10 NATURAL SLEEP REMEDIES YOU’VE GOT TO TRY!
We have a national sleep crisis and it’s literally killing us. Here’s how everything from lavender oil to steam therapy can help you finally get a good night’s sleep.
Americans are in the midst of a national health epidemic. The cause? Inadequate sleep. Statistics tracked by numerous organizations are enough to keep you up at night.
Here’s a snapshot of the problem:
- Only 21% of Americans sleep for the recommended 7-9 hours each night, with nearly 60% of Americans reporting poor sleep at least sometimes.
- Anywhere from 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders.
- Sleep apnea afflicts as many as 31% of men and 21% of women in the U.S., with many remaining undiagnosed.
- Americans spend a shocking $411 billion every year from problems caused by inadequate sleep.
- More than nine million Americans take prescription sleep medications, with women making up the majority of the medicated.
That last statistic points to a key dimension of our national sleep emergency: Often lack of sleep isn’t caused by a refusal to hit the sack; a lot of us just can’t get to sleep. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with 30% of U.S. residents suffering from the problem.
Another issue is disrupted sleep, most commonly associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious health problem, affecting 25 million adults nationwide. The most common treatment, a device called a CPAP, costs Americans $3.4 billion per year and that’s growing.
The price tag isn’t the worst problem, of course. Sleep disorders lead to numerous health issues. Scientists have found evidence that lack of sleep can cause molecular changes in the body that promote weight gain. About 3-5% of obesity is the result of inadequate sleep, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
But mortality rates are where sleeplessness can really exact a heavy toll. Research from British scientists have found that inadequate sleep more than doubles the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases. Multiple studies have also discovered similar links between lack of sleep and early death. Then there’s the impact sleeplessness has on daily work performance and other everyday tasks.
Making matters worse is that too often our medical interventions have significant side effects. According to the British Medical Journal, those who use sleeping pills have a 35% higher chance of developing cancer.
This is one reason why so many people are seeking long-term, effective natural sleep remedies. Luckily, there are many that can help you get a good night’s sleep. Some are out-of-the-box solutions, such as using a steam room, but they’re all worth a try.
Top 10 Natural Sleep Remedies For a Restful Night
Some of the suggestions below are designed as minor lifestyle changes that may instill better habits around bedtime. The environment of your bedroom (lighting, temperature, noise, etc.) can all play a role, so make sure you’re in a dark, cool place that’s quiet (unless you find white noise comforting).
1. Establish a regular routine. Sleep experts recommend that you maintain a consistent nighttime ritual that promotes relaxation. Keep in mind that everybody has different circadian rhythms that make it difficult for some people to stay on a regular schedule, but try your best to stay consistent.
2. Avoid stimulants after lunch. This is one of those no-brainers that too many people ignore. Ingesting caffeine or one of its analogues in the afternoon or evening can accelerate your heart rate and keep you awake when it’s time to sleep. But beware—some products that you would never suspect to contain caffeine include it as an ingredient (e.g., chocolate, some brands of vitamin water, pain relievers, etc.). Check labels.
3. Avoid digital screens before bed. Do not stare at your smartphone or laptop before bed, and certainly not IN bed. The blue light from a smartphone screen mimics daylight and stimulates your brain via the optic nerve. According to sleep.org, 71% of people confess that they either have their phone in bed or on their nightstand while trying to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, break this habit.
4. Take melatonin. This natural hormone has long been touted for its ability to promote relaxation, and science has backed this up. An extensive meta-study found that melatonin helps reduce insomnia in healthy populations. It’s widely available as a supplement. Try 5 mg daily.
5. Take valerian root. This herb, made from the root of a common plant in North America and Europe, has been shown in studies to help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Like melatonin, it has a strong safety profile with minimal side effects. Try taking 300-600 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime. It’s also available as a tea.
6. Drink chamomile tea. Speaking of tea, chamomile has been used for centuries as a natural sleep remedy and it may have more benefits than that. According to one study, chamomile “contains various bioactive phytochemicals that could provide therapeutic effects,” including natural sedative effects due to a flavonoid called epigenin. Have a cup before bed.
7. Try aromatherapy with lavender. Several essential oils are recommended for promoting relaxation and sleep, but lavender leads the list. Research has found that lavender oil can help reduce stress and increase feelings of calmness, with one study finding that it may help reduce insomnia. Lavender is so valued for its effects on sleep that lavender-scented sleep masks have become popular. Other essential oils, such as bergamot and lemon, may also be worth a try.
8. Exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise may increase the amount of slow wave sleep (i.e., deep sleep) you get at night, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The key is engaging in a regular exercise routine that release hormones in your body, such as endorphins, that can reduce stress and improve relaxation. Time your exercise for earlier in the day and don’t overdo it. If you’re not a gym type, try yoga, tai chi, or other type of movement-based activity. It will help.
9. Ingest magnesium. This versatile mineral has a lot of effects on the body, but promoting better sleep may be its best benefit. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with insomnia, and one reason for that may be because the mineral helps regulate melatonin, according to research. Try taking 100-350 mg of magnesium per day to help manage stress and sleep levels.
10. Take a steam bath. You probably didn’t see this one coming. Steam therapy may help manage stress levels through possible hormonal regulation via serotonin. And that’s just a start. Let’s see what else steam may do to stop you from tossing and turning in bed every night.
STEAM THERAPY: A SLEEPER OF A SLEEP SOLUTION
It may seem counter-intuitive that steam baths could help promote sleep. Don’t experts recommend that you keep your body and sleep environment cool while trying to sleep?
It turns out that a session in a steam room may help regulate your body temperature in a way that helps promote deeper and more restful sleep. This is achieved through passive intermittent heating. One study found that “manipulating body temperature prior to sleep onset may improve sleep quality in the elderly.” This is a population that has higher levels of sleep problems than other demographics, so this is a significant finding.
Sessions in a steam room may also help improve your respiratory system. Circulating steam in an enclosed space may help clear your nasal passages of phlegm and mucus, which allows you to breathe easier, an important part of achieving relaxation and quality sleep. Steam has even been found to help reduce bronchial infection in some people. These potential effects may help those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Research also shows that heat treatments may also help reduce inflammatory responses and discomfort that may be keeping you up at night. Think about all those times that people have suggested that you take a hot shower before bed. That gives you an idea of how steam therapy may exert a calming response in your body that can cool you down and prepare you for sleep.
Like with exercise, steam may help increase endorphins while helping to reduce cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. This, in concert with the natural soothing effects of sitting in a quiet steam room, may contribute to better sleep.
WHEN MRSTEAM BECOMES MR. SLEEP
Even better, steam can be combined with other therapies that have been found to increase sleep duration and quality for some people. Prestige brands like MrSteam have taken the lead in combining other therapies with the steam experience. This includes aromatherapy. With the AromaSteam system, you can infuse aroma fragrances into your steam shower by utilizing MrSteam’s innovative electronic injector pump. These essences include lavender, which we featured above as a potential natural sleep aid. Imagine how the combined power of steam and lavender could help improve your sleep.
You can also enhance steam’s effects through MrSteam’s MusicTherapy option. The sound system delivers calming meditative music and other soul-soothing harmonics that may help relieve the day’s stress and put you in the perfect frame of mind for restful sleep.
This is in addition to the natural calming effects of sitting in a clean, enclosed environment, relaxing in the enveloping steam. In fact, a steam shower may become the perfect complement to your daily sleep routine.
MrSteam’s affordable residential steam shower systems are a great way to help enhance your overall wellness lifestyle. Check out some of MrSteam’s case studies or visit a dealer showroom to see for yourself how easy it is to bring steam therapy into your life.
So rest easy, sleepyhead. Help is on the way.