Six tips for better sleep


By Avery Phillips - EarthTalk



According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of Americans report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. This is a serious problem, as inadequate sleep is associated with a variety of chronic diseases and conditions. Not to mention, a lack of sleep can lead to accidents while driving, decreased productivity at work, and have negative effects on one’s mental health. While some sleep disorders like sleep apnea require medical treatment and external sleep aids, there are plenty of natural remedies that help promote better sleep health. Incorporating some, or all, of these into your daily life can have profound effects on your sleep cycle and support your health. Here are six natural tips for better sleep health…

Change Your Diet

Your diet can play a huge role in determining the quality of your sleep. As stated by experts of Grantham University, alongside exercise, “food is equally important for good mental health. Research confirms the link between diet and mental health.” So don’t underestimate the impact your diet can have on your well-being. Healthline suggests avoiding caffeinated foods and drinks after mid-afternoon. Ideally, dinner should be your lightest meal and should be over a few hours before your intended bedtime. You should also try to avoid heavy and spicy foods at night, as these can lead to heartburn and indigestion, which will keep you awake.

Consider Natural Supplements

There are several supplements that can help you relax and calm down. While melatonin supplements are popular sleep aids, they are synthetically produced and can result in side effects like dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Additionally, in some countries, melatonin is only available with a prescription and is recommended only for short-term use. Before turning to melatonin, you might want to consider some natural supplements.

For instance, lavender is a herb with many health benefits and can induce relaxation. Shelby Harris, PsyD. and director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center, recommends “taking a hot bath with lavender oil before bed to relax your body and mind.” Similarly, the Red Bali strain of the kratom plant, used in traditional Eastern medicine, is thought to possess sedative properties. Finally, the natural herb ginkgo biloba might also aid in stress reduction and relaxation.

Use an Eco-Friendly Mattress and Line

Have you ever thought about the chemicals emitted from your mattress? Considering how much time we spend in bed, it’s worth investing in a green mattress that is chemical-free. In an EarthTalk Q&A session, we covered the basics of “green mattresses.” As we mentioned, there is no standardized certification for green mattresses overall. However, there are certifications that apply to materials used in mattresses.

For instance, “if a mattress meets the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), at least 95 percent of its materials are certified organic, while certain noxious chemicals (chemical flame retardants, polyurethane) can’t be present at all. Meanwhile, the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certifies that a latex mattress is made from 95 percent organic latex, with similarly stringent restrictions on what can be in the remaining five percent of the mattress.”

Similarly, the bedding you use is equally important when it comes to a good night’s rest. Today, eco-friendly sheets are readily available, both online and in stores. As stated in an article on EcoSalon, “Made with organic cotton or bamboo fiber, they are both hypoallergenic and unbelievably soft.” Consider upgrading your mattress and linens to an eco-friendly option, to ensure that you are sleeping on natural and chemical-free materials.

Enhance Bedroom Air Quality

While air quality is not something we think about in regards to sleep health, poor air quality can, in fact, shorten and interrupt your sleep. As we mentioned in the green guide for better sleep, “getting rid of airborne irritants can go a long way toward getting you some much deserved and much-needed rest.”

Ways to do this include changing the furnace and AC filters, repainting walls with paint that has low-VOC formulations and trading in old furniture for new items that don’t contain toxic flame retardants. Additionally, you could also invest in some house plants as a natural way to clean the air inside your home.

Power Down

With increased digitization, many of us have fallen into the bad habit of checking our texts, emails and Instagram accounts right before going to bed. What we don’t realize (or choose to ignore) is that the bright light emitted from our mobile devices or TV’s acts a trigger to the brain, making it that much harder to wind down.

Experts from Best Mattress suggest “powering down” at least an hour before your scheduled bedtime. They state, “Dim the lights and turn off all your devices smartphones, laptops, TV anything that stimulates your senses. Bright light is one of the biggest triggers to our brains that it’s time to be awake and alert, so start sending the opposite signal early.” Even though it might initially be hard to resist the temptation to check your phone one last time, you’ll soon to start to enjoy the peace your pre-bedtime no-device hour brings.

These six tips should help you improve the quality of your sleep, and in turn, have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being.

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By Avery Phillips

EarthTalk

EarthTalk is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

EarthTalk is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization.