In today’s society, people are getting less sleep than in the entirety of human history. With the stress of our lives, numerous responsibilities, jobs, and our constant need to be connected to devices, our ability to get the recommended 8 hours per night is nearly impossible. And getting enough sleep is imperative to living a healthy lifestyle. Lack of sufficient sleep is directly connected to ability to fight off illness, inflammation in the body, affects our digestion, and our ability to recover our bodies and minds from our day to day activities.
For me personally, falling and staying asleep has always been a struggle. From counting sheep as a kid to tossing and turning for hours with a racing mind as an adult, I’ve tried just about everything to get a good night’s rest. Fortunately, these 5 innovative sleep hacks have finally started to make a difference in my sleep.
My first tip to help you with your sleep struggles is called “candle gazing.” I heard about candle gazing on a podcast I listened to recently and just had to try out this pre-bedtime sleep hack. Staring at a candle flame for 5-10 minutes before bed can help relax your mind and body (1). The flickering flame induces alpha brain waves associated with relaxation. Staring at a fire in the fireplace or a bonfire has the same benefits. Try using a scented candle for an added aromatherapy benefit.
Lavender essential oil
Another tip for helping improve sleep is to try using lavender to support relaxation before bed. Diffusing or applying a few drops of lavender essential oil has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve sleep quality. The soothing scent of lavender can ease you into a restful sleep (2). Apply a drop to your pillow or put a few drops into an essential oil diffuser when you’re heading to bed. You an additionally try a relaxing tea blend using lavender and chamomile before bed.
The next tip to try to improve your sleep quality is using a sound machine. Try playing white noise or ambient sounds at a low volume to muffle distracting noises and impose a regular rhythm to ease you to sleep (3). I like to use an app on my phone with sounds of rain, ocean waves or chimes. Spotify has plenty of sleep sound playlists that I’ve found to be helpful.
Blue light filter glasses
Wearing amber or orange-tinted glasses that filter blue light for a few hours before bed can help set your body’s internal clock for sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin production. Swap regular glasses for blue light filtering glasses in the evening. Or, even better, turn off or put away devices altogether at least an hour before bed.
Magnesium supplements or epsom salt bath
Finally, try incorporating magnesium into your pre-bedtime routine. Taking 400-500 mg of magnesium glycinate or citrate before bed can help boost your body’s natural production of melatonin (4). I take a supplement with magnesium, melatonin and chamomile to aid relaxation. Additionally, soaking in an epsom salt bath for 20-30 minutes helps draw magnesium into your body through your skin. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to a warm bath before bed. Magnesium plays an important role in creating melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. It may also additionally help with anxiety and depression, which are two mental health disorders that often interfere with sleep.
It can be difficult to form new sleep habits, but with consistency and patience these tips have finally helped me reclaim my nights. I hope they give you some new ideas to improve your own sleep struggles and find some much needed rest. Take it one night at a time!
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