Sleepy September: Improve your sleep with herbal tea, magnesium and a bedtime routine

Last week, I published a post with 3 tips for improving sleep.  This week, I’m providing 3 more tips for getting more restful sleep.    Different things work for different people, so here are a few more things to help with sleep.
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Incorporate a cup of herbal or calming tea at bedtime.  Maybe you can sit and sip on some tea while you relax with a magazine, book, family/roommates, or some music.  (Please take note that your relaxing night time tea is better if not accompanied by iPad, laptop or smartphone social media, web browsing, or email checking – remember that thing about blue light I mentioned last week?).  Herbal teas will help you to sleep without a groggy feeling in the morning.  Some of my favorite bed time teas are…
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  • Chamomile (widely available, many brands)
  • Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time and Sleepy Time Extra tea
  • Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night tea
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Magnesium!  Many people today are magnesium deficient, which is bad because magnesium is needed for over 300 biochemical processes in our body.  From maintaining our muscles and bones to supporting nerve, immune and brain health, it is a much-needed nutrient!  Magnesium is also known to be a calming nutrient and can help to relax you before bed.  How can you incorporate it?
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Magnesium is readily absorbed through the skin, so one of the cheapest options is to buy a bag of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) at your drug store or grocery store (around here, it’s about $6 for a 6 pound bag, which will last you awhile!).  Dump 2 cups of epsom salts in a warm bath, sit back, and relax for 20 minutes (or longer if you’d like!).  If you’re really looking to go the extra mile, add a few drops of lavender essential oil, some relaxing music and/or candles.
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Magnesium can also be taken orally.  (Remember: I always recommend that you check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.)  I recommend Magnesium glycinate or Magnesium malate for best absorption- these will be more expensive but have much better absorption rates than the cheaper forms.  Most magnesium supplements sold in drug stores/grocery stores are magnesium oxide, which has a very low absorbance by the body (and is subsequently the cheapest).  Magnesium Citrate is found in drink mixes like Natural Calm, which you drink before bed.  (A small warning about this one:  Magnesium citrate also acts on the digestive system, and too much may lead to diarrhea in sensitive individuals… So, you may want to start at a smaller amount for this and work your way up to recommended dose.)
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My last recommendation for today is to develop a bedtime routine for yourself.  People are creatures of habit, and having a regular routine to follow at bedtime can improve sleep.  This can be as simple as setting out your clothes (and kids’ clothes, school bags, etc) the night before, washing face / taking a shower or bath, tucking kids in, making a cup of herbal tea and reading, and turning off the light at about the same time every night.  Setting a regular bedtime for yourself and sticking with it as consistently as you can is beneficial to maintaining good circadian rhythms.  Other things to incorporate into your bedtime routine may be some journaling (more on that in upcoming posts), meditation or restorative/relaxing yoga.  By doing the same thing every night, you’re training your body that it is time to go to sleep at a certain time.  Somewhere in that bedtime routine, you may also want to set a time when the cell phone gets turned to silent/off or put into “do not disturb” mode (which I think is available on most phones, to only let approved ’emergency’ contacts get through between certain times??).
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Have you tried any of these things?  If so, I’d love to hear how they worked for you!

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