Healthy Living Blog

Natural Approaches to Better Sleep

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor,

Tina Miller 2011




When it comes to beauty sleep just how much is enough? Most adults need 7-8 hours each night to prevent the negative effects of sleep deprivation, including foggy brain, forgetfulness and just plain crankiness!  Some of the many benefits of sleep include:

  • Improved mental alertness and better ability to learn.
  • Less risk for injury, improved coordination.
  • Better health including reduced risk for heart disease, heart attack, diabetes and obesity.
  • Recover, repair and boost immunity. Adequate sleep supports healthy immunity and improves tolerance of pain.
  • Happier Hormones: Sleep greatly impacts hormones such as balancing hunger hormones to reduce overeating/obesity, supporting insulin action for healthier blood sugars, and regulating hormones that control anxiety, depression and mood.

Natural sleep aides

Try these natural approaches to better sleep without the unwanted side effects that many sleep medications can cause.

  • Get into the rhythm! Nourish your circadian rhythms with daily exposure to natural light, exercise/physical activity (not too close to bedtime), and a consistent sleep schedule to sync your body with nature’s time clock and improve sleep.
  • Bedtime routines are especially important for children. Bath, book and bed can put your toddler or young child into the sleep mindset, making bedtime less of a battle.
  • Scents for sleep: Aromatherapy is a wonderful sleep aide. Diffuse calming essential oils to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.  Look for Nature’s Truth Lavender oil or Relaxation Blend of essential oils.  A mini-diffuser or Lavender essential oil roll-on are great for travel.
  • Can’t get to sleep? It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to fall asleep.   A racing mind can make getting to sleep seem impossible. Get your mind off the day and into the sleep mode with meditation accompanied by calming “white noise” like ocean waves or relaxing music.
  • Melatonin is one of the most researched supplements and can help you get to sleep and stay asleep. You naturally produce more melatonin at night but levels are adversely impacted by jet lag or light exposure.   A little melatonin goes a long way with the recommended adult dose being 3 mg shortly before bedtime.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Get ready: Relax, dim the lights, and sip on chamomile tea (safe for kids and adults).
  • Set the stage: The bedroom should be cool (68-72°F), dark, quiet, and a work-free/stress-free zone. Avoid TV, stimulating video games and bright lighting.
  • Create Comfort: A supportive pillow is key to a good night’s sleep. Evaluate the pillow selection at Meijer and choose one that best fits your sleep pattern (side or back sleeper, firm or soft, etc.).  If allergies are a problem purchase allergen reducing mattress and pillow covers.

Sleep stealers:

  • Electronics: Lights from your cell phone, radio or other devices interfere with deep sleep—dim lights and resist the urge to check your phone after you’ve gone to bed.
  • Caffeine: The stimulate effects last between 6 to 14 hours, avoid intake late in the day.
  • Alcohol: In excess may make you sleepy, but promotes night wakening and restless sleep

To Nap or Not?

Brief naps early in the day can be beneficial according to The National Sleep Foundation (  Naps help restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents.  Keep naps brief since long naps lead to grogginess.  Naps between 10 and 30 minutes are most effective to rejuvenate yourself, but avoid napping close to bedtime.

Think napping is just for low-energy people?  Famous power-nappers include Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Sweet dreams!

Sleep Promoting Snacks:

Eating heavy meals or snacks right before bedtime can interfere with sleep and may also cause heartburn.  However, a light snack at night with the right combination of foods may help you get that good night’s sleep you’re craving.  Some foods contain amino acids like tryptophan and other compounds that help your body make sleep friendly hormones like melatonin and serotonin.   Melatonin, combined with foods that are rich in Magnesium, Vitamin B6, B12, folic acid and tryptophan can promote healthy sleep.

Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea or decaffeinated green tea and nibble on one of these light and yummy bedtime snacks.

The King Open-face Sandwich:

1 Slice True Goodness® by Meijer™ Whole Wheat bread toasted, top with 2 Tablespoons Almond Butter (or peanut butter) and sliced bananas.  Enjoy with a glass of low-fat milk.

Hummus and Tea

1/4 cup prepared hummus, 5-6 whole grain crackers and a cup of chamomile tea.

Oats with Almonds and Cherries:

Serves 1


1/2 cup True Goodness® by Meijer™ Old Fashioned Oats

1 cup reduced-fat milk

Dash of salt

1 Tablespoon sliced almonds

2 Tablespoons tart dried cherries

1/4 cup True Goodness® by Meijer™ Granola with Almonds


  1. Combine oats, milk and salt in a 2-cup microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave on high 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (stirring halfway through).
  3. Carefully remove from microwave and mix well.
  4. Top with sliced almonds, dried cherries and granola.
  5. Enjoy with a cup of decaffeinated green tea!

NutriBullet Sleepy Seeds Smoothie

Serves 2


1 banana, sliced

1⁄4 cup True Goodness® by Meijer™ frozen blueberries

1⁄4 cup True Goodness® by Meijer™ frozen raspberries

2 cups spinach or baby kale

1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds


  1. Place ingredients into a NutriBullet or blender and fill with water to the “NutriBullet max water line” (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup water).
  2. Blend until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  3. For the best results with easy clean up, we recommend using a NutriBullet Nutrition Extractor.

Recipe Source: Nutribullet, E. Kenwood,


Foods and their nutrients that promote sleep:

Almonds:  Magnesium which aides muscle relaxation.

Bananas: Potassium and tryptophan, both help promote sleep.

Chamomile Tea:  Naturally caffeine free herbal tea that increases glycine levels which has a mild sedative effect.

Chickpeas: A good source of tryptophan which your body uses to make serotonin and melatonin to induce sleep.

Decaffeinated Green Tea: Contains L-Theanine which relaxes and soothes.

Milk: Dairy calcium aides in tryptophan production and it’s conversion to melatonin for sleep.

Oats and Whole Grains:  Magnesium for muscle relaxation and healthy carbohydrates that help tryptophan get into the brain promoting sleep.  Good source of B vitamins including folic acid.

Tart Cherries (dried, juice):  Naturally boosts Melatonin levels, helping relieve insomnia.