Can’t sleep? Try one of these all-natural aids.

sleepycat.jpg Millions of Americans struggle to get a good night’s rest. In fact, the average American adult gets less than six hours of sleep per night. With how busy life is nowadays, it’s no wonder we are strapped for quality sleep – between families, work and all those end of day thoughts about what you need to remember tomorrow it can be dizzying! Many people try prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids in order to help, but these can be habit forming. Luckily, there are plenty of all-natural ways to fight insomnia. Try these five tips and you’ll be getting all the Zzzs you need.

1. Practice yoga or other light stretching exercises before bed

Whether you’re an expert yogi or have never even seen a downward dog pose before, yoga and/or light stretching are both amazing ways to unwind and tell your body it’s time to rest. In lightweight clothing, gently stretch out your arms and legs while breathing deeply. Roll your neck lightly, making sure not to strain in. If you enjoy yoga – or want to try it – search for simple poses online. There are even apps on your phone that can start you off in true yogi style!

2. Turn off the screens!

This may be the hardest but most important tip on this list. The use of tablets and smartphones before bed throws off your body’s natural circadian rhythm due to the bright lights. Doctors recommending putting the devices down for the final two hours of the evening in order to remind your brain that it’s time to sleep. It may be difficult to let go of the phone at first, so feel free to wean yourself off of it. Some people also set alarms on their phones telling them it’s time to power down.

3. Utilize the power of dreamy scents

Most people are aware of aromatherapy, which is the practice of using certain smells (normally, in essential oil form) to help feel a certain way. Citrus scents are known to energize, mint calms the stomach, while lavender, chamomile and sandalwood can help people relax. Take a warm bath with bath salts mixed with the calming oil of your choice to soak away the day’s cares and relax for bed. Many people also utilize oil diffusers, which allow the oil to mix with water and create a nice-smelling steam. You can also try making a little sachet filled with dried lavender and chamomile to stick in your pillow – you will have sweet smelling dreams all night.

4. Work towards promoting sleep during the daytime

There are many things you can do during the day to help you sleep later, and can include several parts of your day. If you enjoy working out, do so in the morning as it tends to energize your mind, even if your body feels tired. Avoid caffeine after 2:00 p.m. – that afternoon espresso shot to get you through work may leave you tossing and turning tonight. And remember to eat foods that are rich in magnesium and vitamin B6, which have been shown to promote sleepiness.

5. Take a melatonin supplement

When it occurs naturally in humans, the hormone melatonin helps controls sleep and wake cycles. For people who are a bit out of whack in this area – especially those suffering jet lag – it may help to take a supplement. Melatonin supplements are available where other vitamins are sold and is non-habit forming unlike some other sleep aids. However, only small amounts of melatonin should be taken, as it can cause slight side effects at first. These often include lower body temperature, morning grogginess or strange dreams.