Can’t sleep? You aren’t alone. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder involving the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. Do you struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? Insomnia is a very common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day. Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems. Resulting in unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep. Anyone who’s laid awake at night knows how frustrating and upsetting it can be to spend hours in bed willing sleep to come—and knowing just how bad you’re going to feel in the morning if it doesn’t.
Insomnia can also pressure you into relying on sleeping pills or sleep aids to help you sleep—which in the long-run only makes your sleep problems worse. In fact, alternative sleep remedies like cognitive behavioural therapy are proven to work better to help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer than prescription sleeping pills.
But you don’t have to resign yourself to sleepless nights. No matter how long you’ve been suffering from insomnia or how frequently you struggle to sleep, don’t despair. While it can take time to correct the habits that contribute to your sleep problems, there are plenty of things you can do to help overcome insomnia and enjoy a full and restful night’s sleep.
So how do you get to sleep when you just can’t? These all-natural sleep aids will have you drifting off in no time.
1. Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia or CBT-I is considered the gold standard for insomnia treatment, the method with the most scientific evidence to support it. Typically, CBT-I involves meeting regularly with a therapist for various sleep assessments, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and you may be asked to keep a sleep journal and change a number of your sleep habits.
2. Get Out Of Bed
One of the biggest problems people say they have falling asleep at night is that they just can’t stop their minds from racing. Without proper time to wind down before hopping into bed, our brains are likely to say, “Well, here’s what’s on my plate!” as soon as you are under the covers, essentially training us to associate bedtime with fretting. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but get out of bed if you’re not asleep after 20, 30, 40 minutes.
3. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
First developed in 1915, this technique will never get old. “Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation exercise in which you systematically tense and then relax all the muscle groups of your body. It helps promote overall physical relaxation, which has a number of benefits on its own. It was shown to reduce fatigue and improve sleep quality. Give it a try with this simple progressive muscle relaxation practice.
4. Take a Warm Bath
You can skip the candles and rose petals, but a soothing soak really can help you get to sleep. That’s because relaxing in the tub will raise your body temperature slightly, and when you get out, the rapid cooldown will mimic the natural temperature drop the brain triggers as it prepares for sleep.
If you’d rather quiet your mind but leave your muscles out of it, a simple mindfulness meditation may also do the trick. A 2009 study found that meditation can help fight insomnia. The researchers found that meditators slept longer and better thanks to the deep relaxation powers of the practice. Try this 10-step meditation for better sleep tonight. If that’s not quite your style, even just some deep breathing can help clear your mind and better prepare you for sleep.
6. Break a Sweat
Regular exercisers may not realize it, but they’re onto something. The physically active report getting better sleep than people who don’t work out, the particular timing or form of exercise isn’t as important as whether or not you simply move. People who are even getting mild exercise are sleeping better than those who aren’t. If that doesn’t convince you to exercise even just a little, we don’t know what will.
7. Do Yoga
As a form of mind-quieting physical activity, yoga may just be the best of two worlds. Yoga practice can help you get more or better sleep, we do know that yoga does wonders for relaxation.
8. Sniff Aromatherapy
Whether it’s an essential oil, a bath scrub, a sachet in an eye mask or even a pillow or mattress, lavender is the scent you’re searching for if you want more and better sleep. In recent studies it shows that a whiff of lavender before bed resulted in more deep sleep.
9. Set Your Bedroom Up For Success
For people with insomnia, “the bedroom just becomes unpleasant, a war zone. Make a few simple changes to make it as comfortable a setting as possible. The bedroom should also be quiet. And please, please, please leave the cell phones in another room — or at least put them on Do Not Disturb.
11. Switch To Herbal Tea
Caffeine’s a no-no, but caffeine-free herbal tea may actually help you sleep. Many “Sleepy Time” teas are made from the same compounds used in supplements that promote sleep, like valerian or chamomile. Plus, there’s something inherently calming about a warm sip before bed, even if it’s just the ritual of taking the time to do so.
12. Cut Caffeine Earlier
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, meaning five hours after your last cup of coffee, half of its caffeine content is still in your system. Depending on how much you drink — and how strong it is — you could find yourself counting sheep when you’d rather be sawing logs. To avoid problems at bedtime it is recommended to stay off caffeine after lunch.
13. Quit Smoking
Like caffeine, nicotine is also a stimulant, and may lead to sleep disturbances during the night.
Try these techniques and beat insomnia.