Tossing and turning in bed, counting sheep but just being unable to fall asleep? Insomnia, the inability to obtain sufficient or restful sleep, affects millions of people worldwide and can be an incredibly frustrating experience. While there are various factors that contribute to insomnia, such as stress, anxiety, and poor sleep habits, there are also several natural home remedies that can help promote better sleep. In this blog post, we will explore effective home remedies for insomnia that can be easily incorporated into your nightly routine, allowing you to experience the restful sleep you deserve.
Before we get into the home remedies for insomnia let’s take a look at what actually causes insomnia and what are the symptoms of insomnia so as to better understand insomnia remedies and treatments.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can have various causes and more often than not is caused by a result of a combination of factors.
Some common causes of insomnia include:
Stress and Anxiety
Stressful life events, work pressure, relationship issues, or financial worries can cause excessive worry and anxiety, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep.
Poor Sleep Habits
Irregular sleep patterns, inconsistent bedtime routines, and an unhealthy sleep environment can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle and make it challenging to achieve restful sleep.
Certain medical conditions such as chronic pain, respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal problems, hormonal imbalances and certain neurological conditions can lead to insomnia.
Mental Health Disorders
Insomnia is often associated with mental health conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
External factors such as noise, excessive light, an uncomfortable bed or bedroom temperature, or a disruptive sleep environment can contribute to insomnia, a proper environment is essential for a good night’s sleep.
Insomnia or just poor sleep cycle is more prevalent in older adults due to factors such as changes in sleep, increased medical conditions, medication use, and changes in circadian rhythms.
It's very important to know that insomnia can be both a symptom of a condition and a condition in itself. Chronic insomnia, which lasts for at least three nights a week for three months or more, may require medical evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms of Insomnia
The main characteristic/symptom of insomnia is the difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restorative (that is good quality sleep that helps you wake up refreshed and energised) sleep, despite getting adequate amounts of sleep.
The symptoms of insomnia can vary from person to person and may include:
Difficulty Falling Asleep
People with insomnia often struggle to fall asleep, spending a lot of time in bed before finally falling asleep. While some may keep waking up frequently during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep, eventually leading to waking up feeling unrefreshed and tired.
Insomnia can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, making it difficult to stay alert and focused during the day. Impacting work or school performance and increasing the risk of accidents or errors.
Difficulty Concentrating and Memory Problems
Insomnia can impair cognitive function, resulting in difficulties with concentration, attention, and memory. Individuals may find it challenging to retain information or perform tasks that require focus and clarity of thought.
Insomnia is often associated with mood disturbances such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate emotional vulnerability and make it challenging to regulate emotions effectively.
Impaired Performance and Quality of Life
Insomnia can negatively impact various aspects of a person's life, including work productivity, relationships, social activities, and overall quality of life.
Occasionally finding it difficult to sleep or experiencing a few sleepless nights does not necessarily indicate chronic insomnia. However, if these symptoms persist for at least three nights a week for three months or more and significantly affect your daily functioning, it may be a sign of chronic insomnia and you must seek professional help for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
6 home remedies for insomnia you should give a try
1. Drink Warm Milk
Warm milk has long been considered an insomnia remedy, while the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, there are a few reasons why warm milk may have a calming effect and aid in sleep.
- Tryptophan Content: Tryptophan, an amino acid can contribute to the production of serotonin, which, in turn, can be converted to melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming milk, particularly warm milk, may increase tryptophan availability and promote the production of sleep-promoting hormones.
- Psychological and Ritualistic Effect: Drinking warm milk before bed can have a psychological and ritualistic effect that signals to the brain and body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Engaging in a relaxing bedtime routine, such as sipping warm milk, can create a sense of relaxation, promoting a calm state that helps you fall asleep.
- Warmth and Comfort: Warm liquids, in general, help relax muscles and create a cosy sensation. This physical comfort, combined with the psychological association of warmth and relaxation, helps you to fall asleep.
You must note that the effectiveness of warm milk for sleep may vary from person to person. While some individuals may find it beneficial, others may not experience the same effects.
2. Include Magnesium in Your Diet
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for sleep regulation. Including Magnesium rich foods such as seeds (pumpkin, chia), Almonds, Cashews and Spinach in your diet and taking Magnesium supplements in the form of tablets and gummies can help with
- GABA Regulation: GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm the nervous system and promote relaxation. Magnesium has been shown to enhance GABA activity, leading to a calming effect on the brain and helping to reduce anxiety and stress. By supporting healthy GABA function, magnesium may help quiet the mind and prepare for sleep.
- Relaxation and Calming Effect: Magnesium has natural muscle and nerve relaxant properties. It acts as a natural antagonist to calcium, helping to regulate the activity of nerves and muscles. By promoting muscle relaxation and reducing muscle tension, magnesium can create a state of physical relaxation that is conducive to falling asleep.
- Melatonin Regulation: Magnesium is involved in the production and regulation of melatonin, a hormone that plays a key role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin helps signal the body that it's time to sleep. Adequate levels of magnesium can support optimal melatonin production, ensuring the body receives the proper signals for sleep initiation and maintenance.
- Regulation of Circadian Rhythms: Magnesium is involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms, the internal body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Adequate magnesium levels support the proper functioning of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the body's master clock. A healthy SCN helps synchronise biological processes, including sleep, with the natural light-dark cycle.
If you're considering magnesium supplementation for insomnia, consult with your healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage for your health needs.
3. Get Regular Massages
Massage promotes relaxation by targeting the muscular and nervous systems. It releases tension, reduces muscle stiffness, and relieves physical and mental stress. By inducing a state of deep relaxation, massage can alleviate anxiety, calm the mind making it easier to fall asleep.
Massage also stimulates the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, the hormones associated with feelings of happiness. Giving yourself a quick head oil massage, a dry body massage before bed or including massage therapy in your regular routine also helps improve
blood circulation and enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues. By enhancing circulation, massage can help relax the body, reduce muscle tension, and promote overall physical comfort, which can contribute to better sleep.
4. Engage in Physical Activities
Exercise or physical movement not only helps with your physical health but also hugely impacts your sleep cycle. Exercise helps promote better sleep and helps you fall asleep more easily. Regular exercise routine during the day reinforces your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, improving your sleep quality. Movement also helps with expenditure of energy, when your body is physically tired, it naturally requires rest and recovery in the form of sleep. Further exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress by releasing endorphins and regulates your hormones, including those that affect sleep. The timing of exercise can impact sleep. Engaging in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime may have an energising effect and make it harder to fall asleep so it is recommended to finish moderate to high-intensity exercise at least a few hours before bedtime to allow your body and mind to wind down.
5. Use Melatonin Supplements
One of the insomnia remedies that you must consider are taking Melatonin supplements in the form of Melatonin tablets or Melatonin strips that will help support better sleep.
Melatonin also known as the sleep hormone is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body. It regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels rise in the evening as darkness sets in, signalling to the body that it's time to sleep, and they decrease in the morning when it's time to wake up. Melatonin helps to synchronise the circadian rhythm. This internal clock helps regulate various physiological processes, including sleep, hormone production, body temperature, and metabolism. Read our blog to know more about the benefits of melatonin.
If you are looking for natural supplements or Ayurvedic Supplements, you can try Panchamrit’s Melting Strips for Sleep. These melatonin strips include Ayurvedic ingredients such as Valerian root, Chamomile and Lavender which have a calming and relaxing effect on your mind and body. Just one orally melting strip 30 minutes before bed helps you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed, without any side effects. Over time these strips help fix your sleep cycle and improve your quality of sleep.
6. Limit Your Screen Time
Excessive screen time, particularly in the evening or close to bedtime, can have a negative impact on sleep.
- Blue light exposure: Exposure to blue light emitted by screens in the evening can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle as it inhibits melatonin production and makes it harder to fall asleep.
- Increased brain activity: Engaging with screens, such as watching TV, using smartphones, or playing video games, stimulates the brain and can make it more difficult to unwind and relax before bedtime, delaying the onset of sleep.
It is best to limit exposure, especially in the evening and close to bedtime. Establish a screen-free period before sleep. Use devices with built-in blue light filters or install software applications that reduce blue light emission.
If you are experiencing persistent insomnia or if it significantly impacts your daily life, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can help identify the underlying causes and develop an appropriate treatment plan. A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things for your overall well being. Disturbed and disrupted sleep not only affects your physical health but over time can affect your emotional and mental health and can lead to even more serious health conditions. So if you are suffering from insomnia or sleeplessness now is the time to say no more to counting sheep and taking matters into your own hands for a rested and healthy you.Also Read: How To Reduce Stress