschool room only to find more objects appearing every moment. Some mind-quieting ideas include praying or singing a calming Scripture song or lullaby to oneself mentally and writing down everything on the mind before settling down, resolving not to think about it any more that evening.
Tips for staying asleep:
If one frequently wakes up thirsty or with a dry throat or sinuses, the addition of a bedroom humidifier may help greatly reduce these inconveniences. Also, drinking plenty of fluids during the day will help.
Those who suffer from mild acid reflux, such as pregnant women, may find this worsens while lying down. If it is treatable by a natural enzyme product such as papaya or pineapple enzyme tablets, taking a dose of these a few minutes before bedtime before symptoms are present may help lessen or eliminate acid reflux pain during the night.
Tips for sleeping comfortably:
When trying to determine the cause of sleeplessness or night-waking, be aware that someone with a sensitive scalp may find her problems exacerbated by sleeping in done-up hair. Some women may need to avoid habitually sleeping with her hair wet, in braids, in rollers, or in other hairstyles as she may find it harder to rest comfortably.
Of course, investing in a high quality mattress and comfortable pillows and bed clothes are essential to sleeping well. Keep the room cool and minimize or eliminate any lights. All these steps have, over the years, helped me find my way to better sleep at night.
As the old saying goes, surely the well-rested woman will be happier, healthier, and wiser!