Healthy Living

Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Natural Remedies for Insomnia

What is insomnia?

In today's busy world, there are some people who regard sleep as a luxury rather than a necessity. They do not seem to have any issues to spend more hours at work in addition to other activities. Due to heavy workload and other activities, there would be lesser time for a physical recharge, wherein a person sleeps during a particular time and carries out other activities on the other half of the day. Moreover, there are times when the body is tired but the mind is still active. There is so much going on in our minds that it is not willing to rest, which ultimately leads to poor sleep or lack of sleep. In medical terminology, such sleep disorder is called insomnia.

Insomnia is regarded as a complex condition by a number of researchers. Insomnia is also caused by a number of factors. When people have insomnia, they often reach out to prescription sleeping pills. However, instead of taking sleeping pills, certain natural remedies can help achieve a good quality of sleep without any risk of side effects. To combat insomnia, there should also be changes in one's lifestyle and dietary intake.

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake and sleep cycles in an individual. It can be described as an internal pacemaker, which helps in controlling the timings of sleep. The hormone works by lowering the body temperature, causes drowsiness, and ultimately leading the person to sleep. There has been a mixed basis of evidence for melatonin on people who suffer from insomnia. Certain studies indicate that taking melatonin helps in restoring as well as improving the sleep of those who have insomnia. However, other studies state that melatonin does not in any way help relieve insomnia, but rather help those who are suffering from a jet lag or shift-related work. Moreover, there can be purity and safety issues about melatonin as a supplement. It is still not approved by the FDA, so it should be exclusively used under the guidance of a doctor.

Natural Remedies

Below are a few natural remedies to getting a good night’s sleep without any disturbances or trouble:

1. A Warm Glass of Milk

Sipping a glass of warm milk has been considered as one of the old-fashioned remedies to have a good sleep. You can also add ground almonds to make almond milk, which is an excellent source of calcium. It helps the brain to prepare enough melatonin. Moreover, a warm milk provides a relaxing mood, which would help you fall asleep sooner. You can also drink a warm glass of milk along with honey. It is a great combination and acts as a useful remedy for insomnia. 

Milk is known to contain the amino acid called tryptophan, which helps increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that acts as a natural sedative in the brain. Honey, on the other hand, helps in transmitting the hormone to your brain faster.

2. Snacking Before Sleep

Some of the best sleep-induced snacks are a combination of proteins and carbohydrates. Consume a light snack such as a banana along with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a wheat cracker with some cheese. However, do not eat it just before bedtime, you can take it 30 minutes before going to bed.

Banana is known to contain melatonin, serotonin, magnesium, and tryptophan, which all act as a body relaxant. Due to the high amount of carbohydrates in bananas, it would help you to sleep faster. After dinner, you can blend mashed bananas along with roasted cumin seeds. You can also prepare a banana smoothie and consume it around half an hour before bedtime.

3. Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are rich in calcium, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamin B complex. You can take one teaspoon of poppy seeds or its oil before bedtime to get relief from insomnia. Another option would be to consume around 20 to 30 grams of poppy seeds along with flavored milk. You can also add sugar to taste. 

Another method of consuming poppy seeds is by preparing one teaspoon of white poppy seeds along with the same amount of coconut powder. Add a small amount of water to make a thick paste out of it. Heat a frying pan and add some clarified butter on it. Now add a pinch of turmeric powder and cumin powder to the melted butter and immediately remove it from the heat. Mix the poppy seed paste to the cumin and turmeric mixture. Add salt to taste. You can have it an hour before going to bed.

4. Green Tea

Green tea is said to be one of the best teas to drink to lose that extra weight. However, it has also been proven as a good remedy for treating sleep-related issues. Green tea contains L-theanine as well as amino acids, which help in fighting anxiety and depression. Drinking green tea helps a person to de-stress, thus making their minds calmer and more relaxed.

You can drink a cup of green tea an hour or two before going to bed. L-theanine tends to reduce the heart rate as well as immune responses toward stress. L-theanine works by boosting the amount of "feel-good" hormones in the body. It is also known for inducing brain waves, which are somewhat linked with the feeling of relaxation.

5. Regular Exercises

Exercise has shown to have a lot of benefits not only for sleep but for the overall health of the body. It helps strengthen the immune system, thus keeping any infections or diseases at bay.

Every individual should carry out at least 30 minutes of physical activity in a day. It can be walking, jogging, or some kind of physical training, among others. Yoga and meditation have also proven to help calm and remove any kind of distracting thoughts.

It is said that the amount of sleep along with how long one carries out the exercise makes a lot of difference in the individual’s overall health. In one study, it was found out that women who exercised and carried out moderate workouts for a period of 30 minutes every day experienced less sleeping problems than women who occasionally exercised during the latter part of the day. Body temperature is one of the main reasons why exercise routines and sleep have been said to be connected. When you exercise, there is a rise in your body's temperature, which later takes around six hours to come back to its normal temperature. Since the cooler temperature of the body helps in sleeping better, it becomes quite important to provide some time for the body to cool off before going to bed.

6. Magnesium

Studies have shown that even a slight magnesium deficiency can prevent the brain from settling down during nighttime leading to a lack of sleep. Magnesium is available in various food items, few of the good sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, leafy vegetables, almonds, and wheat germ. Consult a doctor if you are planning to take magnesium supplements. The reason is that magnesium is known to cause interactions with certain drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements.

7. Valerian Root

Valerian root is one of the best medicinal herbs that is mostly used for treating individuals who suffer from sleep disorders. Valerian is known as a sedative herb, which can effectively induce sleep. However, there are mixed reactions on the usefulness of this herb, especially when it comes to relieving insomnia. Some say that valerian root takes a few weeks to start showing its effects. Hence, it is still recommended to talk with a doctor before taking any kind of herbal supplements.

8. Hot Bath

One study has published that women who started going in for a hot bath before sleeping time for an hour or so, had a better sleep during the night than those who did not take a hot bath. The temperature for an ideal hot water bath should range between 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also add lavender essential oil to your hot water bath. It helps to provide a soothing and calming effect to the entire body, which encourages sleep to those who are suffering from insomnia.

Other Natural Remedies for Insomnia:

  • Basil leaves
  • Jasmine essential oil
  • Lemon balm
  • Nutmeg
  • Chamomile tea
  • Fenugreek juice
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Honey
  • Sesame oil
  • Acupuncture
  • Saffron
  • Oatmeal
  • Curd
  • Aniseed
  • Bottle gourd

Lifestyle Changes 

1. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

For individuals who are suffering from insomnia, it is quite important to rest in a sleep-friendly environment. A calm and relaxing environment is essential for a good sleep. To create such environment, try to remove certain things away from your bed such as alarm clocks, cell phones, laptops, and other digital gadgets that glow in the dark since they can cause a disturbance while sleeping.

The constant pings or alert messages from cell phones tend to hinder the sleep cycle. Moreover, make sure that the shades of the windows are tightly drawn to avoid any outdoor light from reflecting inside. If you wake up in the morning feeling exhausted and tired, it only means that you have not been in a deep sleep for a longer time.

2. Follow a Bedtime Routine

If you are unable to get enough sleep through the night, then you're not probably following a proper bedtime routine or ritual. Following a bedtime routine has been considered as one of the easiest home remedies for treating insomnia. It is very important to schedule your body on when to sleep and to wake up. Thus, it becomes mandatory to go to bed and wake up every day at the same time. Introduce certain healthy habits before going to bed such as reading a book or listening to some soothing music. These habits will help calm the brain for the day and promote a good night’s sleep.

3. Switch off Your TV

Light during nighttime can hinder melatonin and can lead to a social jet lag. The symptoms in this case are completely copied to those of having travelled multiple zones. Hence, ensure that your sleep surrounding is kept as dark as possible by moving the TV out of the bedroom.

Apart from TV, if there are other electrical appliances in the room, they must be turned off or have them illuminated with red light. Red light is believed to be much better than blue light. According to sleep specialists, if you do not fall asleep even after 30 minutes of lying down, then it is recommended that you get up, leave the bedroom, or sit to read for some time. When you start to feel tired, you can return back to your bed to sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • Aside from natural remedies, there should also be changes in one's lifestyle and dietary intake to combat insomnia.
  • Make sure that your sleep surrounding is kept as dark as possible since light during nighttime can hinder melatonin and can lead to a social jet lag.  
  • According to sleep specialists, if you do not fall asleep even after 30 minutes of lying down, then it is recommended that you get up, leave the bedroom, or sit to read for some time. When you start to feel tired, you can return back to your bed to sleep.