Natural Sleep Remedies: 10 Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Getting good sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health (and for our looks, believe it or not). But unfortunately, one third of all Americans get less than 6 hours a night. Enter natural sleep remedies.

I love sleep. Always have… and hopefully, always will. Having said that, I’ve gone through stressful stages in my life where I can struggle mildly falling asleep and it’s one of the worst things ever! My husband, Michael, isn’t a great sleeper (which complicated our arrangement for co-sleeping with baby). Neither is his mom, brother, or grandparents. Over the years together, we’ve learned some natural sleep remedies and I wanted to share these tips with you all.

Here are 10 natural sleep remedies to help you get better sleep naturally

1. Natural sleep remedies: Exercise!

Exercises are the best natural sleep remedies. Studies show that daily exercise can help improve the quality and quantity of our sleep.

If you think about it, our bodies are made to move. If we are stuck at a desk all day or cooped up inside, we can’t expect our bodies to not toss and turn during the night as they need to burn off the extra energy.

Take a look at children; they’re running around all day and crash at night. It’s also hard *not* to sleep when our body’s are physically tired.

One tip: try to exercise first thing in morning or early afternoon since exercise is a stimulant and could actually KEEP you awake if you do too close to bedtime.

2. Natural sleep remedies: dim your lights

We want to echo the dimming light of dusk and evening inside our house as this signals bedtime to our bodies. It’s confusing to our bodies if it’s dark outside and yet all the bright lights are on inside. Darkness starts stimulates hormone secretions, particularly, melatonin which helps promote restful sleep.

I believe this is one of the reasons so many people struggle with sleep today. Nearly all of us are on the computer or watching TV in brightly lit homes right up to bedtime.

So, if you can, turn off screen time after 8 p.m. If you want to watch past nightfall, dim your screens. You can even get these stylish glasses which dim the distributive blue light.

When you get ready for night, dim all of your bedroom and bathroom lights. This will help you get in the mood even more. Better yet, use candles or the fireplace for light.

3. Natural sleep remedies: sleep in total darkness

Again, this will help support melatonin production and is one of the best natural sleep remedies. You can invest in a dark blackout shade that covers all of your windows. If money is an issue, just use thick blankets. I know from experience; it’s amazing how much the darkness will improve your sleep!

You can also wear an eye mask to block out light although it’s not as effective.

True story: Griff recently wanted a night light on in his room for bedtime. Sure enough, within a few days, he started waking up at 5:30 a.m.! This is how light can disrupt sleep! Once we started going into his room and turning it off after he fell asleep, he started sleeping an hour or an hour 1/2 later. (Thank goodness!)

If you need to get up in the middle of the night for a potty break or feed the baby, turn on as little light as possible. This will make it easier to fall back asleep. (A little trick, if you can’t fall back asleep, count from 300 down to 1. Supposed to work!)

4. Natural sleep remedies: Think about sound

Mike likes absolute silence when sleeping so he wears these earplugs. I like a little white noise like the outside or using a great sleep noise maker. Some people like Enya, some people like Classical, use what works for you.

5. Natural sleep remedies: No stimulants after 3 p.m.

This means no coffee, soda, lattes, green/black/white tea. It even means no chocolate so have your desserts after lunch. If you’re really struggling with sleep, you may consider cutting off consumption at 1 p.m. or eliminating all together. (Expecting? Here’s research on drinking coffee while pregnant.)

6. Natural sleep remedies: Don’t go to bed stuffed or hungry.

That’s the worst! The gnawing stomach growl will surely keep us up as will the overstuffed feeling.

While some people sleep much better with no food after 8 p.m., I personally like to have a little kefir before bed. Mike likes a bowl of cereal. Griffin likes warmed milk.

Eat or don’t eat as you feel works best for you. If you’re battling pregnancy insomnia you may need the calories to get through the night without waking.

7. Natural sleep remedies: Be consistent.

A routine is one of the simplest natural sleep remedies. As best as you can, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Our bodies LOVE rhythms and this will help improve your sleep.

Try to create a night time routine. It works so well with babies… bath, dressed in P.J.’s, story time, and then to bed…. Same with adults.

Do a facial mask, read in bed, say prayers, whatever works for you. But by doing a little routine before bed, you’re prepping your body and mind.

8. Natural sleep remedies: Keep It Cool.

We generate a decent amount of heat at night so be sure to have a cooler bedroom temperature. This is especially important if you’re co-sleeping! In the summer, we like our fan running and in the winter we set our heat low. Sometimes I can STILL wake up from feeling hot but it’s few and far between.

9. Natural sleep remedies: See Faces in the A.M.

OK, might sound strange, but Ph.D. Seth Roberts, who suffered terrible insomnia, tested this out. He found the days he was out and about, meeting people, teaching class, etc., he slept very well at night.

The days he was home alone on the computer, he slept horrible.

He attributes this to our biology and that we used to live in tribes where social interaction was heavy in the morning.

Live alone? Or don’t see many people? Then get outside and see some faces! I even watch this video in the morning and noticed that I sleep even better!

10. Natural sleep remedies: Get Your Morning Light.

By exposing our eyes to natural sunlight in the morning, we strengthen our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. (If you’re out in the hot sun in the afternoon, be sure to use a good natural sun screen!)

A great way to do this is to workout first thing in the morning. If that isn’t doable, try just walking around the block in the early hours.

Bonus tip: Try Tart Cherry Juice

New research shows that as natural sleep remedies cherry juice can help adults sleep up to 90 minutes longer each night! I wrote a whole post on how tart cherry juice can help kids sleep better, and, according to the study, it helps adults too.

Supplements for natural sleep remedies

Sometimes we need a little extra help…

Passionfruit is supposed to work great. You can either drink in tea or in capsule form.

I like using Ashwaganda Root mixed in a little water or in capsule form.

Lastly, Calm Forte by Hylands Homeopathic worked great for Mike in a season he was really struggling with sleep.

And, of course, you could try the classic warmed milk with honey.

Finally, if you’re expecting, here are tips on how to sleep safely while pregnant.

There you have it; some natural sleep remedies to help you sleep better.

How about YOU? What natural sleep remedies help you sleep better at night? Please share with us!

27 Comments

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  1. 1. Relaxing essential oils in a diffuser at night next to my bed.
    2. A bath… with epsom salts, baking soda and essential oils. 40 minutes. 20 minutes to draw out toxins, 20 minutes to absorb the magnesium. I do this once a week…I’d like to increase to at least 2x a week.
    3. Total darkness in bedroom.
    4. Turn off wifi on cell phones at night. (We use the phone for alarms so we need them in the bedroom. We get up at 2 different times.)
    5. A grounding mat in the bed.
    6. Eye mask…..even for a nap on the couch.
    7. Some people say eat a handful of nuts 30 minutes before bed. I was one who would wake up due to hunger. It helped. (I had a reaction to nuts recently so I can’t do this one for now.)

  2. Sleeping in total darkness really helped my daughter. The street light was too bright and it took her a long time to get to sleep at night. I ordered some total darkness blinds and she sleeps so much better now. Great tips!

  3. I tried to click on the video that you like to watch sometimes in the morning sometimes and it wouldn’t bring up the Youtube video. Is there a way to let me know the name of the vdeo?
    Thanks,
    Karen

  4. Essential oils have been a life saver for me… or sleep saver. I’ve had a horrible time going to bed since my husband passed 5 years ago this June. At first it was the mourning period, but as time passed so did the pain, but sleep still didn’t come easily.

    I went to doctors and they gave me drugs, telling me that “they will do the trick”. Well they certainly did. pills do not = the answer! They made me feel groggy even when I was awake. Also the side effects are terrifying. Who wants to sleepwalk or all the other terrible things that happen without you remembering on these drugs?> so I googled for natural remedies and was really attracted to essential oils. I liked the idea of these natural extracts from plants that have all these different healing abilities, it just so happened.
    So I bought up the ones I found on this list and it’s been an incredible change ever since. I highly recommend others try them too, but no matter if they work for everyone or not, i really hope everyone can find themselves sound asleep by whatever natural means help. Sleep deprivation is a horrible thing to suffer with.

  5. the video link of the faces isn’t working. 🙁 bummer – i was curious what it was going to be!

  6. Sometimes I read your posts on my email. Often I don’t read many e-mails but in comparing your excellent information, that is so reasonable and so helpful, to other recommendations I feel you are genuinely helping because you want others to have quality life and “coaching” so we can be the best we can be. Thank you for your knowledge, concern and your personal easy approach to improve life.

  7. As someone who has chronically struggled with insomnia, I can say that magnesium and cutting sugar have been the two most significant factors in helping me sleep. When I did the Whole 30, I slept like I was a kid again!

  8. I put clary sage oil on the bottoms of my feet and forehead. Hormone balancing and sleep inducing.

  9. Great tips!
    A person’s chronology- whether you’re a morning or evening person- will also effect your needs. One of my colleagues is a morning guy and sometimes goes to work at 5am! because he just can’t stay asleep.
    There’s a fun quiz you can do at, http://thepowerofwhenquiz.com , to find your “sleep-type” which was created by Dr. Breus.

  10. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Lavender or Peace and Calming essential oils.

  11. Have you heard of earthing? Some people also call it grounding. They make an earthing sheet for your bed that plugs into only the grounded portion of an outlet. It simulates being barefoot on the ground. I have found that I sleep much better since we got the sheet. My husband is like a new man! He’s always struggled with insomnia and extreme exhaustion. He gets rejuvenating rest when he sleeps on the sheet. But don’t just trust me – you should read up on it. Pretty weird, but really fascinating stuff!

    • I find that really interesting too! I have always had a tough time sleeping, but I’ve always noticed that if I lay out on the grass midday (natural earthing!) I’m usually out like a light!

  12. Have you ever considered doing a post on how to co-sleep safely? Most of the information I find out there simply warns against co-sleeping altogether. As a new mother, I would love to know how other mothers reduce the risks of co-sleeping (ie: using/not using pillows and blankets, positioning baby, clothing to avoid ect). I would love to hear your experience with co-sleeping.
    Thanks!

  13. I sleep with a mask and earplugs. After I had my first child I couldn’t turn my brain off to sleep. I would think about everything- from what I wanted to do the next day, how to organize my time, to what if someone broke into my house (and yes, I live in a relatively quiet and safe area). Putting in the plugs forced me to listen to only my breathing. The eyepatch forced me to keep my eyes shut and not randomly open them. I highly recommend these before resorting to any pills or such. I get so sad when I read about people who have taken cough medicines solely for their drowsy effect. Oh, and I do have blackout curtains in my room and my daughter’s. But, we do use very very dull LED night lights in the bathroom and my daughter has a dimmer in her room for a lamp. Most night lights are very bright. I would only consider these downstairs in my home for people visiting who might need to venture downstairs for something. I have no problems with the super-low light with my older daughter. She sleeps late without any issues.

  14. A glass of raw milk right before bed greatly improves my sleep the whole night through. Warm bone broth seems to do the trick too. Probably any protein helps.

  15. My boyfriend is a firefighter so he works shift work, which really messes with his sleep. Anyway, I just bought him blackout shades from ShiftShade and he likes them so far! They make the room really dark!

    Anyway, I totally agree with the bedtime routine. It’s improved my sleep a lot already! Hopefully it keeps getting better when I’m done with school in December 😀

  16. Because I have adrenal burnout, my body is slugglish in the morning and wired at bedtime. My clock is completely off! But through some retraining -and tons of research- I have found some things that work. First off, it is extrmeley important to be in bed by 10 (especially if you have adrenal problems) because throughout the day our adrenals are releasing cortisone to keep us going. The doses get smaller as the day goes on, so that we will be naturally ready for bed, however, at 11 pm, there is one more small release that happens. It kick starts the hormone cascade that does all our healing when we sleep. If you are asleep by 11, you will sleep through it. However, if you are a nite owl like I used to be, then that small release will give you a second wind because now the body believes it must work harder to keep you awake. The result? You lose out on the healing hormones and you may not be able to fall asleep now for a few more hours. It certainly explains why I used to stay up until 2 am!!

    Also, melatonin works really well for me. But you have to play with it to find your perfect dose. If I take too much I get funky dreams. So I buy liquid melatonin from Vitacost and in a couple of days I found my perfect dose. So much easier than trying to split a pill. Its cheap, too.

    On nites I know I am going to have monkey-mind I will include some GABA. I also make sure to get plenty of magnesium throughout the day I have also found that taking my gelatin regularly helps a lot. But for me I have to keep all my doses before 3 pm or I will get monkey-mind that nothing will fix. Oh and of course, I like a cup of raw milk with 2 peanut butter cookies before bed. That way I’ve had protein, fat and carbs in my belly before I doze off.

  17. Great tips! I’m a really bad sleeper but so is my mom, we kinda have the same problems so I’m a bit afraid that it’s genetic. I feel like I’m in a bad circel cuz i go to bed really late, get up early in the mornig but some days I’m just so tired and about the afternoon time i start getting fresher and it feels like my body has just started it’s day by that time, so when it’s 10 in the evening and should be going to bed I just don’t feel tired at all

  18. I second the Cal/Mag supplement before bed! My mom and brother swear by it!

  19. a calcium/magnesium supplement (powder added to water) helps. when I remember to take it! also, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that not having a baby would REALLY help me sleep all night ;).

  20. All good tips! Once my son was sleeping through the night, I found that I was no longer able to. Within a couple of months my mind was trained to either wake up several times or resist going to sleep. The only thing I’ve found that really helps (in addition to cooler and darker room, routine, dim lights etc.) is drinking a little warm milk without anything in it – I think it’s no more than 1/4 cup. I wonder if it’s a mind trick at this point, but I’ll take it.

  21. I learned by accident this week that I need pitch black to sleep better…. the street light outside my window went out for a few days, and I slept like a baby. It’s back on…. and now not so much! And I’ve been sleeping better at a friends house whose guest room is pitch black. I’m getting some black out curtains today!!!

  22. I find that gelatin helps. I take it with every meal, and it helps even more if I take a tablespoon in a cup of herbal tea just before bedtime. Relaxation techniques and relaxation/sleep apps work, too (I like the apps that Andrew Johnson makes).

  23. Well, since I am pregnant right now I have to get up to pee around 5-7 times a night! 😛 But I think these are going to be good tips for after my baby is here. 🙂

  24. Oh I totally AGREE! I have to sleep in pitch black, cool/cold room, and I generally have never had a problem falling asleep. I can usually be out cold in 10-15 minutes. My husband on the other hand…. oh did he protest the cool room (He LOVES hot weather, bleh!). With the fan on he thought he would dry out his throat and make him sick. Didn’t happen cause I don’t have the fan blowing straight on us. Also when he sleeps, like you said, he generates heat. I am talking radiator level here folks. I can cuddle with him to fall asleep but I ALWAYS move away in my sleep, cause he practically roasts me alive. I think his natural body temperature is slightly lower than average cause his whole family is from a really dry desert-y climate. Hey MamaNatural, Do some people really have a slightly higher or lower body temperature to survive colder or hotter temperatures?

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