4 Natural Remedies for Better Sleep

If you're like me, you really value your sleep and if you don't get enough or good quality of sleep, your whole day can be thrown off. There are several factors that can affect the quality of our sleep including the food we eat, external factors like noise and light, and what we do with our time right before bed. The good news is there are things we can do to improve the quality of our sleep and they're pretty easy and don't require meds of any kind. 

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
Caffeinated beverages and foods include everything from coffee, tea, soda, chocolate and other sweets that might contain chocolate or coffee ingredients. And while caffeine isn't terrible for your health and coffee (not caffeine) has been shown to have certain health benefits, it can cause sleep phase delays, or in other words, keep you from falling asleep. Try to consume of your daily coffee before noon and limit your consumption of sweets and chocolate especially as it gets closer to bed time to ensure you fall asleep at your desired time.

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Put away your e-reader, phone & computer an hour before bed
I didn't know how important this was until I did my own research! A study concluded that the use of light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, AND reduces alertness the following morning. Woah. And I know, it's tough to not take one last scroll through Instagram before turning over, but if you are constantly having a tough time falling asleep and waking up the next morning it's worth a try. Working backwards one hour from the time you want to fall asleep, let's say that's 10:30pm, set your alarm at 9:30pm, plug your phone in and SET IT DOWN. Carry on through the rest of your bedtime routine and find your way into bed about 20 minutes before you'd like to fall asleep. 

Use a noise maker
If you're sensitive to noise while you fall asleep, or you don't like total silence, you might consider using a noise-maker to project a white-noise like sound. I turn mine on every single night and even have a white-noise app on my phone for when I travel. You might enjoy the sound of a light fan as an alternative. (Here's the one I have.)

Establish a bedtime routine
A great way to cement a good habit is to form a routine around it. If you're goal is to fall asleep at a certain time, the hour to 30 minutes before that time should be about how you're preparing for sleep. There are typical bedtime activities like brushing our teeth and changing clothes, but the order that you set up for bed is totally customizable to you and should also take your morning into account. For example, if I'm teaching early the following day I like to make sure I have my clothes ready to go and have an idea of what I can quickly grab for breakfast. If you have several things you take to work or school with you, gather those things up the night before so you're not frantically rushing around the next morning, or worse forget something! A great way to start is to budget an hour of time before bed. Start by setting your alarm clock if needed, putting away your electronic devices and take 15-20 minutes to prepare for the next day. Take the next 15-20 minutes or so to read a printed book, magazine or do something that doesn't require light-emitting devices. Use about 15-10 minutes to change for bed and go through the rest of your bedtime hygiene. With your remaining 5-15 minutes turn off lights, turn on your noise maker if you use one, and get in a comfortable position for sleep. Of course, if there are additional things you'd like to budget time for find the time to do so! 


Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5156320/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313820/

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