6 All Natural Ways to Improve Sleep Quality

American actor Thomas Dekker once said, “Sleep is like the golden chain that binds our health and body together.”

Why do we need sleep?

According to award-winning author Bill Bryson, “No one knows exactly why we sleep. Is it to consolidate memories, reset the immune system, restore hormonal balance, or clear metabolic waste and neurotoxins? While all these processes do happen while we sleep, science still cannot say for certain why we need it so. One thing we do know is that sleep is vital to every living creature.”

The Sleep Foundation reported that, “When you sleep, your body undergoes a series of changes that enable the rest that is vital to your overall health. Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down and engage in processes of recovery, promoting better physical and mental performance the next day and over the long-term. What happens when you don’t sleep is that these fundamental processes are short-circuited, affecting thinking, concentration, energy levels, and mood.” 

 

What about the amount of sleep we need?

The CDC says, “How much sleep you need changes as you age. “

Age Group

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day

Newborn

0–3 months

14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)1
No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)2

Infant

4–12 months

12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2

Toddler

1–2 years

11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2

Preschool

3–5 years

10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2

School Age

6–12 years

9–12 hours per 24 hours2

Teen

13–18 years

8–10 hours per 24 hours2

Adult

18–60 years

7 or more hours per night3

61–64 years

7–9 hours1

65 years and older

7–8 hours1

 

There are many potentials reasons why we lack in the sleep department:

  • Stress
  • Genetics (narcolepsy)
  • Travel or work schedule
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Eating a lot in the evening
  • Mental health disorders (depression, anxiety etc.)
  • Medications
  • Sleep related disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea)
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Aging

No matter the reason why, we all need daily quality sleep to function on all cylinders. In some cases, a simple lifestyle change (exercising & a healthy diet), using relaxation techniques, and home remedies can be a treatment for your sleepless nights. Listed below are some tips and all natural ways to aid in your nightly battle with restlessness. Which one could you implement into your day-to-day life today?

  1. Melatonin

According to, VeryWellHealth:

 

“Evidence suggests that melatonin supplements are best for sleep problems caused by shift work or jet lag. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle in the brain. Your body makes it at night when the light is low.

  • Melatonin supplements are good for conditions associated with low levels of melatonin, such as:
  • Aging
  • Mood disorders
  • Delayed sleep-phase syndrome
  • Jet lag

Melatonin supplements may improve sleep quality and morning alertness in older adults with insomnia. Timed-release melatonin is used to treat insomnia in people over age 55. In most studies, melatonin was taken up to two hours before bedtime for up to 13 weeks.

With melatonin, the timing is important. When taken in the morning, melatonin may disrupt your normal sleep cycle. When taken in the afternoon or early evening, it can help regulate your sleep cycle.”

 

  1. Aromatherapy

 As stated in, VeryWellHealth:

“A 2011 analysis found that most studies into aromatherapy for assisting sleep aren't rigorous enough to be conclusive. However, English lavender has long been used as a folk remedy. It is one of the most soothing essential oils.

Try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow. Or place one to two drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief.

A few other aromatherapy oils are believed to help with sleep. These include:

  • Chamomile
  • Patchouli
  • Ylang-ylang

You can also try adding a few drops of lavender oil to a bath. A warm bath can also help decrease body temperature. This may help you sleep.”

 

  1. Magnesium

 As described in, VeryWellHealth:

“The mineral magnesium is a natural sedative. Some research shows that magnesium supplements can help with insomnia. Magnesium deficiency can cause health problems, including:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Muscle tremors or cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Pain

Food that is rich in magnesium include:

  • Legumes and seeds
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables
  • Wheat bran
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Whole grains

Include these whole foods in your diet. You can also try juicing dark leafy green vegetables.”

Using magnesium topically is the easiest and quickest way to correct any deficiency. OSI Magnesium is committed to using the purest magnesium oil from the Zechstein Sea. This prehistoric sea is over 250 million years old sea, hidden thousands of meters deep in the earth’s crust. Its location has protected it from modern, negative environmental impact, making it the purest source of magnesium-chloride preserved in its genuine, liquid state. Smooth butters, lotions, gels, and flakes.

  1. Meditation

 VeryWellHealth suggested that:

Meditation may help you sleep. Regular meditation can slow breathing and reduce stress hormone levels. During meditation, you direct your attention to a point of focus, this could be your breath, a sound, or a word.

 Meditation can help:

  • Increase awareness of your body
  • Relax your body
  • Calm your mind

Types of meditation include:

  • Guided meditation (where someone else's voice helps you relax)
  • Vipassana meditation (a Buddhist mindfulness practice)
  • Yoga nidra (a kind of guided meditation)
  • Body scan (where you focus your attention on the feelings in different parts of your body)

You can also try:

  • Visualization: This involves imagining a relaxing scene. Try this for 20 minutes while lying in bed. Involve all your senses. For example, picture yourself on a tropical island. Think of the way the warm breeze feels on your skin. Imagine the scent of the flowers. Look at the water and listen to the waves. The more vivid the image and the more senses you involve, the more effective it will be.
  • Relaxation response: This is a way to counter the "fight or flight" stress of daily life. It is usually achieved by sitting quietly for a few minutes while concentrating on a single focus word. 
  • Mindfulness: This type of meditation involves focusing on your mind on the present.

Early evidence suggests meditation may improve sleep. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says there's good evidence that these techniques can be helpful for insomnia.” 

  1. Herbal Teas

 VeryWellHealth reported that:

  1. Valerian(Valeriana officinalis) is an herbal home remedy. It is brewed as a tea or taken as a supplement. Its uses include:
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Improving sleep quality
  • As a sedative

For insomnia, clinical trials of valerian have had inconsistent results. Studies measuring sleep quality have found no difference between people taking valerian and those taking a placebo.

Some people in the studies, however, anecdotally reported that their sleep quality improved with valerian.

Valerian is thought to affect levels of gamma-aminobutyric (GABA). This is a calming chemical in the brain. Valerian also relieves muscle spasms. This is thought to help menstrual period pain.

Valerian is typically taken an hour before bed. A standard dose is 450 milligrams. If taken during the day, it may make you drowsy. It is often taken in two to three 300 milligram doses with meals. 

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)is a tea and herbal supplement. It is said to relieve anxiety and calm the nerves. It is sometimes included with valerian in supplements.

One 2013 study found lemon balm to be helpful. Unfortunately, reviews of studies have not found any evidence for lemon balm or other herbal "sleep formula" supplements.

Chamomile is traditionally used to:

  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Soothe digestion
  • Reduce anxiety

This may help induce sleep. Try sipping a cup of hot chamomile tea after dinner. Don't drink too close to your bedtime, though. It may cause nighttime trips to the bathroom.

Other herbs sometimes used for insomnia include:

  • Hops
  • Passionflower

Some herbal teas and supplements have a long history of use as sleep aids. Vitex agnus castus may be helpful for some females. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence to support the use of other herbs.”

  1. Light Exposure & Temperature

 VeryWellHealth explained that:

“Light therapy is sometimes used in sleep treatment plans.

Light exposure helps tell the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try an outdoor walk first thing in the morning.

A home light therapy unit can also help. Ask your doctor or sleep specialist about these devices.

If you wake too early in the morning or fall asleep very early in the evening, you may need more light in the late afternoon. Take an afternoon walk while it is still sunny outside. You can also try light therapy for two to three hours in the evening.”

Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital says to:

“Go dark. It’s known that the light from a smartphone interferes with sleep. But what about your bathroom light? If you have the urge to go at night, don’t flick on the lights. “The latest recommendation is to use a flashlight if you need to get up at night,” Gamaldo says, because it offers less visual disruption. And remember: If you do wake up for a bathroom break, it might take up to 30 minutes to drift back off. This is completely normal, she says.

Keep it cool. The ideal temperature for your thermostat is between 65 and 72 degrees,” Gamaldo says. Women who are going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes should keep the room as cool as possible and wear cotton or breathable fabrics to bed.

Bundle up. Sleep in layers so you can adjust your bedtime temperature as needed, Gamaldo says.”