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?
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?
- when feeling very sleepy during the day
- have trouble falling or staying asleep
- 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:
- 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.
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.