10 Home Remedies for Insomnia
Sleeping is one of the most important things we can do for your over-all health, if you want to have a healthy body and mind then it’s important to know that a good night’s rest can be just as important as a good diet and exercise. But there are a lot of people who just don’t get the proper quantity and quality of sleep, people who suffer from something called insomnia.
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that inhibits your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It’s estimated that over 25% of the US population develop insomnia each year, but around 75% of those people recover on their own without any medical intervention1. Insomnia can be acute (short term) and/or chronic (long term), and it can come and go depending on the person.
Regardless of the type of insomnia someone is suffering from, it’s an issue that should be taken very seriously. Consequences of not sleeping well, especially for longer periods of time can be quite serious. Here are the most common side effects of insomnia:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Low motivation
- Low energy
- Bad concentration
- Bad coordination possibly leading to accidents or errors (possible injury or even death)
- Abusing medication, drugs or alcohol in an attempt to alleviate insomnia
- Tension headaches
- Difficulty socializing
- Difficulty working
- Difficulty learning/studying
What is the difference between acute and chronic insomnia?
- Acute insomnia is defined as insomnia that lasts from one night up to a few weeks. It can be caused by something as simple as diet, or something more serious like an illness or injury
- Chronic insomnia is defined as insomnia that happens at least 3 times per week and lasts for a minimum of 3 months2. Chronic insomnia is most often caused by a psychological disorder or physical illness
Two types of insomnia, primary and secondary
- Primary insomnia means that your issues with sleep aren’t linked to any other health condition or issue. This generally means that your sleep issues are usually psychological
- Secondary insomnia means that your issues with sleep are caused by another health issues such as asthma, arthritis, depression, cancer, pain or substance use/abuse
It’s important to note that most people who experience insomnia, have a hard time falling asleep. There are many things we can do to help ourselves drift off without resorting to harsh medications, and help ourselves get a good night’s rest. Here are 10 home remedies for insomnia:
#1 – Mindfulness In today’s world we’re always connected, multitasking and worried/thinking multiple things. Politics, mortgages, social issues, etc., are bouncing around in our minds and it’s not easy to shut these thoughts off. The average person experiences over 6,000 thoughts per day, that’s 250 thoughts per hour and at least 4 thoughts per minute.
It’s little wonder that we have a hard time falling asleep if we aren’t capable or slowing down our minds before we get to bed. Although meditation is a great practice that can help in falling asleep and staying asleep, it’s a good idea to practice mindfulness during the day as well.
Mindfulness is the practice of concentrating on what you’re doing, whether that is your work, conversation, or just going for a walk and taking in the sights, smells and sounds. If you’re able to stop unwanted thoughts coming into your mind, you’ll not only become better at everything you do, but this will help you become a much more relaxed person. Mindfulness will not only help you fall asleep, but this will help you get better quality sleep.
#2 – Pre sleep mental exercises Just about everyone has heard of counting sheep, and although it may sound like a silly thing for children to do, this mental exercise and many like it can actually be quite effective. There are mental exercises that shift your attention away from invasive and uncontrolled thoughts that enter your mind, inhibit your ability to relax, and your ability to fall asleep
These exercises work by helping focus your attention on something calming for your mind. Here are some excellent mental exercises you can try to help you get to sleep:
- Concentrate on your breathing, 6 seconds in, 6 seconds out
- Concentrate on the colour black, as if your entire self is surrounded only by that colour. Keep all other thoughts out of your head
- Count backwards from 100
- Try to stay awake. This may sound counterintuitive but it works very well. Since you’re focusing all of your attention on something, your mind isn’t racing with other thoughts
- Write all of your active thoughts down in your journal before going to bed. This helps you fall asleep by helping you let go of the thoughts circulating in your mind, and clearing your head before it hits your pillow
- Gratitude. Think about the things you are grateful for. This will not only help eliminate negative thoughts and feelings but concentrating one a key thing will help clear your mind and aid you in falling asleep
#3 – Lower the temperature This is a quite well known tip. Your body cools when you go to bed and it warms when you get up. If your room is too warm, your body wiill have a harder time lowering it’s core temerature, therfore hindering your ability to fall asleep. The ideal temperature for falling asleep is 60-67’F (15.6-19.4’C).
This might be on the chilly side for many people, but it’s ok to get a second blanket, put on some warm socks or warmer pijamas.
#4 – Schedule We are creatures of habit, and going to bed at a regular time is something that really helps us when it comes to falling asleep. Your body has it’s own regulatory system called the circadian rythem. This is your body’s internal clock that helps your body stay awake during the day, and fall asleep at night.
Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, makes it easier for us to fall asleep, and experience a high quality of sleep.
#5 – Don’t eat before bed This is another well known, but often ignored tip. It’s recommended to eat your last meal at least 2 hours before going to bed, that way your body will have had a chance to digest the food you’ve eaten before your head hits your pillow.
#6 – Getting the proper amount of exercise We’ve all heard the saying ‘healthy body = a healthy mind’. There are many scientific articles and research papers that link exercise and mental well-being. Exercise isn’t only good for our bodies, but when we exercise our body releases hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. These hormones are responsible for happiness and well-being in general.
Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental issues that may be responsible for falling asleep in the first place, it’s recommended to do at least 3-4 hours of aerobic-heavy exercise per-week. This will not only help improve you sleep quality, but your body will have more need for regeneration meaning you’re mind will be more ready to switch off at the end of the day.
#7 – Melatonin regulation There are many insomnia remedies, and supplementing melatonin is an excellent one. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the brain and it helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. It’s usually recommended to people who work shifts, experience jet lag and most commonly for people with sleep disorders.
Melatonin is a natural remedy, because of this it does not work like sleeping pills. Melatonin starts to become effective after about one week of dosing, and that is about 1-5mg of melatonin per day.
#8 – Keep your surroundings clean and tidy This is the practice of making sure that your environment (life) is clean and orderly. This can be something as simple as making sure that your living space is clean and organized, making sure that all of your bills are paid, your fridge is full, you don’t have too many distractions and have your schedule set for the next day.
Having your life more orderly will give you fewer things to think and worry about at bedtime. making it easier for you to fall asleep.
#9 – Protect yourself from blue light It’s well known that the blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, laptop and TV makes it harder for you to fall asleep in the evening. It’s a good idea to set a rule to make sure all of your devices are turned off at least two hours before going to bed.
#10 – Relaxing music/white noise Many people use music or white noise to help themselves fall asleep. It gives our brains something to concentrate on and helps keep our minds from wandering too far, The type of music, noise or sounds that help you fall asleep will vary greatly depending on the person. Recently, different frequncies are being studied at which music or white noise is generated. These frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz), and the most popular and most used frequency for falling asleep is 432 Hz10.
You can find music and white noise played at this frequency on popular apps such as Spotify or YouTube, just turn it on when going to bed and it should help you drift off.
Getting the proper quality and quantity of sleep is essential for a healthy and functioning body and mind. Avoiding pharmaceuticals whenever possible is a great idea because natural and home remedies help you treat the cause of your problem, and not only your symptoms.
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Insomnia References and Insomnia Information
- Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180605154114.htm
- Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/insomnia-symptoms-and-causes#:~:text=Insomnia%20is%20a%20sleep%20disorder,for%203%20months%20or%20more.
- AASM: https://aasm.org/resources/factsheets/insomnia.pdf
- Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/mindfulness-and-sleep-2.html#:~:text=The%20practice%20of%20Mindfulness%2C%20designed,causing%20your%20ongoing%20poor%20sleep.
- Health Essentials: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-the-ideal-sleeping-temperature-for-my-bedroom/
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/circadian-rhythm
- National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963479/
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/85/2/426/4649589
- National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6924256/