We've done lots of research about sleeping over the years and have found several natural remedies and lifestyle adjustments that can really make a real difference when it comes to your rest. Before running to the doctor for a prescription sleep aid (which can be potentially addicting), give these 50 suggestions a try.
1. Avoid drinking coffee, soda, energy drinks or non-decaf tea after 2 p.m.
2. Try meditating for 10 minutes before going to bed alone in a quiet place where you can clear your mind.
3. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice, which contains a safe amount of natural melatonin in each serving.
4. Avoid eating at less than three hours before bedtime to prevent indigestion that can keep you awake.
5. For easier breathing, sleep on two pillows to keep the airways open and in line.
6. Try taking a valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) supplement one hour before bedtime.
7. Check with your doctor and/or pharmacist regarding any supplements or medication you're taking that may contain natural caffeine to learn the best time to take them.
8. Make sure your diet is rich in B vitamins which control energy production as well as adrenaline production -- keeping these levels normal will prevent nighttime spikes.
9. Take GABA, which is produced by the amino acid theanine that induces deeper sleep.
10. Practice deep breathing exercises to further calm you before sleeping.
11. Manage back pain with magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis), which reduces inflammation as well as stress.
12. Sleep naked to allow the body literally air out.
13. Keep a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side for proper spinal alignment.
14. If you suffer from a condition like restless leg syndrome, which can cause you to wake up during the night, make sure you're getting adequate vitamin E.
15. Stretch for 10 to 15 minutes before hopping into bed to release tight muscles and stress. Just don't try anything too taxing or extreme.
16. Clear out your nasal passages with a neti pot or sea salt inhaler for better breathing throughout the night.
17. Eat a protein-rich dinner which provides amino acids like tryptophan that help you sleep.
18. If you've just returned from traveling or have changed schedules, take melatonin for two weeks to help yourself adjust. No more than 1 mg per night unless recommended by a doctor.
19. Plan for the day before by setting out your clothes and packing a lunch, so you don't lie in bed thinking about it.
20. Drink a glass of passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) tea one hour before bedtime.
21. Avoid that midnight chocolate craving -- chocolate naturally contains caffeine.
22. Consider buying a silk pillowcase to stay cooler throughout the night. They also have anti-aging benefits for your skin.
23. Listen to calming music that soothes you -- nothing too aggressive or that you really have to think about.
24. Skip your nightcap. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but you'll start tossing and turning midway through the night.
25. Buying sheets in a lower thread count will allow air to circulate and prevent you from sweating. This is especially helpful for menopausal women who suffer from night sweats and hot flashes.
26. Limit sugar intake close to bedtime which not only will cause a spike that gives you energy but a crash that can cause you to awaken in a pool of sweat during the night.
27. Keep your TV out of your bedroom so you're not tempted to stay up too late watching shows or get used to falling asleep to it.
28. Read something you enjoy before bed with the lights dimmed. The gradually dimming light triggers melatonin production in your brain.
29. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, since most of us wake up dehydrated in the morning.
30. Skip the afternoon nap if you can.
31. Invest in blackout curtains to keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
32. Take a bath at night and add calming scents to your bath water like lavender. You can also add essential oils to your body lotion.
33. Consider taking your daily calcium and magnesium supplements before bed. These minerals not only strengthen the bones, but also calm the nerves.
34. Turn your thermostat down before bedtime to between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit so you don't wake up sweating.
35. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Make it the same for you and your partner if possible.
36. If you suffer from chronic stress, consider taking some kava kava (Piper methysticum) to help you unwind in the evening.
37. Maintain your sleep schedule through the weekend instead of sleeping in. It's a common myth you can "catch up."
38. Mix one serving of liquid California poppy (Eschscholzia california) with water before bed to reduce pain caused by arthritis, migraines or sore muscles.
39. You and your partner give each other massages to reduce muscle tension but also to allow yourself to be distracted from your worries.
40. Keep a journal by your bed to record your thoughts on the day and a to do list for tomorrow so you don't end up tossing and turning trying to remember it all.
41. Flip your mattress regularly and make sure it's supportive to keep your body properly aligned.
42. Take 200 mg of 5-HTP per day to reduce stress and anxiety that can prevent you from falling asleep later on.
43. Kick out your pets. Sorry, it sounds harsh, but establish a sleeping area just for them.
44. Move your alarm clock out of arm's reach so you avoid snoozing, which will actually make you feel more tired as you relax and then jar yourself out of sleep.
45. Leave your phone in another room besides your bedroom so you avoid waking up with every buzz and beep.
46. Get intimate with your partner to combat anxiety and, well, you know all the other good things sex does.
47. Place a diffuser in your room and fill with the essential oils of lavender or chamomile.
48. Exercise on a regular basis.
49. Work out in the morning so you don't feel obligated to stay up late to fit it in. You'll also have more energy throughout the day.
50. Don't ignore any respiratory disturbances you experience at night like waking up suddenly gasping for air or snoring. Have your doctor check out your lungs and heart.
If you've been diagnosed with a medical condition, it's always best to check with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be especially cautious and not take anything without their physician's approval.
You can find the supplements mentioned in this post and more at eVitamins. Sleep well!