Feeling stressed out? Can’t sleep? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.
It’s a vicious circle – our minds are clogged with anxious thoughts, so we can’t sleep. And because we can’t sleep we get more tired, more irritable and, yes, more stressed. The sheer exhaustion of it all is enough to make you crash out…if only it were that easy!
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can relieve the frustration of sleepless nights; and in doing so, reduce your stress levels. Some of these ways include turning to medication or seeing what the experts have to say. Others take a natural approach, which is what I’ll be covering here.
So without further ado, here are four natural remedies for sleep and stress:
1. Sprinkle Some Lavender Oil on Your Pillow
You’re probably familiar with the calming qualities of lavender…but maybe you’re less familiar with all the ways it can be used. Some people like diffusing the essential oil or adding a few drops to a hot bath before bedtime. Others burn incense or light lavender-scented candles. Some even drink it in tea.
Personally, I think there’s nothing more relaxing than sinking into a pillow dashed with lavender. Soothing and inviting, it’s a sure-fire way to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and help you get to sleep.
A word of warning: Don’t be too over-zealous when sprinkling this aromatic oil. In this case, less is more; you want the scent to be calming, not overpowering!
2. Drink Chamomile Tea Before Bed
Just like lavender, this flower has a pretty good rep for its calming qualities – and with good reason, too!
Chamomile soothes the body, mind, and tummy when you need it most. It’s perfect after an evening meal or with a snack just before bed. As a bonus, chamomile can aid digestion and other problems you might have with your nervous system…plus, and I think we can all agree on this, it tastes great!
Although you can find chamomile extract pretty easily if you want to take it in ‘drop’ format, I prefer it in a calming tea. Most decent supermarkets will stock chamomile teabags; so all you have to do for instant relaxation is add hot water!
3. Give Yourself a Sesame Massage
Sesame oil doesn’t just taste great in stirfries – it has a heap of other benefits that work to soothe the body and mind, hence its prominence in Ayurvedic therapies. In fact, dripping sesame oil on the forehead – a process called Shirodhara – provides deep relaxation whilst improving blood circulation in the scalp. (Plus, doesn’t that just sound AMAZING?!!)
Other benefits of sesame oil are that it acts as a natural antioxidant and can relieve headaches. So if you’re looking for a bit of relaxation/destressing, this could be just the natural cure you need!
Try warming a little organic sesame oil by placing a bottle into a cup of hot water. Once it has heated up a couple of degrees, apply it in slow, circular motions on your stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, and neck, before finishing with your head and temples. It doesn’t matter if your hair gets a bit greasy; the oil will act as a great conditioner and anyway, you’re just going to bed, so there’s no need to be embarrassed!
Giving yourself a bit of soothing attention in this way can work wonders for any anxiety or insomnia you might suffer from. Just try not to get too hungry after applying it!
4. Get the Right Vitamins In
If you’re having trouble sleeping, and are getting stressed out about it, it may be time to look at your vitamin intake. This doesn’t mean buying your local health food store out of supplements; often you’ll find what you need in your kitchen cupboards.
For instance, calcium can have a big impact on our sleep cycles. This is because it helps our brain cells to create melatonin, a natural sleep aid.
As the European Neurology Journal states, calcium levels are at their highest during our deep, rapid eye movement (REM) periods. So if you never get to this phase, you might be suffering from a calcium deficiency. You can get around this by having a soothing cup of warm milk before bed… mmm, even the thought of it is relaxing!
Another key vitamin when it comes to all things sleep-related is magnesium. High levels of magnesium can help to induce a deeper sleep, especially when taken with calcium (since it aids absorption). Foods that are rich in magnesium include bananas, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. Yummy.
So next time you find yourself counting sheep for the millionth time, and the fluffy buggers aren’t helping you drift off, try some of these tips instead. They’re all cheap and easy to find – and they either taste or smell great, too!
With time you’ll find yourself sleeping more soundly, and feeling a lot calmer come morning.