Natural Ways to Get Better Sleep (Even If You’re a Mom!)

Natural Ways to Get Better Sleep -Even If You're a Mom

It is common sense that we all need adequate sleep. Yet, statistics show again and again that we just aren’t getting it. For some, (including me) the idea of ever getting a solid night of uninterrupted sleep again may sound wonderful, but unrealistic. My excuse is the constant presence of a child under 18 months in my house but for many others it is insomnia, sleep disturbances, or simply not enough time.

I get it…it is hard to get decent sleep as a mom. A perfect 8 hours of blissful sleep may not work out with really little ones… but there are some things we can do, even as moms, to get better sleep.

Sleep Matters… More Than Diet or Exercise!

Sleep is a hormone dependent process, and with all the variables in our lives that can affect proper hormone balance (foods, toxins, artificial light, etc) it makes sense that many people struggle with sleep. This is also why times when hormones change often have a negative effect on sleep (menopause, puberty, pregnancy, etc)

While mainstream thinking might recommend a pharmaceutical option to help deal with sleep issues, artificially augmenting the hormone system to induce sleep isn’t without its problems (just check out the side-effects and warnings list!) and can have an impact on other hormone functions as well.

Often, lack of quality sleep stems from one or more lifestyle causes, and it is important to address these underlying issues as they can impact more than just sleep.

The Problem

Lack of sleep = Stress on the body = weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, infertility, and lowered immune function.

Hormone problems that cause sleep disturbances don’t just begin at bedtime, and they can’t be fixed by just addressing them at this time. Ever noticed that animals don’t have trouble sleeping and waking when they are supposed to? They don’t toss and turn to fall asleep and they don’t need pills to help them do so (speaking about outdoor animals… I don’t have any, but indoor animals could potentially have some of the same struggles that humans do).

Proper sleep hormone production (melatonin) depends on proper hormone function during waking hours (serotonin and others). As the endocrine system is a complete system, hormone imbalances (PCOS, Endometriosis, etc) can often lead to poor sleep and vice versa.

Stress hormones can have a tremendous impact on the sleep cycle as well, and it is a two-way street. Lack of sleep elevates stress hormones, and stress hormones can cause sleep problems.

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep?

Sleep is important for optimal health in so many ways. In fact, sleep is the one similarity across the animal kingdom. The amount of sleep needed varies greatly by species, but all animals (humans included) need sleep. Lab rats started dying after only a few days of being kept awake.

Sleep is important for almost every aspect of health:

  • Physical Health: The body repairs tissue, including heart and blood vessels during sleep. Long term poor sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
  • Obesity: Lack of sleep alone can also make you fat. One study found with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up.
  • Hormone Health: Sleep helps maintain the balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.
  • Insulin: Sleep impacts how your body handles insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which can lead to many serious problems.
  • Growth & Fertility: Deep sleep triggers the hormone cascade responsible for growth in children and teens. Do you kids tend to get growing pains at night? This could be why! This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.
  • Learning & Memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

Understanding Sleep Cycles

Of course, not all sleep is created equal. There are several stages of sleep that the body cycles through during the night:

  1. N1-This is the stage when you feel half asleep and still have some awareness of your surroundings. This is also the stage where you involuntarily jerk or kick.
  2. N2-Slightly deeper stage of sleep. You actually spend about half of your sleeping hours in this stage.
  3. N3– Deep slow sleep where your core temperature has dropped and your melatonin production is going strong. N3 cycles you into the most “productive” of the sleep cycles…
  4. REM– Rapid Eye Movement sleep is when most dreaming occurs. In REM, muscles completely relax and the mind and body regenerate at an amazing rate. Only about a quarter of your daily sleep is in REM but it is vitally important.

Research shows that the best sleep happens on a consistent schedule. This is because your circadian rhythm remains constant and your hormone production is optimal. The most beneficial hours of sleep are between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., though most adults miss about half of this.

Start By Optimizing Sleep While You Are Awake

To optimize sleep during the night, one must also optimize factors during waking hours including food, supplements and exposure to light/outdoors.

Getting a quality night of sleep actually begins when you wake at the beginning of the day and there are many factors that can have a dramatic impact on sleep length and quality.

Foods to Improve Sleep Naturally

Just as foods can impact health in other areas, foods can contribute to good or bad sleep. To help improve your chances of quality sleep, these are the best foods to consume:

  • Healthy Fats– such as coconut oil, organic and pasture raised meats, eggs, avocado and butter all help provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones.
  • High Antioxidant Foods– Also important for hormone production and removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on vegetables, high nutrient fruits, and herbal or green teas (green tea early in the day only).
  • Quality Proteins, especially at dinner: For best sleep, it is better to stop eating at least 4 hours before bedtime, and preferably by 6pm every night. Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle.

Avoid:

  • Sugars: Sugars and carbohydrates, especially at night, can cause a blood sugar spike and crash that will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people crave carbohydrates (chocolate, anyone?) in the evening, which is a sign of an underlying hormone problem to begin with but eating carbohydrates late at night can cause problems falling asleep or lead to waking in the middle of the night when blood sugar levels drop.
  • Grains– I’ve written before about the negative effect grains can have on health, and if you have an intolerance to grains, this can cause physical stress in your body, which alters the hormone cycle and can impede sleep.
  • Vegetable OilsNo one should ever eat them anyway, but I have a theory that just as these artificial fats can cause problems in new skin formation (skin cancer) they can cause problems in the hormone cycle, as hormones need (saturated) fats for production and giving the body the wrong building blocks for hormones can wreak havoc with hormone production.

Supplements to Improve Sleep Naturally

Sadly, it is often difficult to get enough nutrients from foods as our soil is depleted and foods are picked before ripe so they can be shipped around the world. Especially if you struggle from a health challenge or sleep problem, it is often helpful to supplement some key nutrients, at least in the short term, as you build your body back up.

  • Quality Omega-3s- I’ve found that taking a quality Omega-3 (this is the one I take) at lunch time seems to improve my sleep, especially over time.
  • Magnesium– Many people are deficient in Magnesium and this particular deficiency can have a big impact on sleep quality. Some people find that just adding a product like Natural Calm about 30 minutes before bedtime can really improve sleep.
  • Gelatin– Many of us eat a disproportionate amount of animal muscle meat compared to bone broths, organ meats and marrow. If you aren’t a fan of consuming liver daily, drinking natural gelatin (from grassfed sources) can help balance your intake. Consumption of only muscle meats, which are higher in stress hormones, can cause problems in the sleep cycle. Personally, I often drink a cup of chamomile or herbal tea with a tablespoon of gelatin dissolved in it each night a couple hours before bed.
  • If you have a solid diet and are already taking the things above, specific sleep related herbs might help your fall asleep. Try my sleep tincture, or some chamomile or catnip to help with relaxation.

A Daily Routine for Better Sleep

A daily (and nightly) routine can make a big difference in how easily you fall and stay asleep. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you but here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
  • Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1 pm.
  • Install F.lux  (it is free) on all computers and devices to reduce blue light and help you sleep better (it is also easier on the eyes!)
  • Drink enough water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.
  • Take a soothing salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
  • Dry Brush a few hours before bed– Dry brushing is supposed to help with cellulite but I noticed that the gentle lymphatic movement also helped my sleep. I used these brushes to gently brush my skin according to the instructions.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day (even if you aren’t trying to get your vitamin D). The exposure to the wide-spectrum light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night
  • Avoid artificial light as much as possible after the sun goes down.
  • Pray, meditate or find a way to reduce stress.
  • Give yourself a massage before bed to release stress and help relax (Personally, I love this for home-massage)
  • Stretch before bed to relax muscles.

How to Improve Your Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment is also extremely important for sleep quality. Artificial light, warm temperatures, sudden noises, and EMFs can all effect sleep quality, but these things are almost always fixable. Again, you’ll have to experiment to figure out what works best for you, but in general, here are some tips:

  • Remove ALL artificial light, including the light on your alarm clock, TV light, phone, etc. I use blackout curtains. because we have artificial light outside, and cover my clock light with a towel. Our kids don’t have night lights, and they typically sleep very well.
  • Keep the temperature around 65-68 degrees and always below 70 degrees.
  • Try some white noise like sounds of rain, ocean or our kids’ favorite, Gregorian Chant (though if any of them ever decide to become a cloistered religious, they will have trouble… chant always puts them to sleep!).
  • Trade out your jolting buzzing alarm clock for a gentle sunlight alarm clock that will wake you up much more gently. I don’t know about you, but my dread of the sound of the alarm clock sound always caused me to wake up a few times in the early morning in anticipation of it.
  • Try an earthing sheet. I am still experimenting with this one, but there is some evidence that sleeping on a grounding mat reduces your exposure to EMFs and improves sleep quality. While I have noticed a big difference on myself, I don’t know how much is mental, so I’m experimenting with having the kids sleep on it without them knowing what it does. The book Earthing explains more of the theory behind this method. According to the book, you can also create the same effect by spending time barefoot outside on dirt, grass or rocks daily for at least 30 minutes (If you garden barefoot in the middle of the day, you’ll get three benefits in one! Exercise, Vitamin D and the negative electrons from the earth).

Just Sleep!

I implore you… please make time to get enough sleep. It is tremendously important for your health and it doesn’t cost anything!

If you can’t afford supplements or organic food or don’t have time to workout, at least make sleep a priority!

I understand how tough it can be, especially with kids when those precious hours at night are sometimes the only time a couple gets alone, but in the long run, the extra hours of sleep will equal happier, more patient parents and hopefully many more years of time together.

I also know how tough it can be to sleep with nursing babies, and my personal solution is to have baby in our room/bed so I don’t have to completely wake up to nurse. There is also some evidence that there are protective hormones for mom and baby that allow mom to wake to nurse baby without ill effect to her sleep patterns.

Do you have trouble sleeping? What is your sleep routine like? Any good tips? Share below!

Improve sleep naturally without drugs by optimizing diet, supplements, exercise and sleep environment.

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Reader Comments

  1. I *know* how important sleep is and I have a dilemma:  a night-nursing toddler interrupts my sleep all night.  I need my sleep but I don’t think either of us is ready to night wean.  *sigh*

  2. Wow, thanks!  I am new to your blog, and a lifelong insomniac… even as a child.  Thanks so much for the info as there are many things I’ve never thought about or known about.  I’ve JUST started taking baths with bath salts and supplementing with magnesium.  I also take melatonin, which isn’t ideal but better than ambien!

     I’ve always thought I might have a gluten/dairy intolerence, so maybe I need to do a little experiment with it..  never thought about it being connected to sleep.  And, reading this made me realize it might be the most likely since I’ve had troubble since childhood. I’ve never even heard about taking gelatin or including certain healthy fats.

    The most helpful to me for insomnia has been EXERCISE!  When I ran or power walked a few miles a day, I slept much, much better.  That, and having absolutely no visual or overstimulating media a few hours before bed. 

    THank you, thank you for this post!

  3. I found it incredibly helpful to learn that for most of human history, people would wake up for an hour or two in the middle of the night.  (This article gives a good overview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783)  So it’s actually more biologically ‘normal’ to wake in the middle of the night, than to sleep a solid 8 hours.  Helps me not stress out so much if I’m lying awake at 2 am and see it as an opportunity to meditate without interruption!

    • A post on bi-phasic sleep is in the works. I agree… it’s fascinating…

      •  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!  It fits in so well with Paleo to know how humans have actually slept for most of their history. 

      • Looking forward to that post!

  4. Great post; I’ll bet many mothers of babies/toddlers use the time before bed to use the computer because the kids are asleep.  This post is a reminder to avoid that at night.  One thing I’d add- sleep supplements aren’t a  good idea but there are some cases where they may be less harmful and to a certain degree ‘necessary.’  Many children who have an autism spectrum disorder do not produce melatonin at the right times of day and hence can take hours to fall asleep, be up for lengthy times in the middle of the night and arise very early.  For these children I don’t think melatonin supplementation is as unadvisable since you are providing their body with something it’s not able to make correctly.   Just wanted to add that in case you have other readers (I’ve got a daughter with high functioning autism) who have poorly sleeping asd kids and might be hesitant to use melatonin.

    • It’s important to note that generally only about 0.3 mg melatonin is needed..

    • Hi! Great information! This article recommends green tea during the morning hours. Does drinking decaffeinated green tea have the same effect on our bodies as caffeinated?

      Thank you,

      Tina

  5. Great tips and hints; my biggest struggle right now is with my job. I work 4-5 night shifts a week and have a family and want to have time in the kitchen, outside in the sun, to run errands and just veg out…my sleep schedule ends up being very erratic! I just switched over to the Traditional diet outlined by the WAPF and Sally Fallon; actually have been doing it for 2 months now with some leaps and some setbacks; I have lost 15 pounds (my satiety and cravings are pretty much managed) but I have also found I get dizzy when I stand up too fast or stretch too deeply (a real bummer as the reason I switched my diet was to get away from the hypoglycemic-esque dizzy spells I had when I didnt eat every few hours)! I cut out caffeine and it seems to be helping…but the progress is very slows so I wonder if there is another problem; I feel like my crumby sleep schedule is the missing piece to fixing this issue (as well as my digestive issues) but I don’t know how to get around this damned shift work! Do you have any suggestions? Thanks! 🙂

    • Sometimes dizzyness when getting up is a sign of adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by a variety of things.  (heavy metal problems or chronic low grade infection).  Sometimes just resting with your eyes closed is helpful even if you aren’t sleeping.  Also, Certain supplements and lifestyle changes can help alot!  Also, Joyce Meyer helps me alot!  She has been a Christian for a long time, and been through about everything you can imagine!  I hope you start feeling better very soon!

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Meyer

        I’m a Christian too, Kristie (since 1976), and was previously involved with the charismatic movement through a church in England I attended. Now I am so grateful to have been taken out of it and placed on more solid Scriptural ground (it took a long time…). Please check out this well-informed Wiki article on Joyce Meyer and draw your own conclusions as to whether she is a true Christian or not. I wholly agree that knowing Christ and His Word is undoubtedly the biggest part of finding true ‘health’ whilst we remain on this earth, and the best possible compliment to our quest for the sound physical health that we have often been robbed of through misinformation from many sources; but there are many false ‘Christs’ out there (about which Jesus very clearly warned His disciples), just as there are quack remedies posing as the latest magic bullet alongside some truly valuable remedies that genuinely work. All of us need to pray – constantly – for real discernment (Hebrews 4:12 is a good place to start), myself included. A sincere God bless to you. : )

    • Dizziness can also be a sign of a severe heart problem, have you seen your doctor about that?

  6. I struggle with where I live, actually. The sun doesn’t go down until about 10:30 pm here in Norway, and both me and my 4yo are sensitive to that light. This week, she hasn’t been able to sleep before around 10, and I can’t seem to drag my hiney into bed before well after midnight. I’m usually exhausted during the summer, spending the day trying to get energized, without succeeding before it’s nearly time to go to bed again, desperately longing for October when I start feeling more rested.

    We really need to work on the curtain thing, not only on our bedrooms, but also in the living room, I guess. And I’ve just installed f.lux (thank you for that tip!), as my screens probably aren’t helping much either. 🙂

  7. thank you so very very very much, it is big help to me., thank you so much again, God Bless all.

  8. Great post! I have one question though… what is the basis to this temperature you suggest? Living in a tropical place (Brazil), I feel way more comfortable at around 80. If it’s bellow 70, I have to put on a lot of clothes and a “serious” blanket. And yet it’s hard to feel comfortable, because it annoys me to breath the “cold” air.

    • Sleep hormones are produced most easily in a cool environment… I would guess there is some variation if you are used to higher temps

  9. I have back pain that only allows me to sleep 4-5 hours before I can’t stand the pain anymore, any suggestions, I have seen a chiropractor, bought a new bed etc….

    • Have you ever tried magnesium? It seems to help people with bone/joint issues. Gelatin might also help…

  10. Thanks so much for the link to F.lux – what a wonderful difference it makes at night

  11. f.lux.. just downloaded it. I can already feel a difference just looking at the screen. Time to start trying some of your other suggestions. I’ve been a serious insomniac the last few years. I just had surgery to reduce the pain which use to keep me up, but I can’t seem to stay rested any more. Hopefully this will help!

  12. I don’t have trouble sleeping but my twins do which means I end up awake putting them back to sleep. I’ve tried co sleeping but a queen bed with two 17 month olds just doesn’t work . I’ll have to night wean to get more sleep … any herbal teas that will make them not want to nurse at night?

  13. I have a question regarding the artificial light… we got rid of all the artificial light in our rooms at night several months ago with no problems, but I have a 4 year old who has recently started getting night terrors. Every night we have to keep her night light on to get her to go to sleep (and it’s a struggle even with the night light- she cries and says she is scared of the dark) and then we turn it off when she goes to sleep but then she wakes up several times in the middle of the night screaming that she is scared so we have to turn it back on or else none of us get any sleep. Do you have any suggestions? I really don’t want to expose her to the artificial light but it seems that is the only way she will sleep. Are there any options for natural light night lights?

    • We use a Himalayan salt lamp from Sprouts or Amazon or a yellow “bug light” bulb from Walmart or hardware store.
      These allow you to see without telling your body it’s time to make “wake up” hormones.

  14. i purchased the sunrise alarm clock about 2 years ago. Huge Difference!!! on days off i used to sleep through my alarm. on work days i would jump awake, not in a good way (530am ugh!) now with this alarm it is so much easier to get up. wish i got one a long time ago!

  15. How do you adjust your kids to sleeping in the dark? We have ours only on the weekends and I can’t control the environment at their mothers house, but our 8 year old will have crying fits if her FOUR night lights aren’t on, the hallway light must be on (its on a dimmer though so its at the lowest setting) and she would live to have the kitchen light on as well. Her bedroom looks into the kitchen where there is a window above the sink which she says scares her to see out of. I’ve offered to move her bed, but she wants to be able to see out the door. I’m at a total loss because I know that the lights being on us disruptive to her sleep, but I don’t know how to find a compromise… And if I waited until she was asleep to turn all lights off, she wakes in the middle of the night and would absolutely have a meltdown… Can you offer any advice?

    • I’d at least make sure there is no blue light (alarm clock, fluorescent bulb, etc and get as soft of a yellow night light as possible… maybe one with a dimmer switch?

  16. Why is it bad to take FCLO/Vit D after 2pm?

    • The Vitamin D can cause the body to think it is mid-day again and can keep you awake…

      • Thank you for pointing this out! It should have been obvious to me. I struggle with bad sleep a lot. Often, I only remember in the evening to take my vitamins and I have been taking vitamin d in the evening a lot!! No wonder! This is going to be so helpful – thank you so much!

  17. Katie, I love all your suggestions but as an Acupuncturist and herbalist I find that for some folks they still have trouble turning off their mind when they are trying to stay asleep. Like many I fall asleep easily from a long day but sometimes wake up in the middle of the night. There is nothing worse it seems than spending hours ruminating over … well, just about anything under the sun. What works for me in this scenario is a Traditional Chinese herbal formula that has been used for over 800 years. I now always keep a packet of iSleep Herb Pack next to my bed just in case. It’s safe to take every night, although I rarely do. It stops the over-thinking mind and there are no side effects taking it in the middle of the night. I still wake up alert and ready for my day. Thanks for all your sleep suggestions! It seems sleep, as we get older is just not as easy as it was when we were kids.

  18. This came at a perfect time. My college daughter is suffering from insomnia and the dr. just put her on an antidepressant. While it’s helping, it’s also a problem waking up in the morning. I don’t want her to grow dependent on antidepressants (and neither does she). I tweeted this article for her and she loves it! Thank you!

  19. Brilliant info – I have always slept well but recently wanted to get into a better routine and make it a priority – I will point my readers in your direction! Thank you

  20. I’m never able to sleep at night.. I always end up staying awake the whole night, sleeping at 4 or 5 am and waking up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.. I’ve tried putting myself to sleep at 10pm or around that time but always end up waking up between 2-4am.. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing case when I do sleep during the day I sleep well and am very rested but I miss out on all the sunlight.. I’ve always had a problem with sleep even as a teenager but since I have hormonal imbalance problems I’m trying to find a better sleep pattern for myself.. I already do a majority of the things suggested but it’s just that I think my body feels so much more happier and restes when I sleep in the early mornings as opposed to conventional sleeping times..

    • this is me exactly

  21. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the Himalayan Rock salt lamps? I have a few for air purifying and relaxation effects, but I believe the light has to be on for it to work, so there is some artificial light when I sleep. Thoughts?

    • I just stick to the salt lamps during the day and darkness at night…

  22. In reference to your cold therapy bit…

    http://news.jobbook.com/2013/03/12-fabulous-reasons-to-take-cold-showers/

    I’ve been taking cold showers 2-3x daily for about two weeks…I feel like a different person! My energy is higher and I’m more motivated. I feel like a new person every time I get out of the shower plus it always feels like I’ve accomplished something. In the morning I take only cold and at night I switch up between cold and really hot then finish with cold…if I’m lucky I get a cold one in midday too…Mmm love it

  23. Love your blog! So much great information! I’m a dental hygienist and thought I would mention the use of nightguards. I speak to patients daily who have obvious signs of wear on their teeth. When I ask if they sleep well, the answer is almost 100% no! Night grinding and clenching can wake you from a good sleep. Wearing a custom nightguard (made at your dentist’s office) can solve that problem. I wear one every night and it makes a big difference in my sleep!!

    • YES! I LOVE my night guard. If I forget it, I will get up (and risk waking everyone else up, as we have a 15 mo old & 4 yr old in bed too). My dog chewed it up once several years ago, and it was horrible till I got a new one. They are expensive though. I think it was $600 with insurance. I used several OTC ones previously and they aren’t comfortable at all.
      Thanks for all the tips… we actually don’t do many of these suggestions already, but several are big changes so we will see how desperate we are for sleep! I did forward it to my hubby.
      It’s midnight now & I’m on my phone reading this & hubby has the tv on – that’s his way to sleep. I can’t stand it but just use an eye mask. Our compromise was no volume (I listen to Dream Spiral electric harp at night…)

  24. Please help! My cousin’s 18-mo old baby girl is having a lot of trouble sleeping, which means so does Mommy, and she’s 7 mos. pregnant so she needs extra rest. Which she’s not getting so she’s always exhausted. Daddy helps a lot, taking care of Baby when she wakes at night, but she’s apparently very loud so Mommy can’t sleep. I’m concerned about the effect this is having on her health, since she’s also still working for the next 2 months and then Baby #2 will be here!

    I just found your sweet dreams tincture recipe but she needs help much sooner than that would be ready. I do have a chamomile tincture and a lavender tincture, and magnesium flakes so I could make some oil. Is there anything else you or anyone could recommend to help Baby sleep? Thanks so much! 🙂

    • I’m reading this several mos. later so this may not be helpful at this time.

      I recommend Mack’s earplugs, sold at Walgreens. They will block out at least 50% of noise.
      They are like a pliable wax that you stretch out over the opening to your inner ear.
      Does not go into the ear hole, so please read instructions very CAREFULLY.

  25. I used to be able to get to sleep with little problems, until I got my pet mice and rats. I love them to death, but they are constantly running on their exercise wheels while I’m trying to get to sleep (even the supposed ‘silent’ wheels, make a lot of noise). Of course all that noise sets off my dog into a barking/growling frenzy. Any advice on ways to reduce noise distractions? I really don’t have the option to move the animals to another room.

  26. I work 3 nights a week and the have trouble sleeping the other nights. I often use melatonin in my herbal tea at night and have been wondering if it is such a good idea. What is so bad about melatonin? I will make your remedy and use it. Thanks!

  27. Hi ive also been put on amitriptyline antidepresents for chronic insomina not helping much going to try these tips thankyou. Has anyone else got any more suggestions as iam really struggling at the moment ?? Due to lack of sleep my bodys gone down hill immune system and muschels ache and seem to have a temp at night. Any advice would be very grateful please xxx

  28. Hi my name is Deb and i’m Menopausal! Have found your your advice very good and have started to put into practice a few things already. If you have anything for menopause specifically please; 10 yrs and still hot flashing and taking a sleeping after many herbs vitamins you name it! Thanks so much!

    Deb

      • Yes I have been taking cal mag but last night i had a liquid mag and my mind seemed more relaxed. I will look into getting this product as this was a sample of Calm. TXS again!

  29. Am with you on health issues.. particularly hormonal imbalances,,
    Thanks…

  30. What is good for thinning, weak, hair/loss

  31. For how long can you change your habits ? The only thing that can be permanently changed right away is your mattress , just buy something like that and you’re all set ( any of those 8 inch mattresses is good , I’ve bought this one cause it’s Amazon #1 top rated and 1100 reviews of 5 stars can’t be wrong – and my review is one of those 5 stars 😉 ) …

    Hope I saved your night 🙂

  32. Hey Katie! I’ve decided to finally sort my lifestyle out and have been going through every single article! You’re amazing!
    The only issue I have is I work long hours in a bar, which also means a lot of the time I don’t get in until at least 3am and then I’m back up again at 8/9am. I’m usually really hungry when I get in from work, so need to eat (something very easy and quick as I’m so tired), then all I want to do is go straight to sleep, so I get as much rest as possible.
    The problems I have are needing food to fill me up that won’t keep me awake, and also getting to get my brain to shut off. No matter how tired my body feels, my brain is wide awake! Any advice? xo

    • That is really tough… any kind of late night or shift work definitely makes it more difficult. Maybe try a sleep induction mat to help you get to sleep more quickly and consume some source of healthy fats and protein (and maybe incorporate gelatin in some way as it promotes sleep). Soup is a great option that you can make ahead of time and drink on the way to bed.

  33. Have any of you used the SleepCycle app in the itunes app store? It is amazing. It is very fun to see how many hours of sleep you actually get…. very motivating too!

  34. Do you know of a non-toxic blackout curtain? The research I am doing is showing that the blackout liner is treated with chemical flame retardants. Thanks!

  35. Being a teenager with an overactive mind, sleep eludes me more often than not. I never agreed with the idea of sleeping pills, I try to use natural remedies. Chamomile tea with honey work for sometime, but even that started to wear off. I went through a two-three week period with no sleep at all, I even blacked out a few times during the day. The third week I decided to spend all the extra time awake to do extensive research on insomnia. In my research I stumbled upon valerian root. I discovered that valerian root slows down the pace of the mind, meaning that instead of me having racing thoughts all night my brain could relax. I bought some valerian root and started with one capsule and for the first night in weeks I sleet. I would keep valerian root by my bed, so if I had a night where I couldn’t I would take 1-3 (3 being the recommended number to take). I would highly recommend this herb for trouble sleeping(beware though, the name means “to be strong” in reference to its smell).

  36. Hey Katie, I’ve learned and loved from your blog for a long time now, thank you 🙂 but in reference to the posts I’ve read from you about sleep – my hubbs works a night schedule, and has for years…how can we make sure that he is getting what he needs even though he isn’t getting sleep during the “best” hours…I worry about the long term affects of a schedule like his. Thanks Katie!

  37. I work at night for seven days a week and am off for another seven days.This has really messed things up for me yet day shift is out of question for me.How can I fix my sleeping routine.
    I have also struggled a lot with sleeping.

  38. Thank you for this wonderful insight on improving sleep. Do you know of any good pillows? I’ve been searching for a good pillow for a long time and have not found one yet. What do you think about hulled buckwheat pillow?

  39. I’m barely functioning with two little ones who don’t sleep well. My 7 month old wakes every 1.5 to 2 hours and will cry until nursed (though he’s now eating solid food and weighs over 20 lbs, so it’s more out of habit) and my 2 year old gets up frequently unless my husband stays in his room. My pediatrician recommend magnesium for my 2 year old which we just started a couple days ago. It’s a struggle as the texture isn’t great. We tried natural calm, but he won’t drink that much at one time. There is no way my infant will take either — do you think if I supplement it in MY diet, it would help my infant via nursing?

    • I’m not sure how old this question is, but I was having the same problem with my 2-year-old and I got the book Sleeping Through the Night. It works. It’s not easy the first couple of nights, and I admit I wanted to give up because I didn’t think it would work, but it worked great. Sometimes it’s not anything that is lacking in their diet, it’s more the negative sleep associations (she explains in the book). Basically, if they go to sleep with someone in the room and then wake up and they are not there, it makes them unable to fall asleep again on their own. Or if they go to sleep while nursing and wake up during the night, they need to nurse again unless they are trained to sleep on their own. Try it, it works. The book was recommended to my friend by the hospital’s child psychologist and three of us at my workplace have used it and it worked amazingly well for all of us. Like I said, stick with it the first couple of days, it’s not fun, but it is worth it when your kids are sleeping through the night.

  40. Thanks for these tips. One of my questions regarding to exposing yourself to broad spectrum light, is this skin or eyes. I was wondering if it would work if I am wearing sunglasses.

    Thanks for your answer in advance.

  41. I could not sleep properly at night. We have a huge number of mosquitoes in our place. These will not let sleep properly in the night. Another issue is the temperature is improper in My room. These problems wake up me in the middle of the night. I am taking proper food and doing enough exercise everyday. But still i cannot sleep properly in the night. Exposure to sunlight is the main problem for me because our schools run from morning to evening. So i want you to solve these issues and help me.

  42. Hey i am insomniac from teenage time..some yrs it had gone but recently since 5-7mnths it’s going on again..i m taking alzolam .5 bt dnt want to take it..i want some natural remedies..plzz help..i feel like mad..though i hv depressn n anxiety also…i stay awake the whole day..24 hrs..nt even feel dizziness at all..

  43. Hello all, I am a life long insomniac as well. Tea with geletin (thanks Wellness mama) has helped me sleep better on many occasions although I still suffer some nights. Especially if I get a little off track. Magnesium works great too, but it gives me loose stool to pretty bad diarrhea every time. I wish I could take it! Anyone have any advice on this? Would the Calm supplement be a better option?

    • 3-Magnesium L-Threonate does not upset my bowels where other forms of magnesium do.
      500mg at lunch and 500mg at dinner…has helped my sleeping problems a lot!
      I got mine at mercola.com

    • I take 500 mg mag gluconate (windmill brand) twice daily for migraine prevention. Doesn’t upset bowels at all. Hard to source though. Only one pharmacy in my city carries it…

  44. Hi, My Wife is experiencing lesser days of her periods post pregnancy. we have a 2 year old kid. few days back she consulted a doctor and got the feedback that post pregnancy, due to lesser amount sex (we normally have it once in a week or sometimes once in 15 days), a women start facing a problem of slow development of hormones in the body which results in imbalance in periods.

    please suggest should, if this is the reason of imbalance in her periods or there can be other reason as well. and what are the ways to improve it.

    thanks

  45. Great article–practical and actionable! One additional suggestion I have found that works well is to end my day–the very last thing–with an expression of the three people, events, or blessings for which I was most grateful.

    Putting the mind in the frame of gratitude, especially as the last conscious thought process, puts the body in the right frame of mind to close out the day. Even if the day was tough, the process works, as everyone still has their “top 3” list in the face of challenges.

    All the best!

  46. Exercise is NOT always the best thing for insomnia….Anyone with weak adrenals sould avoid exercising intensely especially during evening hours as it will only worsen insomnia. The adrenals cannot handle such load. Also, consuming coconut oil before bedtime will give you such an energy boost, that you will be climbing the walls..

  47. Hi
    Surely you don’t mean vegetable oils are artificial fats. Perhaps you need to change under “foods to avoid” “vegetable fats” to “modified fats” or “Hydrogenated fats”. Coconut oil is a vegetable fat… It could confuse people.
    Also what about herbs ?

    Thanks for your blog though. Never knew coconut oil could help.

  48. i’d love to know if anyone wears a nightguard to bed (for avoiding grinding or clinching teeth at night).
    i have one from the dentist, but it’s SO hard that i feel like i’m grinding down my front teeth! go figure. and then i bought a $20 one at Kroger and made it to fit my teeth (boiling it to soften it etc)
    anyway, i got that thing in my mouth and it (tastes and) smells like a shower curtain. so then i’m thinking. YEAH, now i can absorb plastic toxins through my mouth all night…
    anyone know what i can do or buy? (i know that grinding teeth is usually a gut issue… i’m working on that too 🙂 thanks, e

    • Serenity by doTERRA essential oil as. I apply it to the junction of the jaw (in front of ear) and along bottom jawline or wherever it hurts. It’s a blend so no carrier oil is needed.

  49. That’s interesting about the fats you mentioned– fermented CLO, coconut oil, etc. I have added them to my diet, but not with the purpose of improving my sleep. I’m curious if you think they’ve played a major role in your sleep improvement or not? Regarding your nutritional suggestions, do you think it matters what time or day, or just the fact that you’re consuming them?

  50. Hi, is there enough of magnesium I would need in a muti-vitamin or should I take extra? How much magnesium do I need? I been suffering from chronic insomnia for years and I’m now in premonopause and it’s getting worse. I’m feeling so exhausted and my body hurts so bad. I got a complete blood work to check my hormones because of the hot flashes, anxiety, and so many other symptoms and the blood work came back abnormal. I’ve been giving all types of sleep medications and nothing helps. I hate not being able to sleep. I can fall asleep, is staying asleep that’s the problem. Any info that can help, please I will greatly appreciated it.

      • Hi, Carmen,
        may I suggest you Google Dr. Jacob Teitlebaum? He is truly excellent on both sleep problems / chronic fatigue, and pain (obviously these are often interconnected). He is has a solid ‘western’ medical training, but is also very much up on all good things naturopathic, and is one of those doctors who really understands how best to combine the two approaches without going overboard in either direction. He has a lovely sense of humour, and you can book a telephone consultation with him if you wish. (You sound as though you are really struggling, so I would recommend that you find his contact information on the Internet and make an appointment as soon as you are able. I have not consulted with him personally, but I have followed several of the excellent suggestions published in his books and articles, and found them both very helpful and reassuring.
        God bless, and all the best of luck in your search for help.

    • Start confessing the promises of God out loud…at the end of the day after diet, exersize etc it’s the one thing that makes you whole again…..Ie. “Greater is He (God) who is living in me that He that is the world” (satan) …another; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” …there are thousands of others to build your faith up and give you the strength & deliverance that you are seeking. God bless you.

  51. Thank you for your suggestion of trying Gregorian Chant. My autistic boy loves it at night! And I had forgotten how much I loved this genre of music when I learned about it in my music class in college. Great suggestion! 🙂

  52. Hi Katie, as always love the information you share, however little confused reading this article as I am sure in other posts you have promoted carbs at night rather than in the morning?

  53. I’ve seen a lot of people comment about shut work. I’ve always been a night person, even as a baby I’m told. After college when a regular job was needed,I never could adjust to falling asleep at a “reasonable” time and I was always exhausted. I decided not to fight it and swapped, purposefully, to a night job. I’ve never been happier or felt better as I almost never set an alarm anymore and just wake up when my body wants too.

    There are some things I do to help prevent waking up artificially thpugh. I run an air purifier and ceiling fan all year long for white noise to cover up the sounds of life outdoors. This is really the biggest help. I also make sure that the a.c. is on if it might get warm in the day. Heating up due to the outside temps rising can be a big deal. The most important thing though is not to fight it on other days by trying to have a “normal” sleep schedule. Keep those hours regular

  54. Having that late of a sunset must be very challenging!! We have blackout curtains in every bedroom. It has helped all of us (me, husband, 3 boys) tremendously.. Here on the East Coast during summer, they often try to get out of bedtime by saying, “Why do we have to settle and read!! The sun is still out!!” If you can’t find panels/curtains that you like that are affordable, you can also purchase blackout fabric from a craft or fabric store by the yard and attach it what you currently own. My mother did this for me when me children were very young and we would visit and stay the night (she only has thin, white blinds). Best of luck to you and happy sleeping.

  55. My son was the same way. Same exact situation as you—scared to go to sleep, he would also wake up. We ended up doing a salt lamp that has a dimmable switch. It’s not perfect, but we’re *all* sleeping better. And, we told him we are “phasing in” the new lamp. When I told him about the salt, where it came from, etc., he thought it was so cool. So we started with closet light remaining on with door cracked and new lamp. Next step, lamp on, closet light on, but door shut. Then closet light off. Then dimmed salt lamp, then dimmed again after a week or several days. He still uses it a couple years later, but I’m ok with it. We also walk him through some deep breathing when needed and nights when I sense he’s wound up or anxious–into a salt bath he goes! Good luck and God bless. Hope this helps you a little bit 😉

  56. Hello Wellness Momma, I LOVE LOVE the your articles! Thank you for alll you do.
    Would you have available your Sleepy Time Tincture for sale? I have nerve damage in my back/neck from surgeries gone horribly wrong!
    I’m desperate for sleep. The pain is severe, and I don’t have the energy to find all the ingredients, or to make it. Please consider.
    Thank you very much for your help.

  57. GABA and 5HTP are great sleep supplements! Thorne is a good brand.

  58. Hi katie, perfect time for this post I’m trying to focus on getting more sleep… A few questions:
    Do you wear your orange glasses all night around the house or just while on the computer?
    Do you have any solutions for children (age 4) who wake up every night either to come to parents bed or crying? (sometimes complaining of leg pains)
    My nephew sleeps with a sound machine and is now addicted and cannot sleep without it. I’m afraid to use it on my kids for this reason. Do you have this experience?
    Thanks for your amazing blog. I love it.

    • I wear then after dark around the house, even when not on the computer.
      Child sleep is tougher. It helped ours when we hung blackout curtains and got a sound machine, but we also just had to spend about two weeks being consistent with returning them to bed as soon as they woke up and not allowing them in ours before they got into the habit. Magnesium spray helped the growing pains.
      We haven’t had this experience with sound machines, but I know some parents who have this problem.

  59. Even better get a sleep study to rule out sleep apnoea. As a dentist
    I used to just hand out night guards but now I always rule out sleep apnoea then make an appropriate appliance for that then retest that the sleep apnoea is under control.

  60. good advice! I have done and follow most all of these recs. My issue is probably along the lines of hormonal imbalance. My cortisol level shoots up too early, I wake up to go the bathroom and then I have to go multiple times after that, the urgency continues until the morning. I currently see a functional medicine NP and we are working on it but I thought I’d ask if you have any suggestions on keeping cortisol levels low.

  61. There are many things that affect your sleep
    Pillow, cushion, sleeping posture, bed position, light, air….
    I think these are the things you need to consider if you want to have a good night’s sleep
    Thank for sharing

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