(NaturalNews) Good, uninterrupted sleep plays a great role in maintaining and improving human health, yet its importance is often underestimated and understated. During sleep, the body cleanses, heals and repairs. Not only does good sleep improve immunity and elevate mood, but studies have even linked lack of sleep or poor quality sleep to increased risk of cancer as well as poorer outcomes among cancer sufferers. Use these basic, commonsensical tips and suggestions to help you beat insomnia and get a good rest every night.
1. Make your bedroom comfortable and conducive for rest
A comfortable mattress which provides good support is a worthwhile investment. Bedding should be clean. The temperature and humidity of the room should be comfortable and air quality good -- ensure good ventilation and improve air quality using plants or an air purifier. Noisy contraptions should be kept away from the bedroom.
2. Before hitting your sack, find ways to calm and relax your mind and body
Listen to soft and soothing music, read a relaxing book or take a warm bath. Throw in some soothing essential oils for added effect -- lavender, chamomile, sandalwood and valerian are some good ones for promoting sleep.
Other ways to use essential oils to improve sleep include rubbing them on your temples and wrists as well as heating them to emit delightful fragrances.
Meditation and deep breathing can also help your mind and body wind down and prepare for sleep.
3. Sleep in total darkness
When your eyes detect darkness, the pineal gland in your brain begins to secrete melatonin, a vital hormone which promotes sleepiness and regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production helps you sleep better, and this chemical also has other important effects in the body, including helping to ward off cancer.
Getting some natural sunlight outdoors each day also helps your body's regulation of its sleep-wake cycle.
4. Move your body in the day
Exercise not only makes your body stronger in many ways but also helps you have more restful sleep at night.
Exercising outdoors would kill two birds with one stone.
5. Have a regular sleeping routine
Another way to help your body better regulate its sleep-wake cycle is to try to go to bed and arise at about the same time every day. Empty your bladder before going to bed.
6. Drink a warm cup of herbal tea
Certain herbal teas are known to have relaxation and sleep-promoting properties. These include valerian tea, chamomile tea and passionflower tea.
7. Avoid eating or drinking too much before going to bed
During sleep, your body should be rejuvenating, not attempting to digest a truckload of food. Heavy foods are even worse, while drinking too much before bed can result in toilet visits that disrupt your rest.
8. Keep away from electrical devices as much as possible
The electromagnetic fields of devices such as electric blankets, electric clocks, power lines and generators can interfere with your body's electromagnetic field -- this can affect sleep. Ideally, these items should be kept away from sleeping areas.
9. Avoid physical stimulants too close to bedtime
Physical stimulants like alcohol, nicotine in cigarettes and caffeine in tea, coffee or cocoa can all affect sleep, as can vigorous physical activities. Also avoid sugar -- you don't want an energy injection before bed.
10. Avoid mental stimulation too
Even mental stimulation, for example watching horror movies or disturbing media, or listening to loud music, can affect sleep. Excessive mental activities such as intensive problem solving or emotionally stimulating activities like a heated conversation can affect your ability to have a good sleep, too.
Sources for this article include:
Mercola, Joseph, Dr., and Pearsall, Kendra, Dr. Take Control of Your Health. Schaumburg, IL: Mercola.com, 2007. Print.
Trivieri, Jr., Larry, and Anderson, John W. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. 2nd ed. New York, USA: Celestial Arts, 2002. Print.
Broida, Marian. New Hope for People with Depression. Roseville, CA: Prima Pub., 2001. Print.
About the author: Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth.