If you missed Part I of our favorite natural sleep tips from around the world, check it out HERE. In it, we took a look at a few lesser-known remedies for the sleepless night, like Välling, the sleep drink from Sweden that new moms swear by.
Let’s dive into Part II.
The Shikibuton is a firm futon mattress that is rolled out onto the floor and is a great space saver on top of its sleep benefits. This futon mattress is believed to help relieve low back pain and provide better support for the spine, as opposed to the ultra-soft mattresses of the western world. Pro tip: look for a shikibuton made of natural materials (like cotton and wool).
South and Central America: hammocks and dolls
According to mattress store owner Stephen Light, “The hammock provides two things crucial to sleep quality: safety and comfort.” The rocking motion of a hammock may promote deeper sleep, as found in this 2011 study. It’s no wonder why babies fall asleep faster when they’re rocked to sleep!
Guatemala’s “worry dolls” are another sleep aid commonly used to help anxious children fall asleep. The dolls are made from wood, wire, and colorful fabrics, and are then dressed in traditional Mayan clothing. Anxious children are encouraged to tell the doll their worries and fears before placing them under their pillows to keep them safe at night.
Some classic multicultural and natural sleep tips
Co-sleeping has been widely ruled out in North America and some places in Europe, but in many other places around the world, parents practice co-sleeping with their children. A 2021 study found that children who co-slept for longer than 6 months had less anxiety, fewer negative sucking habits, and fewer crooked teeth. There have also been studies that show benefit to co-sleeping with other humans (like a partner or sibling) or pets, mainly in sleep quality, not necessarily other objective measures of sleep.
Chamomile tea is another traditionally used tool for improving sleep, known for its soothing and calming capabilities. There is a chemical in chamomile called apigenin that binds to receptors in the brain which can lead to greater relaxation. A 2019 review and meta-analysis showed chamomile’s positive effects on sleep quality and generalized anxiety disorder, but not specifically insomnia.
The big takeaways
While you may have tried a lot of things to support your sleep, there is a lot we can learn from different cultures around the world about how they treat bedtime. The biggest thing I’m taking away from these different cultures is that there is so much support we can find from our food, our relationships, and the environment around us to help support better sleep.