Easy tips for a restful sleep

June 30, 2015

Many people have difficulty falling — and staying — asleep. Not having enough sleep can negatively affect how one feels and performs during the day. Here are some easy solutions for longer, more pleasant rests.

Easy tips for a restful sleep

Sleep-inducing foods

Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps you sleep, and tryptophan is an amino acid the body uses to make serotonin. Two tryptophan-rich foods are turkey and bananas, your tickets to drowsy dreamland.

Hops pillow

Hops pillows were popular sleep aids in days of yore, and it's easy to make a modern version. Take a zippered throw pillow or chair cushion cover and stuff it full of dried hops (available at natural product stores, online and perhaps at the nearest brewery). If you like, throw in a handful of dried lavender, also a sedative herb, to sweeten the smell. When you retire for the night, put the pillow near enough to your head that you'll be able to breathe in the aroma. To keep the hops active, you'll need to dampen them with grain alcohol every three or four weeks.

St. John's wort

A cup of St. John's wort tea can safely be drunk up to three times a day to allay mild depression, nervousness and insomnia; capsules and liquid extracts are also available. Be aware, though, that some people using the herb have experienced delayed photosensitivity — an abnormal reaction to sunlight that usually results in a skin rash. This best-selling herb is Germany's leading antidepressant. Studies show that hypericin and other compounds in St. John's wort act in tandem to prevent the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) from breaking down serotonin, dopamine, and other amines that elevate mood and emotions. Check with your doctor before use.

Warm bath before bed

There's a reason why in-the-know parents give their babies warm baths before bedtime or naptime: warm water is a natural relaxant. So fill the tub, turn the lights down low, soak for a few minutes, and crawl into a freshly made bed for a no-lose snooze.


Chamomile, which is known to have sedating qualities, is an ideal sleep inducer. If you can get good quality tea bags, they'll do perfectly; if you can grow fresh chamomile in a small pot on a windowsill, all the better. Snip them about an inch below the flower, tie a few of them together with kitchen string, and steep them in a mug of hot water. Delicious!

White noise

Studies have long proven that white noise — defined as noise that combines sounds of all different frequencies so that they virtually cancel each other out — is an effective, completely non-narcotic, safe and peaceful sleep aid. Where to get it? You can buy white noise machines, or even less expensively, CDs, or have your kids load new age music on an MP3 you can play on your smartphone's speaker/dock. Turn the music up, turn the lights down, climb into bed and remember to set the alarm!

These helpful rest-inducing tips will have you sleeping like a baby in no time.

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