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Sleep Well Without Medication

Updated on March 17, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Sleeping like a baby.
Sleeping like a baby. | Source

Sleep Like a Baby

Have you ever watched a sleeping baby and though how peaceful they looked? A baby falls asleep naturally when they are warm and contented, are not hungry and feel safe. So the first things you can try if you’re having difficulty falling asleep is to mimic these conditions.

1. Room temperature and bed covering.

Your bedroom should be cooler than your living room. If it’s too hot, then open a window or use an electric fan or air conditioning to lower the air temperature. I use a Honeywell Turboforce Air Circulator on hot humid summer nights. It's low in price and it makes all the difference! The lowest fan setting is quiet enough to be able to sleep with it on.

Your bed covers should be light enough so that you don’t overheat and warm enough to keep away draughts. It’s a good idea to have a different weight comforter (or duvet) for each season.

2. Eating and sleeping.

When you go to bed your tummy should not be rumbling from hunger, but neither should you feel bloated from overeating. Eating a healthy meal (avoiding high fat and high sugar foods) at least an hour before you go to bed should be enough to see you through the night. It’s a bad idea to snack during your resting hours as this wakes up your digestive system and prevents you from going back to sleep. If you do wake up in the night and want to munch, resist the temptation and just have a glass of plain water instead.

3. A place of safety.

This is a difficult one for an adult. Usually a baby has no worries and provided they are being cared for by a loving person, they will feel safe and secure and so fall asleep easily. However, an adult may feel unsafe because of difficult home circumstances or an insecure work situation. These may create stress and worry which can disrupt normal sleep patterns. If this describes your situation the tips in this article may help a little, but cannot completely solve the sleeplessness issue for you.

How to Sleep Better

Experts typically recommend seven to nine hours sleep for adults. In 2013, 59% of U.S. adults meet that standard, but in 1942, 84% did. That means four in 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of nightly sleep, compared with the 11% who did so 70 years ago.

— Gallup Poll 2013

10 Tips for Restful Sleep

 
 
1. Avoid caffeine after 2pm.
Caffeine interferes with your sleep pattern for up to 8 hours after drinking it. Remember there is caffeine in tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks.
2. Wind down to bedtime
Relax in a warm bath or read a book to get yourself ready for falling asleep.
3. Turn off the TV, smartphone and computer an hour before bed.
Stop watching all screens (including your cellphone!) to allow your brain to reduce its activity.
4. Keep the air temperature of your bedroom cool.
You’ll fall asleep quicker if you’re not too hot.
5. Keep your feet warm and your head cool.
If you suffer from cold feet or poor circulation wear bed socks or take a hot water bottle to bed.
6. Avoid alcohol and smoking.
These are stimulants and will interrupt a good night’s sleep.
7. Replace your mattress and pillows regularly.
Manufacturers say a mattress needs renewing every 8 to 10 years; pillows every year.
8. Try not to nap during the day.
Otherwise you won’t be tired enough to sleep straight through the night.
9. Take regular exercise.
You’ll feel better if you walk a mile a day and being physically tired when you go to bed will help you fall asleep quicker.
10. Avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening.
You should leave at least 3 hours after heavy eating before trying to sleep. Although a light snack like a glass of milk is OK (see below.)

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a broad term that covers different types of sleep deprivation. You may be someone who wakes up several times during the night so giving you a broken night’s sleep. You could be someone who doesn’t get enough hours of sleep in total. You may be someone who wakes very early and is unable to get back to sleep. Or you could suffer from disturbing dreams making you feel tired even when you’ve had a “full” night’s unbroken sleep.

A good night’s sleep is crucial for your health and well-being. Sleep has a restorative function. It aids cognition and makes you better able to cope with illness and other stress factors.

Insufficient sleep can:

• Cause fatigue, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness

• Weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick

• Cause elevated blood pressure and can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease

• Exacerbate mental illness, including depression and anxiety

• Reduce focus and concentration, leading to decreased performance at work

— One Medical Healthcare

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Things to Do to Get a Good Night's Sleep

It’s not just an old wives’ tale: the advice your mother gave you when you were a child, of having a cup of warm milk before bed, actually has its basis in science. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you produce serotonin and melatonin, hormones that help you to sleep.

To give it an extra boost, have a light snack with your milk, as carbohydrates help these hormones reach the brain more easily. Try a handful of fruit and unsalted nuts, or a banana with yogurt.

— Sara Stanner in The Telegraph newspaper 2014

Does Warm Milk Help You Fall Asleep?

Natural Ways to Sleep Better

A lack of sleep is common in today’s world. People have stressful jobs, they travel further to work and they may also have money worries. All these things (and more) can prevent you from having a refreshing and restful night’s sleep. There are plenty of drugs and medicines available to help you drift into unconsciousness, but their side-effects can outweigh any benefits they bring. Often the type of sleep they induce is heavy and dream-free. You wake up feeling sluggish and thick-headed and not rested at all. A better way to get a good night’s sleep is to try out natural methods of encouraging shut-eye.

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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 months ago from England

      Well who knew about that hot milk? great news! I have started drinking a cup before bed these days! great advice!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 5 months ago from Norfolk

      Good advice and I second the milk tip. I have suffered for years from insomnia but can say that I have almost kicked it into touch. I simply refuse these days to think about the things which I could not change. It was those that kept me awake:)

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