40 Ways To Beat Insomnia
1. Hops Extract - Traditionally, hops have been used as an herb to help those struggling with sleep because of their calming and sedating effects. A chemical in hops, methylbutenol, is believed to be reason for the sedative effects of hops. Hops can be combined with valerian root and can be found as a tea, an oil or in capsule form.
2. Melatonin - Melatonin is a hormone made by your very own body, which helps control your internal clock. Typically, melatonin levels begin to rise in the evening, then will remain high for most of the night, and drop again in the early morning. There are many things that can disrupt the production of melatonin in our bodies – exposure to light, travel, keeping odd hours, etc. And as we age, the melatonin we produce decreases. Supplemental melatonin is used frequently for sleeping difficulties as it is believed to induce sleep. It is recommended to take the supplement approximately 30 minutes before bedtime to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Tart cherry juice contains melatonin and can be taken to supply the body with the needed amount as well.
3. Chamomile Tea - Chamomile is a popular remedy to help you feel sleepy. Made from the chamomile flower, it can be taken in tablet form, oil or most commonly as a tea. Chamomile is believed to relieve anxiety and many benefit from its effects. So why not brew up a cup of hot chamomile tea and enjoy as you read before bed?
4. Velarian Root - Valerian root is just that, the root of the valerian plant. It has been used to treat anxiety and insomnia since ancient times. It’s available as an extract or tinctures as well as in capsule and tablet form, and as a tea. Valerian has a strong odor is often mixed with other herbs to remedy that. Valerian is known to help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep better, and who doesn’t want that?
5. L-Theanine - L-theanine is an amino acid found mainly in teas, but also available in supplement form. L-theanine is believed that have many benefits to your health including its direct effect on brain activity, which reduces stress and enables better sleep. Simply take a supplement about a half an hour before bedtime and enjoy the good sleep that will come as your stress diminishes.
6. Lemon Balm - Lemon balm, a type of mint plant, is a calming herb and has been used for hundreds of years to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Now, lemon balm is sometimes combined with other herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops. You can find lemon balm as tea, in capsule form, as an extract, tinctures, and, also as an oil.
7. St. John’s Wort - St. Johns Wort, a flowering plant, is a popular supplement today. It has been used for hundreds of years to help with depression, insomnia and anxiety, It’s believed to stimulate sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. St. Johns Wort is available as capsules or pills, as a tea, or tincture.
8. Catnip - Catnip probably does not top your list of sleep helpers, but you surely have heard of it for your feline friends. Catnip is an herb that is known for its help with relaxation and digestive benefits. So, make up some catnip tea and get some sleep. It’s also available as a capsules, extract or essential oil.
9. Wild Lettuce - Wild Lettuce is a plant that has been used as an herbal medicine to treat a number of ailments for hundreds of years. It can be used to help those struggling with insomnia. Its ability to help relieve anxiety often helps those who have trouble sleeping. The extract has a calming, sedative effect. Wild lettuce is available as an extract, tincture, capsule or dried leaves.
10. Magnesium/Calcium - Make sure you get enough magnesium and calcium together in your diet. Eating a healthy diet helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle and it can also help us sleep well. We need to make sure we get the necessary vitamins and nutrients in our daily diet. If you do not get enough magnesium in your diet or as a supplement you may suffer from a sleep disorder. Many of us make sure to get enough calcium daily, but did you know that magnesium regulates calcium levels in body? Without the proper amount of magnesium your body is unable to process that calcium which may result in problems beyond a poor night’s sleep.
11. Dump caffeine - Caffeine is a stimulant that helps you feel alert and awake, which is why millions of us drink that cherished cup of coffee each morning. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that caffeine hinders sleep. It blocks sleep-inducing chemicals that your body creates to help you fall asleep. We don’t want to block sleep – we want good sleep. Many have found that reducing the amount of caffeine consumed has a great effect on sleep problems. You may need as many as 6 hours before bedtime after consuming any caffeine to experience the difference.
12. No smoking - There are many reasons you should stop smoking. You know that, but did you know that smoking hinders your ability to sleep? Yep, one more reason to get rid of those nasty cigarettes. A study at University of Rochester Medical Center indicates that smoking disrupts the body clock in the lungs and the brains. These disruptions may not only cause insomnia but also reduce the hours of deep, restful sleep. Even when you get sleep, it will be light, disrupted sleep.
13. Pass on the sleeping pills - Often this is a go-to remedy to sleep problems. You think, I will just take a sleeping pill, but no, don’t. Sleeping pills do not help your body and mind learn to relax and sleep. Sleeping pills do not cure whatever is the underlying problem causing you to have sleep troubles. Get to the root cause and cure yourself. The quality of sleep when taking sleeping pills suffers greatly which can lead to further problems, not to mention the side effects of sleeping pills – addiction included. Sleeping pills are a quick fix that does not solve the problem. Researchers at Scrip Health in California have conducted studies that show connections between prescription sleeping aids and increased death rates.
14. Sleep during the night - This seems obvious, but is not always possible. Some of us work strange schedules or keep odd hours because of life’s responsibilities. But as far as you can control, sleep at night. Your body clock knows when you should be sleeping. It’s also easy to get in a flip-flop schedule if you are struggling with insomnia. You are tired during the day, so you grab sleep when you can. This creates a vicious cycle that needs to be broken now. Set a good sleep schedule and stick to it until you start sleeping during it.
15. Avoid naps - You are tired because you didn’t get a good night’s sleep or sleep at all last night, so you want to nap. Avoid napping to get your body into a good sleep cycle. You need to be tired to fall asleep at night; napping might hinder this. Napping can mess with your body’s internal clock. Let’s get that fixed before you grab any catnaps. The National Sleep Foundation recommends only taking a short twenty-minute nap early in the day if you need it to perform your daytime duties. Longer naps or naps taken late in the day can greatly affect you ability to sleep well at night. Will a quick nap be restorative to you or will it come back to punish you tonight as you lie awake in bed? Make a good choice!
16. Consistent bed time - A set bedtime is not only important for children, it is important for us all. Our bodies have internal clocks. You may have experienced a second wind late at night, or worse missed your toddler’s bedtime to have him hit his second wind and all chances at a quick, easy bedtime are gone until the crash comes. Why? Because our bodies know when it’s bedtime, even if we ignore it. When do you finish up for the night? All the kids tucked in and settled, last minute chores around the house finished, your couch time watching your favorite program over, so now it’s bedtime. If you typically stay up too late, start cutting back 15 minutes at time until you have a reasonable bedtime. You can figure out a good bedtime for yourself by starting at your wake up time and working backward. Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep. Yep, not the 6 hours you aim for each night. What time does your alarm go off in the morning? Work back from there and figure in some relaxing time in bed to get your mind and body ready for some deep sleep tonight.
17. Darkness is your friend - Sounds like common sense, right? Turn off the lights when you want to go to sleep. But often times, we don’t. Did you know that the light causes your body to release chemicals that block sleep inducers? Studies indicate that sleeping with lights on may limit the production of melatonin, the major hormone that controls your body’s sleep and wake cycle. Yep, so it really is worth it to turn off those lights. If you need to have a lighted path to make it to the bathroom during the night, try using a motion sensor nightlight.
18. No TV - How often have you fallen asleep with the television still on? Not the best idea, really, even though more than half of us do it on a regular basis. You may think you are relaxing watching that last show before you fall asleep, but what are you doing to your mind and body? Studies show that exposure to light prevents your body from producing the hormone melatonin which regulates your sleep and wake cycle. The continual flickering of images on the television may also keep your brain more active than you want preventing you from a good night’s sleep. You fall asleep, but you may not be getting the REM sleep your body really needs.
19. Don’t lay in bed for hours trying to sleep - You can’t sleep. Do you stay in bed? If you stay in bed, maybe you’ll fall asleep soon, but does that happen? Typically, your mind starts in on how you can’t fall asleep, how this lack of sleep will effect your day tomorrow, and then the list of things you need to do, and on and on. Instead, after twenty minutes or so of lying in bed trying to fall asleep, get up. Sleep studies indicate that it is better to get up out of bed and go do something else in another room quietly until you begin to feel drowsy and return to the bedroom to fall asleep.
20. Try ear plugs - Limiting the noise around you when you are trying to sleep will certainly help you get a better night’s sleep. Sometimes we have control of the noise around us, often we don’t. Sleep studies indicate that the use of ear plugs helps create a better sleeping environment. You may be able to create a quiet environment in the bedroom, only to have your partner start snoring. Have you tried ear plugs? Comfortable, effective ear plugs are readily available and can help reduce the noise pollution allowing your body and mind to relax and not only fall asleep, but get the good sleep your body really needs as a quiet environment encourages your body to create the hormones it needs while you sleep.
21. Avoid blue light after dark - At night, light can alter the body’s circadian rhythm – your body’s clock inhibiting your ability to fall asleep and to get a good night’s sleep. Recent studies reveal that blue light, the light emitted from electronics such as e-readers, tablets, smart phones and the like, may have an even greater effect on the body than other colors of light. Knowing this, it is best to avoid using your electronics in bed or really a couple hours before bed, if possible. If this sounds extreme to you, but you are suffering from insomnia, try limiting it. Start with no electronics once you lie down in bed. Then after a week or so, try stopping your exposure to blue light to 30 minutes before bed, then an hour. Sleep is so essential to a healthy life that the benefits will be worth it.
22. Listen to visualization exercises - You have set up a good environment for sleep – the bedroom is dark and quiet, the temperature is just right – now you need to get your mind set for sleep. Visualization exercises can help you unwind setting you up for a good night’s sleep. There are many different techniques to try as you focus your mind on something else – not the busy-ness of your day or life and not your insomnia. You can count sheep, you can imagine a place you have been that brought you peace and calm, or even listen to a guided visualization exercise readily available online.
23. Give aromatherapy a shot - Aromatherapy may help you fall asleep more quickly as it provides a calming environment. And it’s easy. Simply spray some essential oil on a tissue and put it under a pillow or soak a cotton ball with some essential oil and place it on your bedside. You can also spray your sheets with a linen spray or use lotion on your skin. But you want to choose your scent wisely as some scents are energizing. Chamomile, marjoram, valerian and lavender are known for their calming effects while mints and rosemary have more stimulating effects. A recent study indicates that the quality of sleep was greatly improved with the use of aromatherapy.
24. Meditation - When you have trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night, mediation may be your key to falling asleep quickly. Does your mind race when you are experiencing sleeplessness? Do you think about how you are not sleeping and how that will take its toll tomorrow? Those thoughts are not going to help you get that good night sleep, so get your mind under control with some meditation. There are many guided meditative exercise available online for you to try. Meditation helps you be aware of your body and mind and calm down. Controlled deliberate breathing is a key component of meditation. As you control your breathing and become aware of your body’s tension, you relax and allow yourself to be ready to sleep.
25. Wear comfortable clothes - A comfortable environment is essential for good sleep. You have a good mattress, just the right pillow, nice sheets and a warm blanket. But what are you wearing to sleep? Are your pajamas comfortable for you to sleep in? Do they get twisted as you turn? Do you become too hot or too cold? Breathable pajamas that fit well – not too loose, not too tight – are a good option. Some people prefer to sleep in just underwear or naked as the day they were born. Your sleep troubles may be easy to solve. It might be a purchase of some nice, comfy jammies or folding them up and putting them back in the drawer to sleep au naturel. Switch up what you have been doing to see what provides you with the most comfortable sleep. And, please keep a robe close by late night emergencies.
26. Experiment with a noise maker - So your bedroom is dark and quiet and you are ready to sleep, but you aren’t able to fall asleep. Each noise from the street, the house settling, someone else in the house doing something elsewhere keeps you from finding the rest you need. You may even fall asleep only to be jerked awake by a car door outside or your partner’s trip to the bathroom. Not everyone can sleep in silence. White noise may be your key to a good night’s sleep. You can use a fan, a noise machine, or even an app, though we don’t really recommend your device being that close to you when you sleep. A little noise can help you sleep like you have always dreamed of sleeping.
27. Progressive muscle relaxation - Having trouble relaxing when you want to go to sleep? Progressive muscle relaxation may be just what you need. Release the tensions of the day and allow your body and mind to relax and sleep. How does it work? While lying in bed, starting with your feet moving progressively up through your body parts until you reach your face focusing on each body part and deliberately tensing and then relaxing it. You can make or find a list online that helps you go through the major muscles in a progressive order to relax your body readying it for sleep. Many studies have been conducted that show the benefit for quality sleep of progressive muscle relaxation.
28. Exercise during the day - Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and essential to good sleep. Your body needs to be active during the day to get good rest at night. Many of us have sedentary jobs and our bodies don’t get the movement they need. From cardiovascular to weight bearing to stretching, our bodies need exercise and movement to be healthy and strong, but also for good sleep. A recent study indicates that may improve sleep quality. By exercising our bodies create and release hormones and chemicals that are natural components to healthy living and help us maintain a good sleep-wake cycle. You want to be sure to exercise at least three times a week, if not daily. Your body and mind need exercise for many reasons, but exercise is an important factor in healthy sleep.
29. Get natural light - Limiting light at night helps sleep, but we also need natural light during the day to help our sleep quality. What does that mean? Get yourself into sunlight. That might mean a walk outside or just having some natural light coming into your office space through a window or skylight. Many of us work in office buildings with limited natural light, so we have to put some effort into making sure we got that natural light exposure needed. A recent study shows that exposure to natural light improves sleep quality and how long we sleep. Light is an essential component to our bodies maintaining their circadian rhythm, which is important for not only being able to fall asleep but for quality sleep.
30. Stretch during the day - You live a busy life and may end your day with some tension having found its way into your muscles. Relaxation is a key to good quality sleep. It’s not only hard to fall asleep if you are tense, but it’s difficult to get good quality sleep even if you do fall asleep. Light stretching before bed is a good way to wind down and help your body and mind relax. You don’t want to engage is vigorous exercise right before sleep, but gentle stretching with a focus on breathing can be very helpful in getting a good night sleep. Take a few minutes before you get into bed to stretch your muscles.
31. Get checked for sleep apnea - Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects your breathing when you sleep. Breathing is interrupted or becomes very shallow if sleep apnea is untreated and can, therefore, be a potentially dangerous condition. Those who suffer from sleep apnea spend much of their time sleeping lightly and often do not reach deep sleep that is the restorative sleep we need. Unfortunately sleep apnea is more common as our population struggles with obesity. There are a couple types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and blocks the airway. Less common is central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. And complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. If you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea, speak to your doctor. If you have a sleeping partner, ask them. They may hear changes in your breathing or even short stops of breath that may potentially indicate sleep apnea.
32. Try acupuncture - Typically, sticking yourself with sharp objects doesn’t induce calm and relaxation, so it may surprise you to learn that acupuncture works for many who struggle with insomnia. Studies show that those who received acupuncture not only fell asleep more quickly, but also experienced improved sleep quality. Melatonin production was increased and sleep time was longer. If you have struggled with sleeplessness, these words may seem like magic. So if you have never considered acupuncture, now may be the time. Find a reputable acupuncturist in your area and give it a try.
33. Chill - Flinders University, Australia Too hot, too cold. . . . just right. The air temperature in your bedroom needs to be just right for you to achieve good sleep. Experts recommend ranges typically between 65 & 72 degrees, but a specific temperature varies by individual. The thinking goes that your body needs a lower core temperature when sleeping than when awake, so try lower the thermostat a degree or two to help with your sleep. If it’s too hot or too cold, your body will wake as it tries too hard to regulate its own temperature. Your covers and sleep attire will be factors of course. Adjust that thermostat a degree or two and enjoy a good night’s rest.
34. Get a good mattress - Mattresses, mattresses, mattresses. Always on sale somewhere, always claiming to be the best, always confusing the consumer. But there is little doubt that a good mattress will help you attain the good sleep you so greatly desire. What mattress is best for you? Ah, let the search begin. You need a mattress that supports your body and provides good comfortable rest. If your mattress is more than 8 years old or if you wake sore and stiff, start shopping. It’s time. Invest in a good mattress so you can invest in good sleep.
35. Clean up your room! - Your sleep environment greatly affects your mood and stress level. When you walk into your bedroom are you greeted with a calm, soothing environment or is it a plain old mess? Often our bedrooms become catch-alls. Out of sight, out of mind and few of our visitors venture to our bedrooms so they don’t know that although the living space is well organized, the bedroom is a disaster. Or maybe you just never got to decorating it in the first place. Take some time to do that. Make it a calm retreat from the stresses of the day. Remove the clutter with a well-spent afternoon of sorting and organizing, donating and tossing. Clear those surfaces of clutter, freeing that space and your mind. Now when you lay down at night to sleep, there are no longer any piles and no more disarray to remind you of all that is to still be done. Sleep, dear one, sleep.
36. Try a different pillow - Much cheaper than a mattress, but still important to a good night’s sleep – the pillow. So how old is that pillow? Putting aside the fact that it’s likely filled with dust and dust mites, it has also probably served its time and just done. Look into a new pillow. Your pillow needs to support your head and your neck in such a way as to keep your spine in a comfortable position. We have all had that stiff neck in the morning because we slept funny. Let’s blame the pillow and find a new one that works for you. Give your new pillow a few nights to see if it’s a good fit. Maybe you slept in a hotel with a great pillow – was it down? Was it foam? Did it conform to your neck? So many choices, try some to find your pillow. And don’t forget to try a body pillow or a pillow between your knees if you are a side sleeper. Using pillows for your body helps your spine stay in a comfortable, non-stressed position enabling you to get that great night’s sleep.
37. Give softer sheets a try - It’s not just thread count, you hear, it’s about the thread itself. Whatever your preference – cotton, satin, silk, 400-, 600- 1000-count, try changing your sheet choice to see if new softer sheets will provide you a more comfortable sleeping environment. Sheets vary greatly in price, but the most expensive are not always the best for you. Don’t hesitate to feel the sheet before you buy. Some studies even show that just washing your sheets more often may help improve your sleep. It’s an easy fix that is definitely worth the investment.
38. Add some fresh air - Air your bedroom out for a few minutes each day. We exhale a lot of moisture and carbon dioxide in a typically closed off space when we sleep. To freshen that air, open the windows in the morning and again in the evening for a few minutes if the air outside is cool, a bit longer if it’s warm out. This exchange of fresh air will create a better sleeping environment for you when it’s time to call it a day.
39. Skip the booze - Alcohol makes you drowsy, so why isn’t it a good part of a bedtime routine? Well, alcohol may induce sleep, but it does not allow you to sleep well. Studies indicate that alcohol interrupts the sleep pattern causing your REM and deep sleep to be compromised. This often results in poor sleep leaving you feeling unrested even if you get enough hours of sleep. And the more you drink, the more disrupted your sleep will be. If you do consume alcohol, try to give your body time to process the alcohol before you go to bed.
40. Take a bath - Establishing a bedtime routine is key to preparing your body and mind for a good night’s sleep. You may want to add a hot bath to this routine. Or if you are fortunate enough to have a hot tub, make it a habit to get in there shortly before bed. Sitting in hot water not only relaxes the muscles, but it is also soothing for the mind. You can do little else but relax and chill out while in the bath or hot tub. Enjoy the soak. It doesn’t need to be long, just long enough to warm those muscles and allow the aches and pains to ease away along with the stresses of the day.