by Mar De Carlo, founder of the International Parenting & Health Institute

Improving sleep without supplements involves adopting healthy sleep habits and creating a conducive sleep environment. Here are six effective strategies to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, along with explanations of their benefits:

  1. Sunlight Exposure in the Morning: Getting sunlight first thing in the morning is an effective strategy for improving sleep for several reasons. Exposure to natural light early in the day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which plays a critical role in determining your sleep-wake cycle. Aim to spend at least 20-30 minutes outside in the morning sunlight. Walking, exercising, or even sitting near a window can be beneficial.
  2. Incorporate Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises are a simple yet powerful tool to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. By promoting relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, improving oxygenation, and providing a mental focus, breathing exercises can significantly enhance sleep quality and overall well-being. Regular practice of breathing exercises can lead to more restful and restorative sleep, supporting better physical and mental health. Deep breathing increases oxygen intake and promotes better circulation throughout the body. Improved oxygenation can enhance cellular function and overall bodily health, contributing to better sleep quality. Concentrating on breathing patterns provides a mental focus point, distracting from intrusive or stressful thoughts. This mindfulness aspect of breathing exercises helps break the cycle of rumination that can prevent sleep.
  3. Consume a Pro-Sleep Diet: Consuming a pro-sleep diet is beneficial for falling asleep and staying asleep because certain nutrients and foods can positively influence sleep-regulating hormones, improve overall sleep quality, and reduce sleep disruptions. A pro-sleep diet also provides essential nutrients, stabilizing blood sugar levels, maintaining proper hydration, and avoiding sleep-disruptive foods. Examples of pro-sleep foods include cherries, bananas, kiwi, nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews), fish and herbal tea. Replace large meals with light pro-sleep snacks before bed. Substitute caffeine and alcohol with herbal tea.
  4. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Develop a calming pre-sleep and pro-sleep routine that replaces screentime with reading a book, taking a warm bath, journaling, or practicing relaxation exercises. A consistent routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down, making it easier to transition to sleep. Relaxing pro-sleep activities help lower stress levels and calm the mind, which can prevent sleep disruptions.
  5. Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and with clean fresh air. Use blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if necessary. A pro-sleep sleep environment assists uninterrupted sleep by minimizing disturbances. A cool, dark, and quiet room with clean fresh air, supports your body’s health and ability to relax to stay asleep throughout the night.
  6. Incorporate Regular Physical Activity: Regular physical activity helps to fall asleep and stay asleep by positively influencing several physiological and psychological factors that regulate sleep. Physical activity influences the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Exercise, especially when done during the day, helps reinforce natural sleep-wake patterns by promoting alertness during the day and sleepiness at night. Exercise stimulates the production of sleep-promoting chemicals and hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin, in particular, helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.

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