Insomnia • Natural Home Remedies
Insomnia is defined as habitual sleeplessness.
- Chronic pain
- Digestive problems
- Endocrine problems
- Lower back pain
- Some medications
WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?
Recent research in Sweden concludes that losing a single night of sleep can alter the genes that control our body’s cellular biological clock. That affects our metabolism. Researchers already knew that how much sleep we get determines how predisposed we are to risks of various metabolic diseases. It is particularly related to increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The ancient practice of Ayurveda stresses a good night’s sleep and has specific recommendations for the best hours of repose for certain body types, the Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Without proper sleep:
- Skin ages faster
- Anxiety increases
- cognitive function decreases
- Libido decreases
- Fatigue is common
- irritability increases
- Focus wavers
- Losing weight is more difficult
- You are more prone to depression by many times
- Memory is impaired
- Moods are erratic
It’s a big club, estimated to be more than 30% of the population at any given time. Chronic insomnia may affect as many as 10%, increasing the risk of depression, blood pressure, poor memory and increased accidents.
For short-term treatment, you might be prescribed sedatives or anti-depressants. Medicines can be addictive and have unwanted side effects. There may be an underlying condition, like sleep apnea, that needs treatment.
If it’s stress or bad habits that keep you awake, you can do many things on your own to improve your sleep.
Your diet is responsible for balancing your hormones. Your hormones have a direct relationship to your ability to deal with stressful situations and with having enough energy to exercise. That in turn influences your quality of sleep. We have to treat the whole body and mind. Eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan and is designed to help you achieve hormonal balance (and that promotes a sense of well-being).
FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE SLEEP
- Bone broth
- Cherry juice
- Dairy for calcium
- Dark chocolate for serotonin
- Fiber-rich foods
- Lettuce for lactucarium
- Pistachio nuts
- Salmon for B6
- Soy foods
- Sweet potatoes
- Tuna for B6
FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES THAT MAY KEEP YOU AWAKE
- Cured foods
- Fermented foods
- Goji berries
- Processed foods
TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS
- Banana tea
- California poppy
- Catnip tea
- Cherry juice for melatonin
- Fenugreek juice
- Ginger and turmeric
- Kava Kava
- Lemon balm
- Magnolia bark
- St. John’s Wort
HERBS AND SPICES
- California poppy tincture
- Cumin seeds
- Holy Basil
- Poppy seeds
- Valerian root
Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically on your skin in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.) or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.
- A combo of Neroli, chamomile and lavender
- Baccharis uncinella
- Juniper berry
- Lavender oil in your bath or a couple drops sprinkled on your pillow
- Lemon balm
- Roman chamomile
- Sweet orange
- Sweet Thyme
- Ylang Ylang
OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS
The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.
- Diatomaceous earth
- Magnesium supplement if you are deficient in this mineral
- Min-Tran and Catalyn at bedtime. Check out these supplements at Standard Process. These are said to work if your insomnia is caused by nutritional deficiencies.
- St. John’s Wort
Dehydration can keep you from falling asleep. On the other hand, drinking too much water late in the evening can have you making trips to the toilet in the night. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½-1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.
Exercising during the day will help you sleep at night. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible and don’t exercise close to bedtime.
Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:
- Art therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Music Therapy
- Qi Gong
- Tai Chi
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO
During the day
- Arise in the morning at about the same time every day.
- Use a light machine in the morning that helps to set your body clock. Get plenty of sunlight.
- Create a morning routine that sets the tone for a calm day; start out with some meditation or yoga.
- Use a gravity (or “weighted”) blanket.
- Use simple stress-reduction techniques throughout the day, like EFT or deep breathing.
- Consider trying Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7- breathing exercise:
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Release breath through your mouth for 8 seconds ending with a whoosh.
- If you nap during the day, make it early afternoon and keep it under 20 minutes
- Don’t do anything strenuous for a couple hours before bedtime.
- Eliminate stimulants like caffeine or depressants like alcohol long before bedtime. Create a bedroom environment conducive to sleep. Make it absolutely dark with no glowing lights from digital devices. Cover that red light on the smoke detector with some black electrician’s tape. Use room-darkening shades.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep (and sex).
- Stop working on your computer or iPad, or watching TV, for at least 2 hours before bedtime. If you do, use blue-blocking screens or glasses.
- Eat dinner at least a few hours before bedtime. A small snack an hour before bedtime is ok but it should include a balance of protein-carbohydrates-fats.
- Drink a warm cup of herbal tea before bed, a glass of warm milk or tart cherry juice before bed (cherries contain melatonin) but don’t overdo or you’ll be up in the night to urinate.
- While some recommend a hot bath, others say it will work against sleep, since the body lowers its temperature before sleep. Experiment.
- Listen to a calming hypnosis recording before bedtime.
- Massage your feet with oil before bedtime.
- Go to bed at about the same time every night.
During the night
- Try using a white-noise maker if you live in a noisy environment.
- If you cannot sleep once you are in bed, try getting up and doing something, even if it is just some meditation. Go back to bed when you are sleepy.
- Do some gentle stretching exercises before bedtime just to loosen your muscles.
- Don’t smoke after 4pm.
- Feng Shui your bedroom.
- Find something to think about when your mind starts racing through your troubles and concerns. Make it a neutral thing, like how to solve a mechanical problem, or imagine the perfect layout of your dream home. When your mind wanders to something stressful, just keep returning to the default subject.
- Invest in a good mattress, a good pillow and breathable sheets.
- Keep your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees.
- Search for “Fall asleep instantly with this breathing trick.”
- Have sex before sleep, if sex isn’t an actual source of anxiety for you.
- Sleep in a completely darkened room.
- A wholesome, balanced diet
- Adequate hydration
- Regular exercise
- Low stress levels
- Quality sleep
Many are recommending some heavy carbs before bed because it will cause your blood sugar to plummet and make you sleepy. It will also mean that after an 8-hour fast, you will wake up with really low blood sugar, feeling sluggish and still sleepy. And all through the night, all that sugar will be fattening you up. Instead, follow the Zone Diet for overall hormonal and blood sugar balance. If you eat well, reduce stress and exercise regularly, sleep should come. If it doesn’t, visit a doctor and find out if there’s an underlying condition, like sleep apnea.