Natural insomnia remedies

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Not being able to sleep properly can be a really frustrating and draining experience. If you're having trouble sleeping at the moment, then I really hope my natural insomnia remedies in this series of articles will help you out.

Just before we take a look at why it's best to avoid any kind of sleep medication, do be sure to start off with Part 1 first, for an overview of the different kinds of natural sleep remedies that can help you to drift off again.

Fluids may help or hinder a good night’s rest

  • Don't drink coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cola after 4pm at the latest.
  • Drinking large amounts of fluid (ahem, beer!) until late into the evening will wake you up... for obvious reasons!
  • Alcohol in quantity may help you to fall asleep, but you’re likely to wake up two or three hours later and find it difficult to fall asleep again
  • However, just a small glass of wine taken before bedtime can help
  • Drink a herbal tea: chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, or hops.  Whilst you won't be 'out for the count' with these - they are a useful addition to your arsenal of natural sleep aids
  • Drink about eight glasses of water a day. Thirst wakes you up… but drinking too much just before you go to bed wakes you too

Foods can help or hinder

  • Don’t eat heavy meals late in the evening
  • Eat a combination of proteins and carbohydrates
  • Quantities of chocolate (bitter) can keep you awake too I’m afraid! (They’re rather full of caffeine)
  • Find a nutritionist who can check for possible food intolerance - a nutritionist from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition can also suggest other natural sleep remedies
  • Consider a possible nutritional deficiency or blood sugar problem
  • Cut sugar intake - don't replace - just get used to it! (You can do it, I promise!)

Why avoid prescribed sleep medication?

I suspect that you already know the following information and that’s why you’re looking for natural sleep remedies. However, just in case ...

Sleeping tablets that have been prescribed by your doctor fall in several categories:

  • antidepressants
  • tranquillizers
  • neuroleptics

I can understand if you don't like the sound of those!  

They don't solve your problem and may actually make the situation worse. That’s surely enough of a reason to take natural sleeping remedies. Hop over my page on Insomnia and Treatments to see a list of side-effects - I'll be here when you come back.

If these haven't put you off, remember that prescribed sleep medication will only work for a limited time – it’s addictive and you’d have to keep increasing the dosage to get the same effect.

You should also have a look at these warnings by the FDA - yet more reasons to take natural sleep remedies or non-prescription sleep aids.

Just in case you’re not familiar with general sleep hygiene, I’d love you to have a look at the general sleep advice list below. This is the kind of advice you’d get from any sleep clinic. These strategies will help to support your attempts at getting into a better sleep pattern again. You can apply these as well as taking natural sleep remedies.

9 ways to improve your general ‘sleep hygiene’

  1. Establish a regular routine in the evenings. Your brain works by pattern matching  (the present against the past - conditioned and/or instinctive)
  2. Avoid doing anything stimulating late in the evening
  3. Making love may seem stimulating, however the hormone oxytocin - released after orgasm - helps to soothe you
  4. Listen to a guided meditation or relaxation CD/download - such an easy to implement natural sleep aid
  5. Listen to relaxing music - slow classical (Baroque, roughly 80 beats per minutes), Jaz or New Age music
  6. Don’t stay in bed any longer than about 20 minutes if you can’t sleep. Otherwise, your brain will establish the pattern: bed is for lying awake! Get up and read a boring book preferably standing up (not a joke!) or do the very chores that you have been putting off because they're so dull
  7. Having your feet higher than you head facilitates relaxation – although this natural sleep aid may not be to your liking if you’re not comfortable lying on your back
  8. Take regular exercise - vigorous by day, slow and rhythmic in the evening (not too close to bedtime) - it really is one of the very best natural sleeping remedies
  9. Take the time to sleep, don't just fit it in.  You need roughly eight hours, but don't get hung up about it - you can survive on less.  Stressing about how long you’re sleeping will counteract any other natural sleep aids you’re employing

Pick and choose a combination of all the above natural sleeping remedies to help improve your sleep.  

Sleeping tablets from your doctor are really only recommended for a few days, whilst you are in the midst of a crisis.

Sleeping baby

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Related Articles

Other Helpful Links

MAILonline article - Peril of the sleeping pill users - third more likely to die
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Sleep disorders
National Sleep Foundation

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Elly Prior

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