Tips and Tricks for Better Sleep

by TheMaven

Lifestyle, diet, and lighting are the three major causes of poor sleep and all three are within your control. The common advice of maintaining a regular schedule, exercising more, and setting aside a proper amount of time for sleep are all spot on. In addition, reducing caffeine usage, cutting out the late night snacks and lowering your overall calorie intake are great strides towards better sleep. But lifestyle and diet changes are hard and while we've heard the advice plenty, its not so easy to follow it.

The other available options are lighting, drugs and supplements. Lighting is the most overlooked and easiest ailment to cure. Too much light exposure at night makes it harder to fall asleep, too little light in the morning makes it harder to get up, and certain spectrums of light have bigger impacts than others. I'll leave the drug prescriptions to your doctor but there are plenty of natural sleep aids available that can also help you catch some zzz's.

BioBrite
BioBrite Sunrise Clock

Sunrise clocks are an excellent tool for tackling the lighting portion of the sleep dilemma. A sunrise clock does exactly what the name implies, it simulates a sunrise. The gradual increase in light gently wakes up most people but even if the alarm clock kicks in your body will be more primed to wake up, alleviating sleep inertia, which means you'll wake up less groggy.

The BioBrite Sunrise Clock is a very popular sunrise light and definitely gets the job done. It has the expected sunrise feature and also has a gradual sunset to help you fall asleep faster. It has adjustable intervals to extend and shorten the dawn and dusk time.

While I'd never put a price on a good night of sleep, if you're on a budget the Philips Wake-up Light is a good enough solution. It has the sunrise effect you'd expect but with a fixed 30 minute timer. The other major limitation is that it only brightens to the brightness setting you last set it to so I would not recommend using this as a reading light since you will have a tendency to dim it too much.

Philips also makes a more feature rich alternative for those who want more options. This higher end Philips Wake-Up Light is comparable to the BioBrite in price and feature set but has better controls, a colored sunrise, and comes from a more well known manufacturer.

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Melatonin
Melatonin

If you're having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, melatonin is by far the most recommended natural sleep aid. There is, however, a lot of debate over the recommended dose so starting with this 1mg dose is ideal. My advice is to start at 1mg and work your way up until you find a dose you're comfortable. Just keep in mind that its generally recommended you stay under 5mg a night.

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Valerian
Valerian Root
Valerian root is well known for its sleep inducing properties. I'd recommended you take your valerian root at least 30 minutes, but no more than 2 hours, before going to bed.
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Chamomile
Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea has been considered a medicinal drink for centuries and is said to have relaxing properties which will help you unwind before bed. It has been cited as having aromatic properties that can help with sleep and it contains a compound called chrysin which is supposed to induce sleep.

Although chamomile's sleep inducing properties aren't conclusive, there is some real science behind drinking chamomile tea before bed. Drinking a hot liquid before bed is good because it will raise your core body temperature, once you've finished your drink your body temperature will gradually decrease back to normal and a decrease in core body temperature induces drowsiness. So activities like drinking hot tea or taking warm baths about an hour before going to bed are a great way to help you fall asleep faster at night. Even though the jury is still out on chamomile's ability to aid sleep, it does indeed have some medicinal properties and its a caffeine free tea so bottoms up!

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Magnesium
Magnesium

Magnesium is known for helping with muscle relaxation and its associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep and there have studies that link insomnia to magnesium deficiencies.

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Calcium
Calcium

Who knew there was truth to that warm milk stuff? Not only is calcium a natural relaxant, its important to take calcium at a ratio of roughly 2:1 with your magnesium supplement.

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B
B Vitamins

This pill is a perfect mix of sleep savy B vitamins. B3 has been shown to increase REM sleep and decrease sleep interruptions, B6 is involved in the production of serotonin, the calming hormone, and deficiencies in folic acid is linked with insomnia. This supplement has it all.

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Lavender
Lavender Essential Oil

Aroma therapy is known for its calming properties and lavender is the most popular one out there. To use, simply add a drop to a cotton ball or tissue and leave it near your pillow. You can also mix a few drops with some water and create a spray that you can then use.

If you like the aroma therapy route you can try other sleep inducing essential oils like Bergamot, Chamomile or a relaxation blend

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