7 home remedies to soothe you before bedtime

Make your pre-sleep rituals soothing and joyful. You'll be rewarded with a deep slumber — and maybe even sweet dreams. Here's how.

7 home remedies to soothe you before bedtime

1. Try progressive relaxation

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with both feet on the floor or lie on the sofa or your bed.
  2. Inhale and exhale naturally. After a few minutes, systematically tighten a muscle group as you inhale, then relax it completely as you exhale.
  3. Progressively loosen and tighten both feet, your lower legs and upper legs. Then, work your way up to your back, arms, neck, shoulders and even your face.

2. Soften the mood

  • An hour before bedtime, turn off the television or computer. Pull on your softest PJs, and cue up your favorite relaxing sounds.
  • In one recent study of 52 women over age 70, those who listened to quiet music fell asleep faster. They also had fewer middle-of-the-night awakenings than before.

3. Combine progressive relaxation with music

One recent study had 60 women and men with sleep problems listen to soft, slow music while they performed a relaxation exercise. Their heartbeats and breathing rates slowed. They also slept better and longer.

4. Soak in a hot bath

A warm bath an hour or two before bed helps blood vessels dilate so your body can release heat. It's part of the natural cooling down that precedes sleep.

5. Take a supplement

  • Magnesium is a natural sedative. Even a slight shortfall can leave you lying in bed with your eyes wide open.
  • Calcium helps regulate muscle movements.
  • Getting plenty of both minerals can cut your risk of nighttime leg cramps.
  • Take a supplement right before bed.

6. Enjoy a sleepytime snack

  • Have a handful of walnuts, a banana, or a glass of milk — all rich sources of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
  • Bananas also pack melatonin, the sleep hormone.
  • If incontinence or frequent bathroom visits aren't a problem, have a glass of water — but not juice. The high sugar content can make you take an extra 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep.

7. Scent your sheets with lavender

  • Place a single drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow. Or, spray your sheets with lavender water before you turn in.
  • Studies found that this soothing botanical quells insomnia and tension. Sometimes as much as sleeping pills.

Getting to sleep can be a challenge. But if you follow these steps, you could get to sleep faster and wake up less throughout the night.

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