London may be the city that never sleeps but in today’s world, we are a society that never sleeps. Let’s face it: in a world powered by technology, the likelihood of someone deliberately setting down their phone in order to get a good night’s sleep is rare.
At least 25 million Americans (1 in 5 adults) suffer from sleep apnea or some other sleeping disorder. An even greater amount of people say that they don’t sleep well at night, much less sleep long enough to stay healthy and remain functional.
Robert Stickgold from Harvard Medical School has described us now as, “We are now living in a worldwide test of the negative consequences of sleep deprivation.” Americans are sleeping less than 7 hours a night which is 2 hours less than what we did a century ago. Where sleep was once perceived as an old friend, now in a world full of phones and floodlights, sleep is the new adversary to fun.
Public dozing has become a socially acceptable thing with rest stops located alongside highways, all-night diners permitting their customers to sleep in Tokyo. The cause? Modern bedtime rituals have escalated into people watching videos or movies on their personal devices before bed.
The stimulation from a thrilling episode or two is enough to drive off the urge to fall asleep but so is the powerful lighting from our backlit screens. Blue light prevents the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our naturally occurring biological rhythms.
Sleep is more than just an extended period of rest. Our bodies need it to regenerate cells, repair tissues, and the much-needed growth hormone and infection-fighting proteins are released at night.
Nowadays people are turning to medications and spending money on sleep clinics or visits to the doctors in a desperate attempt to understand why they are having the problems that they do. Essentially it all boils down to self-control.
Discipline is the driving factor of success in all areas. Whether it be to put all the electronics down a few hours before going to bed or choosing not to socialize too long before nighttime, it is up to us to take our health in our own hands.
However not to discredit all of those people who do practice good sleeping habits but still find themselves unable to sleep, there are a few natural remedies that help us hit the hay just a little bit faster and are overall just better for us in the long run.
Why not get a double dose of health by exercising hard which is proven to help us sleep better and longer at night? Exercise is one of the best natural remedies for sleep as it strengthens circadian rhythms, promoting daytime alertness but bringing on the desire to sleep at night.
Getting a good sweat session in the morning or afternoon increases the body temperature and post-exercise, the body cooling back down to its normal temperature can promote falling asleep.
It is good to remember that any high-intensity workout like cardio should be done well before bedtime. Exercise is a mood booster and stimulant so it is good to allow yourself some time to calm down. If you do find yourself to remain alert before bed, there are good workouts that are gentle and get the mindset relaxed and ready for sleep.
2. Turn off the Lights
Dimming the lights at dusk or before evening comes is a direct signal to our bodies telling us that it is time to wind down and eventually fall asleep. Our bodies can get confused when it is pitch black outside yet the lights are blaring on the inside.
Darkness helps stimulate the hormones that help us sleep such as melatonin. Any artificial light is going to keep us alert as it is no natural occurrence. The constant presence of light is the main reason why so many people struggle to sleep. A good portion of people are watching TV, checking social media, or choosing to read on devices instead of on good old fashioned paper.
Turning off the screens hours before bedtime is a great way to have a peaceful sleep. If you are adamant about getting in that quick fix of TV, there are glasses made that counteract the stimulating effects of the harsh blue lights that keep us up at night.
If available, use candles or a fireplace as a cozy and therapeutic way to bring on sleep. The sweet scent can relax the mind and bring on sleep faster.
3. Check the State of your Mattress
The mattress is the unsung hero of the sleeping process. A good mattress will cushion, support, and send your body into a calmer state of mental clarity.
During the day our body can go go go but at night we are less likely to adjust our positions or change our behaviour. Waking up late at night with back pain or in a hot sweat will definitely interfere with a good night’s sleep. Once we are awake and alert, it feels like it takes even longer to go back to that refreshing state of sleep.
Keeping your spine and pressure points alighted is helpful in reducing the pain in our muscles and joints. Mattresses as well as any bed sheets, blankets, or comforters, play a huge role in regulating your body’s temperature throughout the night. Fabric and mattress matter more than you think.
Any uncomfortable surface will directly affect the quality of sleep. Research has shown that if your body is not aligned properly, you can spend up to 49% less time in the REM state of sleep. REM is the stage you want to spend the most time in as it is the really deep and restorative sleep that you really want.
4. A Sound Sleep
Try using meditative sounds such as birds chirping or the sound of gentle water flow. White noise is a constant presence at night, so if you can get settled into a daily routine of listening to that same sound or tune, your body can connect it to feeling relaxed or tired.
5. Stay away from Stimulants
Social hour is great as we are born to be a social and connective creature. Spending time face to face with friends or family has been proven to reduce the effects of insomnia. The days we experience little to no social interaction are when we are more likely to sleep poorly.
Stimulants also include things such as caffeine, soda, or sugar. Anything your body immensely enjoys will activate those hormones that keep your mind and body alert… not good for a peaceful night of rest.
Consistency is Key
No one ever said that bad habits are easy to break. But routine has been found to be one of the simplest natural sleep remedies. Going to bed and waking up at around the same time each day is going to cause the body to feel alert or tired at the same time.
Our bodies love routine as it knows what to do without us having to say anything. Small children and babies love their sleep routines and schedules. Do a small routine before bed that makes you feel relaxed: read a book, take a warm shower or bath, light some candles, or whatever works for you.
By doing a small routine, you can think less about what needs to be done, because you automatically know what to do. And of course, have sweet dreams.