We are only beginning to understand how important sleep is for our health but our understanding about sleep is still very shallow because we really don't know how great sleeping can be and the quality health benefits attached to it, but we already know that sleep is important for proper hormone function, blood sugar regulation, cell regeneration, and much more.
The Best Natural Sleep Remedies (That Really Work)
We may have seen so many articles with natural sleep remedies that include many of the basic things like avoiding caffeine, regular exercise, and creating a good sleep environment. These things are all definitely important, but there are so many people who have tried all of those things and still struggle with sleep.
For those who have tried creating a normal sleep routine, using magnesium oil, creating a completely dark bedroom, and even taking supplements, but still can’t sleep, these unusual sleep remedies may help.
Of course, anyone with a serious or long-lasting sleep problem should also find a good doctor or functional medicine doctor who specializes in sleep to make sure there isn’t a deeper issue.
These unusual natural sleep remedies are extremely effective, but they aren’t often recommended. The good news is, they are all either very inexpensive or free, so they are worth a try!
Put Your Feet Up – The Right Way
Many of us are standing, walking, or (hopefully not) sitting for most of the day. As a result, blood and lymph fluid can collect in the legs.
Swelling of the legs is more often noticeable during pregnancy or if there is an underlying medical condition. If you’ve had kids, did you notice your feet and ankles being slightly more tired/sore/swollen at night when you were pregnant?
An inversion of some type can help reverse this. You don’t have to be a yoga master to get the benefits of inversion, either.
Remedy: The simple and free remedy is to just put your feet up for 15-30 minutes at night. The two ways that seem to be most effective are lying on the ground and resting the feet on a couch or chair at a 90-degree angle. You may also lie on the ground or bed and rest the legs straight up against the wall (more difficult).
Honey and Salt
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, salt can help lower cortisol levels and balance blood sugar levels, which is what you want at night for restful sleep. Natural sugars can help by elevating insulin slightly, which helps lower cortisol (this is one of the reasons doctors suggests consuming carbohydrates at night and not in the morning if you are trying to balance hormones).
Carbohydrates of any kind may also help tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier and improve melatonin production.
What to Do: Combine a tiny amount (1/2 teaspoon) of a natural sugar (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.) with a sprinkle of natural salt and consume 15-20 minutes before bed. Alternately, stir the mixture into a cup of chamomile tea and add a teaspoon of gelatin powder (optional).
Deep Breathing in a 4-7-8 Pattern
This is a natural sleep remedy. It basically involves a slow and patterned breathing that helps oxygenate the blood and promote relaxation. Recent information suggests that it may help the body shift from sympathetic nervous activity which puts you in a fight or flight mode, to a parasympathetic nervous activity which makes you recover and relaxed. Either way, it is a quick and simple technique that seems to really help promote restful sleep and that doesn’t cost a thing.
What to Do:
Sitting in a relaxed position or lying down, breathe in through the nose as you count to four.
Hold your breath as you count to seven.
Slowly exhale through your mouth as you count to eight.
Repeat 3-4 times or until you feel relaxed.
This unusual remedy comes highly recommended in online reviews but has some scientific backing as well. Studies show that it may help with insomnia, improve melatonin levels, and reduce inflammation to promote restful sleep. It may even help improve how long we sleep.
Researchers from Louisiana State University had seven older adults with insomnia drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks of no juice, and then two more weeks of drinking a placebo beverage. Compared to the placebo, drinking the cherry juice resulted in an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time each night.
Of course we know exercise is good for us, but the time you exercise could help you sleep deeper at night. Sleep expert Shawn Stevenson shared in his podcast episode that even 4 minutes of exercise in the morning can reset the cortisol cycle to its natural levels. In studies, exercising in the morning resulted in a 25% reduction in blood pressure at night and improved melatonin production (the hormone that helps us sleep).