To get a night of natural, peaceful sleep starts way before you rest your head on the pillow. You certainly won’t be able to doze off after watching an adrenalin rushing movie, experience some major upset, being stressed out or with the buzz of technology still ringing in your ears. There are some basic products you can take and practices you can follow, but, for the most part it has to do with repetition. Find your ritual and stick to it – every night…!
Firstly, you could practice Feng Shui, the philosophy that instructs on how to arrange your room, furniture etc., to maximize good energy flow. Help the flow by keeping the air pure, preferably with open windows. Keep your bed easily accessible and approachable from all sides. Ban the stress of clutter and unfinished business out of the bedroom. Face your bed towards the door so that you don’t become anxious about closing your eyes.
Practice the art of Meditation. It will help clear your racing mind and slow down breathing. You could even do breathing exercises whilst already in bed. There are some excellent instructional videos on this topic on the Internet if you don’t care to take formal lessons.
Listen to Calming Music while getting ready for bed, it reduces brain activity and slows down breathing. The song currently claiming to be the most relaxing song is “Weightless” by Marconi Union, however I find the “Meditation mantras (Singing Birds)” by Tibetan Singing Bowls and Crystal Bowls most calming.
The chemicals that induce restful sleep, serotonin, melatonin, 5-hydroxy L-Tryptophan, and tryptophan are all related. To start the process, you need to consume tryptophan (an essential amino acid), which is converted to 5-HTP and then to serotonin, which converts to melatonin – the magic that lets your biological clock know it’s time to sleep or to get up. Melatonin is released more when its dark and less as it grows lighter, henceforth the reason for curtains that let light through with daybreak and also the reason to mask electronic and, or artificial light in your bedroom. As tryptophan is the only amino acid that converts to serotonin, it is also the only one that can ultimately increase your melatonin levels which, as you know controls sleep and lowers body temperature.
The correct dietary lifestyle for the above-mentioned reason is of the utmost importance. Food that contain Tryptophan is milk (to a lesser extent) (warm), bananas and cherries (juice or neat), so consumption of these will raise the melatonin levels in your body.
Effective beverages to consider would be, Chamomile tea with milk and honey, drink fresh or dried Catnip that has steeped for 10 minutes in a mug with honey to taste, 30 minutes before bedtime.
Depression is linked to restlessness and therefore products like Lemon balm, Saint John’s Wort and Frankincense will help with anxiety and depression. Ask your pharmacist or nutritionist for directions on the quantity to use.
Essential oils have proven to play a huge part in our sense of wellbeing as well as aiding restful sleep. Find the one that works best for your body and senses. Oils such as Lavender, Clary Sage, Chamomile, Rosemary, Sweet Marjoram, Valerian Root, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Frankincense all aid in rest and calm and can all be used in a diffuser. Electronic or Reed diffusers is a personal choice. These oils also work well for Aroma-therapy and the applications vary from heating by candle to ultrasonic wares.
GABA receptors, which is the primary neurotransmitter that calms your central nervous system, relaxes you and can help you prepare for sleep. Magnesium has proven to play a huge roll in this and in addition to a balanced diet, you may want to consider taking it as a supplement. Valerian root, is also thought to work by increasing the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid. You can brew this as a tea or take it in capsule form.
Regular exercise also aids in a better night’s rest as well as providing energy for the next day.