I frequently have folks ask me for suggestions on how they can get better sleep. I pride myself on having a whole arsenal of suggestions for this one. There are herbs, dietary approaches, helpful devices, and even basic practices that you can try. In this article I will cover them all.
First, What is keeping you from sleeping well or at all? This is what needs to be addressed before we can hone in on how to improve your rest. Did you recently break up with someone? Are you in severe pain from an accident? Does your neighbor really love rap music at 4am? Is your mind more active before bed than it is all day long? Or are you having bizarre dreams all night that keep you tossing and turning?
Obviously, if you can talk to your neighbor and work out something respectfully with them you can avoid that external interference. Same as with many outside influences like bright street lights or pets that love to play loudly at unreasonable hours. Find a set of curtains to block out all light and consider a night time crate for your pet. For the other problems we need to treat the cause before we can expect the symptoms to improve. This is the same for any successful healing campaign. Using sleeping pills work, kind of, for awhile before they begin to be less helpful and start impacting the overall health of the body. Don't fall for the "we need to up your dose" spiel. Deal with the real problem and get real results!
Let's look at the examples I laid out.
Recent break up or emotional crisis
This may be one of the hardest issues because, ultimately, it takes time to get over the emotional pain. However, things like Omega 3s, B-complex vitamins (in the mornings), and a good amino acid blend such as hemp protein can prove very useful to improving the overall mood of anyone over time. If that isn't getting you through, then short term use of something like St. John's wort (day time), SAMe, or 5-HTP can take the edge off. I don't suggest using these things often, although as they can become habit forming.
Alternatively, for those who may not want to take a potentially habit forming supplement, you may want to try some essential oils. Get yourself a diffuser for your bedroom and some lavender essential oil. For a few dollars, you will feel much more at peace and sleep easily. There are many brands of essential oils on the market, but for diffusing oils you can get the cheaper oils. The more expensive oils work great too, but they are more for topical use usually. That being said the high elevation lavenders are usually worth the extra few bucks.
Severe pain keeping you awake
Address the pain first. No, not with pain killers. Pharmaceuticals including pain killers rob you of minerals like calcium and magnesium which you need to relax and sleep. Try the opposite. Feed the body with high amounts of vitamins and minerals like calcium to promote the healing which will greatly decrease the pain and help you sleep. Don't use cheap calcium products. Use plant and herb based minerals and products like Dr. Christopher's Complete Tissue and Bone. Instead of cutting the red warning light in your car's dashboard, fix the car. If you need extra pain relief and help sleeping try using Valerian root as it is a great nerve calmer and will put you to sleep with a reasonable serving. Be careful tho as it is habit forming and your cat might steal it from you.
For this we again want to look at the cause. Is your mind overactive because you just watched a political debate or a scary movie? Try not watching or reading stimulating things right before bedtime. You may also want to drain the stress of the day that can be stored as static electricity in the body by walking around bare foot. This works best when done outside in the grass. You can also accomplish the same effect with an earthing mat or sheet for your bed, chair, or whatever. These simulate contact with the bare earth by grounding you via your home's electrical outlets. I highly recommend the Earthing products and have had great sleep using my fitted earthing sheet on my bed.
As far as supplements to use, try using GABA which will help to turn off the mental chatter which may allow you to drift off easier. You can also use a tea of passion flower, skullcap, chamomile, lemon balm and/or lavender to help calm your mind.
Restless sleep or waking up too early
Since I put my Earthing sheet on my bed this has not been an issue for me. Before that though, I'd wake up 6 or 7 times per night and never feel rested the next day. I do strongly suggest investing in one of the Earthing products. Otherwise, make sure not to eat right before bed or even 2 hours before bed. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause crazy dreams, make you overly hot, or even flip flop in bed resulting in poor rest. I also notice a benefit when I sleep with the palm of my hand against my forehead. I know this sounds really strange, but I've talked with at least 2 other people who have been doing this instinctively for years to great success.
Also if your using melatonin, the supplement form can sometimes be the problem. Instead, try using tart cherries. Either the juice, capsules, or just dried cherries work great. These will give your body the precursors to create the exact amount of melatonin it needs. Sometimes, too much of the supplement form will cause a groggy feeling in the morning and then too little will cause you to wake up 2 or 3 hours into your sleep cycle. There is no real harm in the melatonin supplements, however, if you find they work well for you. Tart cherries are usually tastier, cheaper, safer for kids, and have the added benefit of reducing inflammation anywhere in the body.
Diet plays a big role in every function of the body. If you eat garbage food you'll have garbage health. As far as sleep goes, eating garbage food usually... actually always... means acidic foods which rob the body of calcium. The calcium in your body helps to relax you naturally. Many will say that magnesium is best for relaxation. Well this is true, but it is releasing the calcium deposits that are binding together your muscle fibers creating tension aka static energy which will keep you from quality sleep. The calcium that is released isn't gone it just moves down stream and likely lodges elsewhere. It will only leave the body when you use things like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and distilled water on a regular basis. Also, avoiding acidic foods and using mostly live alkaline foods will keep this calcium deposit problem from happening as well as help to reverse some that may currently exist. Using only organic plant based calciums are best for overall health where as things like dairy provide only inorganic, acidic calciums which lead to numerous health problems.
Avoiding caffeine can make a serious difference in your sleep habits. For some people they can sleep alright if they don't have caffeine past a certain time, but I suggest avoiding it altogether. Again, caffeine is acidic and robs you of calcium. There are many better energy boosting herbs like Ashwagandha that helps you balance your stress and sleep cycle as a side benefit. Also try meditating on a regular basis. There are apps for this. I suggest one called Headspace and use it often. Headspace has a section for meditating yourself to sleep and I've never heard the end because I always pass out before it's over. Try it!
There are no doubt many factors at play when it comes to great sleep. These are the best remedies with which I've had success as well as had great feedback from others. Overall though, I'd have to strongly insist you try the Earthing products as they, outside of dietary changes, have made the biggest positive impact in my sleep cycle.
I hope you learned something new with this article and that it didn't put you to sleep. If it did make you doze off, well then... your welcome... Sleep Well...