Sleep is the foundation of health, and no matter what country you live in, you need sleep to function. It can be frustrating lying in bed unable to fall asleep, or to fall asleep but wake up multiple times throughout the night. To make the process of rest a bit more dreamy, we’ve gathered natural sleep tips from countries around the world to help you improve your sleep quality starting tonight.
China: hot foot soak
The Hot Foot Soak, which stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a blend of epsom salt, essential oils (like lavender), fruit peels, and herbs (like mugwort — known for its calming properties). According to TCM doctor and licensed acupuncturist Debbie Kung, “The warm temperature will help draw the qi (chī) down from the head, leaving you more relaxed… It relaxes the limbic system and signals to your brain and body to relax, preparing it for sleep.”
India: herbal Ashwagandha
We’ve all heard of this Ayuverdic herb, Ashwagandha, and the benefits it can have on reducing stress in the body; but did you know that it has been used for in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years? A 2021 systematic review and meta analysis found that Ashwagandha had a “small but significant” impact on sleep, and has also been shown to improve anxiety and mental alertness.
The writers of this review make a note that there is still more long-term data to be collected on the safety of Ashwagandha supplementation. But let’s not forget that this herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for longer than we’ve been studying supplementation.
Sweden: a special bedtime drink
Välling is a classic warm beverage made out of milk and oats that is consumed right before bed. This beverage is often given to babies and toddlers, and contains some of the nutrients that can help promote rest and recovery: tryptophan, magnesium, melatonin, and serotonin. There was a study done in 2021 that suggested that feeding children this milk and oats beverage before bedtime could contribute to children being overweight later in life. With a cultural tradition like Välling, it makes me wonder if there’s something else at play causing weight gain later in life.
Furthermore, Sweden’s favorite meat, Elk meat, has a higher content of tryptophan than even turkey does for the same serving. According to this 2022 review, tryptophan can help to improve sleep.
Finland: a steamy sauna
Sauna in the evenings can help raise body temperature to make you sleepier in the evenings. A 2018 review showed that sauna use could also support COPD, peripheral artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety, and muscle recovery, as well as the benefit it can have on sleep. In a 2019 survey, 83.5% of respondents reported better sleep that lasted 1 to 2 nights after using the sauna. That’s a great return on investment!
No matter when you use the sauna, it is always important to make sure you are replenishing the water and electrolytes you lose while sweating.