Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep? You could be suffering from insomnia. Read on to discover natural tools than can help you get better sleep.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, you’re certainly not alone. In our bustling culture that encourages us to always be “on,” it’s no surprise that about 40 million Americans suffer from insomnia and one in four Americanswill develop this sleep disorder each year. These unsettling statistics clearly show that an inability to get deep, restorative sleep is one of the nation’s major health problems. Besides turning to medication, is there anything you can do to end your sleepless nights? Absolutely! There are several natural tools that you can use to ease your sleeping woes, and today I’m going to share seven of them. Let’s get started!
First things first, what exactly is insomnia?
While the occasional restless night is something most people experience here and there, insomnia is a sleep disorder that results in the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for longer periods of time. The condition can be short-term, lasting only a few weeks, or chronic, meaning it occurs at least three nights a week for three months or more.
What are the signs of insomnia?
How do you know if you are suffering from insomnia? Here are some of the telltale signs:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Ongoing worries about sleep
Because our bodies and brains need sleep to store memories and repair themselves, a long-term lack of sleep could result in concerning complications including:
- A higher risk of physical health problems like high blood pressure and obesity
- A higher risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression
- A higher risk of accidents or injuries
Natural remedies for insomnia
Okay, now that we’ve gone over what insomnia is and the symptoms that define it, you’re probably wondering what you can actually do to get the deep, restful sleep you so desperately crave. I won’t keep you waiting any longer! Here are seven all-natural, effective tools you can use to encourage a sound slumber.
Making tea a part of your bedtime routine can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Certain herbal teas are said to promote relaxation and sleep, including chamomile, passionflower, valerian, lavender, and lemon balm. It’s important to realize that herbs affect everyone in a unique way, so if one kind of herbal tea doesn’t work for you, try another one. Pro tip: drink your tea at least an hour before bedtime to prevent midnight trips to the bathroom!
Anxious, unsettled energy before bed can be a big roadblock in falling asleep. Placing certain crystals by your bed can help you access the peace of mind you need to get some restful Z’s. Think of them as energetic lullabies for your swirling mind. Some calming crystals to consider include amethyst, rose quartz, lepidolite, celestite, and selenite. Put your chosen crystal on your bedside table or under your pillow and let it work its magic.
Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces that signals to your brain that it’s time for sleep. Many studies have found that supplementing with melatonin significantly improves sleep patterns in people with insomnia. Take 1 to 5mg of melatonin 30 minutes to two hours before you plan to go to sleep. It’s readily available online or at natural food or supplement stores.
Meditation is a practice that involves consciously directing your attention to an object of focus, such as breathing, a mantra, or a sound, to increase awareness and calm the body and mind. Studies show that a regular meditation practice may help promote sleep by slowing breathing and reducing stress hormone levels. Aim for practicing one or two 10 to 20-minute meditations every day, preferably right before bed. If you don’t know where to begin, guided meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer are a great place to start!
Aromatherapy is a centuries-old practice that involves using essential oils (plant extracts) for therapeutic benefit. Inhaling the scent of certain essential oils, including vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot, clary sage, and lavender, can help you feel calm, which can greatly affect how easily you’re able to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. There are many ways you can use essential oils—try diffusing them, pouring a few drops on your pillowcase, taking an essential oil-infused bath, or burning an aromatherapy candle before bedtime.
Yoga is the perfect way to wind down and soothe your overactive mind. A national survey found that 55 percent of people who did yoga found it helped them get sounder sleep. Try practicing yoga right before bedtime to relieve tension and stress. If you’re not familiar with yoga, YouTube offers a plethora of guided practices for all skill levels that are specifically geared towards sleep.
Is there truly anything more relaxing than a massage? The soothing, safe touch of another person is an invitation to relax your body and mind and has been shown to help with insomnia. In this calm state, your heart and breathing rate slow, your blood pressure goes down, your production of stress hormones decreases, and your muscles relax. If getting a professional massage isn’t an option, you can ask your partner to give you a massage or you can even practice self-massage. Massage therapy is by far my favorite way to reduce stress, in my opinion, I would take a good massage over a pair of shoes. This may seem atypical, but the benefits I receive from a good massage far outweighs the cost.
What do Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Gisele Bündchen have in common? Apart from having a ton of money and ridiculously good looks, they also all sleep on silk pillowcases! Pillowcases are becoming the perfect choice to get a good night’s sleep. After experimenting and purchasing one six months ago, I have had some of the best night’s sleep; I even have to negotiate with my kids for the “soft pillow”. Silk pillowcase to improve sleep works for me too! Partially because of the cooling effects and soft feeling on the skin. Silk is naturally soft, and unlike other fabrics, does not require treatment by chemical agents to obtain its luxuriously smooth feel. This means that silk products can be incredibly soft and smooth, while also being non-toxic and free from harsh additives. Silk pillowcases are an inexpensive yet effective in treating common sleep-related problems.
Another secret I found was using weighted blankets for sleep. As an Occupational Therapist, I have often prescribed weighted vests and blankets for pediatric clients with autism and ADHD disorders. I have observed that this technique has worked for them and has many benefits such as increased attention span and decreased restlessness. It is no wonder weight blankets have now caught on with adults to soothe conditions like insomnia and anxiety. Weighted blankets can provide similar benefits to that of deep pressure therapy. They can help calm a restless body, reduce feelings of anxiety, and improve sleep troubles. When choosing a weighted blanket for yourself, find a snug size that’s around 10 percent of your body weight.
Fall Asleep Naturally
High-quality sleep is just as important for overall health as eating well and exercising regularly. Before running to the drugstore for an over-the-counter sleep medication or asking your doctor for a prescription, give these seven natural sleep aids a try. They gently soothe the body and relax the mind to help you drift off into a peaceful, restorative sleep. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing good sleep hygiene, these natural sleep aids can increase the likelihood of getting some much-needed, restful Z’s.