7 Ways to Support Your Natural Sleep Cycle

Sleeping has always been somewhat of a problem for me; partially of my weight but also because of the bad habits that I have developed over the years. It took a lot of trials, errors, and research so I’ve made a list of some of the changes that helped my body get back on its natural sleep cycle. Hopefully, these seven tips will help you as well.

1. Have a Routine

When my children were babies, trying to get them to bed was a nightmare. That is until we implemented a routine for them at bedtime. It was simple; a warm bath, a story and then bedtime. It only took a small change to our nightly schedule to make a big difference in our lives.
Doing the same activities at the same time every evening will help your mind get into sleep-mode. A bedtime routine should begin at the same time every night. It should also consist of the same activities. You will have to come up with your own nightly routine to fit your needs. Nevertheless, many nightly routines include taking a shower or bath, listening to relaxing music, enjoying a foot massage and reading a book.

2. Eat Well

What you eat during the day can have an effect on how well you sleep at night. Foods that stimulate the body (like chocolate and spicy foods) can really keep you up at night.
If you’re going to try new foods, eat them earlier in the day just in case they are disagreeable to your system.
Eating too much in the evening can also make you feel uncomfortable. Try eating foods that are easy to digest and induce sleep like fish, white rice or tart cherries. On the other side of the spectrum, studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep tend to eat unhealthier diets as a result. They also rely more on coffee and other caffeinated drinks which can also have negative effects on your body.

3. Plants in the Bedroom

Having certain plants in the bedroom will support your natural sleep cycles. Although all plants increase the oxygen content in the room, some plants have been proven to be more sleep-inducing. Some of those plants include aloe vera, white jasmine, snake plants and lavender.
If having plants in the bedroom is not a practical situation for you, try using essential oils or incense in the scent of the recommended plants. Aromatherapy candles can also be helpful.
If you use incense of candles, be sure that they are no longer burning when you lay down for the night.
Credit: Getty Images

4. Sleep in the Dark

There is no need to be afraid of the dark. As a matter of fact, some of the best things happen in the dark! One of those things is the release of melatonin into the blood stream. Melatonin is a chemical that your body produces to help you get a restful night of sleep.
While sun exposure during the daytime can encourage an early bedtime, the artificial lighting that is found throughout your home has the opposite effect on your internal clock.
It is unrealistic to attempt to avoid all artificial lighting but you can take steps to avoid unnecessary exposure to it. For example, using small lamps to light your bedroom instead of turning on a big overhead light is an easy change that makes a big difference.
Sleeping with the television on is also a bad idea. Even if you sleep with the sound off, the flashing lights from the television screen will disturb your sleep cycles.

5. Exercise Early

Fitness during the day can make you sleepy at night time. On the other hand, be careful about exercising late in the evening as it can actually keep you awake longer. That is because your energy is up and your heart rate is increased. Late night workouts may work for some people but you shouldn’t chance it.
Mental exercises and stimulation will also encourage a deeper sleep at night. Feel free to engage your mind in brain teasers and activities during the day. In the evening, however, you should take it easy and keep the stress on your mind to a minimum. Many people find it relaxing,yet engaging, to read the literature before bed.
Credit: Woman’s Day

6. Turn Electronics Off

The blue light that is given off of electronic devices has been proven to be disruptive to natural sleep patterns.
You should turn off your electronics at least an hours before you go to bed. It can be tempting to check last minute emails on your phone before going to sleep but you should avoid the urge to do so. Instead of charging your phone on your nightstand, place it across the room on your dresses instead.
If you have an alarm clock on your nightstand, turn it so that it faces the wall instead of having the time right in your face. It is small changes like this that make a big difference in supporting your natural sleep cycles. On a personal note, my wife and I found huge benefits by simply removing the television from our bedroom. It was a bit of an adjustment but, in less than a week, the atmosphere in our bedroom felt a lot more relaxing and inviting.

7. Don’t Drink Alcohol Too Late

Some say that a nightcap helps you sleep but that is a myth that started in old movies. In case you are wondering, a nightcap is typically an alcoholic beverage that is enjoyed in the evening, after dinner.
Drinking alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy and sleepy but over time, alcohol can cause a major damage to your natural sleep cycles, eventually bringing on snoring and insomnia with prolonged use.
Did you enjoy this list? I hope that you have found some tips that you can employ right away to achieve a good night of sleep tonight. Once your body begins to get a proper amount of sleep, you will be sure to find improvements in other areas of your life as well. Your feedback is always welcome; post your thoughts about this article in the comments below and please share if you found this information to be helpful!


Robert J Hudson is a proud father of two cool boys, sleep researcher and founder of SnoreNation.com where he talks about sleep disorders, sleep health and science.


*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.




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Article Photo Header | Harvard Health Publications
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