Insomnia can be a killer. You lie awake tossing and turning all night, wishing you could just doze off and worrying about how you'll get through your work the next day.
I understand the struggle all too well. After I got divorced, I went through quite a rough patch. Unfortunately, I ended up speaking to a kind doctor who prescribed sleeping pills.
Now, in fairness to the doctor, I could've said no, but I was so desperate to doze off that I took them every night. Within a month, I was hooked, and thus the slippery slope began.
Anyway, I hope to prevent others from making the same mistake, so I compiled this huge list of 100 ways to treat insomnia and get a great night's sleep.
Why I Recommend Natural Remedies
Sleeping tablets can be highly addictive, and you can get hooked in a few weeks. If you must take them, use the smallest possible dose and only when necessary.
I was lucky in that I only took a double or triple dose of my medication daily. Some people I have since met took as much as ten times the recommended dose.
However, my experience was much like everyone else. The tablets no longer put me to sleep, but without them, I wouldn’t sleep at all. However, that’s as much a psychological addiction as a physical one. I learned that by coming off the tablets by myself slowly.
I had one relapse, but preparing to move to a new country gave me the final push I needed to kick the habit. Today I consider myself to be in recovery. I know I can never try the sleeping tablet route again because it’s a slippery slope.
However, I also know that there’s hope for you if you are battling an addiction. My top tip is to speak to your healthcare provider about weaning yourself off the pills. If it’s practical, going to an outpatient facility can help.
I didn’t have that luxury, so I weaned myself off over the course of several months. It’s important not to go off cold turkey because of the side effects of withdrawal. It isn’t easy initially, but it gets easier as you go along. Hang in there, and you’ll persevere.
33% to 50% of Adults Suffer from Occasional Insomnia
- Insomnia: Causes, Risks & Treatments
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. You may struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or get good, quality slumber.
What are the 3 Types of Insomnia?
There are three main types of insomnia:
- Acute insomnia: This type is temporary and lasts for a few days or weeks. It can be caused by stress, illness, or other temporary factors.
- Chronic insomnia: This type lasts for a longer period of time, usually at least three nights a week for three months or more. It can be caused by underlying medical or psychiatric conditions, or it can be a result of poor sleep habits or an unhealthy sleep environment.
- Comorbid insomnia: This type occurs when a person has both chronic insomnia and an underlying medical or psychiatric condition, such as depression or anxiety. Comorbid insomnia can be more challenging to treat because it requires addressing both the sleeplessness and the underlying condition.
It's important to note that sleeplessness is a symptom, not a disorder in and of itself. Therefore, it's important to identify and address the underlying cause to treat it effectively.
Don't Stay Up Clock Watching
Symptoms of Insomnia
Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night, even when you feel tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Struggling to fall back asleep after waking up
- Waking up earlier than desired and being unable to fall back asleep
- Feeling tired, irritable, or moody during the day
- Having difficulty concentrating or remembering things during the day
- Feeling excessively sleepy or lethargic during the day
- Experiencing muscle tension, headaches, or other physical discomfort due to lack of sleep
If you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Sleeplessness can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, depression, anxiety, and certain medications, and it can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health if left untreated.
What is the Main Cause of Insomnia?
Effects of Insomnia
Being unable to sleep can have a number of negative effects on a person's physical and mental health. Some of the potential effects include:
- Fatigue and tiredness: Lack of sleep can make you feel tired and sluggish during the day, which can affect your energy levels and ability to concentrate.
- Poor mental health: Tossing and turning all night can lead to problems with mood, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. It can also impair your memory and cognitive function.
- Physical health problems: Chronic insomnia has been linked to a number of physical health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Decreased productivity: Not sleeping can make it difficult to focus and be productive at work or school, leading to decreased performance and potentially even job loss
- Accidents and injuries: Sleep deprivation can impair your judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
10 Herbs to Cure Insomnia
Valerian root is a popular herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to promote sleep. It is thought to work by increasing levels of a chemical called GABA in the brain, which can help to relax the nervous system and induce sleep.
I find it easiest to take Valerian in supplement form or a tincture. The tea is not to my liking.
Chamomile is a gentle herb that has been traditionally used as a sleep aid. It is believed to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system and may help to reduce anxiety and promote rest.
The tea has a mild flavor that is ideal if you are new to drinking herbal infusions.
Lavender is a fragrant herb that is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and may help to reduce anxiety and help you fall asleep.
The tea is an acquired taste but well worth the effort of drinking it.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and is a traditional remedy for stress and depression. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and should relax you.
It’s a tasty tea, so be sure to have some of the fresh herbs in your garden if you can.
Passionflower calms the nervous system and slows racing thoughts. With this herb, I typically lean toward using a tincture or supplement for convenience.
Hops is a herb that is often used in the production of beer, but it also has a sedative effect on the nervous system. The upside is that it won’t give you the hangover that beer does.
Kava kava is a herb that is native to the South Pacific and has been used for centuries to get a better night's sleep.
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is a herb that is often used to treat depression, but it may also be helpful for treating insomnia. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and may help to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
Skullcap has a significant calming effect, but I steer clear of the tea. The taste is awful, so it’s better to get a supplement that you can swallow without tasting.
Magnolia bark is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat nervous disorders. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and may help to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
It's important to note that the effectiveness of these herbs for treating insomnia may vary from person to person, and more research is needed to confirm their effectiveness. If you are considering using herbs to treat your insomnia, it's a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider or a qualified herbalist to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Top 10 Essential Oils to Cure Insomnia
- Lavender essential oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties, making it a popular choice for promoting sleep.
- Roman chamomile essential oil has a calming effect that can help to soothe the mind and relax the body, making it a good option for those with insomnia.
- Ylang-ylang essential oil has a sweet, floral scent that is believed to have sedative effects, which may help to improve sleep.
- Bergamot essential oil has a refreshing, uplifting scent that may help to reduce anxiety and stress, promoting relaxation and sleep.
- Sandalwood essential oil has a warm, woody scent that is believed to have relaxing properties, making it a popular choice for promoting sleep.
- Frankincense essential oil has a grounding, earthy scent that may help to relax the mind and body, promoting sleep.
- Clary sage essential oil has a sweet, floral scent that is believed to have calming effects, making it a good choice for those with insomnia.
- Valerian essential oil has a musky, woody scent that is believed to have sedative effects, making it a popular choice for promoting sleep.
- Marjoram essential oil has a warm, sweet, slightly bitter scent that is believed to have calming properties, making it a good choice for those with insomnia.
- Vetiver essential oil has a rich, earthy scent that is believed to have calming and grounding effects, making it a good choice for promoting sleep.
My personal favorite is to mix a few drops of Vetiver and Sandalwood oils. This produces a gorgeous blend with rich undertones and sets the scene for sleep immediately.
10 Sleep Hygiene Tips
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down and prepare for sleep. This could include activities such as reading, listening to calming music, or taking a warm bath.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light, and consider using a white noise machine or earplugs to block out noise. Also, switch off any electronics with LED lights.
- Avoid screens (including phones, tablets, and TVs) for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but try to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
- Avoid napping during the day, as it can disrupt your sleep pattern at night.
- If you can't fall asleep after 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity that doesn’t involve electronics until you feel tired. Alternatively, lie in bed and know that while you aren’t sleeping, you are still resting.
- Keep your bedroom clutter-free and comfortable. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows, and use breathable, hypoallergenic bedding.
- If you have trouble sleeping, consider trying relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization. You can also try using a relaxation app or speaking with a healthcare professional for additional support.
10 Supplements to Help You Sleep
This hormone is naturally produced by the body and helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Supplementing with melatonin may help people with insomnia or jet lag fall asleep more easily.
This herb has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. It is thought to work by increasing the availability of a chemical called GABA, which helps relax the mind and body.
This herb is often used to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it a popular choice for people who have trouble falling asleep.
This amino acid is found in green tea and is thought to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
This herb is a member of the mint family and has been used for centuries to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
This neurotransmitter helps regulate the activity of neurons in the brain and promotes relaxation. Supplementing with GABA may help improve sleep quality.
This amino acid is converted into serotonin in the body, which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. Supplementing with 5-HTP may help improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
This herb is often used to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. It is thought to work by increasing the availability of GABA in the brain.
This mineral is involved in many bodily processes, including muscle relaxation and sleep regulation. Magnesium supplements may help improve sleep quality.
The scent of lavender has been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Using a lavender-scented pillow or diffusing lavender essential oil may help improve sleep.
It's important to note that supplements can interact with medications and may have side effects, so it's always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.
10 Foods That Could Stop You From Sleeping
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant found in many beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda, and it can interfere with your sleep by stimulating your central nervous system.
- Alcohol: While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it can disrupt your sleep later in the night and cause you to wake up frequently.
- Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause heartburn, which can make it difficult to sleep comfortably.
- High-fat Foods: High-fat meals can cause indigestion, which can also disrupt your sleep.
- Acidic Foods: Acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, can cause heartburn and indigestion.
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains caffeine, which can interfere with your sleep.
- Processed Meats: Processed meats, such as bacon and deli meats, contain preservatives and additives that may affect your sleep.
- Fried Foods: Fried foods can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can disrupt your sleep.
- Sugary Foods and Drinks: High levels of sugar in your bloodstream can disrupt your sleep by causing blood sugar spikes and crashes.
- Large, Heavy Meals: Eating a large meal close to bedtime can make it difficult to sleep comfortably, as your body will be focused on digesting the food.
It's important to note that everyone is different, and some people may be more sensitive to the effects of certain foods on their sleep than others. It may be helpful to pay attention to your own body and how different foods affect your sleep patterns.
10 Meditations to Help you Fall Asleep
Body Scan Meditation
Lie in bed and focus on each part of your body, starting at the toes and working your way up to the top of your head. As you focus on each body part, take a deep breath and relax it.
Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a forest. Focus on the details of the scene and try to engage as many of your senses as possible.
Lie in bed and focus on your breath. Try to stay present with each inhale and exhale, and let go of any other thoughts that come into your mind.
While lying in bed, bring to mind someone you love and send them thoughts of love and kindness. Then, expand this to include yourself, other people in your life, and eventually all beings.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Lie in bed and tense and relax each muscle group, starting at the toes and working your way up to the top of your head. As you tense each muscle group, take a deep breath and as you relax it, exhale.
Choose a calming word or phrase, such as "peace" or "relax," and repeat it to yourself as you lie in bed.
Lie in bed and focus on counting backward from a high number, such as 100. As you count, try to clear your mind of other thoughts.
Listen to calming nature sounds, such as the sound of a waterfall or the ocean, to help you relax and fall asleep.
Loving-Kindness for Sleep
As you lie in bed, send yourself thoughts of love and kindness and visualize yourself surrounded by a warm, comforting light.
Think about things you are grateful for in your life, and allow yourself to feel a sense of appreciation and contentment as you drift off to sleep.
It's important to find a meditation technique that works for you, and to be patient as you try different techniques. It may take some time and practice to find the technique that works best for you.
10 Home Remedies for Insomnia
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Spend some time winding down before bed, such as by reading a book or taking a warm bath.
- Make your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing environment: Keep the room dark, cool, and quiet, and use comfortable bedding.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime: Both substances can disrupt your sleep cycle.
- Get regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
- Avoid screens before bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's natural sleep patterns.
- Try relaxation techniques: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you relax and prepare for sleep.
- Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime: Eating a heavy meal or drinking a lot of fluids can cause discomfort and disrupt your sleep.
- Consider over-the-counter sleep aids as a temporary measure if nothing else works.
10 Cognitive Behavioral Techniques to Cure Insomnia
Stimulus Control Therapy
This technique involves establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. It also involves avoiding activities that may interfere with sleep, such as watching television or using electronic devices, in the bedroom.
These techniques involve using techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to relax the mind and body.
This technique involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts or beliefs about sleep that may be contributing to insomnia.
Sleep Restriction Therapy
This technique involves limiting the amount of time spent in bed to the actual amount of time spent asleep. This can help to increase sleep drive and make it easier to fall asleep.
This technique involves trying to stay awake as a means of combating insomnia. It is based on the idea that the more one tries to fall asleep, the more anxious they may become, leading to difficulty falling asleep.
This technique involves using sensors to monitor physiological functions such as heart rate and muscle tension, and providing feedback to help individuals learn to control these functions and relax.
Bright Light Therapy
This technique involves exposure to bright light at specific times of day to help regulate the body's internal clock and improve sleep.
This involves adopting healthy habits around sleep, such as keeping a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding substances that can disrupt sleep.
This technique involves focusing on the present moment and letting go of negative thoughts and emotions. It can be helpful in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
Regular physical activity can help to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. It is important to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, however, as it may have the opposite effect.
10 Things to do When You Can't Sleep
- Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
- Engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a warm bath.
- Avoid screens (television, phone, computer) for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light they emit can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals close to bedtime.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it, including winding down activities and setting a regular sleep schedule.
- Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep, with a comfortable temperature, a comfortable bed and pillows, and minimal noise and light.
- Exercise during the day to tire out your body and promote better sleep at night.
- Try not to nap during the day, as this can disrupt your sleep patterns at night.
- If you can't fall asleep after 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity until you feel tired again.
- Consider trying a sleep aid under the guidance of a healthcare professional if natural remedies are ineffective and your sleep problems are persistent.
10 Times It Makes Sense to Take Prescription Medication for Insomnia
- When you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep on a regular basis, despite trying lifestyle changes.
- When your insomnia is causing significant distress or impairment in your daily life, such as difficulty concentrating, irritability, or fatigue.
- When you have tried non-prescription remedies such as relaxation techniques, melatonin, or over-the-counter sleep aids, but they have not been effective.
- When you have a medical or mental health condition that is contributing to your insomnia, such as anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.
- When you have experienced significant changes in your life, such as a new job, a move, or the loss of a loved one, that have disrupted your sleep.
- When you are experiencing acute insomnia, which is defined as difficulty sleeping for a period of time lasting up to a few weeks.
- When you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder, and prescription medication is recommended as part of your treatment plan.
- When you are taking medications that disrupt your sleep, and your healthcare provider recommends a prescription sleep aid to counteract the effects.
- When you are traveling and need to adjust to a new time zone or sleep schedule.
- When your insomnia is severe and persistent, and other treatment options have been unsuccessful. In these cases, prescription medication may be necessary to help you get the rest you need.
It is important to note that prescription sleep aids should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as they can have potential side effects and may not be appropriate for everyone. It is also important to address the underlying cause of your insomnia, as treating the underlying cause may be more effective in the long term.
Now that you have a better idea about what might be causing your insomnia, you’re well on your way to fixing it.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Fiona