Did you know Americans are finding it harder and harder to grab a good night’s rest? According to a consumer report, a staggering 68 percent—about 164 million Americans—struggle with sleep at least once a week. Not only that, but 45 percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
What is causing my lack of sleep?
Losing valuable shut-eye can be blamed on several varying factors. Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of sleeping problems along with anger, worry, grief, and trauma.
Other sleep loss causes may not be as detectable. The problem could be traced to our diet. The foods we ingest can either benefit our bodies or wreak havoc. A nutrient-rich diet is a strong defense against sleeping problems because our bodies use amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to create the calming neurotransmitters that allow us to sleep. When our diet contains a lot of processed foods or large amounts of sugar, we forfeit these beneficial, powerful nutrients.
Another factor in sleep deprivation is overstimulation. Not only does drinking stimulants like coffee affect the amount of winks we get, but also electric lighting from devices like laptops and smart phones. The blue lighting from these screens can shift our systems into overdrive. On top of all this, our lives, in general, can be overstimulated. Our hectic day-to-day activities can trigger our adrenals—the fight or flight hormones—which in turn, would require more melatonin—the sleeping hormone—to quiet them down. As you can see, it’s a battle of the hormones and the more aggressive, dominant one, which is the adrenals, would prevail.
How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015, and that’s expected to grow to $52 billion by 2020, according to Natana Raj, an analyst with BCC Research in Wellesley. This is an astounding amount of funds being funneled into conventional treatments which usually carry negative side effects. But there’s hope.
You can improve the quality of your sleep through natural methods:
- Decreasing usage on electronic devices at least 3 hours before bed. (This can be done with blue blocking glasses, blue light shields on smartphones, or turning the *night shift* option on Apple products.)
- Do the most stimulating or stressful activities, such as exercising, earlier in the day.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet
- Incorporate sleep-promoting supplements into your diet (calcium, magnesium, and valerian root)
- Learn relaxation techniques (breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, and yoga)
Aromatherapy is another method which aids in procuring a good night’s sleep. A study, conducted by Critical Care Nurses in 2017, reveals that lavender essential oil increased the quality of sleep and reduced the level of anxiety in patients.
Embracing and applying these methods on a consistent basis should help ease those nighttime blues. These tips should enable you to wakeup to natural, healthy living and say goodnight to your sleeping problems for good.