Sleep can be one of the most elusive necessities of life. Each person falls asleep in their own way and at their own time. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep you are not alone. As many as 60 million people in the US have difficulty falling asleep.
To remedy the situation, some people make themselves stay up late until they are forced to fall asleep. Others in the sleepless category may work weird hours that turns their sleep cycle upside down. Regardless of the reasons, not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to the way you function throughout the day causing your body to be more susceptible to illness or other like maladies.
The quality of sleep you get is even more important than how much sleep you get. How well you actually rest during sleep can have a dramatic effect on how you feel when awake. Mix and match some of the following tips in this in-depth article and learn which ones help you feel more productive, increase your mental sharpness and improve the sleep you do get during the night.
All Organic Daily Post tips contained in this article are well researched and designed to offer our readers safe and effective ways to catch a good-night's-sleep. However, if you have any questions or aren't sure if a product is right for you, please contact the manufacturer directly with your specific concerns. If your concern is medical, please consult a health care professional before undertaking any regimen.
Support Your Body’s Natural Rhythms
One of the most important strategies to improving your sleep is getting in-sync with your body. Each body has its own rhythms. Our heart beats in rhythm, our blood flows in rhythm and we breathe rhythmically. Another rhythm innate in us is our circadian rhythm. That's the one that tells us when to sleep and when to awake. This innate natural rhythm is set at birth and not only controls when we sleep, rise, and eat, it is connected to many other physiological processes.
The No Snooze Z-z-zone
People may experience trouble sleeping when life's schedule doesn't coincide with when their body is telling them to rest. Our natural sleep pattern is important and related in numerous ways to our everyday activities and how well we function in our daily tasks.
By forming the habit of going to sleep every night at the same time and waking up at the same hour each day, it will both optimize the quality of sleep we get while setting the body’s internal clock. Try to choose a bedtime that coincides with when you normally feel tired enough to sleep. We tend to wake up naturally when we are getting enough sleep.
If you really want to fall asleep at a scheduled time and wake up at a consistent time then make a concerted effort to avoid sleeping-in when you get the chance. By having different sleep times between the week and the weekend, you are more likely to experience jet-lag like symptoms and have difficulty getting back into your regular sleep pattern. Consistency is the key. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule will keep your body's circadian rhythm operating properly and sleep will come more naturally to you.
If you are experiencing difficulty falling and staying asleep throughout the night, taking naps can actually make things worse. While a nap is a good way to make up for missed sleep, it shouldn't be a substitute. Try to limit naps to between 15 and 20 minutes in length and nap early in the afternoon.
If you find yourself getting tired long before bedtime, do something mildly stimulating. Giving in and going to sleep early may result in you waking up throughout the night and then have trouble falling back to sleep.
There is much more you can do to get a better night's sleep but let's shift gears for a moment. Before we go any deeper and begin laying out some key measures you can take to help yourself fall asleep faster, we want to broaden this article to include Essential Oils (EOs).
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Aroma Therapy & Sleep
Essential oils have been used effectively for centuries to reduce stress, ease tensions and create an overall state of calming quiescence. The properties contained in the rich bouquet emanating from essential oils can have a soothing effect on both body and mind and has proven quite effective at helping induce sleep.
Essential Oils and Sleep
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Instructions for Using Essential Oils to Sleep Better
Determine Your Preferred EO or EO Blend
The ability to smell is a powerful sense. Different smells can affect people in different ways. Scents and fragrances are a personal preference and one that is heavenly to you may be a real turn-off to the person beside you. You may discover that some scents pep you up while others may lay you back. Therefore, experiment with what oils work best for you in a given situation.
Here are some proven favorites.
Top Essential Oils for Facilitating Sleep
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What You Will Need to Begin
Blending essential oils requires:
- Essential oils
- Mixing bowl
- A sealable jar or container
Items needed for soaking:
- Essential oil or oil blend
- Epsom salts (optional)
Items needed for a massage oil:
- Essential oil or oil blend
- Carrier oil or unscented lotion
Items needed for a spray:
- Essential oil or oil blend
- Spray bottle-atomizer or spritzer
Deciding Which Method Works Best For You
The ways in which one uses essential oils for sleep vary from person to person. You may be a warm-bath person and enjoy a fragrance-infused soak before bed. You may prefer an essential oil massage. So be it a warm bath, a nice massage or merely the essence of your favorite fragrance wafting through the air from a diffuser, how you experience the benefits of essential oils is totally your call to make.
Soaking in a hot tub with essential oils before bed can be very relaxing and put you in a peaceful state of mind. For an essential oil soak, fill the tub with hot water. While the water is running add several drops of your favorite oil and then slip into heaven. For aching muscles, you can also add some Epsom salts to enhance the relaxing nature of your bath. Not only will you emerge feeling tension free and more relaxed, the scent will remain on your skin and continue giving you its sweet, sleepy benefits all night long.
Diffusing Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils is a great way to reap the benefits of them. You can use either a diffuser to get the aroma into the air around you, or even cotton balls. Cotton balls work nicely as they hold the scent without getting you wet. Just add a few drops of EO onto the cotton ball and place it near you at bedtime. You can also put it inside of your pillowcase to enjoy as you sleep. It is possible that some oils may stain the pillowcase so use an old case or test for staining in a small area of the fabric beforehand.
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Massage is an excellent way to relax before bed. You can create your own signature blend of massage oils to help induce good night's sleep. You’ll just need to use a carrier oil or unscented lotion that is mixed with your favorite EO to prevent any potential irritation from applying undiluted essential oils to your skin.
Coconut oil is popular as a carrier oil for making massage oils. Unscented lotion is another good option because it’s all ready for you and you'll just need to add some fragrance to it with a few drops of EO. It goes on smoothly and smells delicious.
A spritz of essential oils from a sprayer is a nice way to get your sheets ready for bed and you ready to hit the sheets. Lightly scenting your bed will allow you to enjoy its fragrance overnight. You may find it best to spritz your bed a short time before bedtime to avoid lying on damp sheets. Create your spritz by filling up a spray bottle with water, and adding a few drops of your essential oil or oil blend. Lightly shake the bottle to mix. Before spraying your bed nightly, you’ll also want to continue with the light shake to make sure that it stays evenly mixed. You know, oil and water. You can even spritz yourself if you'd like (avoid spraying around the eyes).
A Word of Caution
Please be aware that certain essential oils might be an irritant to the skin if they aren’t diluted. Be sure to test a small patch of skin first before applying elsewhere. Again, be careful around the eyes.
Step by Step Instructions for Blending Your Favorite Essential Oils
Step 1: Ingredients
Create an oil blend by collecting the different essential oils you’d like to experiment with along with the other necessary materials listed in this article.
Step 2: Mixing Oils
Blend them together in a small bowl in equal amounts or with a splash of one and a dash of another. Experiment. It's fun to create your own personal fragrances. Mix well.
Step 3: Write Down Your Recipes
Be sure to write down the correct amount of each oil used to create your special blend. You may find the perfect one while experimenting but later not remember exactly how you made it. Was it two drops of that or three of that one? Write it down.
Step 4: Storage of Your Blended Oil
Pour your mixture into a sealable storage container or glass bottle and store in a cool, dark place.
Refrigeration isn't necessary but it won't hurt the oils if you do chill them.
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The use of essential oils can be quite beneficial on their own and even more effective when used in conjunction with other sleep inducing practices as the ones forthcoming in this article.
Follow this link to learn how to use essential oils for sleep.
Back to the Beginning
Let's pick up where we left off and introduce you to some time tested practices that when initiated, have proven to help with insomnia or difficulty in falling asleep.
There are several ways to induce a good night's sleep but first things first. This first helpful hint is paramount to forming a regular sleep pattern. Go to bed as close to the same time, every time. Wake up at the same time. When you do this with regularity you reset your circadian rhythm. Changing mattresses may help also. Many find an organic mattress helps them to fall asleep faster.
In order to actually get to a rest stage you must first unwind. Mentally and physically. So avoid stimulating digital screens before bed. Relax, be quiet. Read a book (a real book-no glare).
Light & Dark
Your sleep-wake cycle is aided by melatonin, which is controlled by light exposure. Darkness causes your brain to secrete more of this natural sleep aid. A darker environment is conducive to better sleep.
Catch some bright sunlight in the morning if you can. The sooner you can get some sunshine after waking up the more productive the melatonin will be. If you're stuck inside, allow as much sunlight in your home or work area as possible. Take a sunny walk when you can.
Avoid bright light video display screens the closer it gets to bedtime. A good rule of thumb is stop viewing within two hours of your established bedtime. Your TV, phone, tablet, and computer screens can be especially disruptive as they excite the brain. If these devices must be used, at least turn down the brightness level on the screen. Avoid watching television right before bed. Many programs will stimulate your body instead of relaxing it. The blue light from the screen may also suppress your melatonin.
One of the easiest ways to minimize your exposure to the blue light spectrum that comes from electronics and disturbs your sleep is to wear blue-blocking glasses. This method is recommended by Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Diet fame. The glasses below can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon and can significantly improve the quality of your sleep if you use them in the hours leading up to your bed time.
Glasses that block harmful blue light from electronics.
When it comes time for bed, make sure the bedroom is dark. If the curtains or blinds don't block out enough light, consider using a sleep mask Sleep masks have proven to be very efficacious in blocking out light while creating a darkened state for better sleeping.
Get Some Regular Exercise
People who exercise on a regular basis are known to have both more energy throughout the day and better sleep at night. Exercising will also increase the amount of time spent in the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. However, not everyone is able or even wants to exercise daily. Even so, just a light exercise such as a brief walk or even straightening up the house a little at a brisk pace can improve the quality of your sleep. Focus on developing an exercise routine you will be able to stick to and remember the importance of patience.
Start slowly and build up your stamina. Consistency of whatever it is you can do is what's most important, not how heavily you exercise. If you can pop a little sweat...all the better.
Your metabolism will speed up as a result of your activity causing your body temperature to rise and hormones such as cortisol will be stimulated. This is productive if done through the morning or afternoon, but it might interfere with your sleep if done too late in the evening. Try to complete any serious exercise at least 3 hours before you want to go to bed. If you still have a difficult time falling asleep, schedule your workouts even earlier in the day if possible.
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Be Smart About the Food and Liquid You Consume
The quality of sleep you get can also be affected by your eating and drinking habits; especially as bed time approaches. The following are a few things to consider.
- Limit the amount of caffeine you consume. Sleep problems can be created by consuming caffeine even several hours before you are ready for bed
- Avoid larger portions at nighttime meals. By simply avoiding rich foods within 2-3 hours of bedtime, you will sleep better at night and heartburn resulting from acidic or spicy foods can be greatly reduced
- Try avoiding alcohol and other liquids right before you to go to bed. While a couple relaxing cocktails may help relieve stress, when consumed too late in the evening they also have the ability to interfere with your sleep by you having to get up and down to use the restroom
Clear Your Head and Wind Down
Being unable to sleep or repeatedly waking up during the night can often be the result of pent up anger, worry or stress. We have to practice being a Master of our thoughts and not a slave to them.
By learning how to handle stress in a positive way, effectively managing our time and maintaining a calm and positive outlook, we will be able to sleep better at night naturally.
Slowing down your brain can be difficult at night after it having been so stimulated all day long. Take 10-15 minutes each afternoon to just relax and meditate on positive things. This will help keep your brain from growing accustomed to seeking stimulation which will make it easier for you to unwind in the day and sleep better at night.
Improve Your Sleep Environment
Your brain will receive a strong signal that the day is coming to an end and it is time to start relaxing when you follow a peaceful bedtime routine. The quality of your sleep can be greatly affected for the better with a few simple changes to the atmosphere in which you sleep.
If uncontrollable noise is an issue, such as traffic or other stimulus, a running fan can really help block or absorb some of the sound. Another simple fix is earplugs.
A cooler room and a firm mattress will also help you sleep better. Sleep can be interfered with when the temperature of a room is either too high or too low.
Limit your activities in bed. Use the bed for bed stuff. When you stop watching television, using a computer, or working in bed, your brain will grow accustomed to the fact that getting into bed is a sign it's time for sleep and not for getting stimulated (most times). You really can retrain your brain.
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Waking up briefly throughout the night is normal, but if you have difficulty falling back asleep these tips may help you.
Although it may be difficult, try not to worry or create stress if you can't fall right back to sleep. Frustration will only add to the inability of your body to fall asleep again.
Do not focus so much on getting back to sleep, instead, make it your goal to simply relax. If you relax, Nature will do the rest.
If you have been awake for more than 15 minutes and are still struggling to fall back asleep, get out of bed and do something non-stimulating such as reading.
You need to get the right amount of sleep to be the best you. Create the optimum sleep environment for yourself using the essential oils that will help put you in the right state of mind for sleep and by trying some of the suggestions outlined in this article. Barring some underlying medical cause, the combination of these two (2) disciplines should have you sleeping like a baby before you know it.
It may take some time to find the perfect oil or blend of oils and what exercise works best for you, but it will be well worth it when you do discover that magical combination and start getting the good and restful sleep you need.