Insomnia. It can affect every single aspect of your day. It can reduce your ability to cope with stress and anxiety.
So what are the best natural remedies to help ease the symptoms and severity of interrupted sleep? We list our top ten here, but remember, it’s not just about taking a magic pill or potion, it is about about changing your entire approach.
1) Ease Up on Caffeine
We love our coffee in Australia and we are a nation of caffeine fiends. It’s surprising how much caffeine we encounter in our daily lives. It is often the necessary crutch we cling to, brought about by our lack of sleep. However, it is also often found to be the culprit in sleeplessness.
Why not tally your daily consumption up? You may be shocked.
Coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, those mega sized lattes. It can all add up to a high level of caffeine floating around our systems. Don’t go cold turkey on it, because you may experience withdrawal symptoms in the form of headaches. Do make a gradual goal to cut back and be surprised at the difference.
2) Get into a Routine
By this, we mean to establish a strict set of sleep behaviours. It may seem impossible. But you can train your body into better patterns by repetition. It may take some time, but it may eventually help you to settle into a sound sleeping habit.
The trick is not to give up.
It takes around thirty days to set a habit in stone, so to speak. If you are lying awake grinding your teeth by night three, don’t give in. It’s just a matter of time! Because the harsh truth is, attempting to "catch up" sleep on the weekend does not work. Establish the same routine so your natural internal alarm clock kicks in. And no, it’s not a mythical creation!
3) Get Active
Exercise may seem like the furthest option from your tired, sleep ravaged mind. Yet it’s time to adjust your thinking. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps maintain overall health and better sleep function. Also, being knackered from a workout is going to naturally help you sleep.
It’s a no-brainer.
There are some arguments swirling around the most optimal time to exercise. There are equal enthusiasts for an early morning as there are for the evening. Experiment to find what fits best for you. This is about causing less stress, not more!
4) The Truth of Old Wives Tales
Perhaps not the one for snails curing warts or the other crazy tales. But sometimes, these old wives tales really do work. A glass of warm milk before bed. As it turns out, there is a scientific basis behind why it may actually help to induce sleep.
This is because milk contains the natural chemical tryptophan.
This can aid in helping you reach the first phase of sleep. L-tryptophan (tryptophan's official name), is an amino acid found naturally in milk. This amino acid, when used by your body, is turned into a B vitamin called Niacin - a key component in the body's creation of serotonin. It is serotonin that is associated with your melatonin levels, which control your sleep-wake cycle (National Sleep Foundation, https://www.sleep.org/articles/what-is-tryptophan/).
5) Say Goodnight to that Nightcap
Sadly that late night scotch or glass (or bottle) of wine isn’t doing your sleeping habits any favours.
Studies have shown that REM sleep is disturbed by alcohol consumption at night1. REM sleep is vital, as it is the true, deep, restorative sleep our bodies require. The message? Shelve that evening drink habit if you want to create good sleeping habits.
6) Technology Free Zone
It is a good idea to do this anyway, regardless of your quality of sleep. A technology free bedroom can contribute to an oasis of calm that induces true sleep. Any kind of blue light emitted from appliances can cause interrupted sleep2. Devices like televisions, computer or phone screens all emit this type of light2. Why? This so called blue light prevents the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone2. Added to this is the mental distraction afforded by email, social media and engaging in shows.
The bedroom is for sleeping.
Get yourself an alarm clock instead of your phone. Ban all televisions and computer equipment. Think of your bedroom as a haven for you and your partner to sleep and connect.
7) Cool Your Clime
Have a lower temperature in the bedroom if at all possible. You know how disruptive it can be to sleep in an Australian summer. The hot temperature and humidity can make it hard to get to and stay asleep.
You may find it difficult to sleep when the temperature climbs above 24 degrees celsius3.
Combat this by opening a window, having a breeze, a fan or even an air conditioner running. Cooling your core down may help regulate your body temperature and prevent tossing and turning.
8) A Bath Before Bed
This is another one of those old wives tales that actually resonates true. Think about it, you bathe your children before bedtime. Not just for cleanliness, but as part of a routine (bath then bed), and in the hope the warm water may help them unwind and become relaxed and sleepy. The same process works on an adult. The soothing warmth and feeling of relaxing in a warm bath or hot shower can be just the thing to help you drift off.
Use the time spent soaking to unwind your stresses from the day.
A soak with essential oils like lavender and even Epsom (magnesium) salts may help you to relax and can help aid a more restful sleep. Use this bath time to ruminate and relax - you may like to have quiet music or try a guided meditation while you're at it.
9) Helpful Homeopathy
Natural and homeopathic remedies can come to the rescue. When it comes to aiding a restful night's sleep, there are many options.
Natural remedies Valerian, Chamomile, Hops and Passionflower, are indicated in homeopathic literature to help with sleep issues. Check out our sleep range, which contains ingredients traditionally used in homeopathic medicine for the relief of sleeplessness, restlessness and insomnia. One of these remedies may be helpful for you to obtain rest as you begin and approach these lifestyle and habit changes.
10) A Whole Body Solution
There is one important thing to keep in mind when attempting to resolve insomnia and restless sleep. It is a whole body solution.
You can try these tips individually and not have a lot of success.
If you have a huge amount of stress going on in your life you need to address the underlying issues. While exercise, easing up on caffeine and alcohol all can help- you may find you need to take it further and need to overhaul your diet and lifestyle too.
Natural remedies and traditional homeopathic medicine can be one part of this natural, whole body solution. But so is your mental and physical health. It’s about a holistic approach to getting the results and healthy well-being you desire.
So there you have it, our top ten natural sleep solutions. The key to remember is that there is a way to beat your sleep issues.
In the depths of a bout of insomnia, there is hope! However rather than a quick fix solution, lifestyle changes have been shown to work to improve restful sleep.
But for a sound night's sleep, it’s definitely worth trying.
1. National Sleep Foundation, "How Alcohol Affects the Quality - and Quantity - of Sleep", https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-alcohol-affects-sleep
2. Harvard Health Publishing, May 2012, "Blue Light Has a Dark Side", https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
3. The Sleep Council, "Perfect Sleep Environment", https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/perfect-sleep-environment/