Getting a good night’s rest in today’s dynamic world, for many people, is a big struggle. According to statistics by the National Sleep Foundation, the average sleep lasts approximately 6.5 hours, yet the recommended number of hours is anywhere between 7 and 9 hours. Granted, this is just a guideline and there are many variables that affect an individual’s ability to get adequate sleep. A number of people are not often lucky, and may require help getting better sleep.
This is very important because poor sleeping has the ability to interfere with the body’s natural functions. Over a period of time, one gets what is referred to as a sleep debt. Failure to revert the condition predisposes the individual to poor productivity, increased blood pressure, mood swings and related health problems such as obesity. Depending on whether there are any underlying conditions, the solution to better sleep may involve medication (the use of sleeping pills) or natural remedies.
The latter are preferred because they have minimal side effects, and do not pose the risk of dependency. Below are some of the natural remedies for better sleep. It is important to note that unlike sleeping pills, these natural remedies take some time to start seeing results. You need to be consistent for the remedies to be effective. Additionally, for herbal remedies, it is vital to check with your doctor if you have any underlying conditions or are on some medication.
1. Valerian Herb:
Time Required: Varies depending on the method of preparation.
What You Need: Valerian tea (may be brewed as a tea, taken as tincture or even as a capsule). For the tea you will need 1 teaspoon of Valerian root (dried), a strainer and 2 cups of water.
Valerian tea is one of the most effective home remedies for better sleep. This natural sleeping aid has been known to help reduce the amount of times a person wakes up while helping them sleep faster. Valerian is thought to work by increasing the production of GABA (Gamma amino butyric acid) in the body. GABA not only allows the proper functioning of the nerve cells, it also has an incredibly calming effect on the body. This, as expected, is known to help get better sleep. It is no surprise therefore, that Valerian is used in many herbal combinations for the management of anxiety and to get better sleep. This remedy may be used in different ways: as a tincture, in capsule form or brewed as tea. Use the simple steps below to get the most out of the herb.
Preparing Valerian Tea:
- Fill one cup with hot water to warm it up. This is done to ensure the potency of the tea is maintained in the brewed tea.
- Next, place the Valerian root in a pan and add the other cup of boiling hot water.
- You may use an infusion device if you have one.
- Cover the cup and let the herb steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cover and strain the tea.
- You may add honey to sweeten the tea or opt to add fresh milk for a flavorful cup of Valerian tea.
- Alternatively, purchase the tincture or Valerian capsules from the nearest chemist and use at least once daily before bedtime.
2. Chamomile Tea:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers (if you use fresh flowers, take 1/8 cup to retain the potency of the remedy) or 2 chamomile milk tea bags, 1 teapot, 2 cups of water and honey. Milk or fresh lemon juice are optional additions.
Chamomile tea has long been associated with its ability to help insomniacs get better sleep. It has an array of benefits that make it a perfect herbal remedy for a good night’s rest. Studies show that the tea contains a compound known as apigenin. When introduced to the body, this compound attaches itself to the GABA receptors.
The resulting effect is that the body slows down and one is able to fall asleep with ease. A different school of thought opines that chamomile tea works as a sedative, but whichever the case, the truth is that chamomile tea helps one get better sleep. You may purchase chamomile teabags from the store for easy preparation, or you may opt to brew your own tea fresh as described in the simple steps below.
NOTE: The German variety is a preferred option when preparing the tea. You may use either fresh flowers or dried flowers, but note that for the fresh flowers, you will need a higher quantity to ensure that the potency remains the same. Additionally, when using fresh flowers, ensure that you only use the flower heads. Discard the stems of the flowers.
Freshly brewed Chamomile Tea:
- Place you flowers (whether fresh or dried) in a teapot and set aside.
- In a separate pot, heat 2 cups of water to boiling point and then turn off the heat.
- Pour the boiling hot water over the flowers in the teapot and then allow to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain the mixture to get rid of the used leaves and [proceed to add some honey which is a natural sweetener.
- At this point you may also add some warm milk or squeeze in fresh lemon juice to improve the tea.
- Drink the tea daily preferably an hour or so before bedtime for better sleep.
Preparing the Chamomile Tea using teabags:
- Heat a cup of water until it boils before placing the chamomile tea bags in it.
- Cover the cup and let it steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Add some warm milk and stir in the honey.
- Settle down for a relaxing cup of chamomile tea and drink your way to better sleep each night.
3. Aromatherapy Using Lavender:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Lavender oil for topical application. 2 six inch squares of cheesecloth (may be replaced by thin cotton), thread, needle, ribbon, pair of scissors and dried lavender flowers are required for the sachet.
The essence of aromatherapy is to allow an individual to fall in a relaxed state of mind and create a sense of drowsiness that makes it easy to fall asleep. Research shows that different scents evoked different sensations. Lavender is a popular choice in the world of aromatherapy, which is why it is recommended for anyone who needs better sleep. there are two ways to go about this remedy: you may either use the oil for massage purposes, or opt to prepare a sachet which you can keep under your bed to help you fall asleep easily and have a good night’s rest.
- Apply the lavender oil topically on the skin and massage in gentle circular motions. The aroma of the oil should help you sleep better.
- Alternatively, prepare a lavender sachet which you will place under your pillow to help you drift off to sleep easily. Below are the simple directions you will need to follow:
i) Place the 2 square pieces of fabric on top of each other, making sure that the patterned side faces inwards. This is an important step because after subsequent steps, you will need to turn the pack inside out to reveal its design.
ii) Start by sewing the pieces all round, leaving one of the four sides untouched as this will form the opening of the sachet and provide space for where you will place the dried lavender. The most important thing is to ensure that there are no gaps in the sewn sections.
iii) Once the sewing is done, turn the material inside out so that the coloured side is visible.
iv) Add the dried lavender and remember to leave ample space to allow you tie a secure knot and keep the sachet’s contents intact.
v) You may add a few drops of the lavender oil to enhance the remedy’s effects for better sleep. While this is optional, the power of the oil is known to improve the remedy’s efficiency.
vi) Use a string or ribbon to tie the bag as tightly as possible.
vii) Place the lavender sachet under your pillow, below your bedding or even on your bedside table to allow the aroma to spread for some much-needed sleep.
viii) Having prepared this sachet, you may incorporate other herbs used in aromatherapy. Chamomile for instance, is an excellent addition, thanks to its aforementioned health benefits.
4. Lemon Balm Tea:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 2 Tablespoons of dried lemon balm, 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile, 2 cups of water and honey to taste.
Lemon balm is an ancient herbal remedy that has long been used to treat varied conditions. Among its benefits, is the herb’s ability to calm and relax the body and improve one’s sleep. The balm’s mild sedative effects come in handy in making it easy to fall asleep without the typical side effects of different medicines available in the market. it is very important to know that high doses of lemon balm, however, may increase one’s anxiety and this has the direct opposite intended effect. Prepare a cup of lemon balm tea by following the simple steps below.
- Place the dried herb in a pan and pour in the water.
- Boil the mixture for a few minutes and then turn off the heat and let it steep for 5 minutes.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer and add some honey to taste.
- Take a cup of lemon balm tea once every night to get better sleep.
5. Saint John’s Wort:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of dried Saint John’s Wort, 2 cups of boiled water, honey/lemon to taste.
Saint John’s wort is a popular home remedy, and just like lemon balm, helps those with disrupted sleep get better sleep. The main active ingredient in this herb is hypercine. Hypercine has been linked to increased melatonin, one of the substances the body produces to improve sleep patterns. You may use the herb by preparing the tea or using it in capsule form. Use the dried form of this herb to get the best results.
- Place the herb in a cup and pour boiling water over it.
- Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes before straining and drinking.
- Use this remedy once daily, preferably an hour before bedtime to allow the effects to settle in.
6. Warm Milk:
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: 1 Glass of warm milk.
While warm milk may not make you sleepy, at least not in terms of a chemical reaction, this is still one of those simple home remedies that you can use to get better sleep. The psychological effects of using milk are thought to have an excellent effect on one’s sleeping patterns. It is thought that the warmth of the milk has a soothing effect on the body that helps one relax both physically and mentally. Add to this the fact that making a glass of warm milk a routine at bedtime allows the body to stay in tune with good sleeping patterns.
- Simply enjoy a glass of warm milk at least half an hour before bedtime. In line with these changes, take some time to unwind to make it easy to get better sleep at night.
Time Required: 10 Min preparation and overnight soaking.
What You Need: 2 Tablespoon of dried hops, 4 cups of hot boiling water and a glass jar with a lid.
For many people, the word hops brings to mind beer, but you would actually be surprised to learn that hops are actually a great remedy for better sleep. Hops are the female flowers used in the process of beer making. Best known for its ability to calm the nerves and enhance relaxation, hops are a great remedy. The most important thing to note is that hops are not beneficial in the form of beer; instead, dried hops are steeped to make a cup of relaxing tea to be taken around bedtime. Prepare the remedy by following the simple steps below.
- Put the hops in the glass jar and then pour boiling water into the jar.
- Let the mixture steep overnight to get the most out of the remedy.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer and then reheat it.
- Drink 1 cup of the hops at least half an hour before bedtime for better sleep.
- Refrigerate the remainder for 2 days and discard any remaining hops after that.
8. Magnesium Supplements:
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: Magnesium supplements.
Magnesium supplements are one of the most important minerals in the body, yet for a good number of people who do not get good sleep, there is often a deficiency of this mineral. Magnesium is key to better sleep because it plays a key role in the optimal function of the GABA receptors. GABA is the main chemical in the nervous system that helps relax the body and prepare for sleep. While GABA is not a magical solution to easy sleep daily, you can be certain you will struggle when there is a deficiency in the body. Increasing the amount of magnesium in the body is helpful, but at the onset, supplements may help a great deal too. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about the effects of the supplements or if you are taking other medication.
- Follow the dosing indicated on the package.
In addition to the aforementioned phone remedies, it helps to create a bedtime routine that helps your body prepare to sleep. Reducing screen time is also key if the above remedies are to help you get better sleep. All screens, TV, laptops and smartphone screens are major culprits in disrupting sleep, and must be avoided at all costs. Remember, if you still are unable to get better sleep after taking these measures, and it interferes with your daily routines, you need to seek medical attention to eliminate undiagnosed conditions.