6 ways to improve sleep, naturally

Waking every morning feeling just as fatigued as when you went to bed? Whether you’re not getting enough sleep or just suffering from low sleep quality, we’ve got six natural ways to improve your sleep.

Suffering from poor sleep, or just not getting enough of it? Join the club: according to research by the Sleep Health Foundation more than a third of Australian adults don’t get enough quality sleep.

Oftentimes, poor sleep comes as a byproduct of an overly taxed schedule. In the modern, 24/7 world in which we live, many of us are overscheduled, overworked, overstressed, and overtired. In a world where we are more fatigued and need more sleep than ever, we’re getting less and less of it.

Whether you’re a busy mum, overworked professional, or a social butterfly with an overpacked schedule, we’ve got 6 natural solutions to help you get a little more shut eye.

1. Create a sleep routine (and stick to it)

We know: this one’s hard! For many of us, our evenings are our only time to decompress at home.

However, staying up late to watch one more episode of your favorite show or cram in a few more items on your to-do list will ultimately come back to haunt you, when you wake up more tired than ever.

Set an alarm and move it clock back by twenty minutes each night until you’re in bed an hour earlier than normal, then stick with it: studies have shown that those who get less than 8 quality hours are more likely to experience increased inflammation.

Although researchers aren’t entirely clear on the metabolic pathways underlying the association, poor or insufficient sleep has been shown to increase risk for heart disease, obesity, and Diabetes (2).

2. Exercise

Regular exercise reduces circulating levels of stress hormones, calming an anxious mind that may otherwise race, disallowing you from drifting off to a peaceful slumber (3).  Studies have shown that engaging in at least 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week improves sleep quality by 65% (4).

3. Banish bad sleep habits

Put the smartphone down, and turn off the TV!

Studies have repeatedly shown that practicing good sleep hygiene- specially, sleeping in a dark, quiet room without light from electronic devices - is essential in ensuring sleep quality.

Light produced by electronics (even small amounts) disrupts normal sleep cycles, leaving your body incapable of engaging in normal REM cycles (5).

4. Magnesium

Studies have suggested that insufficient magnesium intake may cause disruptions in the normal sleep cycle, often causing you to wake every few hours, only to be incapable of returning to sleep (6).

Trials have shown that magnesium consumption improves subjective measures of insomnia, including duration of sleep and quality of sleep (7).

Long term studies of magnesium consumption have shown that those with adequate magnesium consumption experience less sleep disturbances than those with lower rates of consumption (8).

5. Lavender

While lavender scented candles, lotions, bath soaks, and laundry detergents are commonplace, lavender holds mild to moderate acceptance as a sleep aid.

A number of studies have shown that the use of lavender oils may reduce anxiety (9) and improve sleep quality (10).

6. Passionflower

While passionflower may bring connotations of a tropical aisle, extracts of passionflower have shown mild to moderate effect in improving sleep quality when consumed in tea form (11).

Passionflora extract in a supplement form may also help regulate circadian rhythm, which play a pivotal role in sleep-wake cycles (13).