Enough, people. Just…enough.
Don’t get me wrong – I know the value of a decent night’s sleep. Because sleep deprivation can lead to chronic sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia, which in turn can lead to physical and mental afflictions – from anxiety to heart disease, diabetes to depression.
On the other hand, getting enough sleep on a regular basis makes us happier, healthier, smarter and more likeable people…and wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all better rested?!
But I do think there’s got to be a better way to better sleep than by chemical means. A path to slumberland without the need for pills. Methods to induce sleepiness instead of driving your mind mad with ovine number games.
In fact, there’s plenty of natural remedies that can help you get a better sleep. Read on, take note and you might just sleep more soundly tonight…
1. Golden milk
A hot cup of this Indian speciality before bed is like a big ’ol hug for your insides. Rich in antioxidants, with anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting functions, the turmeric which gives it its golden color (and name!) is not to be trifled with.
Turmeric has been used in medicine for centuries, and it’s only relatively recently that it’s started gaining the traction that it so deserves here in the west. If you’re having trouble sleeping, turmeric should be one of the first things you reach for.
How to make “golden milk”: Mix one teaspoon of organic turmeric into a cup of warm milk. Add half a teaspoon of ginger and cinnamon and finish with sprinkle of nutmeg. Delicious!
2. A hot bath
Instead of being glued to Netflix in the hour before bedtime, indulge yourself with a long bath instead. Go all out with candles, incense, relaxing music – just like they do in the movies. (And doesn’t it always look so soothing in the movies?! Well, apart from the scary ones, that is. But ignore that part…)
After your bath, try your hand at a self-massage with sesame oil. Heating and soothing, it will leave your skin feeling soft, your digestive system at rest and your mind and body ready for sleep.
3. A great-smelling pillow
Our sense of smell is a pretty powerful thing. It can transport us back to the past, it can cause us to feel more alert and, yes, it can even help us get to sleep easier. By sprinkling a couple of drops of a relaxing essential oil on your pillow – lavender is ideal – you’re helping your mind to relax as soon as you lay down your head.
Careful not to overdo it though…lavender is pretty strong and you don’t want your soothing technique to result in watery eyes and a stinging nose!
4. A bowl of ice-cream
Yep, you heard me. Ice-cream can help you sleep.
And pigs can fly, right?! Don’t worry, I haven’t lost the plot entirely. (Not yet, anyway!) Because I don’t mean the processed, sugary stuff; I mean the treat you make yourself, in the comfort of your own kitchen, with only a frozen banana and a blender to hand.
Bananas contain magnesium, which helps in the production of serotonin and promotes feelings of calm. While potassium, the other star in a banana’s make-up, is a natural muscle relaxant. So to relax your mind and body, simply whizz a frozen banana with a couple of tablespoons of water (or almond milk, for a thicker texture) and enjoy your guilt-free, sleep-inducing snack!
5. A bit of reflection
Sometimes, no matter how many relaxing baths we run, or smells we sniff, or foods we eat, our minds kick into overdrive as soon as the lights go out. To prevent this from happening, or at least to stop it ruining my sleep, I try to do some kind of reflective activity every night.
I’ll write in my journal, or I’ll make a mental list of the positive things that happened that day, or I’ll do a guided meditation exercise…all of these things prevent my thoughts from turning into a restless jumble and more like passing clouds that drift away as I drift off.
Letting go of the events of the day and plans for tomorrow can be very tricky at first – but be patient, keep at it and you might start getting a great sleep without any aids at all!
Really, that’s the ideal; a calm mind and body that welcomes sleep when bedtime comes around. An unbroken slumber free from tossing and turning. A rested, happier you the next morning – all thanks to taking the natural route, with sleep techniques that actually work.
So may you have the sweetest dreams tonight, and a healthier life in the days that follow. Thank you, and goodnight.