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How to sleep naturally

November 9th, 2021

Getting good quality sleep can be elusive in our society. Become a master of blissful and restorative sleep.

Deep sleep
As exhilarating as modern life may be, one of it’s most widespread, worrying side-effects is trouble sleeping. As “great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast*,” sleep is our bodies’ one-stop-shop for rejuvenating everything from our memory to our metabolism. Slumber is so crucial to our wellbeing that the Guinness Book of World Records refuses to recognize any attempts at sleep deprivation, considering the endeavor too dangerous. It has even been theorized that the amount of time humans spend dreaming — part of a neurological process that enhances creativity and innovation — is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Yet as screens multiply, a disconnection from the tangible world increases — and with it, so do insomnia and sleeping pills. In the words of Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, “No past or current sleeping medications on the legal (or illegal) market induce natural sleep**.” Instead, they prompt a sedative state that does not provide the same brainwave activity as true, deep sleep. Walker and other neuroscientists recommend the following natural sleep remedies for a peaceful, restorative night.

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CBD
Be it latent or overt, stress is sleep’s greatest nemesis. As the inability to get some shut-eye is often psychosomatic, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBD-I) has become one of the most promising natural ways to fall asleep. In this cutting-edge treatment, a sleep therapist gently guides weary patients through behavioral techniques tailored to their specific troubles. While CBD-I may be new, numerous clinical sleep studies have solidified its reputation as a healthier, more effective alternative to sleeping pills.
Sleep Supplements
Many natural sleep aids crowd the shelves of well-meaning health-food stores, yet one particular supplement among them has drawn enthusiasm from the scientific community. Melatonin is a hormone our brain releases with the dwindling light that kickstarts sleepiness. Its ability to help regulate jet lag has made it a staple in airport shops, along with earplugs and sleeping masks. Other sleep supplements include valerian, a root that has been used to relax the mind and body since the ancient Greeks, and magnesium, an essential mineral that calms the nervous system.
Nightcaps
Warm, cosy drinks are a delicious, medically-approved pre-bed tradition. The Nightcap by Three Spirit over ice or Equilibre’s Roobios CBD tea with some warm oat milk are both great ways to wind down. Whatever the elixir, be sure to avoid alcohol as it inhibits some of sleep’s most crucial functions.
Healthy Sleep Rituals
Daily ceremonies are known to improve mindfulness but are rarely considered as an important foundation for healthy sleep. Yet Walker and many prominent sleep scientists repeatedly insist on the importance of reserving time for certain small actions that lead to tranquil, sound sleeping. Taking a hot bath or shower before bed is not only soothing but causes a drop in body temperature that can bring about drowsiness. Quiet, easy activities like reading, meditating, or listening to music help the mind unwind. Turning off all screens and bright lights well before bedtime foster the darkness needed for our bodies to drift off. The simple act of creating a soft, thoughtful moment not only improves our evenings but recharges us for the next day. Of course, the very root of quality, restful sleep is the ability to listen to the body and mind. While our fast-paced world often distracts us from our physical and emotional needs, taking the time to recognize, understand, and address them engenders calm and quietude — the very ingredients needed to produce deep, healing sleep. **Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. 2.2. *Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep. Scribner, 2017.
Rozena Crossman
Writer