Insomnia is a medical condition characterized by unhealthy sleep habits; people with insomnia find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, this sleeping disorder affects millions of people worldwide including kids, teenagers and adults. Some causes of insomnia are certain illnesses (side effects of some drugs), depression, anxiety, unhealthy lifestyles, bad foods (alcohol, caffeine and nicotine) and bad eating patterns (like eating heavy meals few minutes before going to bed).
If left unchecked and untreated, insomnia can lead to depression, anxiety, concentration problems, memory problems, fatigue, chronic diseases, general feeling of being sick, obesity, weakness, mood swing, irritability, lethargy, weak immune system, weak mental performance (it can even affect a child’s performance at school) and daytime sleepiness.
Signs and symptoms of this sleep disorder are difficulty sleeping at night, waking up frequently at night, waking up way too early, waking up tired and exhausted, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, unable to coordinate self, tension headaches, poor focus and concentration, gastrointestinal problems, moodiness, difficulty socializing, depression, anxiety and short reaction time. Medically, insomnia can be treated by giving the patient sleeping pills, anti-depressants, anti-histamines and other drugs and hormones they give but in this article we will be looking at natural aids for insomnia.
- Make your bedroom comfortable: Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable, not too soft or too hard. Being physically uncomfortable when you want to sleep can make you not to sleep well. Also cut out noise from your bedroom, remove other distractions and dim the light; avoid watching TV or using your phone when you want to sleep. Turning them off one to two hours before sleep can improve the quality of your sleep.
- Exercises and warm showers: Doing plenty of exercises during the day and relaxation exercises at night followed by a warm bath or shower before bedtime can help a long way in improving sleep. If you expend more energy during the day, it will make you sleepy at night.
- Avoid: Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohols; especially in the evenings, they make the brain alert and can keep it awake even at night. Also avoid large meals before going to bed, it makes one sleepless; also avoid a sedentary lifestyle and try not to think of the negative things that happened during the day so you can sleep well. Have a consistent bedtime routine, practice deep breathing and try some relaxation techniques before trying to sleep.
- Melatonin: This is the hormone that is responsible for regulating the sleep and wake cycles of the body, it controls the timing and drive for sleep. It can cause drowsiness, lowers body temperature and put an individual to sleep. Some research has proved that taking this hormone helps to improve and restore healthy sleep pattern in people with insomnia. If you want to try this, make sure you use the pure one and use it under the supervision of a medical doctor.
- Warm milk: Taking warm milk before you sleep supplies the body with calcium which your brain uses to make melatonin. Also milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in increasing the amount of serotonin in the body, this hormone is a natural sedative and it helps in calming down the body. Sweet almond milk is good for this and has been used traditionally for fighting insomnia. You can mix honey in the warm milk, this will make it more effective as honey will help to transmit the serotonin faster to your brain.
- Magnesium: This vital mineral nutrient plays a major role in helping people sleep as studies have shown that lack of magnesium affects the brain and this prevents it from settling down at night. Natural sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, almonds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germs and magnesium supplements. Note that the supplement can interact with many medications and taking too much can cause serious health complications, so check with a doctor before taking it and remember to follow the prescription.
- Lavender oil: The calming nature of this oil can help to encourage sleep and this has been backed by research. You can inhale it, or take a hot bath with lavender oil in the water or you can massage with the oil before sleeping. This will help you sleep well.
- Try herbal tea: Herbal teas can help to fight off insomnia, taking them before going to bed will help you greatly. Valerian herbal tea has been used for centuries to fight off insomnia, it produces a deep satisfying sleep, helps insomniacs enjoy a longer night sleep and reduces the time it takes for one to fall asleep. It is also recommended for women experiencing menopause to take this tea regularly to help them sleep better. Passionflower herbal tea taken nightly helps to improve sleep quality. Chamomile tea has apigenin, a flavonoid that helps to calm the brain. Jasmine herbal tea helps one to sleep deep; lavender tea helps one to sleep well and also makes them to feel refreshed when they wake up.
- Dinner: Try to incorporate carbohydrates in your dinner; they help tryptophan to enter the brain. Eat lots of banana too, they contain tryptophan. Avoid spicy and sugary foods for dinner so that they won’t upset your stomach.
- Check your medications: Sometimes insomnia can be caused by the side effect of some drugs; so if you are currently on medication even if it is a lifetime drug and you are experiencing insomnia, check the leaflets to see the side effect or ask your doctor of the possible side effect of the drugs. Kindly ask him to change it for you or help you withdraw gradually from such medication.
With these natural tips, you should be able to treat insomnia at home and overcome it.