THE BLOG
03/22/2013 07:04 am ET Updated May 21, 2013

7 Natural Solutions For A Good Night's Sleep

No question about it, sleep is a hot topic. It ranks in the top 10 most talked about topics with the BA50 crowd. When we're not talking about getting in shape, sex, our kids, our homes, our skin/hair or our finances and health -- we're probably talking about sleep. One thing we can all agree on is, there's no one solution to ensuring a good night's sleep that works for everyone. However, when we hear of a good idea -- "wives tale" or not -- we're game to try it on. And, there are some pretty great ideas to pick from.

I'm particularly interested in the sleep issue due to my family's chronic sleep issues. My people are insomniacs. My dad classified himself as an "incurable insomniac." It plagued him, but alas he found alternatives: he was a voracious reader and loved his Prokofiev and Chopin, so he found solace in his books and music while his children slept. My siblings and I struggle with RLS, Restless Leg Syndrome (there are 20 million of us in the U.S.), and we've learned what it takes to manage that (it takes medicine and a little less red wine at dinner). In the early years when my sister and I shared a room, I would watch with fascination as she did multiple rounds of Jane Fonda-like leg lifts before passing out into la la land.

40 million people in the U.S. have chronic sleep disorders and 70 million suffer from insomnia. It's no wonder when someone tells me they have no issues with sleep, I automatically discount them as braggarts, liars or freaks. It just doesn't seem possible to me.

What I find fascinating are all the solutions people come up with to deal with their sleep issues. I've been gathering a menu of sleep remedies to pick and choose from. I love hearing how others deal with sleep issues and perhaps some of these techniques would be useful to try when your own technique fails and you are lying awake at night.

S0, we know why we can't sleep: we're too hot, there's too much on our minds, we are restless, anxious, our hearts are racing, and we drank or ate too much and feel uncomfortable. We only like our own beds and pillows or we can't sleep in high altitudes. Since we can't always fix the problem, it helps to have some sleep tools in our tool box.

Here's a list of 7 all natural sleep solutions that may be your ticket to a good, solid night's sleep:

1. Orgasms: If you've got a partner -- you've got a ticket to a good night's sleep, and if not -- well, you'll just have to take care of this on your own. It turns out that there's a hormone called prolactin that's produced from orgasms and it makes us sleepy (of course better for men than women). Well, if you don't fall asleep, at least you had fun.

2. Exercise More (but not just before bed): Yes we know this but it helps to be reminded. Exhaust yourself during your daily workout, ramp it up and your chances of being fatigued at the end of the day increase.

3. Cognac: A shot of cognac at bedtime can warm you to the core and send you off into a haze of relaxation and deep slumber. The doctor won't give you this advice, but honestly, it's worth trying. It's not called a Digestif for nothing.

4. No Worries: This is the best sleep antidote ever. If you can't sleep or you wake up in the middle of the night it's fine. "So what?" Just lie quietly with your eyes closed. This attitude will keep your anxiety at bay and can even recharge your brain -- here's a study that will help you buy into this belief.

5. The Real Down Dog: If you love your dog, spooning with your pet is the best ever. My dog happens to tuck nicely up against me and her easy breathing lulls me back to sleep. I match her breath for breath (good thing she's not a panter). This works.

6. Medical Marijuana: Yup, weed works wonders for many who have a hard time falling asleep and in many states this is legit.

7. Love Thy Bed: Look at your bed and say to yourself, "Ah, I love my bed, it is the most restful place ever." Believe that this is the case. Do not allow negative voices anywhere near your brain or your bed -- talk over them and replace them with positive thoughts and images: "My bed is my cocoon, my bed is the most inviting place for rest and renewal."

I hope this article brings you sweet sleep and gentle dreams. If any of these solutions works for you, please let us know as soon as you awake from your good night's rest. If you have any ideas we haven't thought of, post below as well. We all know the world will be a better place if we all can get a a few more ZZZZZZ's.

Read more from Better After 50:
Lose Weight With The Sleep Diet
7 Iconic Women BA50′s Love
How Mary Tyler Moore Helped Me Sleep
Sleep Divorce

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