How to Fall Asleep Fast Remedies for Insomnia

Dozens of drug-free ways to beat insomnia
Dozens of drug-free ways to beat insomnia | Source

Insomnia is characterized by a habitual inability to either fall or stay asleep – or both. It can be brought on by a variety of things, so in order to fix it, you need to understand what is contributing to it. Once you do that, you can find the remedies that will work for you. Nothing is quite as frustrating as lingering insomnia and chronic exhaustion. If left unchecked, eventually every aspect of your life can suffer from it.

Insomnia that lasts only a day or two can lead to irritability and mood swings, but the body will find ways to cope. Insomnia that lasts 3 days or longer is far more serious and can result in health decline, mild to major personality changes, and extreme performance issues that can lead to job loss and other problems that further compound stress.

Insomnia is often a vicious circle that feeds off itself. In desperation, many seek medications to help them sleep, but these medications have very serious, and in some cases, potentially lethal side-effects. Most of them are addictive also – another reason to try lifestyle changes and natural remedies first. Pills are a last resort when everything else has been tried and failed.

How to Fall Asleep

In order to fall asleep, the body requires certain cues to trigger the release of melatonin – the hormone that naturally causes the body to sleep when it's dark and to awaken when it's light. The most basic way to do this is to reduce your exposure to artificial light in the evening hours. If you tend to have every light on in the house at night and you watch TV in the bedroom, it may be messing with your natural circadian rhythm. Instead, turn the TV off and don't watch it in the bedroom at night.

Ideally, no TV or computer should be in the bedroom and the bedroom should be used only for the “2 S's” - sleep and sex.

Common Causes of Insomnia

  • Stress
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Too Much Exposure to Artificial Light in the Evening
  • Not Enough Exposure to Natural Daylight
  • Lack of Physical Activity or Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Poor Diet | Nutritional Deficiencies (magnesium/calcium)
  • Eating at Night
  • Excess Caffeine or Stimulant Consumption
  • Depression
  • Asthma – Breathing Problems
  • Indigestion
  • Heart Disease
  • Perimenopause - Menopause
  • Medication Side-Effects (Hormone drugs, pseudoephedrine, beta-blockers and anti-depressants)

Establishing relaxing rituals like writing in a journal, having a cup of tea, lighting candles, doing light yoga stretches are all great ways to develop cues your body needs to know it's time for sleep.
Establishing relaxing rituals like writing in a journal, having a cup of tea, lighting candles, doing light yoga stretches are all great ways to develop cues your body needs to know it's time for sleep. | Source

Develop a Sleep Ritual

A sleep ritual is a great way to develop a habit that cues your body and brain that it's time for sleep. About an hour before you want to turn in, engage in a routine or series of habits that promote sleep.

A candlelit bath to relax the body and to reduce exposure to light is a good choice. Add a few drops of relaxing essential oils. Alternatively, sip a cup of chamomile or sleepytime tea. Light a candle, read a bit or write in a journal. You could also focus on meditation or unwinding. If you have discomfort in the body that wakes you, some light stretches and yoga poses that induce relaxation can help you enjoy a more restful sleep. Never do any kind of strenuous exercise in the evenings though or it will keep you up.

Sleep rituals induce relaxation in the body and mind, making it easier to sleep. Adapt your ritual to meet your needs.

Use Guided Meditations to Relax

Evening Habits to Avoid with Insomnia

  • Don't drink caffeine or eat stimulating foods in the evening. In fact, don't eat any food within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid having a lot of lights on in the evening. Enjoy some candlelight or dim the lights with a dimmer switch.
  • Avoid heavy exercise in the late afternoon or evening hours if you struggle with insomnia, instead get a workout in early in the morning to promote more energy when you actually need it.
  • Don't go to bed at different hours every night. Go to bed at roughly the same time and get up at the same time every morning. This helps your body establish a regular sleep cycle.

How to Stay Asleep

If you fall asleep easily, but have a hard time staying asleep try taking a magnesium tablet at night. Deficiencies in this mineral can cause you to wake up.

Stress is often the cause of this kind of insomnia. Try listening to a guided hypnosis or meditation that induces deep relaxation. This will help with more restorative sleep because it keeps the mind from racing all night. It also helps the body fully, completely relax calming the “fight or flight” stress response.

Do not sleep in a room with lights on. Keep all electronics out of the bedroom entirely or keep them all turned all the way off (not just on sleep mode) and away from the bed. Artificial light doesn't just make it harder to fall asleep, it can trigger you to wake prematurely. Sleep in the dark and if you're still afraid of the dark, fall asleep listening to a relaxation recording.

Don't eat late in the evenings at all. Digestion is slowed when we sleep and often triggers indigestion etc. If you do have a snack, try foods with tryptophan in them like a bit of turkey and whole grain crackers, or a bit of nut butter or a banana.

If you have breathing problems – allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions, use hypo-allergenic bedding and wash it weekly. Use dust covers on all pillows, mattresses and remove “trigger collectors” from the bedroom.

Don't allow your pets to sleep with you or in your room at all. Get rid of drapes, carpet and other things that trap allergens in the room and sleep with an air purifier. Let your bedroom be a “clean area” in the home. Pets can dominate the rest of the house :) This worked very well for my husband and I, who both have allergies and mild asthma. We never wake up now sneezy or wheezy.

Herbal Remedies and Supplements for Insomnia

If you still need a little help once in a while after using all of the suggestions above, try the following supplements that offer a safer, more natural alternative to narcotics.

Melatonin: You can take this in supplement form, but only do so occasionally and never give it to children. Take 5mg an hour before bedtime.

Valerian Root: This is a pretty powerful herb when it comes to dealing with insomnia. Occasional use is fine, but it shouldn't be used for extended periods without a break.

Kava kava: This supplement works very well for insomnia that is caused by stress or anxiety. It is a good relaxant that also helps promote better sleep patterns.

Hops: Extracts of hops can be used to calm the nerves and aid relaxation. A good one if you are feeling anxiety.

Lemon Balm is very easy to grow and makes a delightful tea that helps ease digestion and promote relaxation.

Catnip: Not just for kitty anymore - catnip tea is very gentle like chamomile and can help you relax. It is also good for easing indigestion and can help prevent things like GERD and heartburn from keeping you awake.

Chamomile – much like lemon balm is a very natural, mild sedative that is even safe for children in tea form. Avoid it however if you are allergic to ragweed.

Lavender – The essential oil of this herb can be added to your nightly bath to relax and calm you, or you can simply open the bottle and inhale a bit of it right before bedtime. It helps gently ease stress and relax. It must be genuine lavender essential oil be effective – NOT fragrance oil.

The Happy Camper supplement provides a mild euphoric feeling as it soothes and relieves mental stress. I tend to lose sleep when my mind is racing and this helps with that - thereby allowing me to sleep like a baby, or perhaps a log - my babies never slept all that well ;).

It has Kava Kava and Gotu Kola; my two favorite mood support herbs. Managing tension and stress levels during the day with supplements, good food and exercise at the proper times ensures good sleep.

What techniques do you use for insomnia

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© 2013 Christin Sander

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Comments 26 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 months ago from Midwest Author

Marijuana is illegal in most states, so obviously not something I would recommend.


Charles Mason 3 months ago

The very best sleep remedy of all is marijuana.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 months ago from Midwest Author

Be sure to share it with her Jenny :). Lack of sleep can be so frustrating for those who deal with it on a regular basis. Fortunately, there is a great deal we can do to help.


Jenny Cruz 3 months ago

That's god . don't have problems to sleep. But my aunt have problems to fall asleep .


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 7 months ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Deborah for the read and comment much appreciated.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 7 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Thanks for the informative article. Great tips.

Namaste


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 9 months ago from Midwest Author

Have you tried 5HTP or Magnesium at night Frances? If your thoughts are racing that sounds anxiety induced - treating your anxiety would also help. Meditation is a great way to consciously calm the mind and control your thought processes. I would look into that as well. Thanks for the read and comment.


Frances Garcia 9 months ago

I have tried everything to fall asleep, every over the counter sleep aid, breathing things, no caffeine after like 3, seems like everything, but still have the hardest time going to sleep UNLESS I drug up...(LOL) Which I HATE doing, I can be soooo tired but if I dont take anything to help me, Im up till all hours in the night, and thats in my room, no tv, no phone, no lights, nothing but my thoughts!! No idea what to do!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 19 months ago from Midwest Author

Use the tips in the hub to try to get to the point where you can sleep all night. Without knowing your age, medical conditions, dietary choices it's very hard to say. Sometimes women go through hormonal shifts that cause the kind of insomnia you are describing. When I did that, I eliminated caffeine from my diet with the exception of my morning coffee. Also, don't eat after 5 or 6pm and establish a ritual at night that tells your body (and mind) that it's time to sleep. If you wake and can't get back to sleep, you can also try listening to a guided meditation or self-hypnosis on mp3 that causes deep relaxation or sleep. That won't have any morning side effects. Good luck.


Emily 19 months ago

My problem is staying asleep! I usually wake in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and then can't fall back asleep. Since I wake early for work, I'm leery about trying to take anything to go back to sleep in case it makes me drowsy in the morning. What do you suggest I do to either a. Stay asleep all night or, failing that, b. Go back to sleep once I'm awake?


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 21 months ago from Midwest Author

they may fall asleep but they don't sleep soundly or stay asleep - a restless sleep is a form of insomnia as well.


shin 21 months ago

So how come so many ppl fall asleep in front of TV..


Dr Boone Doherty profile image

Dr Boone Doherty 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh my gosh this article was so boring that I...zzzzz.

I kid of course. Very good article. Very effective advice in my experience.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you married :) I appreciate the comment and so glad you enjoyed the hub. I believe our modern lives have a lot to do with chronic overstimulation which leads to insomnia.


married2medicine profile image

married2medicine 2 years ago from Europe

Falling asleep surprisingly is becoming a serious issue in this present world of dog-eat-dog activities! This is such a breath-taking piece... You did an excellent job here and no doubt you deserve the thumbs up and all accolades (except "funny").. I will definitely be visiting your page once in a while to get such enrichment. Well done once again!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for reading and commenting SJ9190 glad you enjoyed the hub!


SJ9190 profile image

SJ9190 3 years ago

It’s very informative hub. We all avoid home remedies because it is quite frustrating. But you give us simple ideas. Thanks Dear


sasafl profile image

sasafl 3 years ago from Indonesia

nice article. usefull :)


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you for reading, sharing and pinning :) much appreciated!


tastiger04 profile image

tastiger04 3 years ago

As someone who often has trouble sleeping, I will definitely try some of these out. I appreciate you sharing the info :) Great hub, voted up and useful and pinned!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks KT, sleep is very important for good health, so I hope you do find a solution and keep trying. Chronic insomnia that lasts for years on end can lead to a host of very serious problems down the road. Keep trying - you'll get there. :)


KT Banks profile image

KT Banks 3 years ago from Texas

I've had sleep problems for so long, I no longer fight it. The information you have shared it all very good and makes me want to at least try again. Thank you for sharing. Voted Up and more!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

That's interesting to note about the melatonin and computer light :) thanks for sharing and commenting.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 3 years ago from Central United States of America

Some excellent tips and info here. An additional learning bit is that computer light reduces the melatonin in the body, so that could be a clue to take the melatonin after (particularly) evening use of the computer.

I had to find this out the hard way. :-) Thanks for a great article!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

It can be difficult when you work swing shifts or night shifts. If you have to sleep during daylight hours use shades that fully block the sun and that may help a bit also. Thanks for commenting :)


Tom Vogler profile image

Tom Vogler 3 years ago from The Shenandoah Valley

Thank you for all the useful information. My job has all different hours, so it makes it difficult to establish a regular sleep/wake cycle. I will try some of the things you suggest though. I currently take 3 mg melatonin when I need to sleep. I also find that drinking warm milk helps me feel groggy.

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