Are you having trouble falling asleep? Don’t worry you are not alone in this. According to the CDC, about 1 in every 5 adults is suffering from insomnia. And if we don’t keep a check on our sleep hygiene while we are young, it would be difficult for us to do so in later life.
What is Insomnia?
First, let’s talk about what is insomnia?
Many people believe that insomnia is a complete “lack of sleep” but, this is not the whole truth. In fact, various other issues cover sleep insomnia or sleep problems.
Types of Insomnia
- Acute Insomnia- A short-term difficulty in sleeping. It is also called adjustment insomnia as it occurs when you start a new job, a stressful situation or the death of your beloved ones.
- Chronic Insomnia– A long term pattern of difficulty in sleeping. Due to stress or other life changes.
- Onset Insomnia- Difficulty in sleeping at the beginning of night when you are ready for sleep. It may be chronic, acute or temporary.
- Comorbid Insomnia- It is a secondary Insomnia, that occurs due to other medical or psychiatric illnesses.
- Maintenance Insomnia- Person finds difficulty in staying asleep and then waking up in the middle of night or early in morning and finds it difficult to fall asleep again.
Disturbed sleep pattern is a serious concern. You’ll feel like dragging yourself to do work. It can affect both your physical and mental health. Your immune system, memory and mood are negatively affected. In fact, according to John Hopkins Medicine research, lack of sleep increases your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, depression, heart diseases and many other health issues. The study of harmful effects of insomnia by the Harvard Medical School revealed that about 65%-90% adults and 90% children with depression, 69-99% people with bipolar disorder, 50% adults with anxiety disorders (PTSD) and 25%-50% children with ADHD, all had one common issue i.e. insomnia. These statistics alone can explain how serious insomnia can affect an individual.
Why Do People Suffer from Insomnia?
Insomnia can be for a longer period of time or it can be temporary. But, either way, it is never fun to deal with insomnia. The following reasons can be the cause of insomnia:
- Due to the change of the daily routines, like for example your work schedule.
- When you are having a baby, the medications during that phase disturbs your sleep cycle and you have trouble sleeping. But, once you sort out your sleep hygiene by your lifestyle then you can easily deal with insomnia and your sleep pattern will be back to normal.
- Apart from this, insomnia can be severe and long-lasting due to anxiety, depression or due to sleep apnea.
- Bad eating habits, such as over-eating of unhealthy snacks before going to bed can lead to severe insomnia as well.
- Uncomfortable sleeping environment, staying up late using smartphones or even tablet till late night are also the causes of insomnia. And insomnia lasts for a longer period of time, and can lead to severe health issues such as diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and obesity.
But, not to worry, if you are able to find the root cause of insomnia you can have many options for your insomnia cure.
Insomnia Treatment-Medication and Natural Remedy Insight
At times, people want the immediate treatment for insomnia so they opt sleeping pills or other pharmaceutical products. We all know that there is no shortcut for any cure. Many people often use these pills but these medicines offer just a temporary solution. Even these medications may also have severe side effects such as sore muscles, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, trouble concentration and daytime fatigue etc. If you don’t develop any side effects, still you won’t benefit from these pills for a longer period of time. Studies have shown that people tend to develop tolerance to these sedatives, and the pills won’t work until taken in high doses or you stop taking them.
Managing sleep hygiene can be easy and way efficient by these natural few techniques and won’t even put extra strain on your pocket. So, have a look at the following 5 natural ways for insomnia treatment.
5 Natural Ways to Cure with Insomnia
1. Regular Exercise for Healthy Sleep
Regular exercise is necessary for good sleep. There are various studies which prove that regular exercise helps people with insomnia especially if they are suffering from chronic insomnia.
If you are not convinced with this then, consider this study. According to the study published in Advances in Preventive Medicines, people who exercise for 60 minutes in a week, they have better REM sleep as compared to those who don’t exercise. Other studies also reported that 30 minutes of moderate exercise just 3-4 times in a week help the people with insomnia and in fact, they cope with the issue of waking up in the middle of the night as well.
2. Manage Your Stress to Cope Insomnia
If you are constantly increasing your stress, by overthinking, you are decreasing your ability to sleep properly. Stress will make you feel tired and drained without doing any extra amount of work. If you do not keep a check on yourself, you’ll direct your stress into an extreme of anxiety, depression, decrease in the proper functioning of the immune system and many other health issues. Therefore you need to be mindful of your mental health and manage your stress for a restful and deep sleep.
And it gets worse. When you’re wiped out during the day from not getting enough sleep, you tend to feel even more stressed, anxious, and irritable. Over time, the whole stress-sleep thing can turn into a vicious cycle. Which is why taking steps to manage your stress is so critical for achieving deeper, more restful sleep.
Here are a few tips for Stress Management
- Pen down your thoughts. According to a study conducted by the International Association of Applied Psychology, people who do journaling or pen down in a gratitude journal daily every night for just 15 minutes, they are able to sleep properly.
- Try muscle relaxation techniques, for a healthy body, is linked with a healthy mind. Experts of the University of Maryland Medical Center, Sleep Disorder Center recommends that before sleeping to the count of 10, try tensing and releasing toes. This muscle relaxation technique is quite simple and proven to be effective for curing insomnia by making you feel more relaxed.
- Let your brain be imagery before you sleep. Various experts suggest that mind games such as “Guided Imagery” is helpful for insomnia. It’s quite simple. All you need to do is that when you are lying down on the bed, just imagine yourself in a peaceful and relaxing place. This exercise will take some time, but once you are habitual it’ll give a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
- Don’t be a hero. Yes, you might have heard people saying they sleep less than 6 hours or only sleeping 4 hours. This is a negative attitude towards your health. Working hard is good, but putting extra strain on your body. So, stick to a proper sleeping routine because sleeping early is good for sleep hygiene and to decrease insomnia and negative thoughts.
3. Eat Pro- Avoid Sleep Snatchers
It’s not a hidden fact that you become what you eat. Your diet or particular dinner and food and drinks before sleep can really regulate your sleep cycle. To help cure insomnia consider the following food in your menu before sleep or consider them as your nighttime snack.
- Lukewarm milk– It is believed to be good for relaxing mind and body as it induces such chemicals which have a mind relaxing effect like that on tryptophan on the brain. But, if you have lactose intolerance then it’s better not to use
- Bananas- Bananas can help you in boosting your mood. Why? Because bananas are not only a healthy snack but definitely a happy snack. According to the study published in “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry”, the pulp of banana contains up to 10 mg of dopamine. Dopamine is one of the “Feel good” chemicals in our brains. So, the next time you are feeling down, reach for a banana. Bananas also contain magnesium and potassium which promote muscle relaxation thus help in coping with insomnia.
Apart from banana and milk, Chamomile tea, Valerian, Kava, St. John’s wort, and Passionflower are the natural remedies for insomnia.
Healthy eating is necessary for healthy sleeping. So, for healthy sleep, you should also be avoiding certain foods before sleeping such as food with high fat-ratio, spicy foods, and coffee and other caffeine-related drinks.
4. Enjoy Sunlight
Few hours before we start to feel sleepy, a hormone named “Melatonin” is released in our brain to relax our mind. This hormone is basically released, due to the body’s response towards reduced light, which is a natural thing to happen at night before sleeping.
The sun or daylight not only force you to stay active and work efficiently but also help your body to have a restful sleep. This is due to the reason that our body relies on the natural sunlight and then decides whether to release an energizing hormone to help us work or release melatonin like a hormone to make us sleepy or relaxed. Daylight in short work as a natural biological clock for the body. Your body will know when it’s time to wake up and when to sleep.
The best and easy way to keep a check on your schedule is by flooding your body with light as soon as you wake up. You can do exercise, you can even simply open the window of your room and let the light enter your room to give a clear message to wake you up. You can even plan picnics on weekends. But, yes make sure not to do so in scorching summer sunlight as it’s harmful for the body.
Melatonin supplements are also available but use them according to the instructions of your doctor. You should never use any supplements without proper consultation with your doctor.
5. Sleep Friendly Changes in Daily Life
You are getting enough exposure to the sun-light, doing exercise and even eating a healthy diet. All these factors are directly related to good sleep hygiene. Apart from this, you need to make a few lifestyle changes which can help you sleep. Following are the few tips that you need to consider:
- Decrease the use of electronic devices in the evening such as smartphones, tablet, laptop or computer. Various studies have shown that all of these act as caffeine and their usage is addictive. So, if you are not working on them, it’s better to switch off the electronic devices at least half an hour before sleeping. Because of these devices instead of relaxing your mind, they will revive or make your brain active forcing you to stay awake.
- Take a nice shower or warm bath before sleeping. A nice shower before sleep at night sends a message to the brain to help you feel relaxed and make you fall asleep easily.
- Use lavender. The fragrance of Lavender helps to ease the anxiety, make you feel relaxed and has a powerful effect on your mood thus helping you sleep easily.
- Your room temperature should neither be too cold or too warm. Temperature fluctuations also affect your sleeping pattern.
- Turn down the noise and light in your room. As these will decrease the release of melatonin hormone which helps us feel relaxed and sleepy. Dim lights however would work fine if you are unable to sleep in dark.
- Comfortable bedding is necessary. Avoid using fabric like that of polyester which traps moisture and heat, making it difficult to sleep. Using natural fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen, wool and bamboo would be better.
- The mattress should be comfortable and not shaky. Worn out or uncomfortable mattress makes it extremely hard to sleep as it’ll give you chronic pain and other sleeping issues which would become worse over time.
Last but not the least, we can conclude that good sleep hygiene is not only necessary to cure insomnia but it’ll also help us carry out our daily life activities. If you don’t care about your sleep, you are not only increasing the risk of multiple health issues but also decreasing your life span. However, if you have tried all the natural remedies and still you are facing difficulty during sleep, then it’s the time you should consult your doctor regarding your insomnia. Your doctor will further analyze your medical history and will review the prescription that you’re using already to find the root cause of your insomnia.