Even when exhausted, sometimes it is impossible to get to sleep or stay asleep. Insomnia is stressful, harmful to the health and downright dangerous at times.
Natural remedies for insomnia, such as magnesium, melatonin, dietary changes, herbs and lifestyle modifications can often promote a restful night and restore normal sleep patterns.
Natural Remedies for Insomnia
Magnesium deficiency can cause many health problems including insomnia. Magnesium helps the body to relax. Bedtime is a perfect time to take a magnesium supplement. There are a variety of ways to deliver magnesium to the body, including oral supplementation, Epsom salt baths and transdermal magnesium therapy.
Herbs can be taken in a tea, tincture or capsule form.
Chamomile tea with a bit of honey is bedtime tonic that has a long history of usefulness.
Valerian is sometimes used to improve sleep. However, for a small percentage of people, valerian has the opposite effect and can cause wakefulness. For this reason, it’s use should be approached with caution.
The balance of minerals in blackstrap molasses make it a great remedy for a good night’s sleep. Blackstrap molasses is also a popular solution for RLS (restless leg syndrome) another malady that interferes with sleep. Magnesium and calcium especially are helpful for a restful night.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin production tends to decrease with age.
Certain diseases like diabetes, dementia, cancer and chronic pain seem to be connected to decreased melatonin production.
Exposure to light while sleeping, caffeine, and shift work can also adversely affect melatonin production.
A melatonin supplement can be helpful for some with insomnia. If staying asleep is the problem, however, melatonin may not be effective as it has a short half-life. (It does not stay in the system very long.) Another option is a slow release melatonin.
Melatonin Side Effects
Melatonin does have some associated side effects, including headaches, nausea, and a groggy feeling upon waking. Because it is a hormone, working with a doctor to balance hormones may be a better option, as would getting to the cause of low melatonin levels.1
Apple Cider Vinegar
It should not be surprising that the most popular home remedy in modern times, apple cider vinegar, is an effective insomnia solution.
As it balances the body in multiple ways, adding apple cider vinegar to the daily routine can encourage better sleep.
- 2 Teaspoons in a glass of water once or twice a day is a common way to use apple cider vinegar.
Off the wall as it may sound, our readers report that a drop of castor oil applied to each eyelid (on the outside) at bedtime can encourage sleep.
This remedy is too simple to discount and can even promote eyelash growth, so it is surely worth a try.
Cleaning out the system can help it to function better.
If constipation is a problem, eliminate it – literally! Milk thistle or burdock root herbal supplements can be used to detox the liver and blood, respectively.
Castor oil packs are another way to detox the body and using them can actually help with sleep.
Improve Your Diet
The following dietary tips can help insomnia:
- Sugar is stimulating and fills up the body with empty calories. Keep sugar and processed foods to a minimum.
- Do not drink coffee, tea or energy drinks later in the day and certainly not in the evening. Sensitive individuals may not even be able to have caffeine in the morning.
- A heavy meal in the evening can make it difficult to get to sleep.
- Artificial ingredients like food dye and MSG can cause overstimulation as well. These are best avoided all together and especially in the evening.
- Nutritional deficiencies can cause insomnia and sleep problems; seek to correct possible deficiencies with diet and supplements if needed.
- Certain foods are particularly beneficial to sleep. Bananas and warm milk are two evening snacks that can encourage sleep. Oatmeal is also useful for sleep. One hundred years ago, children’s author Beatrix Potter wrote of the “soporific effect” of lettuces on her bunny rabbit characters! Perhaps a salad in the evening can promote sleep and satisfy hunger without overfilling the stomach in the evening, which is more likely to promote indigestion at bedtime.
Use a Schedule
Make an effort to establish regular hours of going to bed and getting up in the morning. Sleeping in may feel luxurious but it can make it harder to get to sleep at night. The more consistent the hours for getting to bed and getting up, the better. The body recognizes patterns and thrives on them.
Sleep in the Dark
Light hinders sleep cycles. Do whatever is needed to get in the dark!
- Eliminate light.
- Move electronics out of the room.
- Use room darkening shades.
- Sleep with a mask.
If traffic noise or neighbors are disturbing sleep, use a white noise machine or ear plugs.
Limit Electronics Use
Turn off computers and put away phones and devices at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, read a book, take a bath or visit with family or friends. Slowing down stimulation to the mind will help with settling down. Video games in bed is a bad idea!
Change Bathing Routines
Some readers that a warm Epsom salt bath before bed can be relaxing and promote sleep. A very hot bath, however may actually make it harder to get to bed as the blood flow increases so much with a hot bath.
Hot-natured individuals may actually benefit from a cold shower before bed!
Getting some daily exercise has multiple health benefits, including better sleep. Do not exercise right before bed though. Exercise may make muscles feel tired, but is actually increasing circulation. Ideally, get some regular exercise in before the last meal of the day.
Address Other Health Problems
Insomnia may not be its own specific health issue – it may be a symptom of another health problem. Hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, arthritis, allergies, and sleep apnea are only a few of the conditions that may be affecting sleep. A medical evaluation and bloodwork to rule out medical conditions and investigate nutritional deficiencies may help to hone in on just the right solution for a particular case of insomnia.
Do you have a natural remedy for insomnia? Please send us some feedback!
Continue reading to learn how our readers have used natural remedies to get more sleep!