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Practical Sleep Tips

Train your brain and body for restful sleep.  Try these practical inexpensive tips which are proven to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Get exposed to natural light. Studies show that people who aren't exposed to enough natural light during the day have trouble producing melatonin at night. Open the blinds first thing upon waking to take in more natural light. Or, better yet, take the dog for a morning walk.

Drink tart cherry juice. In one study drinking 1oz. of tart cherry juice daily resulted in napping less during the day, sleeping longer and better at night. It appears that the juice stimulates melatonin.

Fuel early, fuel well. Start the day with a balance of protein and slow-burning or low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as whole-grain toast and a poached egg to help keep energy on an even keel.

Dine for sleep. Research has suggested that for some people it may be helpful to eat dinner about four hours before bedtime and to include plenty of complex carbohydrates and food high on glycemic index like rice and potatoes. Limit bedtime snack to less than 200 calories, no closer than one hour before bedtime.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine (after noon) and chocolate (six hours prior to bedtime).  It may also be helpful to avoid   strenuous exercise before bedtime.

Get outside in the early afternoon. Step outside into sunlight. It can help you perk up, delaying that melatonin surge until you really need it.

Exercise.  A Stanford study found that those who did aerobics or took brisk 30- to 40-minute walks four times per week for 16 weeks fell asleep faster and slept more deeply and longer.

Power down. One hour before bedtime, settle in and prepare for tomorrow. Journalize your thoughts “out of the brain and onto paper” so they don't race through your head as you're trying to sleep.

Wake up at the same time every day.  By getting up at the same time every day including weekends, your “sleep hunger” which builds up throughout the day maxes out at the same time every night.

Create an atmosphere in your bedroom that is conducive to sleeping: low lights or darkness, a humidifier for dry climates, a comfortable temperature, and a good sleep surface. Don't use the bedroom to read, watch television, or work. 

Calm your thoughts before you sleep.  Read, soak in a warm bath, listen to music, or meditate. Picture sunbathing near the ocean or lying beside a quiet creek—whatever image calms you.  Use a lavender-scented diffuser in your bedroom. The scent is known to have sedative properties. 

Ayurveda practitioners recommend going to bed by 10 pm at the latest to take advantage of your natural circadian rhythms.  This allows you to use the sleepier, quieter Kapha time of night to help you fall asleep.

Reprinted with changes from, by permission of publisher.

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