The best ways to get to sleep with natural insomnia cures
Category: Better Mood | Author: Elly Prior | First published: 02-12-2010 | Modified: 05-12-2017
If you're having trouble sleeping at the moment, I'm so glad you've landed here. I have all the information you need on natural insomnia cures to get you sleeping again.
Do also have a look at my article: Natural Sleep Remedies.
Firstly, why not start by taking this test on the BBC website before we look at how to deal with your insomnia.
What is insomnia?
If you already know what exactly insomnia is, you can of course skip this part. If you don't, then I hope this will help you to understand the difficulties you're having at the moment.
Insomnia is a symptom - not a disease - of all kinds of disorders, illnesses and problems. That means that the route to restful nights in the future lies in a very individual approach.
If you're suffering from insomnia, the quality and/or quantity of your sleep is poor. Here is what that entails:
- Difficulty falling asleep - you probably understand this exactly: endless tossing and turning, perhaps with your thoughts racing too.
- Waking up frequently during the night - you're only too aware of what you were thinking about the last time you woke up and your mind seems to have remained active even whilst you were asleep.
- Waking up and being unable to go back to sleep quickly - PINGGGG! Eyes wide open and not a chance that you'll drop off again soon.
- Waking up too early - you're still tired and yet you can't get back to sleep, and you feel demotivated and miserable about the day ahead.
There are two particular types:
- If your lack of sleep started suddenly, this is known as acute insomnia
- If you've been suffering with insomnia for at least a month, this is known as chronic insomnia
There is always something causing your sleep difficulties. Most of the time, if the underlying factor is sorted your sleeping pattern will improve - if not be cured altogether.
Slow down indeed! Where possible, give yourself more time to accomplish your task.
Do you only occasionally suffer from sleep problems or is it really chronic insomnia?
Are you suffering from occasional sleeplessness? Have you recently experienced a trauma of some sort or are you going through a particularly difficult time in your life?
The good news is that what's called transient or intermittent insomnia, experienced following an identifiable cause, is usually easily treated.
The treatment of chronic insomnia requires a little more attention. We'd first need to explore exactly what your particular pattern of sleeplessness looks like.
Your doctor will have many questions to discover the precise nature of your problem. So, to help him or her help you...
10 Questions to help you get to the root of your insomnia
- When did it start?
- What was happening at the time?
- How did it develop/change over time?
- When do/did you not suffer from insomnia?
- What was going on when you slept well?
- Are you otherwise healthy?
- Are you taking any medication?
- What is your diet like?
- Do you take any exercise?
- Do you suffer from depression and/or anxiety?
I just want to reassure you, though... just because you've had sleep problems for a long time, this doesn't necessarily mean it's going to take longer to sort out. There are some really effective treatments for insomnia that can help you to get better, no matter how long you've been suffering.
Would you rather talk to a psychology professional online - in confidence?
You can connect with a professional, licensed therapist right now. It's very easy to start. Click the link for my page with further information.
Should you take sleeping pills to treat your insomnia?
Your doctor will be (or should be) reluctant to prescribe sleeping tablets. He or she has a choice of the following categories:
I can understand if you don't like the sound of those!
Prescribed medication is unlikely to improve your sleep in the long term (though it can be helpful during a crisis). Your body becomes accustomed to the medication. It develops a 'tolerance' to it - in other words, it compensates for the presence of the drug in your bloodstream. As it does so, you begin to need a higher dosage of the medication to achieve the same effect. You become addicted to the sleeping tablets, and withdrawal from them comes with its own difficulties.
On top of that - 'the same effect' may include side effects that you'll be less enamoured with, such as (depending on the kind of medication): memory loss, daytime drowsiness, confusion and/or depression
These problems can lead to poor performance (at school or at work), problems at home and also interfere with your social life. They can lead to an increased risk of accidents due to the effect on your coordination and reaction speed.
In addition you may suffer the following physical side effects:
- dry mouth
- problems with co-ordination
- bitter/metallic taste
- allergic reactions
- birth defects
- reduced interest in a physical relationship
I'm naming just a few of the side effects here - I'm sure you can imagine (as with any medication) there are many more besides! But I can recommend some natural cures - see my article on natural sleep remedies.
Just in case you’re not familiar with general sleep hygiene, I’d love you to have a look at the list below with tips for better sleep. This is the kind of advice you’d get from any sleep clinic.
Tips to sleep better
Any discussion about sleeplessness has to include the following advice...
15 Ways to get to sleep
- Deal with any indecision as soon as possible.
- Buy the best possible mattress you can afford. You spend a large proportion of you life on it! A great deal of healing takes place at night, so you want to be sure that you're not adding any unnecessary strain to your body. In addition, if you and your partner are falling into each other in the middle of a sagging mattress, it's likely to make the whole situation worse.
- Don't be tempted to put a television in your bedroom. Your bed is for sleeping - nothing else. Well... sex is OK of course ;-)
- Making love may seem stimulating, however the hormone oxytocin - released after orgasm - helps to soothe you
- Don't take your laptop or mobile phone to bed for any reason. Your bedroom is for sleeping, not working or keeping up with other people's needs and social life. You're much more likely to miss the signs when your body's telling you that enough is enough. Routinely ignoring your body's messages sets you up for trouble.
- Be sure to sleep in a pitch-dark room to encourage the production of melatonin.
- Expose yourself to bright natural daylight. This ensures that your body produces serotonin - a 'happy' hormone which plays a vital role in regulating your sleep/wake cycle. If you spend lots of time indoors, at work and at home, your body is at risk of 'misinterpreting' light levels.
- Establish a regular routine in the evenings. Your brain works by pattern matching (the present against the past - conditioned and/or instinctive)
- Avoid doing anything stimulating late in the evening
- Listen to a hypnosis for insomnia download (see my article on self-hypnosis)
- Listen to relaxing music - slow classical (Baroque, roughly 80 beats per minutes), Jazz or New Age music
- Stay in bed, make sure your room stays dark, do not get up, switch the light on, read, watch TV or look at your mobile - even if you can't sleep
- Have your feet higher than you head - it facilitates relaxation
- 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
- 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 the above natural ways to get to sleep to help you sleep better.
Now onto one of the best treatments for chronic lack of sleep I have seen...
Practical tips for better sleep - nutrition and sleeplessness
Check what you eat and drink for Aspartame!
Aspartame is a vile product - a neurotoxin (it kills neurons - your nerve cells!). It accounts for 75% of reports to the FDA about adverse reactions to a food additive. Aspartame is the generic name for Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure.
If you're drinking soda or diet drinks and/or eating specific products developed to 'help' with weight management, then you're ingesting Aspartame.
You can read more about the toxic effects on Dr Mercola's website. I'll just mention here that the side effects can cause insomnia, depression, anxiety and sleep problems!
I'm sure that after reading Dr Mercola's page you'll have no problems motivating yourself to eliminate this chemical from your diet.
6 Fluid tips for better sleep
- 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 - the best herbal remedies for sleep. 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 to keep yourself hydrated. Thirst wakes you up… but drinking too much just before you go to bed wakes you too
6 Tips to sleep better - know the effects of food
- Don’t eat heavy meals late in the evening
- Do eat a combination of proteins and carbohydrates
- Remember - quantities of chocolate (bitter) can keep you awake too I’m afraid! (They’re rather full of caffeine)
- Know that food intolerance can cause sleep problems
- Consider a possible nutritional deficiency
- Consider a potential blood sugar problem. Start with cutting your sugar intake step-by-step. Don't replace it - I promise you'll get used to life without sugar!
Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia
The video below describes a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach for insomnia - all in 7 minutes flat!
The video shows a man - a longtime insomniac - absolutely at his wits' end. Within a month of starting the programme he was cured.
Insomnia treatments and talking therapy
There is now good evidence that talking therapy is an excellent treatment for insomnia (see links below).
I'd urge you to deal with your insomnia by contacting a therapist who can help you deal with any emotional problems that keep you awake at night. This is particularly important if you've been suffering from sleeplessness for over a month.
You owe it to yourself, but also to your partner - if indeed you are married or in a relationship. Your restlessness is very likely to have a negative effect on your partner too.
You can also speak with a professional, licensed therapist - right from my site (click the link for further information).
I'd also recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any physical problems. Then decide what you're going to do to cure your insomnia (it must, of course, include tackling its underlying problems). You have plenty of options - so pick whatever you want to try first, and get started right away!
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Other Helpful Links
Natural Sleep Foundation
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