This herb's use as a sleeping aid can be traced back to centuries ago. Interestingly, valerian works similarly to conventional sleeping pills. By increasing the levels of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in the brain, valerian induces drowsiness and sleepiness. You can take valerian an hour before bedtime as an extract, tea, or capsule. You can experience its full effect after a week or two of regular intake.
The level of light the body is exposed to produces different reactions. A lot of light signals the body to wake up while a decrease in it induces the body to sleep. However, slight differences in the level of exposure may confuse the body and cause irregular sleep. For example, if you stay indoors with minimal lighting during the day, the body might not recognize the shift between night and day. To increase chances of better sleep, expose yourself to more light by walking around the neighborhood in the morning or early afternoon.
This form of therapy relies on your body's response to certain olfactory signals. Scents like lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang work well in calming your body and mind. You can try putting lavender sachets in your pillow or adding lavender oil to your bath water. You can also try sipping chamomile tea before going to bed.
Insomnia or lack of sleep is often due to the stress you feel. Practicing relaxation techniques prior to your bedtime increases your chances of having a better sleep. Some methods you may want to consider include deep breathing, visualization, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Different foods have varying effects on your sleeping pattern. Whereas caffeine and sugar-rich foods can disrupt your sleep, foods rich in tryptophan and magnesium can help you sleep better and longer. Including foods like milk, turkey, legumes, dark greens, and nuts in your diet is a good way to boost your body's tryptophan and magnesium levels.
According to studies, slow and soft music can soothe and relax the body. By playing soft tunes before bedtime, your body becomes primed for sleep. Sounds of nature like water flowing through rocks or chirping birds are also good choices.
Regular physical activity boosts your body's endorphin levels. Endorphins, also known as the body's feel-good hormones, relax and soothe the body. Exercise also relieves muscle tension and stress which promotes deep sleep. However, keep in mind not to exercise close to one's bedtime as this can increase adrenaline levels and induce insomnia.