I’m firmly convinced that we are only beginning to understand how important sleep is for health, but we already know that sleep is important for proper hormone function, blood sugar regulation, cell regeneration and much more.
Natural Sleep Remedies
I’ve seen so many articles with natural sleep remedies that include many of the basic things like avoiding caffeine, regular exercise, and creating a good sleep environment. These things are all definitely important, but I’ve also gotten comments from readers who have tried all of those things and still struggle with sleep.
For those who have tried creating a normal sleep routine, using magnesium oil, creating a completely dark bedroom and even supplements and they haven’t worked, these unusual sleep remedies may help. Of course, anyone with a serious or long-lasting sleep problem should also find a good doctor or functional medicine doctor who specialized in sleep to make sure there isn’t a deeper issue.
These unusual natural sleep remedies are extremely effective, in my experience, but they aren’t often recommended. The good news, they are all either very inexpensive or free, so they are worth a try!
Put Your Feet Up – The Right Way
I got this tip from a friend who had reversed his own health struggles through diet and lifestyle changes. Many of us are standing, walking, or (hopefully not) sitting for most of the day. As a result, blood and lymph fluid can collect in the legs.
This is often more noticeable during pregnancy or if there is an underlying medical condition. If you’ve had kids, did you notice your feet and ankles being slightly more tired/sore/swollen at night when you were pregnant?
Remedy: The simple and free remedy is to just put your feet up for 15-30 minutes at night. The two ways that seem to be most effective are lying on the ground and resting the feet on a couch or chair at a 90 degree angle OR lying on the ground or bed and resting the legs straight up against the wall (more difficult).
What We Do: I try to do this every night because I really do seem to sleep better. Some nights, we do this as a family while we read books or do our family nighttime routine. Sound boring? Try reading or listening to a podcast while sitting there.
Overachiever version: If you want the benefits of elevating your feet along with the benefits of inversion, consider trying gravity boots. We just got these and my husband loves them and prefers them to just lying with his feet up. There is some evidence that full inversion can help joints and might help alleviate back pain.
Honey and Salt
This remedy actually indirectly came from my grandmother who told me once that kids sleep better when you give them something sweet and salty at night. Her theory was that it helped regulate blood sugar, which is probably true, but I’m not sure if her choice of a sweet/salty snack for her kids was a real food one.
Turns out, there may be some scientific backing to this decades old idea…
Salt can help lower cortisol levels and balance blood sugar levels, which is what you want at night for restful sleep. Natural sugars can help by elevating insulin slightly, which helps lower cortisol (this is one of the reasons my doctor suggests consuming carbohydrates at night and not in the morning).
Carbohydrates of any kind may also help Tryptophan cross the blood brain barrier and improve melatonin production.
My kids call this “honey salt” and ask for it some nights. The idea is that the combination of sweet and salty in a small amount can help promote restful sleep. From our small scale trial of this (7 people), there does seem to be an effect.
What to Do: Combine a tiny amount (1/2 tsp) of a natural sugar (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc) with a sprinkle of natural salt and consume 15-20 minutes before bed. Alternately, stir the mixture into a cup of chamomile tea and add a teaspoon of gelatin powder (optional).
This natural sleep remedy was recommended by my massage therapist who said that she learned it from Dr. Weil. It basically involves a slow and patterned breathing that helps oxygenate the blood and promote relaxation.
When I researched this type of breathing, I found that many religions use some variation of it for meditation or prayer. Recent information suggests that it may help the body shift from sympathetic nervous activity (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (relaxation).
Either way, it is a quick and simple technique that seems to really help promote restful sleep and that doesn’t cost a thing.
What to Do:
- Sitting in a relaxed position or lying down, breathe in through the nose as you count to four.
- Hold your breath as you count to seven.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth as you count to eight.
- Repeat 3-4 times or until you feel relaxed.
This unusual remedy comes highly recommended in online reviews but has some scientific backing as well. Studies show that it may help with insomnia, improve melatonin levels, and reduce inflammation to promote restful sleep. It may even help improve how long we sleep:
Researchers from Louisiana State University had seven older adults with insomnia drink eight ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks, followed by two weeks of no juice, and then two more weeks of drinking a placebo beverage. Compared to the placebo, drinking the cherry juice resulted in an average of 84 more minutes of sleep time each night.
What to do: I drink a tablespoon of tart cherry juice at night to help with sleep quality, especially on days with intense workouts since it also seems to help with muscle recovery and stiffness. Cherry Juice can even be added to chamomile tea or other relaxing herbal teas (with the honey salt remedy above) to help improve the taste.
More Natural Sleep Help
- Tips to Improve Sleep Naturally (diet, routine, supplements and environment)
- Guide to Getting Great Sleep
- Grounding for Sleep
- Why My Kids Don’t Have a Nightlight
- How to Make Magnesium Oil
How is your sleep? Do you have a bedtime routine or something that helps you sleep well?