It is widely understood that sleep is vital for good health and wellbeing. However, achieving an adequate amount of quality sleep each night still falls by the wayside for many Australians. Combined with stressors associated with the pandemic, including remote working and schooling, and potential financial hardship, sleep quantity and quality is at an all-time low. For those struggling with sleep, it is important to know that you aren’t alone if you feel like you’re lacking in this area. Achieving high quality sleep each night starts with establishing good sleep hygiene practices and a sleep routine. Fortunately, there are several simple, low-cost and natural changes you can make, and tools you can use, to step up your sleep game. Below, I share 6 natural remedies that can help you sleep soundly each night.
Increase your magnesium intake
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that supports a wide range of bodily functions, including maintaining a healthy immune system, improving muscle and nerve function, and assisting in promoting sleep. Low magnesium levels can increase your risk of developing depression, irritability, fatigue and sleep disorders. Magnesium helps relax the muscles, which in turn helps you fall and stay asleep. You can easily increase your intake through natural supplements or by introducing more dark leafy vegetables, almonds, cashews or whole grains into your diet.
Practice meditation and relaxation techniques
Learning how to calm your mind and body and prepare it for sleep can be an incredibly powerful tool. Regular meditation and mindfulness practices have been proven to prolong sleep time and improve both sleep efficiency and quality. It has also been associated with reductions in stress and inflammation in the body. You can try breathing exercises, visualisation techniques or listening to music to help you enter a meditative, relaxed state. You can also access guided meditations online to determine techniques that work best for you to achieve a state of deep relaxation. Consistency is important and applying meditation to your nightly routine can help promote better sleep, while some techniques can also be used if you wake up at night and find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Weight has been found to be effective in promoting quality sleep and, as a result, has been proven to reduce daytime symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety. Applying weight through a heavy quilt cover or weighted blanket is a great way to signal to your body that it is time to wind down. Weight can mimic a technique called deep pressure stimulation, which is commonly used by occupational therapists to assist those with autism, ADHD and even anxiety. This produces a relaxing effect on the body, lowering the heart rate and inducing a deep sense of calm, which allows you to fall into a deeper level of sleep at a faster rate. The additional weight can also help reduce tossing and turning in the night, eliminating sleep disruptions.
Experiment with aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is an excellent natural remedy you can introduce to your bedtime routine. There are a broad range of aromatherapy options available, and they are generally lower in cost and more accessible than regular medication, offering similar benefits without side effects or potential health implications. Studies have highlighted the benefits of aromatherapy across physical, mental, and psychological wellbeing, including relieving stress, relaxing muscles, and improving overall sleep quality. Essential oils such as lavender can help stabilise the mind and relax the body, preparing it for deep sleep. To help you wind down before bed, apply a few drops of essential oils into a diffuser, such as lavender, chamomile, peppermint or sandalwood. Try this at least one hour before your usual bedtime to ensure your room is enveloped by the oils. Spraying an essential oil mist directly on your pillow can also have a similar effect.
Increase natural light exposure. Light can play a key role in your body’s ability to sleep. While blue light from screens and devices can be over-stimulating and prevent sleep, natural light can help regulate your sleep pattern. Exposure to natural light has a large array of physical and mental health benefits that go beyond sleep, and has even been proven to improve productivity, attentiveness and overall performance at work. Ensure you step outside at least once a day to soak up natural light, even if it’s a simple walk around the block.
Practice yoga. Bedtime yoga is a great way to relax the body and the mind together, as it is often characterised as a mindful form of physical activity. You can build up a lot of stress and tension in your body throughout the day, particularly when working at a desk. Practising yoga can help bring awareness back into the body and has been shown to promote the production of melatonin and decrease stress, allowing you to get rid of the tension that has built up throughout the day. Calming yin yoga sequences are ideal for evening sessions, as they help settle the mind. The result is a relaxed body and mind and better preparedness for a good night’s sleep.
About Davie Fogarty
Davie Fogarty is an entrepreneur and founder of Calming Blankets – one of Australia’s highest-quality, science-driven weighted blankets. Davie established the brand in 2017, after discovering the benefits of a simple, weighted blanket on his sleep and health. Since then, Davie has grown the company into one of the country’s fastest-growing brands. www.calmingblankets.com.au.
 Nutrients 2020, mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/12/3672/htm
2 BMJ Open 2019, bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/7/e027061
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 BMJ Open 2019, bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/7/e027061
 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2020 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32536366/
 Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2021, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229921000807
 Sustainability MDPI 2020, doi:10.3390/su12104167
 BMC Psychiatry 2020, bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-020-02566-4