9 Totally Natural Ways You Can Fall Asleep Faster
About 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems — that’s a whole lot of tossing and turning. Here’s the scary part: not getting enough quality rest can lead to more than just fatigue — it can also affect our ability to focus and cause serious health problems, including high blood pressure and depression. So if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, consider incorporating these simple, natural ways to fall asleep faster so you can get a better night’s rest (and improve your overall health).
1. Melatonin sleep aids
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The production of this hormone is activated by darkness. It peaks in the middle of the night, gradually ceasing in the second half of the night (or with the presence of light). This primal response is often interrupted by our modern lifestyles. Our ancestors had the advantage of sleeping in a very dark environment but today, contemporary technologies offer a lot of constant light sources, which has disrupted our natural sleep cycle.
However, our technologies are also the solution, as well as the problem: synthetic melatonin is an excellent sleep aid that prompts our bodies to do what it should do naturally. Melatonin is sometimes sourced from animals, but synthetic melatonin sleep aids are considered safer because there’s zero risk of them being contaminated with viruses. However, melatonin sleep aids are a short-term solution — you shouldn’t take them forever, but they can be a great way to get back on track when you’re off your sleep game.
2. The right sleep environment
As we’ve talked about, light has a seriously pronounced effect on our ability to fall asleep, so turning off the lights for bedtime is one of the best ways to naturally prepare ourselves for sleep — and that means all the lights. In fact, Harvard Medical School found that blue light-emitting devices such as televisions, cell phones, and computers are more disruptive to the human circadian rhythms than most any other type of light. So to get some better sleep, limiting the use of screens before bed is always a good idea (you’ve heard that before).
But light isn’t the only environmental cause of sleep issues. The right room temperature, sleep surface, and noise all play a part in our ability to fall and stay asleep. Noise can be a hard factor to control, but a quality pair of earplugs, comfortable bed and pajamas, and the thermostat set to 60-67 degrees is ideal.
3. Certain “sleepytime” teas
“Sleepytime” teas are a popular natural remedy for promoting restful sleep, and among the most common ingredients found in these teas is chamomile. Apigenin, a bioflavonoid found within chamomile, is believed to produce its calming effects by impacting the receptors of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Though scientists have yet to fully evaluate its effectiveness as a sleep aid, one controlled study did show significantly improved sleep quality among those treated with chamomile extract capsules (200mg) over the course of 28 days.
4. Listen to music you find relaxing
The urge to turn on the TV or scroll through your smartphone before bed is hard to resist. So much of our connection to the world around us relies on a screen — to a point that reaching for one of these options has almost become a natural reflex. Instead, try listening to relaxing music to help the mind focus away from everyday life and bring about a calming, daydream effect.
5. A consistent sleep schedule
Keeping a consistent sleep pattern helps our bodies accurately predict when it’s time for bed. Erratic sleep patterns disrupt the circadian rhythm and hinder the production of melatonin, making it hard to fall asleep. Of course, things like work, travel, and babies can all stop us from getting to bed on a regular schedule. So while it can’t happen all the time, whenever possible, try sticking to a consistent bedtime.
Out of all the methods we’ve discussed, meditation might be one of the most beneficial. The highest reported cause of sleeplessness is stress: all those racing thoughts, mental to-do lists, and worries keep the mind alert, impeding our ability to fall asleep peacefully. So, the next time you’re getting ready for bed, try the yoga nidra meditation method recommended by Chopra for a stress-relieving “step-by-step relaxation of each part of your body.”
7. Lavender aromatherapy
One of the most widely recognized plant flowers used in aromatherapy is lavender. The light purple flowers are dried and distilled, resulting in an essential oil with sweet, fragrant notes some say is reminiscent of rosemary. Its use as a calming remedy goes back centuries and has been shown to be effective at improving sleep quality. Try adding a few drops of lavender oil to your bath or oil diffuser, or place a sachet of dried lavender near your pillow. Other plant-derived oils with similar properties include ylang ylang, bergamot, and sage.
8. A hot bath
A little lavender oil in your bath will definitely amp up its relaxing effects, but even if you’re all out, a hot bath alone will do the trick. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, not only does the hot water help relax the muscles, but the drop in body temperature can also help us feel sleepy and ready for bed.
9. CBD (Cannabidiol)
CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from the Cannabis plant species. Unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high, but it will help you relax. Its application as a treatment for anxiety and sleep are relatively new uses, but recent studies have already proved the calming effect of CBD on the central nervous system, in addition to improved sleep quality. While studies have not proven the use of CBD to be unsafe, there remains a lack of regulatory oversight, so opt for a trustworthy brand with a lot of transparency about their sourcing and process.
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