The term 'alternative' is a broad description of anything that exists outside of the mainstream. There are lots of alternative approaches to improving sleep quality, from holistic changes in diet to beginning specific exercise regimes. However, successfully introducing an alternative approach to your sleep routine doesn't necessarily require a major lifestyle change, or, in some cases even a great deal of effort. Simply adopting the basics of an alternative approach can be enough to experience incredible benefits to your sleep and overall wellbeing.
Yoga is excellent for sleep hygiene. Despite some 'new age' and mystical connotations, yoga has in fact been around in some form for thousands of years, making it one of the most traditionally-established practices in the world. One of the great things about yoga is that it ticks so many of the boxes required for achieving better sleep. The preparation for any yoga session involves freeing the mind of external thoughts, and disengaging mentally from stress and worry. The physical aspects of yoga help to relieve tension from muscles and improve circulation. While yoga is often practiced in organised classes with an instructor, it can also be done alone once you learn the basics - making it the ideal pre-sleep chill-out activity.
Meditation can be a deeply-relaxing practice that clears the mind. Like yoga, meditation is an extremely complex and varied subject, but it is also one that is easily accessible for beginners. There are hundreds of smartphone apps and CDs based on 'guided' meditations that provide a good introduction to the calming potential of meditation.
Aromatherapy is another easily accessible 'alternative' approach to relaxation that can really improve sleep quality. Harnessing the potent scents of herbs and flowering plants is an age-old process with incredible benefits. Lots of herbs have sedative abilities and can be simply introduced into an evening relaxation ritual. Lavender, Jasmine and Sandalwood are some of the most popular aromatherapy ingredients for relaxation, but there are countless others with their own particular soothing effects. Using them in a bath, putting a few drops of essential oils onto a pillow or using a diffuser lamp or burner are some of the easy ways to use aromatherapy for sleep.
Most of the methods classed as alternative are firmly based on tried-and-tested relaxation principles, and as such require absolutely no 'leaps of faith' whatsoever. These techniques are some of the most effective things you can do to improve your sleep quality, and shouldn’t be seen as a last resort. Regularly practicing these techniques not only has the potential to improve your sleep, but your overall health and state-of-mind as well.