8 Tips to achieving a better nights sleep, naturally!
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep? Do you struggle to fall asleep, constantly wake up during the night or get up in the morning still feeling exhausted, despite the fact that you got your 7-9 hours? We’ve all been there. Whilst there are many factors that come into play when it comes to the quality of your sleep, there are a few simple steps that can help.
1. Regular Sleeping Patterns
In generations gone by, people had regular sleep cycles. They would sleep when the sun would set and rise when the sun rose. Nowadays, we can sleep and rise whenever we would like, but this isn’t necessarily beneficial for our health. Try maintaining a regular sleep cycle every night (including weekends), as this may improve sleep quality.
2. Screens & Blue Light
It has long been known that looking at screens before bed may decrease sleep quality. But recent studies have shown that the effects are much more serious than previously thought! A 2017 meta-analysis of a range of studies showed that bedtime access to media devices was significantly associated with inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Why are screens so harmful for our sleep cycles? It’s because screens emit unnatural blue light, which suppresses the secretion of melatonin, our sleep hormone! This hormone influences our circadian rhythms (sleep cycles) and tells our brain “it’s sleep time.” When we suppress this hormone, despite how tired our bodies might be, our brain might not recognise that it is sleep time.
I propose that there are 2 helpful solutions to this problem.
1. Don’t use screens 2-3 hours before bed.
A Harvard University study showed that Blue light suppresses melatonin for up to 3 hours! Try and avoid screens during this time leading up to when you go to sleep.
2. Use blue-light blocking glasses
For some of us who live busy lives, avoid screens 3 hours before bed might be unrealistic. I’m a uni student, and sometimes I simply have to do assignments or study right up until I sleep! This is where blue-light blocking glasses can become really helpful. As the name suggests, blue light blocking glasses filter out blue violet light between 400nm and 440nm. Blocking out this blue-light means that your screens won’t suppress that all important hormone, melatonin!
Baxter Blue is an Australian company who create stylish, effective blue-light blocking glasses. Baxter Blue’s Blue+ lenses also reduce glare to provide better contrast on your screens, reducing some of the effects of eye strain also! Click here to find out more, and to order online!
3. Use a Salt Lamp
As I’ve explained above, blue light and light from screens significantly depletes melatonin levels and can reduce your ability to fall asleep. Rather than using LED’s and bright lights, dim light can really help to send a signal to your brain that it is bed time. Think about a sunset. The orange, dim hues on the horizon trigger the hormone melatonin. Using a dim light at night, such as a himalayan salt lamp, can replicate these dim colours and help you get to sleep quicker!
4. Magnesium & Melatonin
Click here to read my blog all about magnesium and why we all need more of it! Not only does magnesium calm the Central Nervous System and reduce anxiety, but it actually increases melatonin (sleep hormone) and decreases cortisol (stress hormone). This makes it a perfect addition to your bed time routine.
I’ve raved on about how fantastic melatonin is at improving sleep. Melatonin supplements can be prescribed by some health care practitioners, but you can access readily-available melatonin in transdermal form from your local health food shop! Ancient minerals have created a Magnesium AND Melatonin Lotion that can be used before bed to help you get to sleep. Studies have shown that Melatonin used topically easily penetrates the skin, entering your blood stream and circulating through your body quickly and effectively. Click here to find out more or to order online.
5. Avoid eating refined carbohydrates before bed
There has been much back and forth between researchers about whether eating before bed improves or decreases sleep quality. One thing is for sure, eating highly refined carbohydrate foods before bed that yield quick energy reduces sleep quality. Foods high in refined carbohydrates include juice, white bread and crackers or sugary sweets. These result in an influx of blood-glucose and energy. Do you really need a burst of energy just before you go to sleep?
6. Avoid Coffee After Midday
Caffeine from Coffee can be fantastic when you need a boost of energy in the morning when you’re feeling fatigued, but it isn’t so helpful when it comes to needing quality sleep. Studies show that excessive coffee consumption reduces sleep quality, so try and keep your coffee down to one a day! A recent study has shown that late afternoon coffee adversely affects sleep quality, so try and cap your last (and hopefully first) coffee at 2pm in the afternoon!
7. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are extremely versatile, and there are many oils that, when diffused, can assist with sleep quality. I will focus on just two:
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender has long been known to be beneficial for stress, anxiety and sleep. Recently, a 2015 study reaffirmed the benefit of inhaling Lavender Essential Oil before bed, showing that the majority of individuals find increased sleep quality when using Lavender. Lavender is also an anxiolytic and mood stabiliser, contributing to its stress-reducing properties that might help you fall asleep!
2. Frankincense Essential Oil
If you don’t own a diffuser, mix a few drops of the essential oils with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) or moisturising cream and rub it on your chest so you can be inhaling before bed and while you sleep.
NOTE: Remember to buy 100% pure, preferably organic essential oils! There are many synthetic fragrances available, marketed as essential oils when they can actually be more harmful than helpful!
8. Drink sleep-promoting teas
Below are 4 teas I recommend trying before bed to assist with improving sleep quality. Each of these teas have a whole body of research behind them, showing that they improve sleep quality in a variety of ways.
- Chamomile Tea
- Valerian Root Tea
- Passionflower Tea
- Lemon Balm Tea
Have a good night's sleep! x