11 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Routine

Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself every night. It is hugely beneficial for both your physical health and mental well-being when you improve your sleep routine.

All of us will suffer from a lack of sleep at some point in our lives, and for some it can be a chronic problem, leading to serious long-term effects. Try these simple tips for improving your sleep routine and, with a little practice, you’ll soon be sleeping soundly every night.

1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends

Choose the same bedtime every night so that your body gets into a regular routine. Yes, you’re an adult, but staying up late past your normal bedtime or sleeping till noon can greatly disrupt your body’s sleep-wake clock! Allow enough hours to rest so that you wake up naturally energized before your alarm clock sounds.

2. Nap at the right times to improve your sleep routine

Be cautious about napping too late in the day as this may interfere with your ability to sleep soundly during the night. Similarly, cut out any evening naps. If you tend to nod off in front of the TV at night, do something to revive yourself. Napping is a great way to relax, recharge, and rid yourself of mental fuzziness, but keep naps to 30 minutes in the early afternoon in order to preserve a healthy night-time sleep pattern.

3. Cool your sleeping environment down

It is important to keep your body temperature down at night to get a good sleep. Sleep with less clothing on and get moving air into your bedroom. Your body needs a chance to breathe during sleep, too! Keeping your sleeping environment cooler helps balance your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels, both of which are very important for regulating sleep. Somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit is a moderate sleep temperature. If you really struggle to maintain a comfortable temperature, products such as the BedJet might help.

4. Include physical activity in your day

Regular aerobic activity, at least a few times a week, is an absolute must for good sleep. Just be sure to wrap up your physical activity a few hours before bedtime, as exercising close to bedtime will leave you too energized to sleep. Being a couch potato, believe it or not, is one of the major causes of poor sleep!

5. Clear your head of stress

Banish any lingering thoughts, worries or to-do lists from your mind. If you don’t, they will keep you up all night. Make your to do list or action plan for the following day well before bed. Journalling at night can be a helpful way to rid yourself of stress and resolve lingering worries. Take out a page before bed, write your concerns down, and then end by listing three positive things you are grateful for. Put stress away for successful rest!

You could also try soothing, relaxing music to clear stress before bed:

6. Choose a predictable and soothing routine that you enjoy

Whether it’s washing the dishes and then showering, or folding your clothing, reading and having a hot bath before bed, establish a pre-bedtime routine that gets you moving towards sleep every night and allows you to let go of the worries of the day. Consistency matters! Soothing activities before bed add to the quality of your sleep time. Sip chamomile tea, meditate, listen to calming music, lower the lights. Whatever relaxes you and helps you unwind…do it!

7. Create a calming environment

Is your bedroom environment conducive to good sleep? Keep in mind that a third of your life is spent sleeping in your bedroom! Clean out the clutter and make your bedroom a place for relaxation and sleep only, not work. If your office is also in your bedroom, your mind automatically associates this room with work. Remove electronics from the bedroom. They emit artificial light that interferes with the natural sleep cycle. Carefully place your alarm clock where the light isn’t distracting and the display doesn’t keep you awake all night anxiously wondering what time it is. Add heavy or black-out curtains to eliminate light from the outside. Also keep disruptive noise out by slumbering with a white noise sound machine. Aromatherapy scents such as lavender, juniper, vanilla and sandalwood rubbed on your temples or the insides of your wrists can help you slip into dreamland.

8. Take time to unwind from the day

Slow down well before bed. It takes time to unwind! You will not sleep well if you are moving at high speed until the last minute and then fall into bed. Your mind needs ample time to shift gears. You might not like this tip – but shutting off the computer, TV, or video games 30 – 60 minutes before bed is very important to disengage from your daytime mode of over-stimulation and work.

9. Consider where your pets sleepSleeping tabby cat

Pets can be the worst bed hogs and sleep in fits and starts. Pet owners who sleep with their pets often report disturbed sleep. Give both you and your pets the gift of a pet bed, and luxuriate in your own space.

10. Eat and drink right for a healthy sleep

Your body needs the right kind of nourishment for a good night’s sleep. Eating a large meal at night disturbs your sleep because it is too much material to metabolize. Likewise, spicy and heavy foods can keep you awake with uncomfortable heartburn and indigestion. Heavy alcohol intake can also influence the quality of your sleep, therefore keep it to a limit. Hydrate yourself well, but not too much, to avoid trips to the bathroom during the night. Caffeine (found in tea, coffee, chocolate and sodas) and nicotine are stimulants that can affect your sleep even if you’ve consumed them much earlier in the day. Look for herbal teas that help you sleep. Experiment with your sensitivity and definitely avoid caffeine in the evening!

11. Make your bed extra comfortable

The right mattress and bedding play a major role in good sleep hygiene. If you are constantly tossing and turning, changing your pillow, waking up stiff, or removing your blankets, it may be time to change something. Don’t let these things rob you of a good sleep! Choose the right mattress, materials and amount of fluff for you. A cotton weave blanket provides warmth and air circulation, while memory foam mattresses and pillows give flexibility and good support to your back, neck and head.

A great night’s rest is possible! Make a few simple changes to improve your sleep routine using these tips and don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you. Do you have any tried and tested methods that always help you enjoy a great night’s sleep?

Finding a Sleep Tea: What Should You Look For?

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping and don’t want to take habit-forming sleep aids, herbal sleep tea might be the solution. Your local supermarket is stocked with teas full of natural ingredients to help you relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep. After spending too many nights restlessly trying to get to sleep and stay asleep I knew I needed some extra, natural help – so I checked out these teas and I’ve reported the benefits here so you can find something that works for you.

Sleep-Inducing Ingredients to Look for in Sleep Tea

You’ll find about a dozen herbs that are commonly used in a sleep tea. Some have specific sleep-inducing properties, while others are mainly included for taste. Here are five of the most common–and effective–herbal ingredients to look for:

Valerian is a flower (you may have heard of valerian root–the part of the flower used in herbal remedies) known to help you fall asleep more quickly, and sleep better.

A word of caution, though: there are some possible side effects to consider with valerian. According to the Mayo Clinic, side effects may include headaches, dizziness, and stomach problems. Valerian is not recommended for children.

Chamomile is probably the most widely-known tea used for sleeping.

A study published in 2010 reveals chamomile’s ability to calm and induce sleep in people participating in clinical sleep studies, as well as individuals participating in clinical trials unrelated to sleep.

Chamomile is thought to be safe for all ages.

Passion flower is said to have a mild, gentle sedative effect that can help induce sleep. Most teas that contain passion flower also contain another (stronger) herbal sleep aid.Passion flower, used in tea

Orange blossom is another flower with sedative properties. The oil from the flower is often added to teas to help combat insomnia. Like passion flower, orange blossom isn’t all that strong, so it’s usually combined with another herb.

Licorice root is thought to help with a number of different health issues, including asthma, heartburn, and chronic fatigue. Licorice root supplements come in many forms, but tea is recommended for restful sleep.

Whenever possible, choose an organic sleep tea, or a tea with many organic ingredients. Avoid teas with added sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. The purer the ingredients and extracts, the more beneficial the tea will be.

Popular Herbal Teas for Sleeping

We all know how annoying it is to buy a new food or drink, only to find you hate how it tastes! Or , even worse, find out that it doesn’t do what the package says it will. Before you head to the store, read these reviews of the most popular sleep teas.

All of the teas listed below are caffeine-free. It should go without saying that drinking caffeine before bedtime–or even a few hours before you plan to sleep–will only make it more difficult to drift off or stay asleep.

Yogi Bedtime Tea

This tea contains four of the top herbal sleep-aid ingredients: valerian root extract (20mg), passionflower plant extract (10mg), organic licorice root*, and organic chamomile flower* (*amounts are not disclosed).

Pros:

• Contains several organic ingredients
• You won’t experience morning grogginess
• Great for people with severe restlessness

Cons:

• Doesn’t contain as much valerian as other night-time teas

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea

The main ingredient in Sleepytime is chamomile. Other ingredients include orange blossom, spearmint and lemongrass.

Pros:

• Promotes a deeper, more restful sleep
• Has a delicate mint flavor
• Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

• Not organic
• The manufacturer doesn’t disclose how much of each ingredient is included

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra

Sleepytime Extra contains the same ingredients as the traditional Sleepytime, with the addition of valerian.

Pros:

• The combination of valerian and chamomile may induce greater calming and relaxation than traditional Sleepytime tea
• Each teabag contains 600 mg of chamomile, a dose that has been shown to reduce anxiety

Cons:

• Valerian may cause unpleasant side effects (see above)
• Not organic
• The 25 mg dose of valerian is much lower than in other valerian teas

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Tea

The main ingredients in Organic Nightly tea are organic passion flower (360 mg) and organic chamomile (255 mg). It has a slight minty taste that comes from organic spearmint.

Pros:

• Helps you fall asleep and stay asleep
• All of the ingredients are certified organic
• This tea is non-GMO verified and Kosher

Cons:

• Each tea bag requires 10-15 minutes to steep
• The recommended “dose” required to feel the effects is 2-3 cups

Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Tea

This version of Traditional Medicinals nighttime tea switches out the chamomile for organic valerian root (450 mg) and licorice root (amount not specified).

Pros:

• Gently puts you to sleep and allows you to wake when you want to
• No drowsiness in the morning
• Has one of the highest amounts of valerian at 450 milligrams

Cons:

• Valerian may cause unpleasant side effects (see above)
• The smell of valerian root is quite unpleasant, but it dissipates after the tea has steeped
• It may take up to 60 minutes to feel the full effects of this tea
• Like the traditional Nighty Night tea, this tea takes a while to steep and the recommended dose is 2-3 cups

Pukka Organic Night Time

Night Time tea contains three of the common herbs used for sleep: organic chamomile, valerian root, and licorice root. It also includes a healthy dose (30 mg) of oat flower (also known as oatstraw), which is used for treating anxiety and insomnia due to anxiety.

Pros:

• Has a slightly sweet lavender flavor
• Helps calm your mind so you can drift off to sleep
• USDA-certified organic; Kosher

Cons:

• Requires a long steep to get the best flavor
• Has a slightly pungent scent
• The amounts of valerian root and chamomile are too small to have much effect

Celebration Flowers Organic Hops Flowers Tea

Unlike the other teas in this list, this one contains just two ingredients: organic hops and lemongrass. Hops, which have sedative properties, are the “active” ingredients.

Pros:

• Helps calm nerves, allowing you to relax
• Has only two organic ingredients, for a truly pure tea

Cons:

• The bitter smell and taste is not for everyone; you may want to add a sweetener

How to Make Your Own Sleep TeaCup of herbal tea

If you prefer to make your own loose-leaf tea using herbs you have selected yourself, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s easy!  For the best results, choose high-quality ingredients, and be sure to store the tea in an air-tight container.

Watch this video to learn how to make a great tasting sleep tea:

Remember that each herb is known for helping with certain aspects of sleep. Some are better for helping you relax and fall asleep, while others help you to get a more restful sleep. You should try making a tea targeted towards your specific symptoms.

Use Sleep Teas with Caution

While most of the herbal supplements used in sleep teas are considered safe for consumption, everybody reacts differently to herbs. Pay specific attention to your body when you’ve introduced any new supplement to your diet.

If you have a serious medical condition, like liver disease or a heart condition, you should always check with your doctor before taking any type of herbal supplement.

Even though herbal supplements aren’t thought to be highly addictive, relying on a tea to fall asleep every night might be a sign that your body is addicted to a certain herb. If you enjoy tea every night, that’s okay; if you cannot sleep without it, talk to your doctor.

Make Tea Part of a Sleep Routine

Sipping a cup of chamomile tea while you buzz around the house doing evening chores will not help you sleep! Even a great herbal tea may not be enough to counteract the effects of reading on your phone in bed, or falling asleep with the TV blaring.

A good sleep routine is essential for consistent, restful sleep. Identify what time you need/want to go to sleep, and plan to finish chores, watching TV, and tweeting 30-60 minutes prior. Plan to brew your cup of tea, and then sit and enjoy it. Talk with your spouse or kids, or read a book. Committing to a sleep routine will reduce nightly stress and provide you with the appropriate period of time to unwind before bedtime.

Good luck with finding the right sleep tea for you. If you find something amazing, do let me know so I can try it out!