5 Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Join the club.
More than one third of Americans don’t get the sleep they need. If you’re one of them, then you know that a lack of sleep can have a profound effect on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Aside from breathing and eating, sleep is one of the most important processes there is. And its absence can lead to some serious physiological (and psychological) consequences.
The Significant Problem of Sleep Loss
If you have trouble sleeping, you’re certainly not alone.
Modern society, according to Professor Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep at University of California, Berkeley, is in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic.”
These days, not many people are getting the sleep they need. While lack of sleep affects people worldwide, it’s Americans for the win. According to the New York Times, fewer people than ever before in industrialized countries are getting adequate sleep.
In the US, sleep deprivation is associated with more than $400 billion in loss each year. Japan comes in second, but only loses some $138 billion annually from sleepless workers. In the UK, the “catastrophic sleep loss epidemic” costs the UK economy almost $40 billion a year in lost revenue” (approximately 2% of GDP).
In the developed world, the number of people that aren’t getting enough sleep is steadily on the rise. Research shows that 20-30% of workers in the developed world complain about sleep loss on a daily basis.
It seems our fast-paced, modern lifestyles come with a serious cost.
The Negative Consequences of Sleep Loss
Just how important is getting a good night’s sleep?
Walker says that lack of sleep affects “every aspect of our biology.” Think our immune system, growth and stress hormones, appetite, cardiovascular health, internal organ function, breathing, blood pressure, and more.
Sleep helps you think more clearly and improves focus, while lack of sleep can significantly decrease attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and reasoning. People that don’t get enough sleep are less productive at work, are at a considerably higher risk for traffic accidents, are more likely to suffer from depression, and often experience relationship conflict. Lack of sleep can even kill your sex drive.
If that wasn’t enough, lack of sleep is linked to some very serious health problems. Are you ready for this? Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, irregular heartbeat, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, cancer, and more.
Thinking About Popping a Sleeping Pill? You Might Want to Think Again…
Seeing that sleep loss has reached epidemic proportions, it’s no wonder that Americans spend more than $3 billion on prescription sleeping pills, over-the-counter sleep aids, and herbal sleep supplements each year. Sleep supplements are big business and are predicted to be worth more than $101 billion globally by 2023.
Here’s the thing though, prescription sedatives that are often prescribed for sleep don’t necessarily work as well as intended.
They’re also associated with some rather serious health risks. Research shows that prescription sleeping pills can lead to infections, depression, suicide, cancer, excessive mortality rates, falls, traffic accidents, and more.
OTC sleeping medications aren’t quite as dangerous, but they’re not exactly good for you. One of the primary ingredients in OTC sleeping pills is antihistamine diphenhydramine, which can definitely help people fall asleep but is associated with some risks of its own. The use of diphenhydramine can increase daytime sleepiness, cause constipation and other digestive problems, and can negatively affect the heart. It’s even associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are far more natural ways to improve sleep that aren’t associated with these horrible side effects.
Sleep is something that should come naturally…and there are actually several natural ways to help you get the sleep you need. If you’re someone who could use some help when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, consider the following to improve your sleep the way nature intended.
5 Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep
- Create a Sleep Schedule
Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning can do wonders to improve your sleep. This includes the weekends. While you don’t necessarily have to get up at 6am on a Saturday, sticking to the same sleep schedule every day will create a natural circadian rhythm that regulates your internal sleep-wake cycle.
- Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary
One of the easiest natural ways to improve your sleep is to make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Invest in bedding you love. By some blackout curtains. Keeping the temperature between 60-66 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, as one’s thermal environment is considered one of the most important aspects of sleep regulation.
The only thing the bedroom should be used for is sleeping and sex. Any other distractions (including your phone, TV, laptop, or tablet) should be removed from the bedroom immediately.
- Cut Out Screen Time at Least Two Hours Before Bed
It’s suggested that evening screen time can sabotage a good night’s sleep. The thing is, the majority of people are glued to their phones and other electronic devices 24/7. If mindlessly scrolling through social media before bed sounds at all familiar, it’s something you need to stop if you want to naturally improve your sleep.
Exposure to blue light emitted from screens during the two hours can significantly disrupt the sleep we do get. Research indicates that blue light disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Not only does it make us more alert (making it harder to fall asleep) but also cuts out about 16 minutes of sleep and causes us to wake up more during the night.
- Supplement with CBD
Here’s something. CBD could help you get the sleep you need. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, it was discovered that about 10% of Americans who use CBD say they use it to help them sleep. And most of them say it works.
While there have been few clinical studies that prove CBD’s effectiveness on getting a good night’s sleep, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests the non-psychoactive cannabinoid could be exactly the natural remedy one needs to quit counting sheep and actually get to sleep.
A 2017 review, for example, found that preliminary research suggests CBD could have therapeutic potential in the treatment of insomnia. A 2014 review highlighted the potential CBD has to modulate the sleep-wake cycle. And while CBD is generally considered a wake-promoting agent, research shows that high doses of CBD could help with insomnia.
Something else to consider? One of the biggest benefits of CBD has shown to be for helping to manage symptoms of anxiety, which is something that can easily lead to sleep disturbances. If you suffer from anxiety and can’t sleep because of it, CBD could help you in more ways than one. To learn more about CBD, click here.
- Get Regular Exercise
Did you know that getting regular exercise can help people with insomnia fall asleep faster? There are actually several studies that suggest regular exercise (think walking for 150 minutes every week) can significantly improve the sleep of individual’s that suffer from chronic insomnia.
While it’s not completely understood exactly how exercise helps promote a better night’s sleep, the National Sleep Foundation suggests several possibilities. One is by decreasing anxiety and depression, as exercise has shown to be effective for both. Another is by balancing out one’s circadian rhythms.
According to Penelope Larsen, lead author of a recent sleep and exercise study in Australia, “Getting regular exercise helps you sleep better. It increases the good neurotransmitters that increase sleep drive. You feel better when you exercise.”
Final Thoughts on Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is more vital than many people realize.
While you don’t tend to think much about it until you’re not getting enough of it, once sleep eludes you it’s pretty much all you can think about.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that isn’t getting enough sleep, there are plenty of natural ways to help improve your sleep.
We’ve shared these particular tips on naturally getting a good night’s sleep because they’ve shown to work for countless individuals who have trouble sleeping, ourselves included.
While everyone’s different when it comes to sleep, these popular natural sleep solutions could just soothe your soul into the best night’s sleep possible.