Many people experience insomnia at some point in life. For most, it is short-term and usually clears up on its own.
But for others, it may become a chronic issue that needs attention. Some cases may even require the help of prescription medications.
There are some things you can try before heading to the pharmacy. Keep reading to learn about natural treatment for insomnia that you can try at home.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it difficult for people to fall asleep or stay asleep. Those with insomnia might wake up and feel like they didn’t rest all night.
It can become a problem that interferes with how you function during the day. Chronic insomnia left untreated can lead to decreased quality of life. That is why it is important to take insomnia seriously and find a way to treat it.
Different Types of Insomnia?
Short-term insomnia includes cases that last for about a month or less. Also known as acute insomnia, it is usually triggered by some life event. This can consist of positive ones like the start of a new job or moving to a new city. Or it can consist of traumatic ones like the death of a loved one. Once some time passes and you process whatever it is you are going through in life chances are your insomnia will take care of itself.
Long-term insomnia is persistent and unforgiving. It affects people at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more. This type of insomnia is more commonly treated with things like cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications.
There are other distinguishing characteristics of insomnia types.
If you fall asleep without much problem but wake up often throughout the night then you may have maintenance insomnia. But if you sleep well throughout the night and wake up way too early in the morning then you might be dealing with early morning wakening insomnia.
Comorbid insomnia is a common type of sleep disorder as so many other health conditions can lead to sleep issues. Pain, depression, and many other conditions can ruin the way you used to sleep at night.
Sleep onset insomnia is the most common type. It is the classic example of insomnia, where people have difficulty falling asleep. They may lay in bed for half an hour or longer and not be any closer to a REM cycle.
If you are interested in trying out only natural treatment options for insomnia then let your doctor know that. There are many options you can start with and see what helps. We will outline some of them below.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great natural treatment option for those dealing with insomnia as it centers on your thoughts and behaviors.
Negative thoughts about sleep can lead to trouble falling asleep. And poor sleep habits can do the same thing.
Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change mindsets around sleep so that it is a positive experience. Or, at the very least, change it so that it is not an anxiety-inducing experience.
One form of cognitive behavioral therapy is stimulation control therapy. This treatment option addresses the things that cause your body to feel awake and alert at night. Sometimes we unknowingly create or stay in an environment that is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
For example, a room that is too hot, with a TV on and a big clock on the wall. Stimulus control therapy helps you create a space that is conducive to sleep. Creating a sleep space with the right temperature, light, and noise can make a huge difference in sleep time. Removing distractions can as well.
Relaxation techniques are also a fantastic natural treatment for insomnia. When done with consistency, they are great for managing insomnia long term. These types of techniques activate the body’s relaxation response and shift gears from alert to drowsy.
This happens as they reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. And they will slow your heart rate and breathing. Plan them into your nighttime routine so you follow through with doing them. Part of battling insomnia is practicing consistent sleep habits so your body can learn what to expect and be ready to work with you when it’s time.
Relaxation and Meditation
A simple way to start experimenting with natural treatment for insomnia is to pencil in about 20 minutes an evening to intentionally practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation. You can keep a journal of your efforts so you can track your progress. Write down how you feel before starting your practice. Take notes on your current sensations and thoughts.
Before you begin your relaxation techniques find a comfortable and quiet place. You will want it to be large enough to sit or lie down. You can close your eyes if it feels right. Start by breathing slowly in and out for a few minutes. When you inhale try to bring your breath all the way down inside your belly. Take gentle yet deep breaths in through your nose and slowly blow them out through your mouth. Focus on the sensations you feel in your body and muscles.
To start progressive muscle relaxations bring your focus to the top of your head and actively imagine relaxing from the top of your head down through your toes. Almost like someone poured a cup of warm water on you and it trickled down relaxing you as it went. When you feel ready, begin to tense groups of muscles one at a time. Do this in sync with your breath.
Hold the tension for your entire breath in and release the muscles as you let your breath out. Take a few breaths for each muscle group. Start with the muscles in your head and move down your body as you go.
Take notes about how you feel after your practice is complete. Make sure to compare how your physical and emotional stress levels are before and after your exercises. Keep track of your progress for two weeks and then adjust what you are doing based on what is working.
Mindfulness meditation is very similar to muscle relaxation. It consists of slow steady breathing and sitting in a quiet space. You can practice little moments of meditation whenever you get the chance throughout your day. It may help to reduce stress, boost immunity, and improve concentration.
Another relaxation technique you can try is tai chi. This is a good option because it is gentle and low impact. It is a great option for moving your body closer to bedtime without producing too many hormones that will keep you up.
This form of martial arts brings attention to the energy that flows in the body. There are several types of tai chi and most of them involve some combination of concentration, meditation, weight shifting, and slow movements. It brings the mind to the present as it focuses on sensations and the breath.
As simple as this sounds, there is solid evidence that it has a big impact. A 2018 study found that these types of slow breathing techniques can be more effective at combating insomnia than some modern sleep prescriptions.
Tai chi for sleep only needs to include some basic, gentle movements. You can start with some simple shoulder rolls. Loosen your joints up by turning your head side to side. Focus on your breath every time you move your body and try to do the two in unison. You can also stand straight with your feet pointing forward. Then move your body as far as you can to the right. Then bring it back to the center and do it again on the left side.
Similar to tai chi, yoga can be another highly relaxing form of physical activity that is low impact. Restorative yoga poses use the floor which makes them more suitable for the evening.
Each pose is meant to be held for a longer period of time than you might expect with a moving flow yoga routine. That is because restorative yoga is supposed to encourage you and your body to relax. You can aid this process by using blankets, pillows, and extra bolsters.
Here are a couple of staple restorative yoga poses you can practice as a natural treatment for insomnia:
Waterfall: For this relaxing pose, you lie flat on your back. Then lift your hips to make your back long and flat. Then bring your knees up to your chest and extend your legs so they are at a 90 angle to your body. Hold this pose for 10 deep breaths. Propping your legs on the wall to make it as easy as possible is totally fine. Do what makes you the most relaxed!
Happy Baby: When you are ready to move on from the waterfall pose, bring your knees back into your chest and grab the outsides of your feet. Then lift your feet up with your knees bent generously and your elbows inside your thighs. You can rock from side to side as you lay with your feet in your hands. It provides a nice back massage.
Sleeping Butterfly: After a long day at the office, the hips can get stiff and tight. Move from the happy baby pose to give your hips some proper attention. Bring your feet down and slowly sit up. Once in a sitting position, bring your feet together in front of you. Place your feet as near to your pelvis as feels good. Don’t overstretch. Once you are comfortable, inhale gently and lean forward curving your spine and neck. Take some deep breaths with your forehead near your feet.
Repeating a mantra may provide some relief from insomnia for those who deal with anxiety. A 2015 study found that women who repeated a mantra silently throughout the day for a week experienced reduced insomnia. Mantras should be well thought out so they are pleasant and calming. Make it a simple and positive statement in the present tense. The repetition of sound can relax you and help you fall asleep.
Get More Magnesium
Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that can help muscles relax. It may also relieve stress. This is thought to help create healthy sleep patterns.
A study conducted in 2012 showed that participants that took 500 mg of magnesium daily for two months experienced fewer symptoms of insomnia. And they had improved sleep patterns overall.
However, always be careful with adding anything to your diet or self-care routine. Magnesium can have some side effects that commonly include stomach and intestinal issues. So start with a low dose and take it with food. You can also add magnesium flakes to a bath and let them soak into your skin. Always follow the instructions for use on product labels. Magnesium is not meant to be taken constantly, so take a break from it every other week.
You can also try melatonin as a natural way to combat insomnia. It is a natural supplement that may help people fall asleep faster and get more quality sleep.
A 2016 study found that melatonin significantly improved sleep for people with insomnia. However, this supplement also comes with side effects risks that may include depression, dizziness, and stomach cramps.
One more natural treatment for insomnia that comes with a relatively low safety profile is CBD.
Cannabidiol is a naturally produced cannabinoid. It is extracted from hemp and has many therapeutic benefits. People report that it can help relieve anxiety, help manage pain, and help with sleep. Plus, it is not addictive like some sleep medications can be.
A number of studies already suggest that CBD can help with insomnia, among other sleep issues. And high-quality CBD products are available pre-blended with other sleep support ingredients like melatonin.
If you want to try CBD, we offer a sleep version of our yummy gummies and cbd oil.
Get Better Sleep Safely
Even though there are many natural treatment options, you may still want to speak with your doctor about how you plan to deal with your insomnia. At the very least, they will be able to help you monitor the success of your efforts and adjust if needed.
When it comes to natural treatment for insomnia consistency is key. Keep track of your progress and don’t give up.