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- Self-Help for Sleep Issues & Sleeplessness
How to Fall Asleep Fast Remedies for Insomnia
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
- 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
- Asthma – Breathing Problems
- Heart Disease
- Perimenopause - Menopause
- Medication Side-Effects (Hormone drugs, pseudoephedrine, beta-blockers and anti-depressants)
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 :)
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 to be effective, not fragrance oil.
- Magnesium: This mineral helps the muscles relax, reduces stress and eases tension in the body. You can get this easily by soaking in a bath of Epsom salts for 20 minutes, or by taking a supplement.
Natural Balance is the insomnia remedy I personally choose. When I have insomnia, it's generally due to racing thoughts or stress. This supplement addresses those issues and is sort of all-inclusive. I've found it works well, leaves me feeling refreshed the next day and I can get up and not feel "groggy" like you might if you took a Benadryl for example. I also like that it sort of gives you a mild euphoric feeling as you drift off to sleep. It's a very nice, well-rounded supplement of high quality.
What techniques do you use for insomnia
© 2013 Christin Sander