There are hundreds of reasons to get good sleep at night. But getting those seven to nine hours of shut-eye is easier said than done, which is why we searched high and low for some of the best natural sleep remedies. During our research, we came across some of the top sleep tips across western medicine, but also Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and more.
While not all of these tips will work for everyone, we're hoping that this comprehensive list will have you sleeping better so that you can get those coveted sleep benefits. (We're talking increased productive, improved immune function, and decreased inflammation.)
Each of these home sleep remedies helps fight against some of the typical factors that could be keeping you up at night. You probably know how important a good night of sleep is, but things like anxiety, overstimulation, and stress might keep you tossing and turning for hours. Keep reading to learn some sleep-inducing herbs, relaxation techniques, daily habits, and more.
Natural sleep aids: Herbs and Supplements
Aromatherapy uses natural plant extracts like lavender to promote health and well-being. Different plant extracts have different benefits, but lavender is great for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. In one study, researchers found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep and helped subjects sleep more soundly. (1)
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for the proper function of thousands of processes in your body and sleep is one of them. It is believed that magnesium works by calming down the central nervous system.
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The blue lotus flower has been used for relaxation and as a sleep aid since it was popularized in ancient Egypt. Today, we know that the blue lotus flower contains nuciferine, a compound that induces feelings of calmness. This may be part of the reason why the flower has been historically used to improve sleep. The blue lotus flower has also been known to cause more vivid dreams.
Melatonin is a hormone that is released at night and facilitates the transition into sleep. Some studies have shown that taking melatonin before your desired bedtime can help adjust your sleep cycle forward. If you’re struggling to get to bed at night because of overstimulation or too much light, you might benefit from a melatonin supplement. (2)
5. Valerian root
Another common herb used for sleep aid, is valerian root. Valerian seems to sedate the brain and the central nervous system, which is why it is good for anyone unable to fall asleep at night. Most research shows that valerian is particularly good as a natural sleep aid for those who suffer from insomnia. (3)
6. Passion flower
A few different studies have shown that passion flowers may help calm your mind. This calming effect might be due to a boost of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain from the passion flower. GABA lowers brain activity, which can help you sleep better. (4)
Glycine is an amino acid that is used to create proteins in your body. Research shows that taking glycine before bed can enhance sleep quality and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. You can also try adding high-protein foods like fish, legumes, and dairy to your evening meal because they contain naturally occurring glycine. (5)
Induce sleep with Relaxation Techniques
8. Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, is a yoga practice that helps your body reach a state of relaxation between waking and sleeping. Unlike a typical yoga class that involves a lot of different poses, yoga nidra is typically done in shavasana, or corpse pose. Most yoga nidra sessions will involve a guided meditation that is super relaxing and great before bed.
Mindfulness meditation, guided meditations, and body scan meditations are all great for sleep. Sleep problems are usually linked to stress or anxiety, so meditation helps improve sleep by clearing your mind. It can also help you regain control of your autonomic nervous system which can help you enter into a deeper sleep. (6)
Similar to meditation and yoga nidra, breathing exercises are great for calming down your body and helping you get ready for bed. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is one of the best natural ways to induce sleep. Breathing in this ratio acts as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
Hypnosis is a type of mind-body medicine that changes your brain’s activity to make you more receptive to certain ideas. While some hypnosis sessions have to be done in the office, there are a lot of guided hypnosis sessions online that can be done in the comfort of your own home. The great thing about hypnosis is that hypnotherapists are trained to get you into a really deep state of relaxation. And while hypnosis is really relaxing in itself, it can have lasting effects on you. Hypnosis can actually help you sleep better by working to change negative thoughts or habits related to sleep. (7)
12. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is great for reducing stress and anxiety, but it is also a relaxing exercise to do before bed. Progressive muscle relaxation works by tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in and then relaxing them as you breathe out. This is a great way to release any tension and help your body feel totally at peace.
Daily Habits for Better Sleep
13. Get Sunlight
Initially, you might think that sunlight might be something that keeps you from sleeping. But, getting enough sunlight during the day is actually an important part of good sleep. A small study found that bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration in insomniacs. It also reduced the time it took them to fall asleep by 83%. (8)
Getting regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and decrease drowsiness during the day. These days we live a more sedentary lifestyle than ever. Luckily, engaging in just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. (9)
While most of us might feel like we don't have time for a bath before bed, there is a lot of research that shows the benefits of a good soak before going to sleep. Going from your hot bath to the cooler air temperature helps lower your body’s core temperature, which helps better prepare your body for sleep. You also can’t go wrong with a relaxing herbal bath either. (10)
16. Foot soak
If you don’t have time for a nightly bath, we get it. And we have the solution for you! Foot baths have been found to have similar benefits to a full-blown bath and are way less time consuming. Grab a little tub, fill it up with water, (maybe even a flower or two), and some epsom salt, and you’ll be on your way to a relaxing bedtime ritual.
17. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar
It’s probably no surprise that caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can mess with our body’s natural rhythm. But, it’s pretty hard to cut all of these things out of our diets for good. Try replacing your morning coffee with matcha, decaf coffee, or other less caffeinated drinks. You should also try limiting your alcohol intake to just a few drinks per week.
We love a sweet desert as much as the next person. But if you’re struggling with sleeping well at night and think sugar could be the culprit, try enjoying naturally sweet foods like fruit or sugar replacements like monk fruit or stevia.
Optimize your bedroom
18. Limit blue light at night
While all types of light can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so much more powerfully. Researchers from Harvard tested the effects of blue light exposure by comparing 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light. The participants exposed to green light had their melatonin suppressed for about 1.5 hours. Those exposed to blue light had their melatonin suppressed for 3 hours. We’re all guilty of having our phones in our faces before bed, but getting rid of blue light is a great way to improve sleep quality—especially since it suppresses melatonin 2x as long as other lights. (11)
19. Weighted blanket
The pressure of weighted blankets mimics a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation. In one study, sleep with a weighted blanket helped reduce the number of nighttime waking and helped participants fall asleep faster. (12)
20. Cool room
At night, your body’s temperature will usually drop by one to two degrees. Because of this, keeping your room cooler at night might help signal your body that it’s bedtime and help your body with temperature regulation. Experts suggest setting your thermostat between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit before bed, but 65 degrees Fahrenheit tends to be the ideal temperature. (13)
21. Feng shui
Feng shui is an ancient art that uses energy forces to harmonize people with their surrounding environment. Following feng shui techniques can help your living space feel more peaceful and harmonious. By placing your bed in the “command position” and avoiding stimulating colors like reds, purples, blues, and black, you can create a more relaxing environment for sleep. Feng shui experts also suggest having a balance of all of the five elements.
22. Dark room
While blue light suppresses melatonin more than other types of light, other light sources can still keep you from sleeping like you should. Investing in black out curtains or even an eye mask to block out any extra light might be the trick to helping you sleep better.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Sleep Tips
A Traditional Chinese Medicine healing practice, acupressure stimulates pressure points that correspond to different physical and mental health benefits. While there are acupressure points to reduce stress and anxiety, there are also pressure points that can improve sleep. For example, the “Spirit Gate” point can help calm the mind, which can be helpful before bed.
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While our blue lotus tea is known for its ability to help people sleep better, chrysanthemum tea is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to pacify the liver and release toxins. According to TCM practitioners, insomnia can sometimes be caused by qi stagnation in the liver, which is why chrysanthemum tea can be helpful. But, you should always check with a TCM practitioner before self-prescribing.
25. Go to sleep between 9pm and 11pm
In the TMC tradition each two-hour period is connected to a different organ and is represented through a chart known as a Traditional Chinese Organ Body Clock. According to their clock, going to bed between 9pm and 11pm is best for getting a good night’s sleep. And most sleep experts agree with this. Generally getting to bed around 10pm is best for your sleep cycle. (14)
Ayurvedic Remedies for Sleep
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic massage done with warm oil. It is usually applied from the scalp to the soles of your feet. While abhyanga is typically done by a massage therapist, it can also be done as a self-massage at home before you go to bed. Abhyanga has been found to reduce stress levels and decrease heart rate, which makes it a great nighttime ritual. (15)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb meaning that it can help your body regulate stress. In the Ayurvedic tradition, ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, improve brain function and more. If your stress is keeping you up at night, ashwagandha can decrease cortisol levels. (16)
28. Alternate nostril breathing
We love a good breathing exercise and alternate nostril breathing is one of them. In Sanskrit, alternate nostril breathing is known as “Nadi Shodhan Pranayama,” or “subtle energy clearing breathing.” This is because alternate nostril breathing helps clear negative energy, reduce anxiety, and prepare you for further relaxation, which makes it great for relaxing before bed.
29. Warm milk with nutmeg
One of the best Ayurvedic sleeping tips is drinking warm milk with nutmeg before bed. Warm milk is not only considered healing and soothing, but it also contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin and melatonin, which are important elements to inducing sleep.
We hope you have the best sleep after reading through these natural sleeping tips!
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing at-home healing.