There is so much information out there about what we should and shouldn’t do before we go to sleep at night, it can get so confusing. This is why we’ve brought in Mim Beim, a naturopath with over 30 years of experience, to tell us her top ten habits and rituals to do before bed to help with sleep.
Sleep is a precious commodity. Up to a third of Australians experience difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives. Poor sleep habits can cause you to feel grumpy and irritable, lower your immune system and even can cause weight gain. Here are some natural suggestions to help improve your sleep, so try implementing a few or even all of them into your routine.
An old fashioned and still effective sleeping potion is a mug of hot milk. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter. Add a sprinkle of sedating nutmeg to add some flavour.
Your body’s temperature is at its lowest during deep sleep. A hot bath (or shower) will cause your body’s internal thermostat into overdrive to maintain temperature, and induce drowsiness.
Deep slow breathing into the lower belly switches on the parasympathetic or relaxing nervous system, allowing you to drift into a deep and restful sleep. This is why meditation is so effective!
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a process whereby you visualise a softening and relaxation of each and every muscle from the tip of your toes to the top of your head. Buy a CD or download an audio file and listen in bed.
Dark as night
Our cavemen ancestors knew that nighttime meant sleep time. Light pollution from street lights, lamps, phones or even illuminated clocks can negatively impact your sleep. Darken your bedroom with block out curtains or use a sleep mask for a cheaper alternative.
Nose breathing instead of mouth breathing will improve the quality of your sleep. Buteyko breathing practitioners recommend using MyoTape, a type of paper tape (which peels off easily) to help close your mouth.
Get into routine
Routine may be boring and repetitive, but that’s the way your body likes it when it comes to sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night, preferably before midnight and try to get that 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
Melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland, prepares the body for sleep. If your levels are out of whack, take some homoeopathic Melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. Prescription Melatonin is also available from your GP. Please discuss with your healthcare provider before taking any new medications.
For a sound, deep sleep try taking a dose of sedative herbs an hour before bedtime, and again just before you hop into bed. Sedative herbs include; Valerian, Californian poppy, Hops, Zizyphus and Passionflower. Herbal Teas can also be a great way to relax into your night time routine.
Therapeutic essential oils might help even the most severe insomnia. Vetiver, chamomile, neroli, lavender and sandalwood oil. Add a few drops to your bath or a vaporiser.
About the Author
Mim Beim is one of Australia’s most respected naturopaths with over 30 years experience. In 2011 Mim added Buteyko Breathing to her health & wellness practice and is now one of Australia’s foremost breathing educators. She has helped many clients that were struggling with sleep who were keen to find a natural alternative to sleeping tablets.