I hope you're not reading this article late at night. But, I understand, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from occasional or chronic insomnia. Those are people who struggle to fall asleep and to stay asleep. They need natural home remedies for better sleep.
30-35% of people suffer occasional periods of sleeplessness, and for 10% of adults, the condition is chronic. That means losing sleep three or more times per week. That's terrible because lack of sleep makes you perform and feel worse the next day. Also, it puts you at risk for other medical problems, including depression and high blood pressure.
1. Eat Tryptophan
Tryptophan is a natural amino acid or protein that's present in many foods. It's a natural precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Your body naturally releases melatonin before you go to bed to give the "sleep now" signal, but that doesn't always work. Therefore, consuming tryptophan encourages your body to make more melatonin. Turkey is a good source of tryptophan, and just think how many people need to take a nap after eating a large Thanksgiving meal.
You can take tryptophan as a supplement, but you can also just eat such foods as turkey or chicken, eggs, spirulina, cashews, whole grains, potatoes and bananas. Try snacking on a turkey and whole wheat sandwich with a banana the next time you have trouble getting to sleep.
2. Progressive Relaxation Puts You Under
Often, you just need to get your mind off your daytime problems, and relax. Herbert Benson came up with this technique decades ago.
You can learn to do this anytime you have time and privacy and need to lower stress, but since you now want to go to sleep, just get into bed and lie on your back. Stretch out straight, arms by your sides.
- Close your eyes.
- Concentrate your attention on your toes. Tense them as hard as you can, but just your toes. Let the rest of your body remain still.
- Hold the tension for a few seconds, then release. Repeat.
- Repeat with the rest of your feet.
- Work your way up your body, tensing muscles in just parts of your body at a time, then relaxing them.
- Go until you reach the top of your skull. If you get that far.
Videos such as this can help you learn the process.
3. Chamomile Soothes and Relaxes
Chamomile tea is one of the best remedies for putting you to sleep. It also soothes stomach aches, reduces menstrual pain and relieves chest colds.
You will need...
- 3 parts chamomile
- 2 parts peppermint
- 2 parts lemon balm
- 1 part lavender and passionflower
- 1 part catnip
- 1/4 part valerian root
- Shortly before you wish to go to sleep.
- Blend and mix all the herbs.
- Boil water, then pour into a mug.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the herb mix in an infuser.
- Put the infuser into the hot water and let it steep 2-4 minutes.
- As it cools, savor the delicous taste.
4. Magnesium Enables Your Muscles to Relax
Your muscles need calcium to contract and magnesium to relax. Most Americans have too much calcium in relation to magnesium (which may not be the same thing as too much overall calcium), leading to an imbalance that makes muscles twitchy and tense.
Another symptom of magnesium deficiency is irritability, insomnia and restless leg syndrome. That's where you legs jerk and twitch while you're asleep. Sometimes that even wakes you up.
Magnesium deficiency makes you feel tired, but keeps you awake. You need magnesium to make both serotonin and melatonin, which help you fall asleep.
- Stop drinking coffee, alcohol, caffeine, salt and sugar, which drain magnesium from your body.
- Eat more foods that contain magnesium. Many nuts such as almonds and cashews, avocadoes, brown rice and much more. Try drinking mineral water that contains magnesium.
- Take magnesium supplements.
5. Melatonin Comes Out at Night
Melatonin is a hormone your pineal gland releases at night around the time it expects you to go to sleep. This is triggered by darkness. However, because of electric lighting, few people now go to bed right after the sun sets, as Paleolithic people probably did, so that interferes with your daily rhythm.
Therefore, taking a melatonin supplement tells your body it's time to sleep, no matter what the time is. That makes it popular with people who can't sleep due to jet lag from crossing time zones and shift workers.
A typical dosage of melatonin is from 1-3 milligrams. Start off with the smallest possible amount. Some forms of it may be placed in your cheek or under your tongue so it's absorbed directly into your body.
6. Condition Yourself to Sleep in Bed
Too many people make their bed their home. They eat in bed, read, watch TV, surf the Internet, work puzzles and talk on the telephone. That tells your body and your brain that the bed is a place to have all kinds of fun or to work in or to socialize.
Reserve your bed for two activities only, and of them is sleep. When, as will happen a lot at first, you cannot fall asleep and decide to do something else for a while, get out of bed and do it in another room. You want to train your body to sleep in the bed like Pavlov trained dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. Bed equals sleep (and intimate time with your partner).
7. Prepare Your Entire Bedroom for Sleep
Besides staying out of bed before you want to sleep, there are many other ways to improve your odds of sleeping.
- Establish a set schedule. Go to bed at the same time every evening and get up the same time every morning. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth, and it's much easier. Admittedly, because of work and social lives, this can be hard, but at least try to create a weekday routine.
- Don't drink alcohol to sleep. Yes, it makes you feel sleepy. But as your body digests it, it interferes with your sleep, so you get less healthy sleep overall. Also, stay away from anything with caffeine, including certain over-the-counter medications. And don't consume nicotine for several hours before you go to bed.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Draw the drapes shut. Buy thicker curtains if street lights shine through them. Set the temperature low. Pretend you're deep inside a cave with nothing else to do until the sun rises tomorrow morning.
8. Exercising Does Help Tire You Out
This remedy is no shocker. people who exercise regularly also tend to sleep better. They fall asleep faster, remain asleep for longer and get more healthy sleep. They're also 68% less likely to have leg cramps while they sleep.
Studies have found that even one period of performing moderate exercise such as walking helped chronic insominacs sleep faster and longer. However, to their surprise, more intense exercise sessions, although it tired them out more, kept them from sleeping well. However, athletes know that when they work out too hard, overstressing themselves, difficulty in sleeping is one sign of that.
Studies of long term exercise show that those who exercise regularly do sleep faster, better and longer than those who do not.
9. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
Dr. Andrew Weil is a well-known doctor and expert in holistic health. He teaches this way to fall asleep by just breathing.
- Sit with your back straight.
- Place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth.
- Get all the air out of your lungs by blowing out of your mouth.
- Close your mouth.
- Inhale through your noise for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale to a count of 8. Blow the air out of your mouth forcefully, making a whoosh sound.
- Repeat three times, for a total of four cycles.
- Never do more than four cycles at a time, for the first month. As you get used to it, you can increase to a maximum of eight complete cycles.
10. Stay Away From Blue Light 30-60 Minutes Before Bedtime
Your electronic screens, plus blue LED artificial lighting, tend to disrupt your body's natural day-night circadium rhythm. To a certain extent, after the sun goes down, all light gives your body mixed signals, but blue light has the worst effects. Yet you get it from your cell phone, your tablet, your computer or laptop, your Kindle and all energy-efficient lighting. It's one of the things that suppresses your melatonin secretion.
Stop using all electronic screens half an hour or an hour before you plan to go to bed. Use only red night lights. Consider buying blue-blocking goggles or glasses and wearing them after sunset. Install the software program Flux. It tones down the blue of your computer screen at sundown.
11. Take a Hot Bath
Part of your daily circadian rhythm is fluctations in your body temperature. It rises during the day when you're active, peaking in late afternoon to early evening. Then it begins to fall, preparing your body to go to sleep, because your metabolism doesn't need to be so active then.
When you take a hot bath around 90 minutes before bedtime, say for 20 minutes, that relaxes you. It also raises your body's temperature again. However, when you get out and go into a cool environment, the drop in temperature is more drastic. That makes the biological signal to go to sleep even stronger.
12. Take a Whiff of Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from plants. Depending on the plant and the oil's properties, they are used for many things. Some of them are quite relaxing.
Lavender is one of the most popular and widely used essential oils. Relaxation is one of the many positive benefits it has. It soothes the nervous system to induce sleep. Other oils also work well for putting you to sleep, including vetiver, orange, Roman chamomile, cedarwood and valerian. Many people mix these oils, using several at a time.
You can add some drops into water and spraying this infusion all around your bedroom, especially your bed so you really smell it. Try putting a few drop on your pillow case so it's close to your nose. Some people rub a few drops into their neck, or on their upper life just below their nose.
13. Take Only Short Daytime Naps
When you have trouble getting to sleep at night, or you wake up a lot, your body doesn't get the rest it needs to function optimally the next day.
Therefore, the next day you feel tired. This is especially true in the middle of the afternoon. It's tempting to give in to the temptation to make up for the sleep you missed the night before, but don't give in for more than 30 minutes. Indulging in sleep during the day (and the worst time is early in the evening while you're watching TV) makes falling asleep that night more difficult.
That perpetuates the cycle. Short naps, called power naps, can be a healthy source of afternoon energy, but don't let them substitute for night sleep.
14. California Poppy ( Eschscholzia californica)
According to researchers, this herb helps people go to sleep even if chronic pain is the reason they have trouble resting at night.
However, herbalists use it to treat ordinary insomnia as well.
You will need...
- Boiling water
- A mug
- An infuser
- 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb
- Pour the boiling water into the mug.
- Put the dried herb into the infuser.
- Place the infuser into the mug and let it steep for at least 10 minutes.
- If you live in the Western United States and can pick the fresh plant, infuse several tablespoons of the flowers.
- If you don't have any growing in your yard now, plant some. They're a bright, cheery orange.
15. Listen to White Noise
Many people sleep better during the summer when they're running their air conditioners. This happens because air conditioners produce white noise.
That's a consistent, soothing noise. Your brain takes it in, but there's no meaning or threat to process, so it helps relax you. It helps you turn your mental focus inward, which means falling asleep. It's loud, sharp, sudden noises that keep us awake. White noise helps to mask them.
There you go. I'm excited there are so many ways for people to take care of their insomnia and get a good night's sleep. You can't do everything, so pick out one or two techniques that really appeal to you.
I'd really appreciate it if you'd tell me what you think in a comment below. Do you know anybody else who needs this information? Share this article with them. Thank you very much.