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How to sleep better: tips & tricks from a herbalist and yoga teacher

by Jules Evans

Sleep is everything to being human, the foundation to being superhuman. In fact, in the world we live in we are all superhuman! Today, we have way more hours awake on this planet compared to our ancestors: life got busy.

Sleep is pivotal to our survival and our well-being, both physically and mentally.

When we sleep our body restores, resets and cleans out anything that’s not needed so we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. We literally will run our immunity low if we don’t sleep.

It even helps us solve problems, make decisions, and form ideas; maybe even our intelligence is largely dependent on our sleep. Definitely sleep is needed for big life decisions. Just like the famous saying goes: ‘I’ll sleep on it.’ 

luxe + hardy

Modern day life is out to get us

So here’s the trick to living in the 21st century where we are constantly charmed by media saying that we should be doing more things with our day: from work, to shopping, looking after our family, attending pottery classes, exercising, meditating… the list goes on and on and on – and it’s a lot!

And the best way to manage life and all the fun the universe brings us is to get as much sleep as possible.

The secret, in fact, is to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, just like a cat.

My cat Betty falls sleeps instantly, no matter where she is. This is how humans should sleep too, and maybe you’re one of the lucky few who do already. It’s super empowering to be able to do this; after all, we are the chief commanders of our body.

However, since our grandmothers’ generation at least, new technology and uber-cool inventions have inhibited us from controlling our body’s natural ability to fall asleep quickly.

Take bright city lights: so pretty to see when you’re in a plane or up in a tall building but actually they disturb our natural body rhythms. Australian Geographic found that magpies and pigeons are affected by the bright street lights too. All animals are, in fact, so let’s all switch off our porch lights at night!

I love films or really good performances, but if I want a good night’s sleep I avoid anything scary. Well I never watch scary movies anyway, but I totally avoid anything on the screen that makes my heart race, brings tears to my eyes, or makes me jump out of my skin in any way when it’s late at night.


Body chemistry

It might be hard to believe, but scientists have found that our body (more specifically our amygdala, the part of our brain responsible for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation) does not know this box your watching is not real, so it produces cortisol to protect you from any potential threats. Think of cortisol like nature’s built-in alarm system. Obviously, we must feel safe in order to fall asleep quickly, so this is quite counterproductive.

I recommend…

a nice light novel rather than an episode of Squid Game right before you sleep.

The sun, that great ball of fire, helps us sleep better, flourish even. Just like a plant, us humans need a good dose of sunlight daily. Just taking 5 minutes out of your schedule so your brain can pick up on the special light rays that the golden hours produces is all you need.

I recommend…

basking in the sunlight first thing in the morning and trying to be outside as the sun begins to set in the evening. These are important times to get your dose of sunlight. 

All about the melatonin

This specific light activates and signals the pineal gland to begin secreting melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycle. A natural hormone produced by you (because you are awesome) melatonin will start to signal the body to unwind and slow down. It tells your body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Magical!

Sadly, those pretty bright white overhead lights do cause havoc to our body and hormones, and can even cause ageing so leave them off as much as possible. Artificial light at night impairs the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland. Blue light is also quite bad for melatonin production, and can be found in mobile phones (I know, I love mine too), computers, tablets, and really all electronic devices with a screen. 

I recommend…
  1. If possible, try to spend your evenings at home in candlelight or at least low lighting. The flame from a candle actually has zero blue light. In fact, it produces an infrared full-colour spectrum light which calms the nervous system and increases melatonin production. People during the stone age had it totally right hanging out around cosy fires and doubling up on their melatonin. 
  2. Just try your bestest not to scroll on the gram too late at night as blue light lowers the magic of melatonin production, which makes us all quite grumpy!
  3. If you do a lot of screen time or zoom time, I highly recommend investing in some blue light blocking glasses and checking out an app for your laptop called Iris. (Your computer should also have a “nighttime mode” which should limit the amount of blue light being sent through).
leaf, herb, green, nature

Some herbs to try

I used to really struggle with falling asleep: tossing and turning, having mini bursts of energy soon as I got to bed, receiving incredible ideas from the duvet fairies, then perhaps sleeping for a short time and waking up feeling worse, feeling like I’ve not slept a wink.

Here’s the thing: we might be sleeping but are we having the best sleep of our lives? Are our circadian rhythms flowing the way they should, with grace?

I was sleeping a full 8 hours but used to wake up feeling exhausted. This hit me hard and, truthfully, I couldn’t work it out so it was all frustrating. I looked after my health but still felt lousy; it was really frustrating.

I took a lot of time looking into natural ways to boost my natural abilities to fall asleep quickly, within an instant and have deep, restorative sleep.

My struggle with sleep is actually the main reason I studied and became a community Herbalist. I wanted to find out how I could support my body better. Even before becoming a Herbalist, I have always adored a cuppa (I’m British, of course I do) and even though I love breakfast tea, herbal teas are my go-to for wind down evenings (which is every evening). It’s my favourite thing.

I secretly enjoy an early night and sipping tea is such a relaxing ritual to tame any stress in the body and prepare the mind for sleep.

I recommend…
  • The recommended herbs for sleep and for some super powerful sedative qualities are Chamomile, Mugwort, Damiana, Valeria, Passion flower, Mint and Rosemary, just to name a few, and they make a great tea.
  • If tea is not your thing, a milky hot chocolate is actually good as it’s full of magnesium. Just make sure to choose a sugar-free one! Or, warm up some oat milk then add 1/2 teaspoon of ashwaganda and cinnamon: a beautiful natural sleep combo!

Oils & Magnesium

The skin being our largest organ, it very cleverly absorb the natural oils straight into the blood stream, so a body oil infused with oils works very fast.

Magnesium is today’s #1 mineral for the nervous system. It can help us not just sleep, but do sleep deeply and well, as it regulates our circadian rhythm.

I recommend…
  • I love to massage my skin with a body oil infused with essential oils like Lavender, Basil, Vanilla, Rosemary or Coriander – all sleep-inducing, slow your roll, calming kind of herbs.
  • Can’t rave on enough about Magnesium or Epsom salt baths, Magnesium supplements or a dunk in the sea (free magnesium) – all totally awesome ways to top up on the top mineral.

Take deeeeeeeeeeep breaths

As a Kundalini yoga teacher I have to share the power of the breath and few poses to help you sleep. Just simple, long, slow, deep inhaling and exhaling can calm the mind combined with a big stretch to relax the vagus nerve. Add a dash of lavender oils to your palms, rub together and take 3 large inhale and exhales.

And my absolute favourite poses for bedtime are the incredible Sufi grind and child’s pose. These work on the area from the lower diaphragm right down to the pelvic floor, where the body holds onto its anxieties.


Before I sleep I like to jot down any tasks that didn’t get ticked off my list, it just always makes me feel better and a gratitude list so I fall asleep quickly, less worried, with an open heart – ready to dream BIG.

As a closing note, if anyone out there who has tried everything noted above to get to sleep and still can’t sleep or sleep quick enough – have you tried a weighted blanket? This is an epic invention, as it really relaxes the body, telling the vagus nerve it’s safe. It sends you off to dreamland before you can say Dubai Expo 2020.

And next time you see a bird early in the morning tweeting out of tune just remember maybe they had a bad night sleep too.

Sleep well, dream big!

And, as a final hoorah, here are some of the best products to help you sleep!

Sleeping beauty tea from feel good tea

Herbal bath salts from Divine Soak

Natural oils from hikma rituals

Beauty Sleep oil, Jules and Nomads (that’s my product)

Traditional Mayan hot chocolate from Co Chocolat

The secret, in fact, is to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, just like a cat.

jules, jules and nomads

My name is Julie. I am a community herbalist and student at Scarlet and Safe Healing Arts School. I’m also a Kundalini yoga teacher and have been in living in Dubai for 9 years. I have my own business called Jules and Nomads. I’m passionate about holistic living and creating traditional remedies for reconnection with the self. I believe in preserving Celtic forms of botany to keep alive a very sacred part of source.

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