Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders that you may experience and there are many different causes of it, including stress, anxiety, depression, and medications.
There are also numerous home remedies that you can use to try and treat your insomnia although they all may not work for everyone.
It is important to experiment with different home remedies to see what works best for you after consulting with your doctor first.
In this article, we will explore the different home remedies for insomnia while also detailing other treatment options if these home remedies have no effect on your insomnia.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can cause you to get poor sleep quality due to an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
If you have insomnia you may often have trouble focusing during the day and may feel tired, irritable, and anxious.
You may have either short-term insomnia (acute) or long-term insomnia (chronic).
Acute insomnia usually lasts for a few days or weeks and is often caused by stress while chronic insomnia lasts for a month or more and can be caused by underlying health conditions (sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, cancer, etc.), medications, or other sleep disorders which is called secondary insomnia.
Insomnia can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine and alcohol hours before bed, and with counseling and medication.
If left untreated, insomnia can cause other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
The main symptom of insomnia is poor sleep quality which can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.
Insomnia can also cause daytime sleepiness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Other symptoms of insomnia include:
- Trouble remembering things
- An increased risk for motor vehicle accidents
- An increased risk of falling
If you have these common symptoms of insomnia you need to consult with your doctor or health care provider for a proper diagnosis.
How is insomnia diagnosed?
The exam will start with your doctor asking you about your medical history, any prescriptions you may be taking at the time, and your sleep habits.
Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and may order some blood tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your insomnia.
You may also be referred to a sleep specialist for further evaluation by having a sleep study done in a sleep clinic or lab or being asked to keep a sleep diary to help document your symptoms and frequency of sleep disturbances.
At-home sleep test kits are also now available if you are uncomfortable or inconvenienced by going to a sleep lab.
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What are some home remedy treatment options for insomnia?
There are a few different things you can do at home to help improve your sleep, treat insomnia, and improve your quality of life.
Some self-care measures include:
Some teas, like chamomile tea or lavender tea, can help to promote sleep by relaxing your mind and body.
Warm milk is also thought to have this effect although more studies are needed to come to any firm conclusions about its ability to treat insomnia. You also need to avoid taking any tea with caffeine before bedtime.
Create a Bedtime Routine
A routine helps to signal to your body that it is time to sleep which can include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or doing some light stretching.
Listening to soothing music can also help you relax before bed and help you fall asleep.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and it helps to regulate sleep.
You can take melatonin supplements to help you fall asleep but it is best to talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplement or over-the-counter medication.
White noise machine
A white noise machine can help to block out any disruptive noises that may be keeping you up at night and it can also provide a sense of calm and relaxation.
Try not to eat or drink too close to bedtime
Eating a big meal right before bed can cause indigestion or heartburn and make it harder to fall asleep.
It is best to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least a couple of hours before going to bed.
You also need to avoid caffeine and alcohol consumption before bedtime as they are stimulants that can keep you awake as is using nicotine products.
Do not sleep in on weekends
Even though it can be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, it is best to maintain a regular sleep schedule which means having an established wakeup time and going to bed at around the same time every day, including weekends.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress can also help to improve sleep.
It is best to avoid any strenuous exercise though before bedtime as it can make it harder to fall asleep.
Dietary changes such as eating a healthy diet on a regular basis and avoiding any big meals at least two hours before bedtime have also been shown to help.
Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery therapy (using words or music to create positive imaginary scenarios), can help to reduce stress and can be a powerful tool to help promote sleep.
Other relaxation techniques you can use include deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, mantra repetition or prayers, and massage therapy.
There are a number of herbal supplements that can help to improve sleep, such as valerian root, chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender.
Herbal supplements can interact with other medications though so it is best to talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplement.
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These supplements and essential oils may help with sleep disturbances and insomnia but more research is needed to definitively say they are a useful treatment.
Avoid screens in bed
It is best to avoid using any type of electronic device in bed as the blue light that emits from these devices can suppress melatonin production, create brain stimulation, and make it harder to fall asleep.
If you must use a screen in bed, try using dimmed lighting or hold the device at least 14 inches away from your face.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
CBT-I is a type of therapy that can help to change the thoughts and behaviors that are keeping you from sleeping that can help to improve sleep by teaching you how to establish a regular sleep schedule, how to create a relaxing bedtime routine, and how to manage stress.
Examples of CBT-I include using light therapy for your circadian rhythm, using your bed for only sleep and sex, avoiding naps, getting out of bed if you can not fall asleep after 20 minutes, and returning when you are tired.
Exercise 12 minutes per day
There is a theory called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that suggests that just 12 minutes of exercise per day can improve sleep.
High-intensity interval training is a type of exercise that alternates between short bursts of intense activity and periods of rest.
The theory behind this moderate exercise method is that a short burst of activity can help to increase your heart rate while periods of rest can help to decrease stress and promote relaxation.
The short bursts of exercise may include jumping jacks, push-ups, or other exercises and can be broken into smaller intervals such as four different three-minute bursts of exercise throughout the day.
More studies are needed to prove this method is beneficial for insomnia and it is recommended that you get 150 minutes of exercise or physical activity a week.
Create an ideal sleeping environment
You can create an ideal sleeping environment by making sure to have your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
You may also want to use an eye mask and earplugs to block out any light or noise that may be keeping you awake and promote a better quality of sleep. It is also important to make sure your bed is comfortable so you can get a restful sleep.
What are other treatment options for insomnia?
If you have tried the above home remedies but are still having difficulty sleeping, there are other treatment options that you can discuss with your doctor.
• Prescription sleep medications are sleep aids that can help you fall asleep, stay asleep and are a common treatment for insomnia but can have side effects such as drowsiness, headache, and dizziness, and they can also be habit-forming which can lead to substance abuse
• Over-the-counter sleep aids and the most common over-the-counter medications that are used to induce drowsiness are antihistamines
Please consult with your doctor or health care provider before starting any prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or health supplement.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can be caused by stress, anxiety, medications, and other underlying medical conditions.
If you have tried the above home remedies but are still having difficulty sleeping, there are other treatment options including over-the-counter or prescription medications that may improve your hours of sleep and can be recommended by your doctor.
Please talk to your doctor or health care provider if you think you may have insomnia or have any other questions about treatments for it.
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Chris is one of the Co-Founders of Pharmacists.org. An entrepreneur at heart, Chris has been building and writing in consumer health for over 10 years. In addition to Diabetic.org, Chris and his Acme Health LLC Brand Team own and operate USARx.com, Allergies.org, Diabetic.org.
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