Do you find it difficult or impossible to fall asleep and spend time tossing and turning in the bed? You are only one among 30-40% Americans who suffer from insomnia. And it is indeed ?suffering? as anybody who battles insomnia on a daily basis or even occasionally knows. In fact insomnia is a public health issue. If you ever have difficulty falling asleep, you may well wonder about the ways to treat insomnia.
What is insomnia anyway? It is the:
- Inability to fall asleep
- Stay asleep
- Failure to get sufficient sleep
- Failure to get good quality sleep?
Any or all of these may mean that you have insomnia.
Causes and Effects of Insomnia
Insomnia has many causes some of which may be transitory, others long-term. For instance you may have temporary insomnia due to any particular stress that may be work related, exam related, jet lag, certain medications, illness and more. This kind of insomnia will probably settle down once your problem has passed. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, may be caused by serious illnesses or even mild disorders like acid reflux disease, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, hormonal problems, neuropathy, painful conditions like arthritis or rheumatism, psychological or mental stress caused due to any number of factors and others.
Unfortunately insomnia has both short term and long term health implications. It can result in poor concentration, inability to focus on day time work or study, lack of energy, loss of libido, impaired memory, poor motor coordination and increased risk of vehicular accidents. It can also be a contributory factor in obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, impaired judgment and depression. It is also entirely possible that some of these ailments may be a causative factor in insomnia, leading to a vicious cycle.
How to Treat Insomnia
In case you have been medically diagnosed with insomnia, your doctor may have prescribed some prescription medicines either for short term use or milder ones for long term use. Most of the time these have their own side-effects and some may even lead to addiction, which means that you always need the pills to sleep and you may need them in larger dosages as well.
For short term treatment of acute insomnia episodes ? and if you have the willpower to stop ? some strong prescription medicines can be effective, particularly when prescribed by a doctor who knows how to treat insomnia. For long term and helpful results without side effects it is best to try natural remedies.
5 Natural Remedies For Insomnia
There is no single natural remedy for insomnia that will work for everyone. You do have to use a trial and error method to see which one will work for you. Sometimes a combination of different remedies may be more effective, but you need to give the remedy time to do its work.
1. Check Your Sleep Environment
At times, small things may be to blame for your insomnia. Do check the basic stuff in your room: dim lighting or darkness with thick curtains; a comfortable temperature; the right kind of mattress and pillow (a cervical or neck pillow for cervical spondylitis); a cover sheet or duvet; all these can help promote sleep. You should also wear comfortable clothing that is loose enough. You may require a different sleeping position if you suffer from knee or foot pain, backache and such problems, so changing your position for sleep may go a long way in eliminating sleeplessness.
2. Food and Diet
Contrary to common belief, alcohol does not promote sleep. In fact, it may even irritate your stomach, keep you up peeing and just prevent you from sleeping. Eating a heavy meal is not a good idea as you may feel uneasy in your stomach. At the same time going to bed hungry is not a good idea as hunger will keep you awake as will midnight high sugar snacks that give you a sugar boost. So eat a light meal before sleeping. A glass of milk or cocoa will help you with sleep thanks to the tryptophan in the milk.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise during the day will promote sleep, but exercising just before sleeping is not required. In any case if you are relatively sedentary during the day, exercise is good for your health. However, alternative forms of exercise like yoga or tai-chi that are slow can promote sleep. It is also important to get a certain level of activity in during the day so that you are tired enough to go to sleep.
4. Try Herbs and Supplements
There are any number of herbal remedies and supplements that help combat insomnia. You can try herbal tea like green tea, chamomile, passionflower, or valerian to help you sleep. Some are also available in capsules. Capsules or dissolvable pills containing melatonin may also be an effective insomnia remedy for you, improving the quality and quantity of sleep. Tart cherry juice also has substances that change into melatonin, so drinking tart cherry juice may be effective.
Soothing scents can help you with insomnia. Lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, orange, lemon, sandalwood, yiang yiang and jasmine are calming. Oils like eucalyptus can help with breathing difficulties. Use the essential oils with carrier oil unless it is meant for direct use. You can either dab a bit of the oil on your wrists or pillow or put scented sachets under your pillow. Or you can use an oil diffuser so that your room has this pleasant smell. If you are taking a soaking bath, you can add some essential oils to your bathwater to give you similar results.
One or a combination of these remedies can help you sleep naturally. After falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up refreshed is the best feeling in the world. You can get more out of your day and improve your health as well. And once you beat insomnia, you will fall into the habit of sleeping naturally instead of dreading going to bed thinking of the sleepless night that is in store. If you found this helpful, please share! I’d also love to hear more about your experiences in the comments area below.