There are a lot of different things that can boost our wellbeing. But one of the simplest is a good sleep. How we sleep can affect our energy levels, but also our mood, immune function, and more. Poor sleep can also affect your choices the next day, including whether to give in and get some junk food or a caffeine hit. It can slip into a cycle of poor sleep and poor choices!
I’ve had a few crummy nights of sleep recently, and have had to pull out some of my favourite tricks to get back on track. So I thought I’d share what I use to boost my likelihood of a good sleep.
Natural Options For A Good Sleep
Oh, my favourite mineral ever! When it comes to good sleep, magnesium is king of nutrients. It’s a natural muscle relaxant, so can help to relax your body physically before bed.
But magnesium is also a co-factor for many important neurotransmitters, as well as helping to balance blood sugars. So it covers a number of possible causes for a crummy night’s sleep.
When it comes to supplements, there are good and not-so-good options. So if you’re not seeing a health professional, go for the topical options! Have an Epsom salt bath in the evening once or twice a week.
You can also try magnesium creams and oils directly onto your skin. These are ideal if you also have a fair bit of muscle tension.
My favourite food-as-medicine option for good sleep is definitely tart cherry. Cherry is a natural source of our sleep neurotransmitter melatonin. It can also help relieve muscle soreness – so perfect after a big session at the gym.
Our sneaky way to get tart cherry into the munchkins of the family (both big and small!) is to make gummies with it. Simply make some jellies out of gelatin and tart cherry juice, and add a bit more gelatin to make them little finger-friendly.
Hot shower or bath
Having some water time before bed can have a few benefits for sleep. For many people (myself included!), it gives time to unwind from the day’s events.
On a physical level, bathing can help optimise your body temperature for sleep. I love a hot shower, as my body naturally cools down to an optimal level within about 30 minutes. Others might find they need a cool shower to get to that sweet spot.
Exercise is awesome for the body. But late exercise can impact on sleep in some people. Your body needs time to wind down, clear out the adrenaline, and switch from a stimulated nervous system to a calm nervous system.
So if you need a good sleep on a particular night, try to get your sweat session done 3 hours or more before your planned bedtime. This will give the body time to get ready for rest time.
It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a tea addict. So why would night-time make anything different? Teas are a great pre-sleep option to hydrate and unwind the body. Different herbs have different effects on the body, but most sleep herbs work on the nervous system to calm it.
Different teas suit different people. I love a valerian-based tea, as it helps me to sleep deeply even when I’m stressed. I also find I have quite vibrant and fun dreams when I’ve had valerian before bed!
Other sleepy blend herbs you’ll commonly come across include chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, lavender and oats. Give a few a try, and see which you like best.
Deep breathing & relaxation
The very last thing I do before heading to bed is popping on some relaxing music or a guided meditation. By focusing on my breath, I’m able to slow down my breathing, and move into a calmer state of body and mind.
Try a few different options, and see what works best for you. You might like to simply focus on your breath for a few minutes. Or a guided sleep meditation might be better if your mind is quite busy come night-time.
I use the free Meditation Oasis guided meditations, and also have their Sleep Easy app on my phone.