Natural Sleep Aids That Work

UNDERSTANDING INSOMNIA

Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population. It is more common in women, but the quality of sleep decreases in both women and men as we age. It’s normal to have trouble sleeping once in a while, but when the problem lingers night after night, you have insomnia. Let’s understand insomnia better and have a look if there are natural sleep aids that work.

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?

Woman Sleeping Black and White

There are different benefits of having a good sleep. Good sleep provides better function at work and home and even better fitness or athletic performance. The recommended amount of sleep varies by age groups:

  • Adults need: 7-9 hours
  • Teens: 8-10 hours
  • School-aged children: 9-11 hours
  • Infants: 12-15 hours

WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?

There are a variety of factors that cause insomnia: stress, environmental noise, extreme temperature fluctuations, medication side effects,  chronic pain, hormones, lifestyle: consuming alcohol or caffeine,  smoking cigarettes before bedtime etc. Other factors: pregnancy,  menopause, working in shifts, frequent flying and so forth.

WHAT ARE INSOMNIA SYMPTOMS?

Thoughtful Man Watching Sunset

  • when feeling  very sleepy during the day
  • have trouble falling or staying asleep
  • snore
  • stop breathing briefly and often while asleep (apnea)
  • have uncomfortable feelings in your legs and the urge to move them (restless legs syndrome)

There are various after-effects of insomnia: relationship troubles, poor job performance, job-related injuries, car accidents, memory problems,  mood disorders etc. It may also contribute to heart disease, obesity,  diabetes.

The good news is that there are some natural cures for insomnia.

When having some health issue, we should try to understand the problem first. My personal approach is – not to rush taking medicine, but, to try to understand a problem, to find possible causes and natural way to help ourselves.  If the problem remains,  should call the doctor.

REGARDING INSOMNIA, THERE ARE CERTAIN QUESTIONS you should ask yourself first: 

  • Are you comfortable when you sleep?  A too soft or too firm mattress, an uncomfortable pillow etc.  can  impede a good night  
  • Is your bedroom noisy?  There’s an inexpensive and effective device for making soothing sounds to mask jangling ones.
  • Is your mind overactive?  Try to relax. Relaxing breathing technique could help you put aside the thoughts keeping you awake.
  • Are you frequently getting up?  Eliminate caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Are you using tech devices prior to sleep?  Turn off technology one hour prior going to sleep.

NATURAL SLEEP AIDS THAT WORK:

Young Smiling Woman Lying in Bed

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine: a warm bath before going to sleep, meditation/relaxation exercises, relaxing breathing….
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening.
  • Avoid large meals late in the evening.
  • Use devises to block out surrounding environmental noise
  • Complete dark in a bedroom relaxes
  • Don’t be obsessed with not sleeping.
  • Try to get into the habit of napping: nap for no longer than 10 to 20 minutes in the afternoon
  • Spend some time outdoors to get exposure to natural light

FEW MORE ADVICE:

1/Stress and anxiety make insomnia worse, but relaxation training calm your breathing, heart rate, muscles and mood. Talk therapy can also quiet your mind.

2/Exercising helps.  It’s easier to fall asleep when your body’s tired. But, don’t exercise too late – it could have opposite effects.

3/ Avoid Problem Foods – avoid before bed: caffeine, including coffee, tea and soda, heavy or spicy foods, alcohol

4/Helpful Foods – Try a light evening snack that’s high in carbs and easy to digest.  Warm milk and chamomile tea can make you sleepy, too.

5/Turn Off all tech devices – Turn off all tech devices at least 1 hour prior going to sleep.

6/ Bedtime Rituals – Tell your mind and body that it’s time for a sleep with a bedtime ritual. This can include a warm bath, a book,  relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

7/ Yoga or meditation – Choose gentle yoga or stretching. Try easy yoga stretches in bed followed by simple meditation.

Beautiful Girl Doing Yoga Excercise

If you still have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.

Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders, blames a lot of insomnia on stress. He also notes:  “People are turning to so-called “natural” sleep aids, but it’s not like trying out a new shampoo.  These substances act like drugs. Don’t be fooled by the word “natural” on packaging — it’s essentially meaningless. There are absolutely no regulations or guidelines —anyone can call anything “natural”. Deadly nightshade is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you …. “  “Do not try any of these until you speak to your own health-care provider. Many of them could interact with whatever medications you may be taking, or exacerbate a medical condition.”

NATURAL REMEDIES THAT MAY HELP YOU SLEEP (contact your health-care provider first):

1/ Magnesium and calcium

Magnesium and calcium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective. Plus, by taking magnesium, you cancel out any potential heart problems that might arise from taking calcium alone.

2/ Wild lettuce

If you’ve suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. It’s also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety.

3/ Aromatherapy

Beautiful Lavender Bouquet in a Basket

Different studies have proven that lavender aids in sleep.  It’s also a cheap, nontoxic way to slip into a peaceful slumber. Find a spray with real lavender and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime. Or buy a lavender-filled pillow.

4/ Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that controls sleep, so it’s no wonder that it naturally induces sleep.

6/ L-theanine

This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night.

 8/ Valerian

Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, a speed of falling asleep and overall quality of sleep. However, it’s most effective when used over a longer period of time.

9/ Chamomile tea 

Chamomile tea helps relaxation.

My general advice (not only regarding insomnia) is: eat healthily, exercise, spend some time outdoors,  spend your free time with your family and friends, laugh…. and you’ll prevent different health issues/ or help their cure.

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14 thoughts on “Natural Sleep Aids That Work”

  1. I myself used to struggle a lot with insomnia. I remember when it used to be so bad I had a bad period of sleep that lasted 3 months.

    I agree with many of the points that you listed that could help a person to sleep. I myself did cut out with all caffeine drinks before bed time.

    Thank you for a wonderfully written article regarding this subject.

    • Hello Theresa,

      I’m glad that you liked the article. Insomnia is a disease of “modern” times and often associated with stress. For this reason, we should know how to fight it. I guess that you agree that taking medicine is not always the solution and not the best one…. Finding a cause of some health problem could give us answers and ways to confront it.  

      Best regards

  2. You gave some really good tips for insomnia. My children have a diffuser in their room, and I put a few drops of lavender or bergamot in it every night to help them sleep. Since I’ve started doing that, it seems to help them relax at night. They also have a sound machine in their room. It helps to drown out any external noise (my next door neighbor operates a tow truck, which can get very noisy in the early morning). I also occasionally take something called “Natural Calm”, which is a magnesium and calcium mix. It’s great for helping me fall asleep!

    • As I can see, you have a certain experience regarding making ideal conditions for natural and good sleep, both for your children and yourself.  I was doing something similar while my son was a baby. I used to leave some quiet music on and  was putting few drops of lavender in glass container with water in his room. It was relaxing him and would fall asleep easily. Luckily, we didn’t have any external noise:)

  3. Wow, this is very insightful food for thought. I myself have had periods of time when I couldn’t fall asleep, or stay asleep. Now I understand why. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more of your blogs.
    Cheers,
    Darren

  4. I’m very glad that you liked my article. I’m sure you’ll find lots of interesting info, tips and ideas by visiting my site regulary.
    Best regards

  5. I realized that I can’t take coffee or tea after 3pm. Otherwise I would not be able to sleep at night. Agree with the many of your points. My wife diffuses Lavender essential oil to help the kids sleep at night.

    • Yes, there are different ways to deal with insomnia. When we understand insomnia, know factors that cause it and symptoms, than it’s certainly easier to find the best possible solution for this problem.

  6. This is very helpful. I do not have sleep disorders but I know some people that will find this information very helpful. There is nothing like going to bed and have a good night rest. I also love the med diet foods. I think that by improving your eating habits and implement some of this natural remedies to sleep, the sleep will definitely improve.

  7. Agree with you. Just one or several nights without good sleep could make you feel exhausted. Imagine having a sleep disorder non-stop…. I’d be really happy if people who read my articles find these information helpful.. Thank you for your nice comment.

  8. I don’t have insomnia, but I do have trouble sleeping some nights and do tend to keep waking up. It doesn’t just make me feel groggy in the mornings, but I’ve also put on a little weight due to the lack of sleep. I’d say I probably get 5 – 6 hours sleep per day which isn’t far off the 7 to 9-hours of sleep needed, but I think it can be improved with the help of some sleeping aids.

    I appreciate the tips and also the natural remedies you’ve shared. I guess I just need to find the ones that are the most effective for me.

    Thanks,
    Neil

    • Fortunately, you don’t have a serious sleeping problem. Still, you have to find aids that work best for you. If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to connect with you.
      Thank you for your comment,
      Vesna

  9. I had insomnia as a college student and it still lingers to these days, 10 years later, although in less severity. I think moving back home helps a lot as my body feels more comfortable in a familiar environment and also I have some personal spaces for relaxation.

    I apply some of the natural remedies that you mentioned like calcium intake and aromatherapy. But what I find work the best is ear plug. When there is no to minimal noise for a good 10 minutes, I fall asleep faster and generally sleep better throughout the night.

  10. Hello Cathy,

    Noise and stress are possibly most common causes of insomnia. Your moving back home has helped you, but again, you had to confront the same cause of your sleeping problem – noise. Luckily, you have found your natural remedies to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better

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