Feeling tired? Not getting quality sleep can have huge effects on your lifestyle and health. If you’d like to avoid pharmaceutical sleep aids, try practicing more natural sleep habits to enjoy more effective rest and sweeter dreams.
Health Benefits of Quality Sleep
Harvard Health explains, “Sleep serves to “restore” what is lost in the body while we are awake. Sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself…This is further supported by findings that many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.”
According to the CDC, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing. However, at least 30% of adults report sleeping less than 7 hours per 24-hour period. Because sleep plays such a vital role in restoration, getting quality sleep is one of the top ways to prevent disease.
If one in three adults has poor sleep, then one in three adults also has an increased risk for…
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Kidney Disease
It’s not just the hours that matter. Sleep efficiency or “quality sleep” refers to the amount of time you spend asleep in bed as opposed to lying awake. According to Sleep.org, “For adults, good quality sleep means that you typically fall asleep in 30 minutes or less, sleep soundly through the night with no more than one awakening, and drift back to sleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up.”
In order to feel your best, focus on both sleep quantity AND quality. Efficient sleep provides the following health benefits:
- Strengthen Immune System: Sleep can help support immune cells and proteins in fighting bacteria and releasing toxins.
- Prevent Weight Gain: Sleep can reduce production of ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite.
- Boost Mood: Sleep helps regulate serotonin which is a pleasure hormone.
- Increase Productivity: Sleep is linked to improved concentration and higher cognitive function.
- Improve Memory: Sleep gives your brain time to process and consolidate memories from your day.
7 Natural Ways to Improve Sleep Habits
If you’d like to experience the maximum health benefits of quality sleep, try to improve your sleep habits. You can also refer to practicing good sleep habits as creating a “sleep routine”, focusing on “sleep health” or practicing “sleep hygiene.”
Practicing natural sleep habits starts with creating a healthy environment. Optimize your surroundings to increase sleep quality. By making small adjustments to your environment and routine, you can increase your health and vitality.
1. Limit Caffeine
Drinking too much coffee, soda and energy drinks can create a vicious cycle of poor sleep habits. While caffeine can fight fatigue and stimulate alertness, it can also over-stimulate your nervous system and may prevent relaxation at night.
Caffeine can remain in your bloodstream for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 4 p.m. can prevent you from falling asleep at night. A 2013 Study found that a moderate dose (400mg) of caffeine 3-6 hours prior to bedtime significantly disrupted sleep.
If you need a mid-afternoon energy boost, try going for a quick jog or walk. Getting away from your desk and enjoying a change of scenery can stimulate your brain and increase focus naturally.
2. Lower Room Temperature
When you fall asleep, your body temperature cools down. A 2012 Study reported that, “The thermal environment is one of the most important factors that can affect human sleep. The stereotypical effects of heat or cold exposure are increased wakefulness and decreased rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep.”
If you cool down your body before bedtime, you can fall asleep faster. Try setting your thermostat to lower room temperature by 5 degrees at least one hour before bedtime.
3. Turn Off Electronics
Watching TV, playing video games and using a mobile device can make it significantly more difficult to fall — and stay — asleep. Electronic devices emit blue light which suppresses the hormone melatonin that regulates circadian rhythms and sleep. Try to turn off electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime to reduce blue light exposure.
If you absolutely need to use electronic devices close to bedtime, consider wearing blue light-blocking eyeglasses or a screen filter. You can also download apps such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
4. Avoid Watching Clocks
If you keep your phone out of your bedroom, try to also cover up your alarm clock. While it’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night, seeing the time can cause unnecessary stress. If you tend to watch the clock and stress out about the fact that you’re not asleep, you can overstimulate your brain. A 2012 Study found that “time-monitoring” or clock-watching can lead to anxiety and even insomnia.
If possible, turn your alarm clock so it faces away from you. That way, you’ll be less tempted to focus on it if you wake up in the middle of the night.
5. Writing Down Your Thoughts
Another way to reduce stress and calm your mind before bed is to write down your thoughts. Research has shown that anxiety and stress can significantly disturb sleep. If you keep thinking about something that happened during the day, or are worried about tomorrow, try to physically write out your thoughts about the situation. In as little as 5 minutes, you can feel more calm and relaxed.
Gratitude journaling is also another healthy sleep habit. Writing down the positive events that happened during the day — or may happen in the future — can increase relaxation. A 2011 Sleep Study found that journaling resulted in reduced bedtime worry and stress, increased sleep time, and improved sleep quality.
6. Use Aromatherapy
Enjoy essential oils to increase relaxation and fall asleep faster. Sleep studies show that using aromatherapy oils such as lavender, damask rose and peppermint improve sleep quality.
You can add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser or to your bath. You can even add a drop to your pillow or massage into your skin. Mix and match your favorite scents to create a soothing environment for restoration.
7. Try Natural Sleep Supplements
If you’ve tried all of the above and are still struggling with sleep, try testing out a natural sleep aid supplement. Choose a supplement with all-natural ingredients to avoid side effects. Supplements with magnesium, 5-HTP, melatonin and GABA can help calm your nervous system and support relaxation.
Natural Bio Health offers all-natural sleep supplements to support you in calming your body and mind.
Contact Natural Bio Health Today
Since 1999, Natural Bio Health has helped thousands of people regain their quality of life, prevent disease and maintain a strong immune system for optimal health. Through a careful review of health history, genetics and lifestyle, our providers are able to create individualized wellness plans to address the root-cause of your underlying health concerns.
Whether your personal struggles are with hormone imbalance, weight, sleep, energy, libido, migraines or depression, Natural Bio Health is committed to help you restore your quality of life and achieve optimal mental and physical health.