If you engage in a conversation about insomnia with anyone who suffers from it, you’ll find out that not only is it a problem that affects them at night – it’s a problem that follows them throughout their entire day.
When many people hear the word “insomnia,” they immediately think of restlessness, tossing and turning, and general inability to fall asleep.
While those are all true – grogginess, fatigue, anxiety, and memory loss are all next-day negative effects of insomnia that are far less talked about.
Insomnia can not only drain your energy from the inside out, it can affect every aspect of your personal life as well. Work performance can take a substantial hit, relationships can become strained, and mental health can quickly take a turn for the worse if not treated effectively.
For many people who suffer from this exhausting sleep disorder, medication may seem like their only option. While sleep medication has been proven to work, they’ve also been proven to come with adverse side effects.
Research has shown that pharmaceutical sleeping medications can cause symptoms such as rebound insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Choosing to treat insomnia without drugs is beneficial for your physical health and, most importantly, your mental health.
If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering how to treat insomnia naturally without medication.
Read on because this article will equip you with a better understanding of just exactly how this is done, simply by using at-home remedies for insomnia.
Change Your Sleep Hygiene
So, can you treat insomnia without medication?
The answer is yes, and understanding your personal sleep hygiene is incredibly important.
Sleep hygiene is defined as the habits you practice when winding down for the night.
Remaining consistent is vital in training your mind and body to prepare for a night’s rest.
Here are a few ways you can fight insomnia by improving your sleep hygiene:
1. Set a bedtime.
Not only does going to bed at the same time every night help insomnia, waking up at the same time every morning is just as effective.
By doing so, you are setting your internal clock. Setting your internal clock helps your body reset its circadian rhythm – our body's natural 24-hour cycle.
Our bodily functions and systems operate precisely and efficiently, so having a regulated circadian rhythm is absolutely crucial.
2. Wash your sheets
Cleaning your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets on a weekly basis will help keep your bedroom a healthy sleep environment.
Sleep hygiene is all about setting ourselves up for success, so by maintaining a clean, peaceful ambiance, we are allowing ourselves to relax and drift into a successful night’s rest.
3. Take a warm shower or bath before bed
Taking a hot bath about 1–2 hours before bed helps lower your body’s core temperature.
With research done at the University of California – Berkeley, sleep specialists have found that our bodies need to cool down 2–3 degrees to initiate and maintain a restful night’s sleep.
So, by taking a warm shower or bath, the heat from our core is brought to the surface and expelled through our hands and feet, thus lowering our internal temperature.
4. Turn off technology
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, electronics such as phones and TVs should be turned off a minimum of 30 minutes before attempting to fall asleep.
Tech devices emit a blue light that actually blocks our brain's production of melatonin – the body’s natural sleep hormone.
Instead, read a book, journal, or draw as a way to wind down.
5. Turn away your clock
This may seem like an odd thing to do, but when insomnia strikes and you can't sleep, as you continuously toss and turn in bed, it’s a natural instinct to watch the clock as the hours slowly drag on.
Turn the clock away from you to avoid restless, anxiety-provoking thoughts from creeping in.
Another strategy in how to treat insomnia naturally is using mindfulness techniques.
In our world, anxiety and stress-producing thoughts can create extremely sleep-deprived adults. Sleep is such a crucial part of healing your body and your mind.
By practicing mindfulness before bed, you can ease your mind and create a peaceful headspace for deep sleep.
Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to quiet racing thoughts by slow, steady breathing. In doing so, you are taking control of any intrusive thoughts keeping you up at night.
However, many of those suffering from insomnia know that the more you try and force sleep, the worse it will get.
Let meditation go as far as you feel it’s beneficial, yet if it’s bringing up any anger or negative emotions – discontinue.
If you’re looking for how to treat insomnia naturally, there really is no better, more basic way than simply getting your body moving.
It’s no secret that exercise has numerous benefits – weight control, mood enhancement, mental health management – and improved sleep.
To put it simply, exercise wears you out. The more active you are throughout the day, the more your body pushes you to sleep at night. Not only this, exercise helps release built-up stress and anxiety – two factors that may be keeping you up at night.
It's a cycle: better sleep means more energy. More energy means you have the motivation to hit the gym, in turn positively affecting your night’s rest.
However, when we exercise, our bodies release endorphins which tend to keep us up at night. Make sure you work out 1–2 hours before bedtime to give your body and brain time to wind down.
Improve Your Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet while being consciously aware of your daily intake of vitamins and minerals are two ways to deal with insomnia without medication.
For instance, magnesium – found mainly in whole grains, nuts, dark leafy vegetables, and legumes – is a naturally occurring mineral that significantly aids in the sleeping process.
When looking in your pantry for a bedtime snack, look for either tryptophan or magnesium as both positively encourage a deeper, more sound sleep.
Here are a few of the best foods to treat insomnia:
- Cherries: The more tart, the better! Cherries are rich in melatonin.
- Bananas: These fruits contain an excellent source of magnesium.
- Walnuts: Known for their high amounts of melatonin.
- Turkey: Ever felt especially sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? That’s because turkey is highly dense with tryptophan.
- Milk: Milk contains high amounts of calcium and tryptophan.
If pharmaceutical medications are out of the question for you, yet you’re open to taking vitamins – a lack of vitamin B12 in our bodies can cause a host of problems, one being insomnia.
By taking vitamin B12 supplements, you’re not only benefiting your sleep schedule, but you’re also boosting your heart health and next-day energy levels as well.
Massages and acupuncture are yet another way as to how to treat insomnia naturally without medication.
Not only are massages relaxing, but they’ve also been found to improve the production of serotonin – our body's natural sleep aid.
In addition, pain is a common reason many people suffering from insomnia lay awake at night tossing and turning. Massages are able to relieve some of that chronic pain allowing you to treat insomnia naturally without sleeping or pain medication.
Consider Online Therapy
So, if you’ve tried all of the tricks in the book and they still don’t seem to be helping your insomnia, online therapy is a great option.
With online counseling websites such as DoMental, you can enroll in behavioral therapy that aids in understanding your emotions, thoughts, and patterns of thinking on a deeper level.
Using techniques aligned with cognitive behavioral therapy, a counselor can assist you in reconstructing the abnormal thinking patterns that are keeping you up at night.
By uncovering what behavioral and thinking patterns are contributing to your inability to fall asleep, you can achieve long-term, medication-free solutions for your insomnia.
A benefit for those suffering from insomnia is that with online therapy, you can write to your therapist at any time, even during those long, sleepless nights.
The Bottom Line
So, can you cure insomnia naturally?
If you’re sick of lying awake at night listening to your anxious thoughts running through your head, and you’re wondering how to treat insomnia without medication, take comfort knowing there are more options out there for you besides sleeping pills.
Sleeping medication, while FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved for insomnia, has been proven to disrupt emotional regulation and has the potential to become a highly dependent substance.
However, if you’ve tried all of the above – creating a peaceful environment, meditation, exercise, massages, and more, consider online therapy.
Therapists are trained in uncovering just what ways our thoughts can cause insomnia.
Counselors can assist you in developing healthier thinking patterns as a way to fight off stress-filled and anxious thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep naturally.
Take control of your insomnia and, in turn, your life.