Natural Remedies for Insomnia

by Chrystal Johnson on February 21, 2013

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Welcome to the February 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Addressing Sleep Challenges.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about how they address sleep challenges in their homes.

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natural-insomnia-remediesWhen you suffer from insomnia and sleep problems, you often feel alone. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2009 Sleep in America poll, more people are struggling with sleep than you’d think.

In fact, 1 in 3.45 adults have trouble falling asleep at least a few nights each week. In addition, 1 in 6.25 adults have trouble falling asleep every night or nearly every night.

What’s more, women are more likely than men to have insomnia: when conducted in 2005, the same survey found that 1 in 3.85 women have difficulty falling asleep at least a few nights a week, compared to 1 in 5.88 men.

Sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of problems like difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety, weight gain, a weakened immune system and more. It’s amazing how much our bodies need a good night’s sleep to function properly.

Unfortunately, many Americans are turning to sleep aids, many with harmful side effects, to get sleep. Women and Sleep, a 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation, found that nearly 3 in 10 American women use some type of sleep aid at least a few nights each week.

Fortunately, most people don’t need to turn to prescription sleep aids to get to sleep. There are natural remedies for insomnia that should be tried before going to pharmaceutical route.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

If you can manage to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, it should help you get to sleep more easily. I know this is easier said than done for most moms, including me, but it’s something to consider. You should also avoid naps, especially in the evening, or you risk having more trouble falling asleep.

Avoid Stimulants in the Evening

You should avoid caffeine in later hours of the day. I try not to drink any caffeine after noon or I find I have even more trouble sleeping. I recently cut out coffee and now only drink green tea some mornings. For some people, alcohol consumption can also induce insomnia.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Shut off the TV 2 hours before bedtime, and instead take a nice, hot bath. If you can add some magnesium bath salts to your bath, it will help even more. Then sit in a dimly lit, quiet room and read a relaxing book.

Eliminate Potential Food Allergens

People with untreated food allergies often experience insomnia, so if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping, you may want to be tested for allergies. Common food allergens include wheat (gluten), dairy, soy, corn, preservatives and food additives.

Eat Well

Eating a healthful diet is important for your body to function properly. You need to cut all processed and refined foods out of your diet – basically anything that comes in a box, bag or can. Add more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet like leafy greens, blueberries, pomegranates and cherries. Make sure you’re getting plenty of healthy protein and be sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of pure, filtered water each day.

Get More Exercise

When you regularly exercise, your body releases endorphins that can help decrease stress levels. When your stress levels are lower, you typically sleep deeper. Shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day, such as walking, running or biking. I like yoga for this because you also get stretching and strengthening in. Try to get your exercise in first thing in the morning. If you exercise in the evening, your brain may be too stimulated to sleep.

Meditation

Meditation can help slow your mind and relieve stress and anxiety. When you’re more relaxed, it’s easier to fall asleep and sleep deeper. This article has some tips for using meditation for better sleep.

Consider Supplements

If you’re not getting enough nutrients from your diet (most of aren’t), you may want to consider adding some supplements to your routing. Try taking a food-based daily multivitamin and Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish or krill oil. Topical Magnesium has become a wonder supplement for me when I have trouble sleeping. Other supplements that have been shown to support sleep include CoQ10, GABA, valerian root, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), and L-theanine.

Increase Your Melatonin Levels

While I don’t recommend a melatonin substance as your body can become dependent on them, there are ways to help increase your melatonin levels natural. Our bodies produce melatonin in response to light, and release it in response to darkness, which helps promote sleep. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice can increase melatonin levels and lead to more and better sleep, so try drinking a glass of tart cherry juice every day.

Eat Roods Rich in Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body can’t make on its own. Once Tryptophan reaches your brain, it’s converted into serotonin, which promotes relaxation and sleepiness. In order to obtain all of Tryptophan’s sleep benefits, you need to combine it with a carbohydrate-rich food. Tryptophan-rich foods include turkey, beans, eggs, sesame and sunflower seeds, peanuts and dairy. One reason chamomile tea works so well is because it’s also full of Tryptophan! So try sitting on a cup of chamomile tea as part of your relaxing bedtime routine.

Break Out the Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great natural sleep aid. Many people are familiar with the relaxing effects of lavender essential oil. However, my favorite blend for full relaxation and sleep induction is Young Living’s Peace & Calming Blend. It’s an amazing blend of Tangerine, orange, ylang ylang, patchouli and blue tansy essential oils. I like to rub a drop into the bottom of each of my feet, on my wrists and neck before bed. One smell of it and I instantly feel relaxed. I think it’s my favorite essential oil blend of all time.

If none of these natural remedies for insomnia solve your sleep challenges, you may want to talk to your doctor about other causes.

If you’ve suffered from insomnia, what tips have worked for you?

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Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!

Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mrsgreen @ littlegreenblog.com
Twitter: littlegreenblog
February 21, 2013 at 3:40 am

thanks for all the great tips, especially the reminder about exercise – that’s something I need to think about. When I hopped on the treadmill for a few minutes before bed I’m sure it made a difference. Interesting about the tart cherry juice too. I LOVE cherries so that shouldn’t be difficult!
mrsgreen @ littlegreenblog.com recently posted..Could you take the six ingredient challenge?

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2 Allen @ Funny Baby Videos February 21, 2013 at 9:30 am

I have found that drinking Chamomile tea before going to sleep also helps calm me down.

If you drink coffee try not to drink it 4-6 hours before you go to sleep.

Great post, I’m going to share it with some people I know that are struggling with sleep.

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3 Tracey @ Dont Mess with Mama February 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

Great tips. I’m so sleep deprived that I fall asleep pretty easily but my husband could definitely use these tips.
Tracey @ Dont Mess with Mama recently posted..Paleo Raisin Bread (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

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4 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama
Twitter: ithoughtiknewma
February 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Great tips, Chrystal!

Thanks for hosting another great carnival!
Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama recently posted..3 Products That Help My Toddler Sleep Better

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5 Mandi
Twitter: stblessings
February 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I did not know that natural cherry juice increase melatonin. I don’t think I’ve ever even had cherry juice before. Thanks for sharing!
Mandi recently posted..Falling Asleep Naturally

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6 annie @ montanasolarcreations February 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I grow chamomile and dry it to use as tea and find it is helpful to relax me in the evenings before bed so I sleep better. I also sleep better when I read a little before bedtime.
annie @ montanasolarcreations recently posted..Coping With Sleep Issues as a Co-Sleeping Family

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7 Chrystal Johnson February 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I should start growing my own – great idea!

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8 CelloMom February 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm

So we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to get our tryptophan: so cool! (we like Chamomile much better than turkey, anyway). Have to try the Peace & Calming essential oil blend, it sounds marvellous.
CelloMom recently posted..Asleep at the Wheel

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9 Chrystal Johnson February 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

I’m addicted to the smell of Peace & Calming. I just ran out and need to order more!

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10 Brittany @ The Pistachio Project
Twitter: PistachioProjec
February 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Thank you for all these tips! I wonder if they’d help my husband. He has no problem falling asleep but then wakes up at 4am and can’t go back to bed.
Brittany @ The Pistachio Project recently posted..5 Ways to Wean From the Pacifier

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11 Chrystal Johnson February 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

That’s what happens to me too Brittany! I think the topical magnesium has been the biggest help getting me through that. I’ll be posting about the magnesium supplement I’ve been using next week.

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12 AlannaB February 21, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Thanks for the tips!

My husband always complains about his “insomnia” and considers medication. Most of the night is spend watching tv (which also stimulates the brain and inhibits melatonin release). I am guilty of this too, and it’s no wonder we feel like we did not get a wink of sleep :-)
AlannaB recently posted..FLASH SALE! 25% Off Personalized Blurb Photo Book

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13 Natural Intuition
Twitter: NIntuition
February 25, 2013 at 5:16 am

I’m so glad you posted these! It’s sometimes so easy to fall into an unhealthy routine and I think we sometimes forget those routines can seriously affect our sleep. I know I’m guilty of it – it’s nice to have these reminders to help us stay on track and healthy in every way – sleep included!

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14 Momma Jorje February 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I’m dealing with thyroid-induced restlessness in my 1yo son. We’ve tried Calms Forté, which is actually helping my 3½yo daughter. We also tried Valerian root on the soles of his feet. We’re now trying a melatonin supplement and so far… we’re seeing a little improvement. We’ve not even been using it a week, though.
Momma Jorje recently posted..Mamatography 2013 – Week 8

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15 Chrystal Johnson February 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Bummer. I’m sorry – that must be rough! I hope something works for you soon.

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16 meital March 12, 2013 at 1:04 am

When I have trouble sleeping, there are 2 things that help me fall asleep in 5 minutes (every time!) – An acupressure mat or my infrared heating mat…
meital recently posted..The World’s Best Homemade Natural Skin Care Recipes (You’ll Never Want the Store-Bought Stuff Again!)

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17 karen August 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Great sleeping tips, I believe they can not only help people sleep better but can improve our overall health. I’m going to put them into practice. Thank you.

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18 karen August 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Thank you for sharing these valuable sleeping tips which surely will avoid me the undesirable side effects of sleeping pills.
karen recently posted..Alteril Side Effects

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