Trouble sleeping? These home remedies for insomnia may be the ticket to a better night’s sleep!
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when someone has the opportunity. People suffering with insomnia usually experience fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance at work or at school.
Acute insomnia is usually short-lived and connected to life events that disrupt sleep, like nerves before an important event. Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights a week and lasts for at least three months. As miserable as it may be to deal with chronic insomnia, it is important to know that there are treatment options, including effective home remedies for insomnia.
How can I treat insomnia at home? Home remedies for insomnia
There are a variety of home remedies for insomnia that are affordable and effective.
Mindfulness and deep breathing has proven to be just as effective for improving insomnia as medication and can be practiced anywhere, anytime. It is free and safe for everyone, making it a very appealing treatment option. In addition to practicing meditation, mantra repetition has also shown positive results for improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia. You can choose something that is soothing and pleasant or meaningful to you and it works mentally or out loud.
Physical activity can have a positive effect on insomnia.
Research has found that yoga improves a variety of sleep markers, including quality, efficiency, and duration. Yoga helps improve fatigue, general well-being, depression, anxiety, stress, tension, and physical and emotional function, all common side effects of insomnia.
It is well-known that exercise improves our health in a variety of ways, and that includes insomnia, too. A 2015 study found that participants with insomnia who engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week for six months saw improved sleep and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Self care can go a long way toward helping alleviate insomnia. Massage therapy can greatly benefit those suffering with insomnia, demonstrating better results than estazolam, a common prescription for insomnia. If regular treatment by a professional is not realistic, having a partner or friend do it for you, or even learning to use some techniques on yourself can be helpful and therapeutic.
What can I take to help me sleep? Nutritional supplements for insomnia
Nutritional supplements can be of great benefit when considering home remedies for insomnia.
Medical care practitioners frequently prescribe melatonin for their patients facing sleep issues. Some research demonstrates the positive effects melatonin can have on disturbed sleep, helping people to fall asleep more quickly and have better quality sleep, especially one to two weeks after starting the supplement.
But there is other contradictory research showing no effect on sleep from the use of melatonin. Further, there is information that gives significant cause for concern when considering using this supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that can have a negative effect on many body systems and cause unwanted side effects.
Side effects from melatonin may include a lot of things that that actually prevent good rest, such as:
- next-day grogginess
- hormone fluctuations
- vivid dreams and nightmares.
While melatonin can help in certain circumstances in the short term by helping reset a dysregulated circadian rhythm, it may not be the best choice to solve sleep problems long-term.
Magnesium is a mineral that is in high demand for a variety of bodily functions and is crucial for proper muscle functioning. Supplementation helps muscles relax and reduces stress.
As a result, magnesium is often equated with helping improve sleep, and the science supports this. Up to 500mg per day of magnesium helps relieve the symptoms of insomnia and promotes better sleep. We like this bedtime magnesium supplement.
Topical magnesium supplementation can also be helpful, with some arguing it is more effective than oral supplementation. Magnesium oil is one option and using Epsom salts or magnesium flakes in a bath is another. Try our recipe for magnesium lotion to deliver the benefits of magnesium topically.
Vitamin D levels have a significant impact on one’s quality of sleep.
One study found that the rising number of sleep disorders is linked to widespread vitamin D deficiency. Another study found that increasing vitamin D intake resulted in a better night’s sleep.
While it’s always best to get your vitamin D directly from the sun, in some environments, supplementing may be necessary. Supplementing with vitamin D in the morning most closely mimics when your body expects sun exposure, so taking your supplement in the morning is best. Taking vitamin D before bed can negatively impact sleep for some people.
The family of B vitamins is another group of important nutrients to help address insomnia. Folate (B9) deficiency has been linked to depression and insomnia. Dietary sources are best for getting your recommended daily allowance of this nutrient, but a good quality, preferably methylated, supplement for this nutrient works well too.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep found that supplementing with nicotinamide (nicacin, or B3) significantly improved sleep for those with insomnia and for those without.
Vitamin B12 has been found to be helpful for those dealing with insomnia as a result of a sleep-wake disorder. B12 supports the body’s natural production of melatonin and supports healthy circadian rhythm. Just be sure to take it in the morning for greatest benefit.
B5 deficiency can lead to an array of issues, including sleep disorders, tiredness, apathy, depression and irritability. One of the most common vitamins, B5 is readily available from the diet, but a good quality B-complex supplement can help ensure your needs for all the B vitamins are met.
Read our ultimate B vitamin list to learn about how to get the best B vitamins for your needs from food and supplements.
GABA and l-theanine
Research has found that a synergistic mix of GABA and l-theanine at a rate of 5:1 significantly improves REM and non-REM sleep, sleep duration, and the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. The two supplements individually can have a positive effect on sleep. However, supplementing together in this ratio has a much more profound effect than supplementing either of them individually.
What to eat if you can’t sleep? Dietary interventions for insomnia
What you eat can have a strong impact on how you sleep.
Caffeine and alcohol both negatively affect sleep, so it’s best to avoid them or limit your intake and consider when in the day you are consuming these foods.
Sugar, particularly refined sugar, is another ingredient that stimulates the body and can hurt sleep quality. But this does not mean you should load up on sugar replacements, either. Many people with sleep issues are just as sensitive to artificial sweeteners like aspartame as they are to sugar and caffeine.
It’s best to avoid artificial ingredients like flavor enhancers, preservatives, and emulsifiers can to help with insomnia symptoms. These ingredients include things like MSG, “natural” flavors, gums (guar, carageenan, xanthan, etc.), artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, which can be agitating to the body and the brain.
Many find that removing gluten and dairy from the diet helps relieve sleep problems for themselves or their children.
What foods help you sleep fast?
Foods high in tryptophan are good choices for those dealing with insomnia. Tryptophan is an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin and can be found in foods like turkey and chicken, raw dairy, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, and leafy greens.
Carbohydrates have a reputation for making you sleepy, so for those with sleep challenges, consuming starchy complex carbs before bed can help improve quality of sleep. One study found that consuming carbohydrates four hours before bed significantly reduced the amount of time it took for study participants to fall asleep.
Another study found that rats who were given prebiotics, such as resistant starch, benefited from improved sleep and reduced stress. Prebiotic resistant starch is plentiful in cooked and cooled white potatoes and white rice, green bananas and plantains, and legumes.
Foods high in calcium can help also improve insomnia. Like magnesium, calcium is important for calming the nervous system, and the two nutrients work together in the body. Foods high in calcium include raw dairy, canned fish with bones, and dark leafy greens.
- Passionflower has equal effects as oxazepam on resolving insomnia symptoms, though it takes slightly longer to take effect.
- The well-documented effects of valerian root on sleep are extensive.
- Hops are popular due to their sedative effects.
- German chamomile has been a traditional remedy for fraught nerves for centuries. Its relaxative effects make it a helpful option for those with insomnia so long as you are not allergic to the daisy family.
- Lemon balm has a reputation as a hypnotic and research has found that it can reduce alertness in study participants.
- St. John’s wort can improve sleep and help alleviate depression, but this particular herb is known to interact with many pharmaceutical drugs. High doses can result in digestive upset, dizziness, anxiety, and headaches.
Home remedies for insomnia- essential oils
There are several essential oils that can be beneficial for improving insomnia.
- Lavender oil has been proven to improve sleep and promote relaxation. Its mild sedative effect has been shown to promote deep sleep when diffused.
- Frankincense, used since ancient times, offers calming and soothing properties and anecdotally helps with hormone regulation.
- Like its herbal counterpart, chamomile essential oil is useful for helping you fall into a deeper sleep. It mimics the effects of benzodiazepines without the potential side effects.
- One study found that a blend of sandalwood, juniper berry, rose, and orris essential oil showed dramatic improvements in sleep for those with chronic insomnia and allowed many of the study participants to reduce or eliminate their needs for benzodiazepines.
- Cedarwood essential oil has been shown to have sedative effects and is anecdotally believed to promote melatonin production, making it another good choice for sleep.
Effective pre-formulated essential oil blends specifically designed to promote sleep are good options too.
Here are some of our favorite adult and kid-safe blends:
- Sleep Aid Synergy
- Sleep Tight Synergy
- Organic Nighty Night KidSafe Blend
- Sweet Slumber KidSafe Blend
- Sweet Dreams KidSafe Blend
Diffusing essential oils is the most common and typically most effective method for using essential oils therapeutically. Using them topically in a massage oil is also an excellent option. Both the oils and the massage will help promote relaxation and better sleep. Read more about the benefits and uses of essential oils here.
What not to do when you can’t sleep?
Dealing with insomnia can be frustrating. There will always be those days when you just cannot sleep no matter how desperately you want to. Stressing over these nights and defaulting to bad sleep habits can compound the problem.
It is important to stick with what you know works, even when you’re having a bad night.
Avoid turning on the lights or looking at a screen. The increase in light, especially blue light, will disrupt your efforts to regulate your circadian rhythm. This will only make getting back to sleep even more difficult.
Resist the urge to indulge in junk food or caffeine as these can stimulate rather than relax. Even after a rough night, opting for these food choices the next day lays the groundwork for another troubled night.
If you cannot fall asleep, getting up to do some yoga or meditation and then trying again can be just the ticket you need to get back to a good night’s sleep.
Hang in there; you can kick insomnia to the curb!
As difficult and frustrating as it can be to suffer with insomnia and the trickle-down effects it has on your life, there are effective options. These home remedies for insomnia can greatly benefit your health and your quality of sleep. Prescription sleep medications can come with unsavory side effects and dependency concerns. Utilizing home remedies for insomnia can help avoid or reduce the use of these medications.