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- Self-Help for Sleep Issues & Sleeplessness
Natural Sleep Aids And How To Deal With Insomnia
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep. In most cases, insomnia is a symptom of a greater problem. For instance, acute or short-term insomnia may be caused by stress, grief, family crisis, work pressure or accident. This usually last just a few weeks. Chronic insomnia is long term and may be symptomatic of depression, medical conditions or medication. This long-term insomnia is ongoing and requires that you treat the root of the problem.
Insomnia can be mild or chronic. Some people may experience trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This may result in feeling drowsy and tired when you awake in the morning. Some over-the-counter drugs may exacerbate the problem by making you feel worse when you get up in the morning. Unless you have 8 – 12 hours to dedicate to sleep, I suggest not taking over the counter drugs.
There are natural ways to fall asleep. Try some of these first before deciding on drugs. If these don’t work, consider consulting your doctor. Treating the symptom leaves the actual problem. If your insomnia is caused from something more serious, get that solved and your sleeplessness will go away.
Natural Sleep Remedies
Tea made with natural herbs and honey:-
- Mint (peppermint, lemon balm or black mint, spearmint)
- Lime leaves
- Lemon grass
- Valerian root
- Orange peel (save the peel of your oranges and hang dry them for making tea)
- Honey and warm water
Milk can be warmed and had plain or sweetened with honey. There is debate about why the milk helps people relax as there is no scientific evidence on that. Some doctors debate that the warmth of the milk is what relaxes you along with the fullness it gives your stomach. However, milk has something called tryptophan, which stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin. These are the compounds that help us to fall asleep. The amounts in one serving of milk may not be enough to do the job but some people swear by it.
Facts about sleep or rather sleeplessness
Sleep is that time when our body and mind gets to rejuvenate. We work all day and our bodies need time to refuel, as well as our brain.
Insomnia tells us that something is wrong. Healthy bodies and minds sleep easily because nothing hinders that. The minute we start to to toss and turn in our sleep is a sign that something is off balance. This could mean that something has gone wrong physiologically or psychologically.
Whatever your lifestyle, the lack of sleep can affect whatever you are trying to accomplish. These are some of the things sleeplessness affect.
- Dieting. Sleeplessness can cause a shift in appetite. You may find yourself not wanting to eat or craving foods which are bad for you
- Skin care. Sleep is very important for rejuvenating the skin, without it our skin starts to show us signs of the need of care.
- Focus. You can't focus if you lack sleep. Your productivity levels will drop because of this.
- Mental meltdown may happen if you go without sleep for extended periods
Meditation and breathing
I suffered depression for quite a number of years and during that time I also suffered from severe insomnia. I took many over-the-counter drugs to help me but they made me feel worse. I found several ways to help me including breathing and meditating when the lights go out.
I would lie in the dark and relax, using the meditative yoga technique of getting rid of tension. One technique I used often was the taking out the garbage technique.
- Turn out the lights and lay on your back
- Relax your arms to your side with your palms upturned, clear your mind
- Breathe deeply (inhale by filling your lungs, hold for 1-2-3, exhale slowly)
- Think of your body as a construction site and it’s evening. Work is done and all the workers are leaving
- You are the only one left and it’s time to clean up
- Gather all the garbage and start taking them out one by one
- Release the garbage that’s in your head, imaging you throwing everything out
- Follow up with the shoulders and arms
- Then it’s time to release what’s in the center of your body
- Your thighs are next
- Followed by your legs
- Feet and toes.
If executed properly some people fall asleep before the end. One thing you must remember is to breathe deeply right throughout.
You can also so the deep breathing without the meditation, just blank your mind and breathe.
Do you suffer insomnia?
How do you fall asleep?
More sleep aids
If your insomnia is a symptom of something greater maybe exercise will help. Exercise releases happy hormones that make you relax. It’s recommend that you exercise at least 2 – 3 hours before bed. Exercise boosts energy and we don’t want you to be too excited to sleep. In about two or so hours your body will warm down and your muscles start to relax.
Try for at least 20-30 minutes per day. Exercise Yoga is a great way to relax. Yoga helps with many ailments including fatigue, menstrual pain and sleeplessness.
A soak in the bath may also do the trick. This is a great time to soak right after you exercise. The warmth of the water will help your achy muscles and you find yourself falling asleep in the tub. Relaxing bath scents include:
- Ylang Ylang
I swear, this will work for the chronic insomniac. Many people relieve stress this way and some even fall asleep at the massage table. If you can get your masseuse to come to your home just before bed, or have your significant other do it for you, you’ll be surprised how fast you fall asleep.
Using hot oils will help the muscles relax.
There are sounds that massage the brains. I can fall sleep to classical, soft acoustic, water sounds, bird chirping and many sounds in nature. These music help the brain to relax. Try playing one of these kinds of music at bedtime. Leave the music on, relax and listen. You may get addicted to falling asleep this way.
Sleep music has become quite popular these days. There are tapes made now that lasts up to eight hours that will play right through the time to get you to fall, stay and return to sleep throughout the night.
What you can eat before bed that will help you sleep
If you are hungry and find it hard to fall asleep the foods you snack on can either help you stay awake of fall asleep. The safest bet is to have the milk or tea but if you are really hungry maybe a snack will suffice.
Contrary to popular belief, fruits and vegetables are not the best bedtimes snacks. Fruits have fructose. Fructose is a simple sugar, which absorbs into the blood stream easily and may spike your blood sugar levels because they don’t get to burn off immediately.
Vegetables don’t give you that full feeling that relaxes the stomach and so you may find yourself awake in two hours and raiding the fridge.
You need carbohydrates. You need something that will make you feel full without having to worry about gaining weight. Whole grain cereals and breads are good but my best recommendation is oatmeal.
Oatmeal is full of fiber, natural and gives you the fullness your stomach needs to relax. In addition, it has enough carbs to keep your sleep energy throughout the night. We use energy during sleep and without the proper nutrient to manage and sustain that energy we cannot sleep properly.
The complex carbs in the oats will take a while to break down and this allows the body to use it as fuel rather than it being converted to sugar.
You can also have some lean protein like a chicken breast, a slice of roast beef or ham. Protein also works to make you feel full. It also gives the muscles and brain energy. A small mount will keep you throughout the night.