Sleep is essential for the body to maintain good health; sleep affects not only physical health but also mental health. Getting adequate sleep can help to keep health complications such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, etc., at bay. Proper sleep also ensures a good appetite, lesser stress, clearer thinking, healthy weight control, better mood, good sex life, and immunity from diseases.
Despite the obvious health benefits of good sleep, many people are suffering from unhealthy sleeping habits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleeping disorders have become “a public health epidemic.” In 2009, the CDC conducted a study among 74,571 adults in 12 states across the country. The study found that nearly 35.3% of the respondents had less than 7 hours of sleep every day. About 48.0% complained of snoring, 37.9% unintentionally fell asleep during the day at least once in the month preceding the study, and 4.7% of the respondents reported incidents of nodding off while driving at least once in the month preceding the study.
Although this CDC study is not recent, the statistics are still relevant. One of the reasons for this is a skewed work–life balance. Also, due to an increased usage of personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the percentage of people with sleeping problems is on the rise. Unless the lack of sleep causes any significant health complications, almost all cases of sleeping disorders go unreported. In her book The Sleep Revolution, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington points out that we are a generation suffering from a sleep deprivation crisis. In this well-researched book, she dispels the notion that less sleep means more productivity and urges her readers to bring about a sleep revolution. The bottom line is simple: get sufficient sleep to be more productive and healthy.
If you think you are persistently exhausted and having trouble falling asleep, there are a few best sleep aids that can save you from having a sleep deprivation crisis in your life. Here is a list of some popular and best sleep aids that are completely natural:
- Drink herbal tea: Herbal teas are the most natural and best sleep aids. Chamomile calms the nerves and induces tiredness. Drinking freshly-brewed chamomile tea is one of the oldest and best sleep aids. It relaxes the muscles and induces sleep. Valerian tea is also an effective sleep-inducing aid. Valerian root and Saint John’s Wort can also be brewed in teas and used as a sleep aid.
- Sip warm milk and honey: A warm glass of milk mixed with honey is one of the most effective and best sleep aids. Milk and honey soothe the nerves and relaxes the body. Having a glass of milk with one to two teaspoons of honey just before bed can help to sleep with much trouble. It helps to unwind the body as well as the mind.
- Create a comfortable bedroom environment: One of the first things that Ariana Huffington insists in The Sleep Revolution is to have a sleeping environment that is comfortable, soothing, and without any distractions. The best sleep aid is to have a comfortable bed in a quiet room at the right temperature (at 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit). Shades should be drawn tightly. Anything that glows in the dark should be kept away unless you think you can sleep well only with some light in your room. Wear comfortable and clean clothes when you go to sleep.
- Set up a regular exercise routine: Exercise helps to release serotonin, a hormone that acts as a natural stress-reliever. It helps to relax your mind and soothe the nerves. A regular exercise routine will not only keep you healthy but will also act as one of the best sleep aids. Yoga, tai chi, jogging or any form of exercise can be done daily for at least 15 minutes. However, ensure that you do not exercise right before your sleeping time. Exercise accelerates the heart beats and releases adrenaline, which can make it quite hard for you to fall asleep immediately.
- Have a fixed sleeping schedule: Having a fixed sleeping schedule trains the body and the brain that about when you are ready to go to sleep. A fluctuating sleep pattern confuses the brain and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Keep devices away from the bed: It is the best not to use any of your personal electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The white light of these devices tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daylight. It takes some time for the brain to adjust to the normal time. Keep all electronic devices away from your sleeping area. Anything that pings or glows in the middle of the night may disrupt your sleep. Avoid charging your phone next to your bed.