Natural Remedies for Difficulty Sleeping

Woman with insomnia

Natural remedies can be very helpful for self care when you have difficulty sleeping or insomnia.

Experts often categorize types of insomnia by when in the sleep period it occurs – falling asleep (sleep onset latency), staying asleep in the middle of the night, and/or waking up too early in the morning.

Waking to a beautiful sunrise as the first rays of the sun appear is wonderful. Watching the sunrise can get your morning off to a great start.

Unless of course, you’ve been awake since the middle of the night and the only thing the sunrise means to you is that you didn’t get any sleep. Again.

Immediately you feel the stress begin to mount. You’re so tired – how are you going to be able to make it through the day?

You feel frustrated, irritable and you could cry because a loss of sleep can affect you emotionally – make you more prone to mood swings even if you’re a man. If this sounds like you, there are natural remedies for insomnia that you can try so that you can find relief.

Why shouldn’t you just soldier on? Keep marching forward in the hopes that the insomnia will just eventually go away on its own? You should get treatment because left alone, insomnia can lead to depression, it can lead to errors in decisions, accidents both at home and work and finally severe health problems.

Check the list of medications you take to make sure they’re not contributing to your sleeplessness (even over the counter cold and allergy medicine can bring on insomnia).

Obviously take an honest look at your daily intake of caffeine-containing beverages, including energy drinks, colas, coffee, regular tea (green or black). You may need to cut back or cut out some of the caffeine intake.

Otherwise it helps put you on a miserable cycle of relying on caffeine to perk you up after a night of poor sleep and then suffering through a poor night’s sleep afterwards. And on and on it goes.

Try replacing the caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated or non-caffeinated ones, including chamomile tea at bedtime to hasten sleep (and calm down GI upsets as well).

There are other simple steps you can take to get some quality sleep time.

Make sure that you’re sleeping in a room that’s quiet. Use earplugs if you have to. If you work third shift, darken the room with light blocking drapes.

Turn off anything that can disturb your sleep such as the telephone or doorbell.  Experts are now very concerned about use of electronics at night such as television, tablets, computers, smartphones, and so on – the light from those can disrupt your normal cycles of melatonin production and depletion each day/night period.

Many people who are tired of living with insomnia have turned to relaxation techniques such as yoga to relax both their bodies and minds in order to rest properly. Changing your diet is a natural, healthy way to treat insomnia.

Look for foods that are known to induce a sense of sleepiness. Eat a light snack of the food before you go to bed. Warm milk helps some people fall asleep and so might a small serving of comfort food.

Carbohydrates can help the brain take up tryptophan, an amino acid that is needed for the brain to make serotonin, an important brain transmitter in regulation of sleep.

But if you’re trying to lose weight or need to limit your calorie intake for health reasons, you can try supplements.

Melatonin is a natural hormone supplement used by many who have to deal with primary insomnia. Melatonin may also help people suffering from insomnia with jet lag to regulate their sleep-wake cycle in their travel destinations.

Natural herbs and supplements are also successfully used to treat insomnia.

Chamomile is an herb that’s widely known for its soothing properties. By drinking this as a tea, you’ll experience a sense of calmness – and because it’s natural, you won’t have to deal with side effects most of the time (but be aware that it can cross-react in allergic people with ragweed allergy).

Valerian is also an herb that’s used as a natural sleep aid.

Other natural remedies for insomnia include the essential oil (external) such as Lavender. This can be used for a relaxing massage before bed.

Holistic treatments involving herbs have been used for many years and have a long track record of bringing balance back to the body and allowing users to sleep when they need to.

If stress and anxiety are undermining your sleep every night, do something about the problems that set them in motion. Just churning around ideas about unsolved issues in your mind will stir your tension up and make sleep more elusive.

Do try some exercise during the day (not too close to bedtime, but earlier in the day) to encourage your body to want to relax, rest, and recover.

And by all means, if you are a snorer, talk to your doctor. If you have sleep apnea, there are steps to take that can help. And if you do have apnea, you probably want to avoid many of the prescription drugs for insomnia, since those might lessen your respiratory drive to breathe (not a good thing).

You have choices – learn more about the nature of your own sleep problem and how to deal with it more naturally.

About the Author Kris Greenway

Natural Wellness Zone is a blog discussion of approaches to self care using complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies that make sense to help people dealing with a range of health challenges. Kris Greenway is a fellow patient who has researched and found more natural ways to deal with a long list of health problems, including type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, leaky gut, and arthritis. She includes information and updates from expert physicians to educate people about their natural wellness options.