Bedtime routines are an important part of the day for kids. But few parents consider their own nighttime routine. And here’s a sad little fact that most non-parents can’t comprehend: you'll probably never sleep the way you did before you had kids. And it’s wreaking havoc on most of us. The New York Times published a piece, which included the staggering information that 3 in 10 women in America use a sleep aid at least a few nights a week (and then goes on to mention that such a stat doesn’t include women who go to sleep without trouble but then awaken at 3 in the morning). Another amazing fact: although the stresses keeping us up may be indirectly caused by the kids (their performance at school, their behavior, etc), it’s the mothers themselves who can’t calm down at night, running to do lists over and over in their exhausted and overworked brains. Call it the Mama Bear Complex, but it appears that mothers are the ones who are suffering the most. Constant worry over my first child’s erratic sleep habits resulted in several terrifying nights: despite only having slept 2-4 hours a night for several months and being so tired that forming sentences seemed like a Herculean task, I found I could not go to sleep. At all. I simply waited wide awake for Elijah to wake up, which he inevitably did. After taking a prescribed medication for a few nights, I began to look for more natural ways to invite a visit from Mr. Sandman. Keep reading to find seven sleep-inducing natural remedies to help get the rest you need. Note: for any of the herbs or pills recommended, consult your doctor before taking, especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by a small gland in the brain that helps regulate sleep cycles: that’s why it’s also recommended in supplement form to help people adjust to new time zones while traveling. Taking melatonin supplements at a specific time every evening sets your body up to experience being tired at the same time every night, creating a sort of alarm clock for your body to begin winding down. Going to bed around the same time each night is a great sleep habit to get into because it conditions your body’s circadian rhythms.
More than just a yummy-smelling flowering herb, lavender has been used in sachets, bath salts, and essential oils for hundreds of years to help people drift off more peacefully. I actually like to steep some dried lavender flowers in warm hemp milk. Really want to get ready for snoozeville? Have a special someone give you a massage at bedtime with some lavender massage oil. Close your eyes and chill out-even if the actual scent of lavender doesn’t relax you, maybe imagining you are relaxing in a field of it in Provence will do the trick!
Winding down with a cup of tea at the end of the day is a simple and inexpensive luxury. Stick to herbal teas and consider trying chamomile or a blend that includes dried herbs such as lavender or lemon balm. Herbs like these have been used for insomnia for hundreds of years, but many people find the simple activity of taking time to sit, sip some tea, and clear your mind is the real reason this wind-down works. The only downside to drinking tea – you may wake up to pee in the middle of the night.