In my last column, I told you about the five best and worst foods for better sleep. But there are other important factors to consider when it comes to sleep. I’m willing to bet more than one of these natural solutions may come as a surprise to you.
First, there’s what you do right before bed. Relaxation is key. But it may take some practice. Many of us don’t remember how to slow down. We expect to go from 60 to zero in a short amount of time—without the necessary transition. Instead, take some time to relax before bed by dimming the lights. Meditate for 10 minutes, stretch, and do deep breathing.
Also, while warm baths can be relaxing, cool baths or showers can be a powerful method for inducing relaxation and deep sleep. Cooler bedroom temperatures are also associated with deeper sleep.
Avoid electronic devices at least two hours before bed. The light emitted from these technologies disrupts pineal gland function. This prevents it from releasing melatonin. That’s a master sleep and repair hormone. It can also wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm. This is our biological cycle that follows a 24-hour clock.
But there are simple ways to get it back on track.
How to Restore Circadian Rhythm
As mentioned in my previous issue, melatonin is an effective sleep aid. But it does much more. One of its jobs is governing our circadian rhythms. This hormone is also a powerful antioxidant and master repair hormone.
Melatonin is mainly produced by the pineal gland in response to darkness. This is why we should minimize light exposure before bed. In fact, it’s important to block out all light in your bedroom. This includes electronic clocks, nightlights, and outside lights. I highly recommend you install quality blackout curtains in your bedroom. You’ll likely notice a difference in sleep quality the first night.
Circadian rhythms influence more than melatonin and sleep-wake cycles. They’re involved in countless physiological processes, right down to the expression of specific genes. That’s why one night of sleep can throw off this delicate balance.
Taking the right steps to harmonize your biological clock is critical for long-term health. It’s a fact…
Studies show shift workers face greater risks of hormone-related cancers and other inflammatory diseases. This confirms how important balanced circadian rhythms and melatonin production really are. So if you’re up all night and sleep all day, melatonin at clinical dosages may be a critical supplement. Just be sure to use it under a doctor’s supervision.
Setting a regular bedtime can also help balance sleep cycles and circadian rhythms. I recommend going to bed as early as possible… We can achieve more restful sleep before the hours of midnight.
If you find this hard at first, just turn the lights off and relax in the dark. Your body will likely get the hint after some practice. But if you need some extra support, there are effective, natural options.
5 Homeopathic Remedies for Better Sleep
Homeopathy provides a number of time-tested insomnia remedies that gently encourage relaxation and restful sleep. You don’t need to be an insomniac to benefit. Any of these solutions can help you achieve better sleep:
–Coffea cruda, or unroasted coffee beans, may seem counterintuitive. But homeopathy works on the theory that in tiny doses, like treats like. This remedy can also be useful when we need help calming an overactive mind.
–Muriatic acid is a special homeopathic preparation of hydrochloric acid. It helps when we’re tired but can’t get to sleep.
–Arsenicum album can relax us when we’re anxious or restless.
–Lycopodium clavatum is recommended when we wake frequently from hunger.
–For those who fall asleep at first—but wake up and can’t get back to sleep—Nux vomica or Phosphorus can be helpful.
Before taking any of these remedies, consult a homeopathic practitioner to guide you.
The Centuries-Old Chinese Sleep Solution
Sleep is a reflection of our health. It is influenced by multiple organs, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a unique and comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationships between these systems and sleep.
In my practice, I recommend pure honokiol. It’s extracted from Magnolia bark.
Honokiol is known to support a healthy mood, relaxation, and restful sleep—among other critical benefits. One pre-clinical study found that it extends non-REM sleep. This is associated with physiological restoration and memory consolidation.
It’s also a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent, a neurological protector… Not to mention a remarkable anti-cancer compound.
In our society, we often sacrifice sleep for the sake of efficiency. But science is showing how detrimental that is. Sleep disruption can contribute to some of our most serious degenerative diseases. Not only that, insomnia may indicate an underlying health issue.
Most often, however, sleep disorders result from our overly-busy, pro-inflammatory lifestyles. By taking healthy measures to reset our natural circadian rhythms, we can restore balance, promote better sleep patterns, and improve long-term health.
That should help us all rest easy.