Sidestep the most common snooze-sappers with natural remedies that promise a blissful, restorative night’s slumber.
Enjoy a sweet treat to wake up refreshed.
Debating what to have for dessert? Make it something chocolaty, like a brownie or cup of creamy mousse, and you’ll fall asleep 20 minutes sooner, snooze more soundly, and wake up feeling reinvigorated. Credit goes to the combination of cocoa and sugar, which helps dial down the body’s production of orexin, a brain chemical that keeps you awake and alert.
Prevent stress flashes with calming lavender breaths.
If you’re overheating in the middle of the night (yes, even in winter!), you’re not alone. Stress is known to trigger hot flashes. Luckily, a study in Menopause found that breathing deeply for 15 minutes twice daily cuts your risk of hot flashes in half. And if you light a lavender candle, you’ll boost the benefit even more. Separate research in the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association shows the scent reduces both the frequency and intensity of hot flashes by 53 percent.
Quiet a busy brain by getting crafty.
If your mind is still go-go-going at the end of a long day, pull out your knitting needles or paint some pottery. Harvard University researchers say spending 20 minutes in the evening doing something that keeps your hands busy — like decorating a planter, completing a jigsaw puzzle, or picking photos for a scrapbook — triggers the body’s pineal gland to produce more of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. And that, scientists say, can induce drowsiness in as little as five minutes.
Skip overnight bathroom breaks with almonds.
To outsmart nocturia, that nightly “gotta go” urge that affects up to 72 percent of women from midlife on, snack on a 1⁄2 cup of almonds daily. UCLA scientists say doing so cuts overnight bathroom trips in half and improves sleep quality 55 percent. That’s because magnesium in nuts relaxes bladder muscles so they’re less likely to spasm and wake you up.
Stop snoring by belting out a song.
Logging eight hours a night but still wake up groggy? You may be snoring (at least 64 percent of women over age 50 do), which causes “micro wake-ups” that keep you from reaching deeper, more restorative sleep.
The fix: Singing along to the radio with gusto for 20 minutes a day. British researchers say this tones lax muscles in the throat responsible for the noise, reducing your snoring frequency by 57 percent.
Soothe aches with a scalp massage.
Chronic aches can rob you of 42 minutes of sleep a night. To catch more Zzzs, spend five minutes firmly moving your fingertips in small, circular motions along your scalp at bedtime. This stimulates nerve endings to release painkilling endorphins, which University of Alabama researchers say cut your discomfort in half and help you fall asleep 30 minutes faster.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.