It’s two o’clock in the morning, and you’re currently studying all the details of your ceiling, your alarm clock, and you feel like your sheets are to blame.  Wait – your sheets?

When you don’t sleep well, it’s maddening and you can also feel a little nutty the next day.  There are varieties of serious insomnia and sleep disorders, but most of us just yearn for a better night’s sleep.  Several studies show sleep makes us smarter by allowing our brains to think, process information and make smart decisions the next day.

Here are some natural ways to support your slumber.

Try Sticking to a Routine
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.  Sometimes travel and other commitments are a challenge, but the more you stick to a routine, the more your body gets conditioned to a sleep and wake cycle.  Your brain learns when it can rest and when it needs to be alert, too.  Try to match the natural rhythms of daylight and darkness, going to bed around 10-11 p.m. and waking at 6-7 a.m.

Investigate Herbal Remedies
Lavender is one of the most calm-inducing essential oils, along with chamomile, lemon balm and verbena.  Experts recommend using them as aromatherapy, inhaling them, massaging them into your neck, or using a diffuser to spread the scent throughout your bedroom.  You can also find them in the form of teas to sip before bedtime.  The Bastyr Center for Natural Health also recommends a valerian and hops combination, which prepares the body for sleep.  In other studies, melatonin improved sleep quality and morning alertness.

Learn How to Meditate
If you learn how to meditate, you’ll learn how to slow your breathing, which helps reduce stress hormone levels, relaxes your body and frees your mind.  One study found that stress reduction resulted in longer sleep, fewer awakenings and improved quality of sleep, all of which leads to feeling more refreshed, clear and better able to focus on the next day’s activities.

Examine Your Sleeping Environment
Okay, well, maybe the sheets are to blame, after all.  You spend one third of your life in bed, so set up the bedroom for successful sleep.  Invest in good sheets, such as at least 200-thread count, 100% cotton sheets, which breathe and retain warmth, while promising comfort and softness.  Make sure your bed is not sagging, and that you eliminate the television in your bedroom.  Try not to be on your iPad or phone right before going to bed (or worse, in bed).  The light from devices, and the content in the device, stimulate your brain instead of letting it rest for a good night’s sleep.

Be smart, and start making a habit of sleeping better the natural way.  It’s better for your body than a sleeping pill, and you’ll be brighter for all to see.