Are you one of man adults dealing with chronic insomnia? Or maybe you are just dealing with a random night of restlessness? No matter what type of sleeplessness ailes you, there are a number of helpful options you can try right now to relax and get some shut-eye.
Keep reading to learn about natural remedies for sleeplessness that you can try at home.
What Is a Natural Sleep Remedy?
Natural sleep remedies include many different things from meditation and yoga to herbs and essential oils. Some people prefer trying natural remedies to help them sleep over taking pharmaceuticals that may have undesired side effects.
It is important to understand that natural sleep remedies are not a end-all be-all cure for sleep conditions, but if used along with good sleep habits you may find that you can sleep better.
Have A Drink Before Bed
According to an old wives’ tale, there are certain drinks you can try that may help you sleep. Warm milk, chamomile tea, and tart cherry juice are among some of the best options. These drinks may not cure every sleepless night, and there is not much evidence to prove that they work scientificially. But, anecdotally, they have been used for a long time to help the body relax.
Warm milk may have similarities to chemicals that are involved in the sleep-wake transition. Chamomile tea may have flavonoids that also interact in that transition. And it has other benefits like anti-inflammatory properties as well as and is considered to be calming in nature. Tart cherry juice may support melatonin production, which supports a healthy sleep cycle.
Get Some Exercise
Physical activity is important for balanced energy levels and sleep cycles. If you don’t move enough during the day, your body may not be ready to relax when you are ready to at night.
But remember, physical activity creates endorphine – which are hormones that keep people awake – so it is best to exercise at least two hours before your sleep time.
Getting a moderate amount of aerobic exercise early on during the day does more than just help you fall asleep. It also boosts the amount of nourishing slow-wave sleep you get. Also known as deep sleep, this is extremely important for recharging and recuperating.
Meditation and Relaxation
Meditation has been shown to help some people sleep better. By practicing meditation regularly, you can learn to slow breathing and reduce stress.
To meditate, bring your focus to a single point of attention. This is usually the breath, a sound, or a word. Meditation helps increase body awareness. It also helps to relax the body and calm the mind. Guided meditation is easy to follow as you can listen to the sound of someone else’s voice to direct you through the process. Another good place to start is with a body scan mediation; this is the practice of focusing your attention on the feelings in each part of your body.
Visualization is another technique that may help with sleeplessness. This involves putting yourself in a relaxing situation with the power of your imagination. Imagine yourself on a tropical island listening to the waves. Or, in a rainforest listening to thousands of drops of water hitting trees as rain falls.
Try this for 20 minutes while you are lying in bed. Use all of your senses to give it the best chance to work. Think of the way the warm sun would feel on your skin. Imagine how the flowers would smell. Look at the water and listen to the sound of the waves. The clearer the image you can create, the more effective it will be at relaxing you.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Yoga and Tai Chi are great options for those who need some help with falling asleep as they are practices that combine the body and mind. These slow-motion types of exercise meet the need for physical activity during the day and for quiet, thoughtful time.
Yoga is a system of breathing, exercising, and stretching that leads to relaxation. One 2017 review found that yoga can relieve insomnia symptoms and that mindfulness-based stressed management like tai chi can help as well.
Hypnosis is a sleep assistance option usually used along with cognitive behavioral therapy and other relaxation techniques. After getting someone to a hypnotic state, they are more focused, more aware, and more open to suggestions such as feeling relaxed and letting worries go.
Also, hypnosis can cause an increase in alpha waves, which are slower brain waves that help you to relax. Alpha waves are similarly produced by meditation and other types of relaxation techniques.
Aromas like English lavender, chamomile, and patchouli are said to be able to help with falling asleep. A 2019 analysis of 23 different studies found that aromatherapy was effective at improving sleep quality.
You can try out an aromatherapy massage using some soothing essential oils or put a couple of drops beneath your pillow or add them to a warm bath.
There is mixed evidence for how effective acupuncture may be in helping people fall asleep. Acupuncture involves inserting super thin needles into different points of the body. It is meant to reestablish balanced energy throughout the body.
A 2009 study suggests that acupuncture may have a positive effect on people with chronic stress-related problems. This includes common culprits like anxiety and depression, two leading causes of sleeplessness in adults.
Keep A Cool Room
Keep your room somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees. This is the goldilocks zone for a peaceful slumber.
Sometimes adjusting the temperature of your sleep space isn’t an option. If your space is too warm you can try to wear cotton and other breathable fabrics to bed. Take a cool shower before bed. Go to sleep with wet hair and it can keep you cool while you fall asleep.
If your space is too cold, consider adding some clothing layers or another blanket and see how much more comfortable you are.
Keep Your Space Dark
The lights from screens and smartphones can keep our bodies from realizing it is nighttime and that we should be going to bed. But so does the light from the bathroom. Or the kitchen. And definitely the TV in the living room.
It is best to keep your area dark at night so that your brain isn’t disrupted while sleeping. That means turning off all the lights.
Melatonin makes us feel sleepy. It is a hormone that should be naturally released by the brain around 4 hours before bedtime. The pineal gland in the brain produces this hormone to regulate circadian rhythms. These are the rhythms that make up your sleep-wake cycle.
It is normally triggered by reduced light exposure. But now light exposure doesn’t always decrease between work and home and TV and cell phone screens. This keeps melatonin from being released, which keeps the body from feeling tired.
A great idea is to limit the amount of screen time in the evening and aim to cut out all screens an hour or two before bedtime. That way your body has time to naturally wind down and start to feel sleepy.
But if you want to speed up the process you can purchase a melatonin as an over-the-counter sleep supplement. Studies show melatonin to be safe for short-term use, which is about 3 months or less. Be aware that some people report experiencing side effects like grogginess and depression when taking melotonin supplemnets. And other people report waking in the night.
Research shows that melatonin decreases the time it takes to fall asleep. It also increases feelings of sleepiness and may even increase the duration of sleep. It is also used to help reduce feelings of jet lag for people executing world travel.
Valerian is a popular herbal extract used for helping deal with anxiety and insomnia. Limited findings suggest that it may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. And it may improve the quality of sleep for some people. There are no associated feelings of grogginess with taking valerian either.
There is some evidence that suggests that using valerian over a period of 4 weeks or more may be more effective than taking it for one night of use. And that people who are generally poor sleepers may find it more helpful than those who sleep well most nights already.
However, it is not considered an effective treatment for insomnia by the natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Also, some studies showed that when compared to placebo, valerian didn’t work any better.
In general, valerian is usually well tolerated, but only for up to 6 weeks. Some people report feelings of a headache or hangover after taking it. It may also cause dizziness and should never be taken with alcohol or other sedatives.
Tryptophan is a biochemical substance that is used to create serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that plays a major role in sleep induction.
Tryptophan is in food items like milk and turkey. Because people tend to be more sleepy after a glass of warm milk or a large turkey dinner, its reputation for helping people fall asleep grew quickly. But studies are still diving into how tryptophan affects sleep.
There are some tryptophan supplements now available for people to take. You can also get more tryptophan into your diet by eating foods like turkey, milk, eggs, cheese, and nuts. You can also eat more foods rich in carbohydrates to boost your serotonin levels and help you feel calm and sleepy.
Kava, also known as kava kava, is an herbal remedy that is sometimes used for anxiety relief and insomnia.
Research about how this herbal remedy works is conflicting. It has some sedative properties, but it is considered unsafe as a treatment for sleeplessness.
There have been over 20 reported cases of cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver failure in Europe suggesting the possibility of liver toxicity.
CBD is a natural cannabinoid that comes from cannabis plants. CBD has a number of therapeutic benefits, one of which is the potential to help people fall asleep.
Researchers are still figuring out exactly how CBD affects the body. It seem to help by keeping the natural messengers in our bodies around as long as possible. That way they can be more effective at telling our brains how we feel, whether that be tired, hungry, happy, or something else.
So if you are dealing with sleeplessness, CBD may be able to help your body realize it is tired so you can start the process of getting some shut-eye. It is considered to be well tolerated and has a good safety profile. There is very little chance of dependence or abuse of CBD.
Some CBD products are formulated specifically for sleep and have other ingredients like melatonin added in. This means they offer sleep support on a number of different levels. It is best to take a CBD edible with melatonin about 2 hours before you want to go to bed so that your body has time to absorb it and feel the effects properly.
It is important to find CBD from a trustworthy source. Try to take CBD that is sourced from the USA, organic, and backed by third-party lab test results.
How Safe are Natural Remedies for Sleeplessness?
Like all medications and supplements, natural remedies for sleeplessness may have unwanted risks and side effects. You should always speak with your doctor before taking a new supplement to make sure it is safe for you.
Over-the-counter supplements do not get approval from the FDA before being taken by consumers. The brand you buy may have inaccurate labels and dosing. Or it could have more or less of certain ingredients than the label states, which could make it dangerous for people to use as treatment.
So, it is important to take the time to research any sleep aides before you try them. Try to take natural remedies that can back up their claims with transparent information, third-party lab test results for their products, and all-natural ingredients.