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Though most experts agree that taking medication to sleep at night is unhealthy, it’s often the last resort for people who struggle to fall and stay asleep. Even melatonin, a supplement that mimics natural hormones to adjust your sleep cycles, can mess with your body’s balance, further distorting your sleep patterns. Per Consumer Reports, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine cautions against the use of melatonin. And other drugs have many unsafe side effects, too. So, how can you improve your sleep without medication?
Use Exercise to Boost Overall Health
There are plenty of benefits to exercise, but did you know it can help you sleep better, too? John Hopkins Medicine says that exercise increases your “slow wave sleep.” That’s the deepest part of your sleep cycle when your body and brain truly relax. While the jury is still out on the whys and hows of the process, the fact is that exercising can help you sleep better.
Experts do say to exercise well before bedtime, though. Some people feel more wired after a workout, so it’s ideal to exercise a couple of hours before you plan to hit the hay. The proof of your exercise routine’s effectiveness comes when you feel more rested upon waking in the morning.
Use Smart Tech to Your Benefit
Often, technology can hinder quality sleep. You’ll find that there are ways to achieve better quality sleep—if you use tech the right way. For example, you can enhance your sleep with apps to help you relax, decompress, and focus inward.
If you find that you fall asleep fine but have trouble waking up, an app like Sleep Cycle may help. It tracks your sleep cycle based on your movement, waking you up at prime points in your sleep cycle. This way, you awake refreshed—rather than groggy and disoriented.
Background noise is another great way to soothe yourself to sleep. Among the many types of noises—such as white, pink, and brown noise—are tones and rhythms you might find soothing. As Time notes, many people sleep deeper with consistent ambient noise. An app like Relax Melodies—which features relaxing sounds, white noise, melodies, and even binaural beats—can help you get in the snoozing groove.
For those who prefer meditation, Headspace helps you decompress with meditation and “sleep sounds.” And if you already meditate, you should keep it up. The Sleep Foundation reports that meditation can help reduce reliance on sleeping pills and treat insomnia.
Once you fall asleep, there are also ways you can maximize your rest. The Sleep Genius app, which uses NASA-backed research for its sleep inspiration, plays sounds that guide you through your sleep cycle. Of course, you’ll want to keep your phone plugged in while the app runs throughout the night.
Of course, if your phone starts to lag with all your new apps or you’re not able to download them, consider an upgrade so you can stay on track. The latest models have enough power, memory, and speed for all your needs.
Try Massage for Deeper Relaxation
Especially if you suffer from severe pain that interrupts your sleep, massage may help. Even if you feel fine apart from experiencing insomnia, getting regular massages can still make a difference in your rest.
Sleep.org notes that massage helps increase your body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin helps you feel calmer. This chemical reaction may explain why people who get regular massages tend to sleep better.
One study even discovered that people with low back pain who had two massage sessions per week experienced fewer sleep disturbances at night. Other benefits of massage therapy, Mayo Clinic explains, include reduced stress, less muscle tension, and headache relief.
Finding relief from insomnia is not an easy task. Fortunately, with these natural methods, you can start to experience better rest without relying on prescription medications