Try as you might, there will simply be times when you have a hard time getting to sleep. As you toss and turn, you might wonder what you're doing wrong that keeps you from sleeping. Are you going to bed too early? Too late? Is your room too noisy? Too dark? Too light?
It can be hard to determine the root cause of sleeping issues. The good news is there are many foods, drinks, herbs and other natural sleep remedies you can try at home to help you drift off to sleep—and keep you there. Before tossing in the proverbial pillow, try one or more of these solid sleep inducers and take back the night!
1. Take a Hot Bubble Bath
A bath before bed relaxes your muscles and releases muscular tension. The process has a chemical effect on the body as well. As you relax in the tub, your core body temperature rises and then quickly drops when you get out. The decrease in body temperature signals the brain to release melatonin.
The bubbles in the bath insulate the top of the water and keep it hot for a longer period. The addition of bath oils can also enhance the relaxing effects. Sandalwood oil has a woodsy scent that has been used for centuries to prepare the mind for meditation. Flower petals can also add relaxing scents.
For a simple, sleep-inducing bath: While the hot water is running into the tub, add three tablespoons of sea salt and eight drops of sandalwood oil. Carefully step in, enjoy the peaceful soak and relax.
2. Apply Food Science
Lots of foods can help you drift off to sleep naturally, such as cherries and fish.
Cherries: In a sleep study, participants drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and another eight ounces each evening for two weeks. They reported much better sleeping habits and slept through the night more consistently. Since all cherries are naturally high in melatonin, you can try eating a cup as a snack an hour before bedtime if you'd rather not drink the juice.
Fish: You have probably heard about the sleep-inducing effects of turkey on Thanksgiving thanks to the chemical tryptophan. Not a big fan of turkey? You can get the same chemical from other types of fish and seafood, including shrimp, cod, tuna and halibut. Consider including these consistently in your evening meal to help improve your sleep.
3. Use Sounds to Induce Sleep
Sound therapy has been used for thousands of years to help people relax and improve their sleep habits. Many older people with sleep problems have noticed improvement after listening to relaxing music before bedtime.
Sleep research has found that a sustaining rhythm starting around 60 beats per minute and gradually slowing to around 50 beats is the most effective at inducing sleep. When music is combined with guided relaxation, it increases the rate at which the mind and body come together to slow down and move into a deep, trance-like state.
Low and slow vocal patterns are also found to be trance-inducing. Speed Sleep is a recording that utilizes this deep sleep methodology.
4. Supplement with Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. High amounts of physical activity during the day cause the body to release high amounts of melatonin at night. As we get older and become less physically active, our bodies don't release as much natural melatonin at night, resulting in unsatisfactory sleep.
Melatonin is available over the counter as a supplemental sleep aid. Melatonin is a sleep regulator that affects your body's biological clock by signaling that it's time for sleep, but it doesn't make you feel as sleepy. It is very effective for people who need to reset their internal clocks, such as shift workers or those dealing with jet lag, as it has been shown to shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
5. Follow a Bedtime Routine
People with regular sleeping routines have higher concentration levels, increased energy and a better memory. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s "internal clock" to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. If you think your sleeping routine could use a little help, there are two things you need to do.
First, set your routine guidelines. Second, put strategies into place to help you sleep according to those guidelines. Stick as close as possible to your routine on weekends and weekdays to avoid a Monday morning sleep hangover.
To set a routine, choose a time to go to bed every night and a time to get up e
ach morning. These set times will help your internal clock get into a more natural sleep rhythm. Of course, unexpected things happen, and you might have an early morning or a late night here and there, but try to stick to these times whenever possible.
Whatever time you choose to go to bed or wake up, aim for between seven to nine hours of sleep. Also, be sure to get a decent amount of bright light every day so it can produce appropriate brain chemicals, such as melatonin.
About Speed Sleep: Speed Sleep is designed to focus the mind and body on accelerating your progress from being awake and alert to being in a deep REM sleep. Speed Sleep consists of a guided visualization that uses voice and background music to condition a response of deep sleep.
More From SparkPeople