Natural therapies to get you a good night's sleep

Lavender flowers are well known for promoting relaxation and sleep quality - here are some other ideas to induce better sleep.

Serenity in slumber is a gift that becomes increasingly valuable with age. Naturopath Sarah Coleman uncovers a treasury of natural sleep enhancers, offering a drug-free pathway to tranquil nights.

Natural ways to better slumber

During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates cells, builds bone and muscle and bolsters your immune system. Sleep is also vital for your mind, reducing stress and anxiety, improving cognitive function, and boosting emotional wellbeing.

As you age, your body goes through changes that can affect the quality of your sleep. On the other hand, getting enough restful sleep is critical for maintaining optimal physical and mental health.

A good night's sleep is built on good sleep hygiene. Cleaning up your sleeping environment and habits is the foundation of an effective sleep routine. What’s more, you can also try some of these natural sleep-promoting remedies to your bedtime routine to help you prepare for restful sleep.

Calming cuppa to catch more zzz's

A soothing, warm cuppa in the hour before bed may be just what you need to help you unwind and ease into slumber. Make yourself a long, strong infusion rather than a big cup of tea. The last thing you want is your full bladder to wake you from a restful sleep!

How to make herbal tea that will send you to sleep

The age-old panacea for sleep problems is a cup of chamomile tea before bed. It has been prized for centuries for its gentle, sedative action. According to recent studies, it may also improve your quality of sleep.

If you have an anxious disposition that stops you from getting to sleep, try the herb passionflower. ​​Lavender, tulsi, valerian and hops are other herbs that may also ease you into sleep.  

To prepare a strong herbal infusion to promote restful sleep:

  1. Place one heaped tablespoon of loose dried herb or two commercial teabags into a small teapot or cup with a strainer fitted.
  2. Pour over 200 ml of boiling water.
  3. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain, pressing the plant matter with the back of a teaspoon to ensure you get every last drop.
  5. If the herb is a little bitter, add a small teaspoon of honey.

Warm milk for sound sleep


Milk contains a high amount of the amino acid tryptophan, which our bodies use to produce the sleep hormone melatonin, which helps regulate our body clock.

On the scientific front, the jury is still out as to whether a warm cup of milk before bed promotes better sleep. But we do know that including plain and fermented dairy products (such as yoghurt) in your diet can help you achieve better sleep quality.

Restful aromatherapy

Your grandmother might have slipped a small lavender pillow into the guest bed to comfort visitors sleeping in an unfamiliar place. She was acting on centuries-old knowledge of the calming effects of lavender.

Lavender flowers and the oil extracted from them have been used since at least Roman times to treat all manner of conditions related to the nervous system, including sleeplessness.

Science has supported the traditional use of lavender, showing that inhaling the aroma of lavender oil can activate brain regions crucial for helping us relax, fall sleep, and stay asleep.  

A review of 34 studies showed that aromatherapy is “highly effective in improving sleep problems such as insomnia”. Interestingly, the study found that inhaling a single aroma over a blend was more effective, with lavender being the clear winner.

How to incorporate essential oils into your bedtime routine:

●     Place 5–10 drops into a diffuser.

●     Stir 5 - 10 drops into 1 or 2 cups of Epsom salts, then add to your bathwater.

●     Pop 3–5 drops onto a tissue, then place it under your pillow.

●     Apply hand or body cream scented with lavender essential oil.

●     Use fresh or dried lavender flowers to make tea (see above).

If you are using unfamiliar essential oils on the skin, do a patch test first.

Mindfulness meditation

Do you find it difficult to sleep because your mind churns with repetitive thoughts, rehashing events and conversations, and worrying about what might happen in the future? In that case, mindfulness meditation might be for you.

 Mindfulness meditation may help you change negative thought patterns and behaviours that can disrupt your sleep. It does this by training you to keep your awareness in the present moment rather than dwelling on past or future worries.

Returning your mind to the present can be as simple as observing your breath. Just 5 to 10 minutes before going to sleep can have an impact. Try it out for yourself:

●      Try these short breathing exercises from Beyond Blue.

●      Download the free Smiling Mind app and select the “Sleep” option to find guided meditations developed by psychologists.

What works for you

There is no cookie-cutter solution for everyone for better sleep. The reasons for disturbed sleep are many and varied. Start with good sleep hygiene, try these natural therapies, and find out what works for you.  

The information on this page is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional healthcare provider.

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