If you can’t sleep or often wake up before you want or need to, you may have the fairly common condition called insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of people get less sleep than they need and 40 percent say that this lack of sleep affects their work. I began to notice my sleep was suffering in early middle school and have been dealing with it every night since. Along the way I’ve tried over the counter medications, prescriptions, and natural remedies. Here are a few things you can try if you aren’t getting the good night’s rest you need.
Music or Audiobooks
One trick I’ve used every night for years is playing an audiobook to help me fall asleep. Pick a novel that you will get lost in and will enjoy. If books aren’t for you or the words are too distracting, try picking a calming radio station or play a calming loop video on YouTube. Many free players such as Spotify or Itunes have stations based purely on soothing tracks that will help you get to sleep fast. Remember to set a timer on the music or audiobook to cut off so it doesn’t wake you up or prevent your body from entering the much needed deep sleep stages.
Incense or Candles
Along with music I also use a variety of smells to help relax my body for sleep. Smells have various effects on the body while awake and likewise have a certain impact on us when we are asleep. Some smells have been known to produce different states and produce different dreams and body conditions while we sleep. Studies from the Sleep Foundation report that certain smells like lavender can relax your body, decreasing heart rate and blood pressure while you sleep. Some other scents that may help you relax are mint, jasmine, and vanilla.
While meals should generally be finished about 3 hours before bedtime, some foods can actually help you drift off to sleep. Try a couple slices of cheese, fresh fruit, or homemade popcorn before you go to sleep. Food actually works in small amounts as a natural sedative and eating will prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night due to hunger. This has worked well for me and I usually decide to eat a hard-boiled egg before bed. This also allows you to awake refreshed without the chemical hangover you can experience from over the counter medications.
One of the supplements for sleep I’ve taken with the most success is Melatonin. Melatonin is the chemical that your body releases when it is time to sleep. As we get older we have less of this substance in our system, which is why as you age it gets harder to sleep. You just need a couple of milligrams about 15 minutes before bed and you’ll experience a good nights sleep. This supplement is commonly found in most grocery and drug stores.
Yoga or Meditation
Try these methods to clear your mind and promote a healthy body. Regular practice of these techniques will help promote sleep by slowing your breath and reducing stress hormone levels. If you choose to meditate choose a single word or picture and repeat it steadily in your mind. The more vivid your visualization, the more effective it will be. If you choose yoga to relax your body and prepare for sleep, look up guides or free videos online for effective techniques. These methods can be combines and are a great way to promote healthy body and mind.
While I decided early in my life that prescription or over the counter medication wasn’t for me, many people benefit from the use of these chemicals. Medicating is my least favorite way to induce sleep and one that I rarely recommend. The chemicals in these can be addictive and potentially dangerous. Make sure you know the side effects and risks before attempting to use this as an alternative. Medications often built tolerance fast and can have a risk of withdrawal and further sleep loss after quitting.
Use any of these to your benefit for a great nights sleep. I use a combination of these but at some point have tried everything under the sun, with these five topping the list as the most effective. With a little luck and experimenting, you’ll get your insomnia under control in no time. Good luck!