If there is one condition that has plagued me every day-or rather, every night-for years on end, it’s sleep. I was prescribed sleeping medication long-term (not a good idea) and suffered greatly for it. If I was having trouble sleeping before, it was now impossible to achieve, unless I took my medication. The truth is, we lose touch with sleep more and more every day. Technology, stress, energy drinks, stress, readily prescribed medications, and did I mention stress? All of those things contribute to sleeplessness, and I can almost guarantee everyone who reads this list will struggle with at least one of the above.
- Drink Tart Cherry Juice
A ½ cup to a 1 cup of tart cherry juice is a tasty way to drift off to sleep, and is a natural sleep aid that I personally think really helps. Tart cherry juice is a natural sleep aid because it’s full of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that coverts to serotonin, which then coverts to melatonin. Melatonin helps maintain our sleep and wake cycle by causing drowsiness and lowers body temperature, working with the central nervous system to sync our biological clock. Its production is inhibited by light, but released in low light/darkness.
- Improve the Feng Shui
Feng shui is more than just decorating you’re space in a visually appealing way; it’s a full philosophy that instructs on how to arrange your room, furniture, office, etc. to maximize good energy flow throughout living spaces. Here are a few tips for improving the Feng shui of your bedroom to help you get the most of a good night’s rest:
-Keep your bed easily accessible and approachable from all sides.
-Make the energy in the room fresh and help it flow by keeping the air pure, preferably with open windows. Also try to have several windows to allow in natural light.
-Have the bed positioned in such a way that you can see the door. Not being able to see the entrance to your bedroom can create a feeling of anxiety.
-Keep the room neat and clean with a balanced look and feel. Clutter and trash stresses you out and represents unfinished business, which can prevent you from really resting well in your room. On that note, it can also affect your sex life.
- Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture is one of the main components in traditional Chinese medicine (TMC), and one of the oldest healing practices in the world. It is thought that stimulating specific points corrects the balance of energy or the life force by opening up channels called meridians, which close off when stress inflames and contracts vessels. The thin needles, upon insertion, open up these blocked channels and allow your brain to better understand that it’s time to go to sleep. It also signals the release of neuro-endocrine chemicals (like tryptophan/melatonin) to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Get More Melatonin
This chemical is oh-so-important to sleep, but our body needs outside sources to get it. While it can be taken as a natural supplement in pill form, here are some foods that will help boost production.
Cherries: Not too hard to guess since cherry juice was one of the first things listed, but they also contain tryptophan which is metabolized into serotonin and finally melatonin
Bananas: I remember before a solo I had to do in band class, my teacher told me to eat a banana 30 minutes beforehand, because they helped calm you down. I think it must have done something because my solo got an honorable mention, and I never do well performing under pressure. Bananas contain tryptophan, and potassium and magnesium as well, which are muscle relaxants. Have one a half-an-hour before bed every night and up your magnesium levels while simultaneously relaxing your muscles.
Drink a Cup of Chamomile
Chamomile has long been a reliable remedy for helping people doze off. It relaxes your muscles, and is thought that, potentially, a substance called apigenin can bind to GABA receptors which affect the central nervous system and sleepiness. Other studies have disagreed with apegign theory, and think other constituents in the chamomile are what act as a sedative. Either way, it’s tasty and it makes you tired. You can, of course, buy chamomile tea from the store, but I personally love it fresh as well.
You will need…
-A rounded ¼ cup of fresh chamomile flowers OR 2 rounded tablespoons of dry flowers
-Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
There’s nothing quite as delightful as a cup of freshly brewed chamomile on a chilly night as you settle in for bed. If possible, try to use fresh flowers (German variety, preferably) but you can use dried as well if you cannot harvest fresh.
If you’re using fresh flowers, use only the flower heads and compost the stems. Place the flowers in a teapot, and in a separate pot bring 4 cups of cold water to a rolling boil. Pour the water in the pot over the flower in the tea pot. Let steep for 5-6 minutes and serve hot. Do the same process for dried as for fresh, but use 2 rounded tablespoons of dried flowers. Add a little bit of honey and milk to taste. Squeeze in the juice of a freshly sliced lemon to taste as well.