Insomnia and other sleep problems have been around for centuries. Recent advances in medical research and cognitive neuroscience have only confirmed the absolute importance of a good night’s sleep to overall health as well as stress recovery and creative thought.
Whether it’s chronic insomnia, recent life events, or snoring family members or roommates keeping you awake, missing out on your nightly 8-10 hours is no joke.
That’s why we’ve compiled some great ways to put an end to those tough nights. Every one of the methods listed below is completely natural and may just become a new nighttime routine.
So feel free to try them out and see which works best for you. Take the time to get the sleep you need so that you can live your best life while awake.
Chamomile is a simple and cost-effective way to put yourself in a calming headspace. The process and ritual of making tea, like brushing your teeth or changing into comfortable sleep clothes, can also help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for bed.
You might also want to try cold-brewing a large pitcher of chamomile tea ahead of time. Just add one tea bag for every 8 ounces of cold water in a large jug or pitcher and let sit in the refrigerator for roughly 6 to 12 hours, given the tea plenty of time to infuse.
Some even find that cold-brewed tea is stronger and easier to drink. It also saves time on preparing tea each night and even saves a bit of electricity by not having to boil water for each cup.
The boiled banana method is like a nuclear version of calming tea. Many of us may have heard as children that eating a banana before bed, along with warm milk, can help send you off to Snoozetown.
This process takes that same idea and turns it up to 11. Just follow these simple steps.
All you need is a banana, preferably fresh, and some boiling water. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT peel the banana. Instead, use a knife to cut off both tips of the banana, with the peel still on.
Place the banana in a pot of boiling water and let sit for about 10 minutes. Letting the banana boil for longer may increase the potency of the beverage.
Strain the water in a colander and collect the water in a mug or bowl. Let cool for several minutes.
Drink your homemade banana tea. Within an hour, you should start to feel drowsy and you’ll be much more likely to fall asleep. The high levels of potassium and magnesium in the banana (and especially its peel) can help relax your muscles and your mind.
Some recipes recommend sprinkling some cinnamon on the finished product, but we’ll leave that part up to taste.
Sunlight and/or Light Therapy
For those of us who spend the majority of our day indoors, a lack of light can have a negative impact on our internal circadian rhythm. Sunlight can help set our body’s built-in clock.
Just ask anyone who’s ever had a graveyard shift job. Waking up with the sun is natural and easy, while waking up without it is significantly more difficult.
And while light therapy in the form of light alarm clocks and sunlamps can be effective, there are easy ways to get the same effect without buying anything at all.
Try taking a short walk in the morning, before work. This is a great way to reset your personal circadian rhythm. By the time the sun goes down, your body will naturally start to decompress and prepare for some serious downtime.
The ancient art of meditation has long been touted for its numerous health benefits, from stress relief to psychological health, as well as benefits to physical health.
And while many specific meditation methods are tied to spiritual beliefs, the basic elements of all these methods can be used by absolutely anyone.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position, and it doesn’t have to be on the floor.
Breathe slowly and try to focus solely on your breathing.
Every time you notice your thoughts drifting to other things, calmly bring your attention back to your breathing.
It does indeed take practice to make a real habit out of meditation, but you’re likely to notice a marked difference in your mental state after just a few minutes of sitting quietly.
Try meditating about an hour before you plan to sleep. You may just drift off more quickly than usual.
Limiting Evening Tech
This tip is more about what you DON’T do before your usual bedtime.
Whether we like it or not, we’re all saturated in media and technology for most, if not all, of our daily lives. Between smartphones, computers, and television, our brains are constantly being stimulated by a huge range of visuals and sounds.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that such a high level of stimulation can lead to increased brain activity at night, even when we’re trying to sleep.
You may want to experiment with specific times of night when you want to stop using your phone or watching shows and movies, but a good rule of thumb is to cut out media roughly three hours before going to bed.
This may seem pretty extreme, but the resulting lack of stimulation helps your brain calm down naturally. And once you make it a habit, you’ll probably look forward to these calm hours of simply listening to music, reading, or reviewing your upcoming tasks and events.
Another free way to cut down on mental chatter during bedtime is to tune in to a sleep podcast. Shows like these are specifically designed to help distract you from your worries and anxieties, without being interesting enough to keep you awake.
Sleep With Me, Sleep Whispers, and ASMR Sleep Station all offer the chance to let someone else do the thinking and talking while you drift off into peaceful sleep.
They don’t work for everyone, but if they work for you they’re likely to become one of your favorite ways to get ready for rest and recovery.