Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Insomnia affects around 1 in 10 people and can be mildly annoying to downright debilitating.  Insomnia isn’t just the inability to fall asleep; it can also occur if you wake too often throughout the night or if you wake and feel un-rested. 

Here are 10 tips to overcome insomnia naturally:

Sleeping cat
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1.  Pull the shades tight.  Our bodies are regulated by our circadian rhythms. These rhythms are directly influenced by light.  That means even a trip to the bathroom where you turn on the light can have a negative effect on the rest of your sleep that night.  And a cumulative effect over time. Pull the shades tight so you’re sleeping in darkness.  To wake, consider investing in a natural alarm clock, which gradually brightens emulating the rising sun.

2.  Turn off technology.  Television, computers and video games are all stimulating and can impede sleep.  Give yourself at least an hour before bedtime without these distractions and by all means, keep them out of your bedroom.

3.  Cool it.  If your bedroom is too hot, then you’re not going to be able to sleep.  Experts recommend keeping your thermostat no higher than 70 degrees when sleeping. 

4.  Create a schedule and stick to it.  Sleep schedules are important. They tell your body what to expect and you’ll sleep better when you develop and stick to it.  For example, doctors and health experts recommend 8 hours of sleep a night so you could go to bed at 11pm each night and wake at 7am.

5.  Routines help.  Just like a schedule helps your body know what to expect, a sleep routine can also help get your mind prepared for a good night of sleep.  Many people read before they go to bed, they listen to calming music, journal or pray.  Create a sleep routine that calms your mind and prepares you for a good night’s sleep.

6.  Avoid sugary foods before bed.  For a long time people advised against eating before bed however, the problem isn’t necessarily with eating in general - it’s what you eat.  Starchy carbs and foods high in carbohydrates can cause a spike in blood sugar and a subsequent plummet.  This blood sugar roller coaster ride is terrible for sleep.  Instead, if you need a snack, consume a lean protein with a bit of whole grains. 

(Photo credit: Stephen_Beaumont)
7.  Avoid Caffeine.  Some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine and may not know that the cup of coffee they’re drinking in the morning may be preventing them from sleeping that night. If you’re a caffeine addict, all hope is not lost. 

Consider quitting caffeine for a few weeks and monitor your sleep.  If your sleep doesn’t improve when you’re off the caffeine then you know that’s not your problem, however it’s still wise to not drink any caffeine after noon.  Be aware that teas and some foods also contain caffeine, not just coffee.

8.  Consider Melatonin.  Your body naturally produces melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep.  Light and darkness play a role in your body’s production of this hormone - however, sometimes it can get off kilter and the result is poor sleep and insomnia.  You can find melatonin supplements in your natural food store.

9.  Try Valerian.  Another item you’ll find in your natural food store is the herb, valerian.  While it smells something awful, it’s commonly used to treat insomnia by calming and relaxing. It comes in both capsule form and valerian tea, which tastes much better than it smells. (Note: Valerian can be habit-forming and should not be used long-term. It also may interfere with some medications. Consult your physician before taking.)

10.  Avoid alcohol. Alcohol makes sleeping quite difficult for most people.  While it’s a depressant and causes relaxation, alcohol doesn’t let your body fall into the deeper stages of sleep.  This means you may fall asleep quite well once your head hits the pillow; however, you’ll often wake a few hours later and be unable to fall back to sleep.

Ultimately, diet and exercise play an important role in your sleep and in preventing insomnia.  The better care you take of yourself, the better you’ll be able to sleep.  That being said, these 10 natural insomnia remedies are safe and effective whether your insomnia is an occasional occurrence or a chronic problem. 

No comments:

Post a Comment