Millions and millions of people around the world have trouble sleeping. In the United States, it has been estimated that between 50 to 70 million adults suffer from some sort of sleeping or wakefulness disorder. Insomnia is not just an annoyance, it can cause a host of health problems including heart disease, an increased risk of stroke and even weight gain. There are some natural remedies for insomnia that involve lifestyle changes.
- Practice good “sleep hygiene.” This means that you should go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Keeping a good and regular sleep schedule is one way to beat insomnia. This means you need to keep the same sleep schedule on the weekend or your days off. What you are doing is retraining your body to sleep when you want to sleep. Another factor in this is that you should avoid napping during the day as it can impact your ability to fall asleep at night.
- Your bed should only be for sleep and sex. This means you should not watch TV, work on papers, play on the internet or anything. It is also a good idea to not look at screens (TV, computer, tablet, mobile). The blue light from the screen makes the brain release hormones that tell your body to stay awake. You need to train your body to go to sleep when you are in bed.
- Reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine. Many people think that one remedy for insomnia is a glass or two of wine (or something similar). The problem is that this can interfere your going into REM sleep. People who do this may feel sleepy at first but will wake up later without having gotten restful sleep. Avoiding nicotine is also a good idea, as it is considered to be a stimulant. It is worth talking to your physician about any medications you are taking as they may be keeping you awake.
- Get adequate exercise. While you should not engage in aerobic exercise right before bed, that will keep you awake, you should get enough earlier in the day. The more you do this, and the more regular your work outs are, the more they will help with your insomnia.
- Avoid food and beverages before you go to sleep. When you eat or drink, your digestive system is activated and that, in and or itself, can keep you awake. If you have any stomach issues, you can make it worse if you eat or drink before you go to bed. Also drinking too much before sleeping can mean you have to get up to go to the bathroom.
- Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. One reason a lot of people have trouble sleeping is that their bedroom is either too cold or too warm. The more comfortable your sleeping space is, the better. You need a sleeping space that is conducive to letting you fall asleep. Try to eliminate anything in your bedroom that makes noise. For some people, even the softest sounds can keep them awake.
- Consider meditation before you go to bed. Many people report that the reason they cannot fall asleep is their minds race through all of the things they worry about. By quieting your mind before you go to bed, you can have an easier time falling asleep. Meditation is one way to do this. Another is to set aside time, well before when you go to bed, to review your day and make a to-do list for the next day. Some people even set aside a day and time of the week to worry. When you find yourself worrying in bed, remember you have an appointment to worry and it can help.
- Some people benefit from cognitive therapy. This is a kind of therapy that works with people to get then to recognize the thoughts that are keeping them from getting to sleep and develop new thought patterns that are more conducive to sleep.
- Try melatonin. This is a natural supplement that mimics the natural version that is in the body and regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Always check with your doctor before taking over the counter supplements.