The Best Natural Sleep Aids for Insomnia
Do you have trouble sleeping no matter how tired you are? Or maybe you stay awake all night watching the clock tick anxiously trying to get some shut eye? If this is something you do on a regular basis you may have a condition known as insomnia. Tossing and turning in bed at night can be frustrating and troublesome. Most of the American residents are familiar with this scenario and recent statistics show that an estimated 164 million American’s alone are struggling with their sleep routines at least once a week, which works out as being roughly one in every three people.
Insomnia is a very prevalent issue today that has the ability to eat up all your energy, affect your mood and zeal to work and function during the day. In chronic cases, insomnia can lead to other related health issues. Essentially for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction as Isaac Newton quite rightly pointed out many years ago. The truth is you are not entitled to being subjected to a bad night’s sleep, and there is no reason to put up with that situation any longer and it is worth noting that there is always something that can be done to improve your situation with the right information and action steps.
In this article will aim to help you identify and address all the main underlying issues that can cause insomnia. We will also aim to highlight some of the changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine, as well as the adjustments you can make to your sleeping environment which can yield a positive outcome using incremental steps that when added together yield more positive outcomes when it comes to improving your sleep outlook. This way, you can eliminate the frustration that comes with insomnia and finally get that good sleep you have been craving for. So let’s get to it and outline the best natural sleep aids for insomnia, but first off here’s a quick overview of insomnia and why you should tackle it.
Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall asleep during the night. Besides making you feel tired the following day, a sleep deficiency can also take a toll on your overall mental and physical health conditions. This can include decreasing your body’s immunity level essentially the inability of your body to fight infections like the common cold and flu. In other cases, it can also cause random mood changes, irritability, anxiety and even depression too if left unaddressed. A study conducted on the same also shows that sleep deficiency leads to;
- Shorter life expectancy
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure among other issues
On the same vein, good sleeping habits promote and boost your brains memory functions. This is because, for your brain to retain information and form new neural pathways, you need to have established adequate rest first. As well as boosting memory good sleep cycles and regularity supports balanced mental health conditions, essentially helping you regulate your emotions in a better way, make sound decisions and helping you solve problems with ease. Also, your body can self-heal and achieve the right hormone balance when optimum sleep is achieved on a regular basis.
Although most of the people out there turn to Over-the-counter prescriptions like sleeping pills, most of these pills have been proven to have adverse long-term effects. You are likely to experience side effects like;
Side-Effects of Pills
- Allergic reactions
- Dizziness during the day
For that reason, in this article, we will list some of the proven ways to help you get better night sleep without having to depend on the pills that mask conditions without really treating the underlying cause. All the methods given are risk-free. Therefore you don’t have to worry about your health condition being impacted upon. We recommend you to try out the methods we have listed below and implement the ones you feel have made an improvement in your sleep pattern. Of course only YOU can truly know what has worked or perhaps will work for YOU, so take what works even if it’s just a slight improvement, and build on it until you have perfected a sleep routine that works based on incremental changes.
The first step to solving any issue whether it be sleep or anything else in life, is first getting to the root of the problem. YOU again are the person that needs to take action. In order for you to eliminate insomnia, you must first target and treat any underlying mental as well as physical issues or environmental elements that are contributing to your sleep disruption. A good first step is to learn more about yourself and become more self-aware of what exactly the common denominator is in your case, because everybody will have their own situation that effects their sleep.
For example someone who drinks an energy drink before bed and then struggles to sleep is very much different from someone who is stressed about a certain thing(s) in their life and finds it hard to sleep from worry on a continual basis. The first is easy to address eliminate the energy drink and try again, the latter might need a more focussed approach and the help of an external factor like an expert to give relevant advise on how to help solve the issue that’s worrying the person in question.
A lot of the time the things people do to cope with insomnia only make the situation worse in many cases.
For instance; most people with repetitive sleep issues feel the need to use sleeping pills or alcohol to try and get some sleep. This may work for some people in the short term, but is not the answer to long term sleep success. Using alcohol or sleeping pills to fall asleep disrupts your sleeping patterns even more, which create a cycle of addiction and dependency for many people. In order to improve sleep sometimes it’s not what you add that counts it’s what you take away or eliminate for example; gadgets before bed, alcohol, noise disruption, energy drinks, sleeping with the light or T.V on etc.
An everyday example and one perhaps you may even engage in without being fully aware is taking too much coffee during the day which makes it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
Other Daytime habits that can impact your sleep negatively include;
- Eating heavy meals too close to bedtime
- Eating a lot of sugary foods
- Napping during the day
- Irregular sleep schedules
- Exercising too late
- Lack of enough exercise
Poor daytime habits not only contribute to insomnia but also make it harder to stop these bad habits. That, in turn, creates a kind of a vicious cycle of sleep deficiency. Most of the time when you curb the habits that induce insomnia, it becomes much easier to deal with the issue. Although your body may not adjust to change immediately, it only takes a little commitment and the formation of a habit through repetition.
However, be careful because at times some of the poor habits are so ingrained into your daily routines that we tend to overlook them, this is where your ability to become more self-aware is useful. Always try to pinpoint the issues you feel may be a significant contributor to your insomnia now and then and work on eliminating them.
Risk-Free Natural Sleep Aids for Insomnia
Outline here is a list of positive actions you can take in order to address the issue of your insomnia by introducing certain elements and eliminating others;
1. Better Sleep environment
To achieve that sought after uninterrupted sleep period at night, you must understand that a calm atmosphere and a relaxing bedtime routine are the central imperatives. These two weapons can have a tremendous positive impact on improving the quality of your nightly sleep. To create the perfect environment for your bedroom, here are a few things that you can do;
Ensure that your bedroom is dark, cool and noise-free. Often, when your sleeping area is too hot, cold, and noisy or has a lot of light and an uncomfortable mattress, it’s so hard to fall asleep think of the princess and the pea story and you get the point. For that reason, here are a few things you can do to create a conducive sleep environment;
- Use sound machines or earplugs to block out external noise
- Open the windows or use a fan to keep the room cool
- Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light
- Experiment with diverse mattress sizes to get the comfortable fit
The above products can really help to create an optimum sleep environment and the following habits and actions can build upon that balance;
- Set a regular sleep schedule. For you to get a good night sleep every day, you need to set and support your biological clock. You can do this by making sure that you go to bed and wake up the same time every day including the weekends. Even if you are tired, wake up at your regular time, and it will be easy for you to get back to your normal.
- An hour before going to bed, switch off screens. The blue light produced by electronics affects the production of melatonin in your body and prevents you from feeling sleepy. For that reason, before going to bed listen to soft music or read a book instead of using your computer, phone, tablet or watching TV. A more relaxing activity will eliminate insomnia and give you a better chance at achieving a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid daytime Naps. When you nap regularly during the day, it may be harder to fall asleep at night. If you must have one, make sure that you limit it to 30 minutes. Also, ensure that your nap period happens before 3 p.m.
- Avoid strenuous activities before bedtime. When I talk about strenuous activities, I mean even some of the necessary things that you tend to assume. These can include; checking social media messages, arguments with your family or spouse, discussions about and tracking your work progress among other things. You should postpone these activities until the next day in the morning time ideally. Of course avoid late evening workouts or physically demanding tasks which may be better suited for morning time.
In addition to these tips avoid taking too many drinks (especially ones containing sugar), big meals, alcohol as well as caffeine before going to bed. Such things tend to either distract your sleep or combat sleepiness. Even drinking water just before bed can disrupt your sleep as you may wake during the night to go to the toilet which breaks your sleep cycle. So drinks and meals or snacks just before bed is best avoided.
2. Regular Exercise
The main reason why you will stay awake all night is anxiety. For that reason, you should try to curb the anxiety through exercise. Regular exercises will improve not only your sleep and fitness but also your entire body health. This means that when you exercise you are likely to curb insomnia faster compared to your couch potato counterparts.
However, you should try to find the perfect time during the day to do the exercise workouts. Some people may have no problem falling asleep after the evening workouts, but others need to workout first thing in the morning. Find the perfect time for you.
As well as early morning workouts, ensure you work out religiously, at least thrice a week depending on your schedule. Try a yoga class, weight lifting or just regular walks in the park. Don’t be one of those people who rule out exercise, find your sweet spot and develop it further. Do more of what works more often.
3. Neutralize Anxiety
Researchers have proven that most of the people who have trouble sleeping at night experience weird thought invasions now and then. This is because most of these people will dread going to bed just to stay awake until 2 a.m. Or maybe they fear they won’t get enough sleep yet there is a great day ahead to look forward to.
For that reason, the fear and agony in expecting difficulty in falling asleep can make insomnia even worse. That worry and fear only make your body fill up with adrenaline and before you realise it you are wide awake and over thinking the situation. Therefore, below are some of the strategies that will help if sleep worries are getting in the way of your ability to get better sleep at night.
- Use the bedroom for sleeping alone. Avoid working, watching your Tv or using your computer in bed. Associate your bedroom with sleep alone, and this will get much easier for you. Your mind and body will always get the signal that it’s time to get some sleep whenever you get to bed.
- If you can’t sleep get out of bed. One thing that most people don’t know is that forcing yourself to sleep doesn’t help. The anxiety that comes with tossing and turning in bed only makes matters Therefore, if you are experiencing difficulty falling asleep, you should get out of bed and engage in some other activity. You can read a book or take a warm shower. When you are feeling sleepy again, you can then go back to bed with the fresh thoughts of the new activity still in your mind.
- Keep the clocks in the bedroom out of view. Watching or listening to a clock tick while you lie awake causes anxiety, annoyance and fear to develop that makes you even more restless. You know that when the alarm goes off, you will be tired and exhausted. This is often a primary cause of insomnia. Therefore, if you must use your alarm, ensure that you can’t see the time from your bedo and buy a clock that is silent and doesn’t tick.
Anxiety and stress are one of the main contributing factors to sleepless nights for so many people. Learning to develop yourself emotionally and personally can be hugely beneficial.
4. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
With cognitive behavioural therapy, you focus on changing any thoughts and feelings you may have, that can often trigger stress, anxiety and depression. Such ideas may cause insomnia, but if you avoid them, you will have found the best natural cure for insomnia. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps to retrain your body and mind to help it achieve better and faster sleep and develop your ability to understand your emotions, feelings and become a more developed and self-aware person better equipped to deal with life.
During a study done to compare the effectiveness of sleeping pills and cognitive behavioural therapy, researchers discovered that CBT increases the chances of falling asleep faster by over 17 percent. You can practice your CBT routines at home too by keeping a self-sleep diary. The diary or journal will enable you to discover the elements that have caused an impact on your sleep and allow you to take action to eliminate it without it continuing to form a negative nightly sleep habit that becomes detrimental to your sleep.
Through the diary, you will be able to keep track of your sleep patterns and avoid any bad habits that may be restricting you from getting that night sleep you desire. Also, it will help you adopt a better schedule that ensures you go to bed and wake up at the same time on a daily basis.
5. Safe use of Insomnia Supplements
This is the very last thing you want to try when trying to cure insomnia. However, if everything else is not working for you can try out this option. There are many herbal and dietary supplements marketed as risk-free natural remedies.
However, you should be careful because not all these products are safe. Before you start taking any medication of any type, consult with your physician first and educate yourself about the medication in question i.e. what is it natural or synthetic, how does it work, what are the knock on effects of taking it, is it effective and is it safe etc. Two of the supplements that have worked for people in the past include; Melatonin and Valerian, but these should not be taken without a doctor’s consultation first.
In conclusion, I hope that you can now determine what elements can cause insomnia and what you can do to curb the issue. All in all, as you strive to get a better night sleep, be careful not to turn you sleeping aids into things that by themselves cause insomnia. If the self-help techniques are not working for you, talk to your doctor providing as much information as you can on what has and what hasn’t worked in your case.
Discuss the symptoms you are experiencing and in this way it will be easier to identify the underlying issues that may be interfering with your sleeping routines.
However, you should understand that it takes dedication and time to get the best results. Persistence and doing what works and yields positive results is key for this reason keep a sleep diary and fill it out on a consistent basis. This way you will get results faster than you expected.
Be patient as you go through the methods outlined and most importantly stick with what works, they may not take care of the issue overnight but with commitment things will be better in no time!