Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? These natural help for insomnia tips can help. You do not have to continue suffering from the health problems, irritability, clumsiness, brain fog, lack of zest for life, and/or all the other ways sleepless nights make you feel miserable.
1. Address the Cause of Your Insomnia
I get it. The last thing you want to do when you need help falling asleep is to lay awake and analyze why you can't sleep. Not a good time! But this step is too important to pass up. Otherwise, the help for insomnia tips and remedies may just act like a band-aid when a simple tweak to your lifestyle may be all you need for permanent relief.
Get to the root of your sleep problems.There are many causes for acute and chronic insomnia. The first and most important insomnia tip is to identify and address the cause. Your sleep troubles may be caused by health issues, medications, a nonconducive sleep environment, or poor sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits you have that help or hinder a good night's sleep. Discerning the cause may take detective work, experimentation, and persistence to figure it out, but it is worth it.
Be aware that your daytime routine, thoughts, behaviors, and eating habits can interfere with sleep more than you may think. When and how much you exercise and eat, medications, electronics, noise, room temperature and emotions all affect how well you fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you suspect a contributing medical condition or medication, consult your health care provider. This is crucial. Your body may be keeping you awake for a reason. Get to the root of the problem. Explore techniques, different medications, and remedies to improve your condition. This may be your very best help for insomnia. Be persistent. Your health and well-being depend on it.
Do you drink stimulating beverages in the late afternoon and evening? Avoid stimulating beverages within six to eight hours of bedtime. Some people are so sensitive to stimulants that even a morning dose of caffeine interferes with their nightly sleep. If you are in the habit of drinking caffeinated or energy drinks past 3 pm, try cutting them out and see if that helps you sleep better.
Are you a late dinner eater? Avoid a large evening meal and too many carbohydrates within a few hours of bedtime. You may have trouble falling asleep if you are too full, Then, when your blood sugar drops during the night, it may wake you up.
Day and Nighttime Insomnia Help
You may be surprised to learn that preparing your mind and body for a good night's sleep starts in the morning and continues throughout the day. Sun exposure, daily stress, exercise, and what you eat and drink can all affect how you sleep hours later.
Perhaps, most important are the habits you have in the hours before bed. It is helpful to create habits that signal bedtime an hour or so beforehand. Set up your environment to support your efforts to unwind and get the rest you need.
The following tips ready your body and mind to go to sleep and stay asleep.
Create a physical environment for sleep
Your brain takes cues from the environment whether you are aware of it or not. Use your environment to help with insomnia during the day and when it is time to go to sleep.
Use natural and artificial lighting to your advantage. What may surprise you is that help for insomnia starts first thing in the morning. Enjoy 15 minutes of bright morning sunshine to signal your brain to wake up, produce feel good hormones, and turn down sleep promoting melatonin. In the evening, dim the lights so your brain knows it is time to release melatonin in preparation for sleep. Think of this as imitating the natural darkening of the day as nightfall arrives.
Create a bedroom sanctuary for relaxation and sleep. Your bedroom should be clean and comfortable. Clutter disturbs the mind and creates stress. A look at brainwaves on an EEG machine show that in cluttered, dingy rooms, beta brain waves predominate. These waves are associated with stress, anxious feelings and dis-ease. Brain waves slow to the more relaxed alpha state in a clean, orderly spaces. If possible, do not work in your bedroom, especially on your bed. Make your brain associate your bedroom with three things: relaxation, sleep, and sex.
When you have trouble sleeping, any little environmental disturbance can make the problem worse. Comfortable bedding, room temperature, darkness, quiet and a distraction-free environment are all helpful for insomnia relief.
Eliminate intermittent noise as much as possible or diffuse it by running a fan, white noise machine, or noise canceling headphones.
Air temperature in the bedroom should be cool, but not cold. Check the humidity. If it is too dry, your parched mouth will wake you up. Use a humidifier and/or keep a glass of water within reach.
Be mindful of body warmth. Cold feet will keep you awake. Wear a pair of cotton socks to keep your feet warm. Conversely, if your body is too warm, it may keep you awake. Uncover one leg and see if that feels better.
Your bedroom should be totally dark. Use black out shades and remove or cover electronics that emit light. Wear an eye mask, if needed.
Keep cell phones or cordless phones far away from the bed to reduce electro-magnetic waves and light. The blue light emitted by cell phones and other electronics is notorious for promoting wakefulness. Get them out of your bedroom. Turn off your phone so alerts do not wake you up.
Use a weighted blanket. Cover yourself with a blanket that weighs at least 10% of your body weight.
Establish a bedtime ritual
You may already have a bedtime ritual of brushing your teeth and getting your clothes ready for the next day. When you do these activities on a nightly basis, your brain learns to associate them with approaching sleep time. When you need help for insomnia, you may want to create more defined and elaborate bedtime rituals to help you wind down and signal sleep.
Include any or all of the following ideas as part of your ritual.
Start getting ready an hour or so before bed.
Commit to set times to go to bed and wake up every day. Stay as close to this schedule as possible on work days and days off.
Enjoy relaxing music, inspirational writings, or meditation before drifting off. Avoid conflict, stimulating conversations, disturbing articles or watching the news before bed. If dis-stress triggers adrenaline and cortisol to flood your system, you will be alert and awake for hours.
Treat yourself to a hot bath or shower at least an hour or so before bedtime. A hot bath provides help for insomnia because warm water relaxes your muscles. As your heated up body cools slowly, it simulates the natural cooling down of the day, signalling your brain to release melatonin.
Enjoy a small sleep supporting snack about an hour or so before turning in, if you like.
For best results when using a weighted blanket, cover yourself so that you have uniform, constant pressure over your whole body (except your head, of course!). A 2015 study showed that participants who used weighted blankets got to sleep faster and enjoyed a better quality of sleep. Since these blankets also help reduce anxiety, they could be especially useful if worries are keeping you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress can make the difference between a torturous night and restful, restorative sleep. If pressure points make you toss and turn, try visco-elastic memory foam or an adjustable air bladder bed. An adjustable bed frame with the feet and head slightly elevated also takes off a lot of pressure.
Encase your mattress and pillows with allergy barriers if dust mite allergy symptoms disturb you. Get a new pillow every year or two because the stuffing breaks down and fills with dead skin, dust mites and mold. Blankets should keep you warm, but not hot. Wash and tidy up your bedding regularly. If mosquitoes are a problem, surround your bed with netting.
Mental Sleep Hygiene Tips
What you do when it is time for bed is just as important as your pre-bedtime rituals. Manage your inner and outer environments to ease insomnia caused by an active mind.
Quiet your mind. If the noise in your head or your surroundings keeps you awake, try wearing a pair of sleep phones to bed. For help falling asleep, listen to ambient music such as Steven Halpern's Chakra Suite or monotonous, repetitious chants that your mind something to focus and meditate on. When your mind wanders, redirect it to the meditation or music, not your troubles, and you will likely doze right off. Also, do be alarmed if you wake up briefly during the night. That is normal.
Use the A-Z meditation. Start with the letter "a". Name one or two people or things you are grateful for. Progress through the alphabet. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Another night name things or people you love. Works like a charm for me, I rarely ever make it through the entire alphabet before falling asleep.
Reduce mental distractions. Sometimes, the best help for insomnia comes from within. When it is 'lights out', you want to be in a relaxed state of mind. If thinking and worrying too much keeps you awake and hyped up, try this. Keep a pad and pencil next to your bed. Jot down anything you want to add to your 'to do' or worry list right away. Know that you can return to it tomorrow if you wish. Let yourself forget about it until then.
Slow your brainwaves with entrainment audios that guide you into theta and delta sleep frequencies. If your mind is overly active, your brainwaves are faster and you stay awake. When your mind wanders, redirect it to the meditation or music, not your troubles, and you will likely doze right off.
Practice relaxation techniques during the day and as part of your bedtime routine to keep your stress levels low. There are many natural stress relieving techniques that reduce and eliminate chronic and current stress levels.
Food and Herbal Help for Insomnia
Certain foods, herbs and supplements offer insomnia relief by helping you relax and stimulating sleep signals in your brain. Keep your snack small and not too close to bedtime.
Tryptophan-rich foods promote calm and sleepiness. A glass of warm milk, poultry, tuna, cooked spinach, red meat, nuts, beans, oats and seeds are good sources.
Good sources of sleep-inducing melatonin are one half cup of pitted cherries, cherry juice and a teaspoon of honey are good sources of the sleep hormone, melatonin. A banana contains a little melatonin, too, as well as tryptophan and tension soothing magnesium and potassium. Include protein and complex carbohydrates in your snack.
Other bedtime snacks include a serving of oatmeal with milk, banana and a teaspoon of honey, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or an apple with an ounce of cheese and a few almonds. Avoid foods you are sensitive to, as they may raise your pulse and keep you awake.
Sip a cup of relaxing herbal tea. Chamomile and passionflower are two herbs commonly found in calming blends. It is best to avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon as they can keep you from falling asleep for hours.
First figure out and address the reasons that you can't fall asleep or stay asleep. Practice supportive pre-bedtime routines and sleep hygiene. Set yourself up for a quality night sleep when you wake up in the morning. Keep stress at bay. Put these insomnia tips to work for you and hopefully within a short time your sleepless nights will be a thing of the past.
For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.