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Mindfulness 14 June 2022

5 Ways to Fall Asleep Naturally

Getting to sleep without the assistance of chemicals and prescribed medications has never been easier.

The use of physical aids like weighted blankets, sleep masks and heat packs, topical treatments such as creams, oils, balms and soaks and ingestibles – think teas, gummies and powders, or even a combination of them all, provide effective alternatives for those seeking a more natural bedtime routine.

Words By Alexandra Schischov

Take It In

Long before the advent of new-age ingestible sleep aids like gummies and nutritional powders, some people who had difficulty sleeping sipped on a bedtime cup tea full of warm herbal goodness.

There are six herbs that either assist in getting you to sleep by promoting relaxation or help to improve sleep quality if waking up throughout the night is an issue.

The most common of sleep-inducing herbs is valerian root, which is typically used to treat stress related symptoms such as nervousness, headaches, and heart palpitations, but is also great for to promote sleep. Found in many sleep teas and natural supplements, valerian root can have a bit of an unpleasant odour, which can be counteracted by the addition of some honey.

The chamomile flower in the form of tea is another sleep friendly ingestible. These flowers contain a naturally occurring chemical which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, resulting in a mild sedative effect.

Passionflower has a similar effect on the brain as chamomile, making it a great additive to tea blends for the promotion of sleep.

Other herbs that help your sleep cycle include ashwagandha, magnolia bark, lemon balm and lavender.

If tea isn’t your thing and you want to try something quick and easy, you will also find these herbs distilled and included in drops which can be placed under the tongue like The Nue Co Sleep Drops, or in chewable gummies which can often disguise some of the stronger flavoured herbs such as Goli Nutrition’s Ashwagandha Gummies.

Love Beauty Foods Wellness Tea – Sleep, was $24.95 now $19.96, Flora & Fauna

Soak It Up

Stress and anxiety are known to impede the ability to fall asleep or cause you to wake in the middle of the night, so a good bedtime routine is key to falling asleep and not waking up.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bath at home, a good long sleep-inducing soak is guaranteed to help you nod off when you get to bed.

A recent study concluded that having a 10-minute warm bath somewhere between 40 and 43°C (104 – 109°F) 90 minutes before bedtime will help you fall asleep faster, regulate your body’s core temperature, and assists in improved sleep quality.

To enhance your pre-sleep soak, add bath salts such as Magnesium Chloride flakes which help to reduce anxiety and promote calm or natural Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfite) which also help to alleviate aches and pains.

A few drops of an essential oil in your bath help by being absorbed into the skin but also from inhaling from the steam. Oils or salts infused with essential oils made of therapeutic herbs and flowers such as lavender help to reduce body temperature and Ylang Ylang aids in reducing blood pressure. The soothing and relaxing properties chamomile oil help to reduce anxiety symptoms which can often get in the way of falling asleep easily.

Aromatherapy Associates Maxi Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil, $175, The Iconic

Rub It In

Products used topically are a great way to get the dual benefits out of the product. Firstly, the effective ingredients in most topical products are immersed in a carrier oil or balm, so you get the advantage of the moisturising properties of carrier oils such as coconut oil and sweet almond oil, and secondly, you get all the aromatherapy benefits from inhaling the essential oils during your sleep.

There are several products on the market that come in a balm or oil form, but one of our favourite ways to apply topical sleep aids is by using a roller. Rolling a small amount on your pulse points such as your wrists and on your neck, you get maximum benefit with little to no greasiness.

Others prefer applying a balm like the This Works Sleep Balm, which contains a combination of the dreamy oils of lavender and rose, in a base of moisturising coconut oil and cacao seed butter.

If adding maximum moisture to your skin pre-bedtime is a priority, while doubling up on the sleep benefits, we recommend Indie Lee’s aromatic Sleep Body Oil. This body oil which helps with skin dryness by nourishing skin with a blend of marula, grapeseed, and jojoba oils, is delicately blended with the essential oils of lavandin, lavender and Moroccan chamomile, all with fantastic sleep-inducing properties, as well as vetiver and patchouli which aid in relaxation.

If a calming skin care routine is your thing, Peggy Sue’s PM Blue Tansy Oil is the essential product for the very best beauty sleep one can have.

Peggy Sue PM Blue Tansy Oil, $68, The Iconic

Breathe It In

If time pressures get in the way from having a long soak, there are other aromatherapy options to help you on the quest to a better night’s sleep.

Pillow sprays and mists are generally an essential oil-based product which is sprayed on to bed linen and pillows and are quickly becoming a firm favourite with those who struggle to get to sleep, providing the benefits of an aromatherapeutic experience of inhaling essential oils with little to no downside.

The olfactory response from inhaling the scent prepares can help to relax and calm the body and mind in preparation for a good night’s sleep.

The reason why pillow sprays and mists are often preferred over other aromatherapy products such as body oils, balms and rollers is that it can provide a more subtle and less overwhelming experience as the scent is not worn on the body.

Pillow mists also contain many of the same sleep-inducing essential oils from herbs and flowers such as lavender,

One sleep spray in high rotation in our home is Ren’s & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray, which has frankincense as the primary scent as opposed to lavender, which is fantastic for relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

My other favourite mist which combines some of the more tradition aromatherapy favourites of chamomile, lavender and patchouli is the The Advanced Detoxifying Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from Australian brand Sensori+. This blend is the perfect combination to get me off to sleep without a fuss.

Susanne Kaufmann Pillow Spray Calming, £19.25, Mr Porter

Go Dark

Sometimes all the balms, teas and bath soaks are just not quite enough to get us into a deep slumber, and this is where physical sleep aids come in.

One of the best purchases I ever made was a weighted blanket. It is believed to work in a simar way to a new-born’s swaddle, help you feel secure, cosy and snug.

From a sleep perspective, weighted blankets are known to improve the quality of your sleep by calming the nervous system.

But there are also other benefits to using a weighted blanket. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed they help to restore calm by working in a similar way to deep tissue therapy.

If a big blanket is too much for you, a weighted eye pillow works a treat. Filled with dried grain, rice, wheat, or bean which will give it the weight, it is often accompanied by some dried lavender flowers to further promote relaxation and ultimately sleep. I love my attitude Eye Pillow with its bamboo covering. It can be cooled in the freezer to help with tired eyes, or warmed in microwave if you want a more soothing effect.

Guided meditation has long been proved to be an effective relaxion tool. On my sleep aid wish list is the Morphee – a non-digital device featuring over 200 combinations of guided meditation sessions combined with sophrology, all designed, improve sleep quality by tackling stress and anxiety.

Giselle Bedding 9KG Cotton Weighted Gravity Heavy Blanket, $66.95, Myer