Natural Ways To Promote Deeper Sleep & Improve Its Quality
You probably already know that getting a good night's sleep is crucial for your overall health and happiness.
Sleep should be a non-negotiable part of your everyday Self Care if you want to live a long and healthy life.
Interestingly, ancient cultures referred to 'sleep' as "the greatest gift" - the gift of total relaxation to be experienced at it's highest level when the 7 principles of health were fully embraced on a consistent basis (i.e. Air, Water, Sunshine, Walking, Wholefoods, Non-Toxic Relationships & Passion).
Without quality sleep, your physical and mental wellbeing eventually suffers.
In fact, countless studies have shown that people who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to suffer from chronic fatigue, burn out, skin conditions and/or mental and emotional illnesses like anxiety and depression.
So the question is; HOW in today's high-paced, time-depraved, distracted age, do you set aside enough hours each day to get the quality sleep you need so that your body and mind to properly recuperate?
There are some specific, helpful steps you can take to promote a deeper, quality night's sleep which we'll get to in a moment.
But right off the bat, one of the biggest challenges, is consciously forcing yourself to "disconnect" from your digitally-connected daily habits e.g. hyper-productivity, over-exposure to blue light cell phone, computer screens and TV shows.
All of these things make it difficult for you to shut down as you naturally should.
And one of the worst things you can do, is to turn to pharmaceutical sleeping pills and aids, as this is a sign that your body and mind are not capable of shutting down the way that they're supposed to.
It's far more prudent to help your body and mind sleep on their own, rather than create a dependency on drugs.
Keep reading: here are six of the best ways to promote deeper sleep naturally and improve its quality...
1. Disconnect Digitally Before Bed
There are many benefits to the digital age. We can readily access more information and it allows more and more people to enjoy greater freedom with their work schedules. It also helps us stay connected to the people we love.
But one of the major downfalls of the digital age is that we are saturated in screens.
And too much screen time is one of the biggest causes of interference to the quality of our sleep.
The blue light emitted via screens inhibits your brain's production of melatonin--the hormone that regulates your sleeping and waking cycle.
When you curb your brain's ability to produce melatonin, you restrain your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Not only should you avoid watching screens in bed. For ideal sleep, you should avoid watching screens at least an hour (preferably two hours) before bed.
Instead, try some gentle stretching, breathe some fresh air by taking a light walk around the block, or sit out on the deck and do a few minutes of quiet meditation. Taking 10 minutes to yourself in a quiet space before you retire for the night is a great way to settle and calm your body and mind which will aid better sleep.
If you're going to read, make it a paperback book (not on Kindle).
For serious relaxation before you hit the hay, enjoy a long soak in a salt bath, dim the lights and light a candle in the bathroom.
Magnesium (the mineral in bath salts) helps you sleep, and when you combine this with the muscle soothing, mind unwinding benefits of warm water, it's a match made in dreamland.
Tip: Try our Magnesium Bath Flakes for a healthy hit of magnesium.
Learn more in Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Remedies
2. Sleep In A Cool Room
If you've ever tried to get a good night's sleep in the humidity, you know that it's impossible. You're restless, tossing and turning all night. Humans sleep best in cooler, comfortable temperatures.
Avoid sleeping with the air conditioning on and the windows closed. Whilst you sleep, wherever possible you should be breathing electrified, moving air.
Crack the windows if you have security grills and turn on the ceiling fan or box fan at light speed to ensure that you're absorbing moving - not stale, stagnant air.
In winter, simply put on some warmer pyjamas and blankets (those made from natural, breathable fabrics, like cotton, are the best), but still follow the same 'moving air' rule.
3. Use Essential Oils
Lavender has long been lauded as the reigning essential oil for relaxation. This makes it one of the best natural ways to promote sleep and improve its quality.
There are many ways to infuse your pre-bed routine with lavender. You can add a 2-3 drops to a bath, diffuse it next your bed, or place a couple of drops onto your pillow.
You can also gently massage a few drops onto the balls of your feet and temples before you go to bed.
A word of caution: ensure your lavender oil is a 100% pure and high quality therapeutic grade oil, which is why we use and recommend dōTERRA Lavender Essential Oil.
dōTERRA also has a proprietary oil blend called Lavender Peace, (referred to as "The Oil of Tranquility"), which has been infused with wonderful sleep-promoting oils like, Ylang Ylang, Roman Chamomile and Sandalwood. This is a uniquely calming blend of oils.
Many lesser quality essential oils contain chemicals and artificial perfumes, which can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions - so choose your essential oils carefully.
Learn more in How to Sleep Better with Essential Oils
4. Move Your Body
We all know that movement and exercise is critical to overall long term health.
It also greatly impacts the quality and duration of sleep you'll experience.
The more rigorous the exercise - especially outdoors - the more it will improve your sleep, so get outside and move, if not every day, at least a few times each week.
Don’t panic! You don’t have to run a marathon or sign up for a true grit event! You can keep it low impact - just do the exercises you enjoy and can stay consistent with e.g. brisk walking, light jogging, cycling, swimming and yoga all work...just be sure to get your heart rate up a little and break a light sweat.
As for duration, as little as 20-30 minutes of exercise six days a week (or two hours of exercise overall) has been shown to significantly bolster overall health, including your sleep.
Also, if you can exercise in the morning sun, you'll give your body a chance to absorb much needed Vitamin D.
In addition to protecting your body against heart disease and a long list of cancers, vitamin D has been shown to increase your sleep quality, making it one of our best natural ways to promote sleep.
Learn more in 7 Key Reasons You Need Sunlight
5. Sleep In Complete Darkness
Do you sleep in complete darkness? If not, it’s time to start.
Sleeping in pitch black room promotes the best rest, allowing your mind to enter a deep slumber, with no distractions.
When we speak of complete darkness, we mean your room should be so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of your face.
Tips for darkening your room:
- Draw the blinds and curtains
- Turn off or turn away electronics with light displays to sleep mode
- Turn off the light down the hall way
6. Fall Asleep In Your Bedroom
This final tip may seem obvious to some, but for the multitudes of people who are falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV every night, it’s a vital tip.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little quality time with your favourite show, it should never come at the expense of your health.
Instead, put your tech to good use. Set an alarm on your phone for a time that will allow you at least an hour to start your screen-free bedtime routine. So, if you need to be asleep at 10pm to get the eight hours of sleep you need, set your alarm for 8pm or 8:30pm. During this time, you can disconnect, perform your pre-bed rituals, and start making your way to your bedroom.
Think of it as sleep hygiene 101: your bedroom is your sacred, relaxation and recuperation space and everything in your bedroom should serve to support that quality sleep: the cool temperature, the book waiting bedside, the blackout curtains, the lavender diffuser. But, to reap the rewards you need to retire in the bedroom not on the couch!
The best natural ways to promote sleep aren’t expensive and they require very little time commitment - just a few conscious habitual adjustments.
If you suffer from a lack of sleep, sleep-related ailments or you're constantly exhausted, the above tips should serve to help you get on the path to higher quality sleep.
And the impact of this on a consistent basis in your overall life cannot be underestimated.
Tolman Self Care.