Insomnia is something that can strike people of all ages and can be a chronic issue or something you suffer from here and there. No matter how frequent insomnia hits the fact of the matter is that it is literally exhausting to deal with.
It affects the person’s ability to function both physically and mentally, which means your personal and work life is affected. A person can only go so long without sleep before their body starts to shut down.
The good news is that there are a number of products available to people who suffer from insomnia to help them fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. The doctor may be quick to offer a prescription-based medication but that isn’t always the route people want to take.
If you’re interested in learning about the top insomnia natural remedies then read on. We’ll take a look at some of the most effective, safe, and natural routes to take.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder and affects people in different ways. It could be that you have a hard time falling asleep, it could be that you have a hard time staying asleep, and in some cases, the person suffers from both of these issues.
As mentioned it can be a constant problem, which is classed as “chronic”, or it can happen from time-to-time, which is classed as “acute”. Typically a person that has chronic insomnia has to have the issue on a nightly basis for at least 30 days. If the person has acute insomnia it may last anywhere from a couple of weeks to just a couple of days.
Top Causes of Insomnia
Although each person is different there is a list of the top causes of insomnia. These include:
- Illness of some sort
- Chronic pain, especially at nighttime
- A disruption in your normal sleep routine/schedule (this is common when traveling)
- Certain medications
- Factors affecting the sleep environment such as the light, noise, the bed/pillow, the temperature of the room, etc.
Of course, there can be other factors that cause insomnia and the person can be suffering from just one of these or many.
It should also be noted that insomnia is divided into two types which are primary and secondary insomnia. If you have primary insomnia it means that the sleep problems are an issue on their own, and aren’t related to other problems.
If you have secondary insomnia it means the insomnia is occurring due to another issue, meaning it is one of the symptoms of the other health issue.
How Insomnia Affects People
Besides the fact that insomnia is tiring to go through, it affects a person in a number of ways. Often people don’t realize how important sleep is. We all know it helps our body to recharge, but is it really that vital to us?
The short answer is yes! Insomnia has such an impact on your body both physically and mentally and goes so far as to affect the overall quality of the person’s life. It has been shown that those who suffer from insomnia report a lower quality of life. It’s scary to think lack of sleep is what determines a person’s happiness level in their life!
Ways insomnia can affect you include:
- It can affect a person’s ability to focus/concentrate
- It can affect people at school or work
- A person’s reaction time can suffer
- It can cause weight gain
- It can cause anxiety or depression
- It decreases a person’s sex drive
- It can lead to an increased risk of various diseases that are long-term issues (diabetes, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and more)
- It can affect your memory
- Lack of sleep can affect a person’s ability to make judgment calls
- Lack of sleep tends to make people look older than they are
How to Deal with Insomnia?
Obviously, this is no way to live, which means a person most likely will seek out a remedy for their insomnia. As mentioned there are prescription-based options for dealing with insomnia, but many people aren’t interested in this approach.
Nowadays people are much more aware of what they are putting into their bodies and with that said a natural approach has become a people’s way to go. These approaches tend to be safe, side-effect free, and yet still effective.
The natural approach can also tend to be a more cost-effective approach and many of them require lifestyle changes so that insomnia stays away.
Top 15 Natural Remedies For Insomnia
While there are a number of natural remedies available today we’re going to focus on the top 10 most popular natural remedies. What’s great about the natural route is that you can often combine these products without any side effects and then increase your chances of seeing results.
If you haven’t heard of it before, now is the time to get acquainted with it. This is actually a naturally occurring hormone in your body and it is what controls your sleep. You can purchase it in a pill form from most health stores.
One thing to keep in mind with this item is that less is better, you don’t want to go overboard on this product as it does carry some health risks. A typical recommended dosage is 1 to 3mg of Melatonin about two hours before you head off to bed.
2- Valerian Root
This particular herb has plenty of research behind it and because of that, it has been used for many years. This one is meant to act as mild sedation so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep. It should be noted that it isn’t a quick fix, many people report having to take it on a regular basis for a few weeks before it starts to offer any benefits.
Magnesium is an excellent tool to use against insomnia. If your body doesn’t have enough magnesium there have been studies that show it prevents the brain from being able to relax at the end of the day so that you can sleep.
You can certainly take a magnesium supplement or you can get it through foods. Green leafy vegetables are the best source of magnesium, but it can also be found in almonds, pumpkin seeds, and wheat germ.
4- Lemon Balm Tea
This is also called Melissa officinalis and is an herbal supplement that you can find in most health food stores. If your insomnia is due to stress, this tea can be particularly helpful before bed.
5- Indulge in a little relaxation music or nature sounds
These are the kinds of sounds you’d typically hear at a spa and the idea is that they are soothing and relaxing. You can invest in a sleep sound machine that has a timer so you can fall asleep listening to the soothing sounds and not have to worry about turning it off.
There are also all kinds of apps that can offer these services on your mobile device. The apps often allow for customization too so you can personalize it to your needs and likes.
6- Schedule time for regular exercise
Exercise plays a very important role in the quality of your sleep but there is a key here, you’ll want to do your exercise in the morning rather than in the afternoon or at night too close to the bed. Not only can a morning workout help you sleep that evening, but it’s a great way to start out the day stress-free and feeling energized so this one has all kinds of benefits.
7- Set up a sleep routine
It’s interesting that we give babies and children a sleep routine that we try to stick to, but as adults, this goes out the window. Just as it is helpful for kids, a steady sleep routine for an adult is also beneficial.
Obviously, there will be times where the routine isn’t going to happen, such as a night out on the town, but in general, it’s important to stick to it. This means going to bed at roughly the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning even on the weekends.
This conditions your body to a particular routine. You may find over time that you don’t even need an alarm clock in the morning because your body will be so conditioned to that schedule.
8- Give yourself a wind-down period
It’s impossible to be running around doing this and that all day and all evening, and then expect that at the flick of a switch your body will be able to turn off and just fall asleep.
Instead, give yourself that wind-down period each night of roughly one hour. Maybe that involves having a soothing bath, reading a book, flipping through a magazine, or anything else you find relaxing.
9- Use a relaxation technique
Speaking of relaxation there are techniques you can use to help you achieve that state of relaxation. Helpful exercises are Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. You can buy a book, an instructional video, or even join a class to learn the technique.
What’s great is that once you learn the technique you can use it anytime and anywhere even if you’re away on vacation. Whichever exercise you choose can be added to your nighttime routine in that hour leading up to bedtime.
10- Good old warm milk
While this one may sound old-fashioned the fact is that there is the truth behind the whole glass of warm milk before bed routine. Milk contains something called tryptophan, which is classed as an amino acid.
This particular amino acid is known to help promote sleep. Isn’t it funny how tired you feel after that big turkey dinner? That’s because turkey also contains tryptophan. Other sources of tryptophan that you can try are bananas, chicken, and fish for dinner to set yourself up for a restful evening.
11- The power of lavender
Lavender is well-known for its calming and soothing effects and is said to work like a very mild tranquilizer. You can add lavender oil to your bath, dab a bit on your forehead and temples at bedtime, and even dab a bit on your pillow before you go to sleep.
If you’re adding it to your bath try five drops. Another essential oil that has shown to help with sleep is jasmine oil. Again you can add it to your pillowcase, temples, and forehead.
12- Adjust the temperature in your room before bed
It can be very difficult to sleep in a room that is too warm. Studies show that if your room is cool, not cold just cool, that people have a more restful sleep. Remember you can always add a layer if you’re feeling chilled through the night.
Opening the window to let the fresh air in can be helpful but if you happen to live in a noisy neighborhood it will have the reverse effect.
13- Passionflower can soothe you to sleep
Another herb that has been shown to have a sedative effect is passionflower. It is recommended you take 4,000 to 8,000 mg of the herb before bed.
14- Adjust the amount of light in your room
Again this sounds very simple but it can have a big effect on the quality of your sleep. Darkness is the absolute best conditions for sleep, so try to get your room as dark as possible. You can always purchase dark-out curtains to ensure your room stays that perfect level of light.
15- Chamomile Tea
This tea has a calming effect on the body helping with anxiety, digestion problems, and muscle tension. It’s recommended you have a cup of it after dinner so it has a chance to start working, yet won’t keep you running to the bathroom through the night.
Keep in mind no matter what natural remedy you choose to use, you still may want to speak to your doctor about it and at least make them aware of your approach. If you are currently taking any medications it’s also important to make sure these natural remedies don’t interfere with the effectiveness of your medication.
The Top Five Things to Avoid
Along with using natural remedies, there are also a few things you can avoid in order to help aid in the sleep process.
1- Avoid caffeine consumption afternoon
That seems a bit extreme, but the caffeine can stay in your system that long affecting your ability to fall asleep and stay sleeping. If you’re really hurting for that taste of coffee with your dinner, opt for a caffeine-free cup of Joe or better yet, one of the herbal teas listed above.
2- Skip the alcohol
Often people assume that a drink before bed will help them sleep but more often than not it proves false. It often results in frequent waking through the night, the need to go to the washroom since it is a diuretic, and just a less restful sleep all around.
3- A TV in the bedroom isn’t a great idea
Often it keeps people awake and doesn’t allow your mind to relax. So many people flip the TV on, set the timer, and expect to be able to fall asleep. Rarely does this work. Even if you aren’t paying attention to the program on a conscious level your subconscious still hears all the action and your brain will still be working.
4- No matter how tired you feel in the day, avoid napping
If you get in a nap before bedtime it’s sure to mess with your ability to sleep. Sometimes it’s hard to resist that quick cat-nap before dinner but remember if you give in, you’re really going to mess with your evening routine. You want to be nice and tired of bedtime.
5- Don’t overeat before bed
If you tend to have your largest meal at dinner, try switching things up and make lunch your largest meal. At dinner you can have a light healthy meal instead so your stomach isn’t feeling heavy and bloated come bedtime.
Finish up your meal with an herbal tea that aids in digestion, such as the Chamomile tea listed above. As well when it comes to food choices, overly sweet and spicy food can keep you up in the evening.
There is no magical solution to cure insomnia but what’s great is that there are so many natural remedies out there to experiment with and try. Obviously not each remedy will work for each person, it’s about finding that right mix and also making changes to your lifestyle and routine.
A great approach is to keep a sleep journal so you can keep track of what methods work, which don’t, and under what circumstances. Over time you’ll start to decode your own sleep habits and learn what you can do to change them and start enjoying the sleep you deserve.