The importance of sleep to man is like water to life. Without it, we cannot function properly. You can even try observing yourself on days when you slept for few hours and see how your body is struggling with fatigue, fogginess or lack of clarity, irritability, moodiness etc.
When our body is not properly rested, it cannot function properly. Did you know that one can die from extreme sleep deprivation over a period of time? This is because when we sleep, our body rest, it repairs itself, does some cleaning up to protect the body, and prepares for the coming day.
This shows that technically, our bodies do not go to sleep but actually work when we are getting some hours of rest.
I have much sympathy for those that are unable to get some peaceful sleep at any time of the day especially at night. I consider insomnia to be a form of torture (forgive my strong language).
I can remember the few times that I was severely under sleeping during my university days. I can’t imagine being unable to rest despite being so tired and sleep deprived during those days.
Ok, enough about me. Lets dive in.
So, what is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the inability to fall asleep despite being tired, stay asleep for several hours without interruption, and difficulty getting back to sleep after waking up.
Insomnia ranges in severity from mild insomnia that is temporary and can be easily solved by changing some habits and some remedies and then there is the other extreme type that is chronic insomnia. This type of insomnia can be quite dangerous to our health and you will need a specialist for proper treatment.
Symptoms of Insomnia
So how can we know or be sure that we have insomnia and not some other condition. In most cases, insomnia shows symptoms such as
- Inability to fall asleep
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Daytime Fatigue
- Not feeling rested after a full night’s sleeping
- Irritability, unstable moods
- Having trouble concentrating
- Waking up too early and being unable to go back to sleep etc.
These symptoms show that insomnia is beyond just the inability to fall asleep. Rather, insomnia is measured by the quality of sleep and the disposition of a person after sleeping i.e how they feel after they sleep.
causes of insomnia
In most cases of insomnia is as a result of some factors in our environment, disposition or habits and not as a symptom of a health problem. It has been observed to be caused by some factors including:
- Being worrisome or over thinking at night or when you are on your bed to sleep.
- Poor sleeping habits (e.g. using your digital devices just before bedtime)
- Mental health
- Some health conditions
- Traveling or a change in your schedule
- Some sleep disorders
- Hormonal changes e.g pregnant women
- Some medications
- Diet (eating stimulating foods before bed such as coffee, alcohol)
For most people, their insomnia is not chronic and it lasts for few days to a week at most, however, when you have persistent insomnia for more than seven days and it begins interfering with your daily performance, then it is time to go see a sleep specialist or at least, a doctor for proper treatment.
It is best to avoid sleeping pills as they are known to be addictive and can worsen your condition. You should try solving the problem on your own with safe natural ingredients and modifying some personal habits to relieve or cure your insomnia. You can read more here.
There are many therapies or routines that are said to help people sleep better such as the military routine that is said to make soldiers sleep in 2 minutes. You can check it out here.
Insomnia Remedies during pregnancy
Pregnant women often report difficulty in falling asleep or having a restful and continuous sleeping session. It is most common during the first and third trimester of the pregnancy.
The good news is that these recommended remedies are safe for pregnant women so they can also use it for their insomnia.
Home Remedies for Insomnia
Warm milk and honey
As it is scientifically known, tryptophan is an amino acid that cannot be produced by the body but must be derived from our diet. Milk is a good source of tryptophan as it is mostly found in proteins.
It is a very important compound for body functions especially needed to produce melatonin and serotonin chemicals in the body which are essential in regulating sleep cycles and getting proper sleep.
Some studies have indicated that beyond just milk, dairy products work too. This includes yoghurt and cheese. Others have shown that engaging in some exercise during the day while taking the milk at night improves the effectiveness of the warm milk.
Honey as a carbohydrate is recommended to be added to the milk to help transport the amino acid faster to the brain. This combination helps you fall asleep faster than taking just plain warm milk.
How to use:
- Measure about a mug-full of liquid fresh whole milk not skimmed. The more fat the better (it can be soy milk, cow milk, or almond milk)
- Warm the milk on a stove pot.
- Allow it to cool down then while it is still warm,
- Add 2 tablespoons of good-quality honey to the warm milk
- Carefully sip a cupful of the milk about 20 minutes before bed.
Note*Taking small amounts of milk is not very effective. You need to take at least a big mug-full of milk and honey 🙂
Lavender oil is commonly used to relieve stress and improve sleeping patterns. It is a very popular herb and oil for numerous household, cosmetic and health purposes. Just like the other listed remedies, it helps with the relaxing the body and putting the body to sleep.
For sleeping, inhale some lavender oil while on your bed and dab a little on your pillow, face, hands and other places then close the bottle. Doing this will keep the lavender oil around you and inhaling it as you relax. Remember not to leave the bottle open.
Use diluted lavender oil in other words not the lavender essential oil in this case. This is because as an essential oil, it is highly concentrated, volatile, and should not be used directly on the skin without being properly diluted with a carrier oil (base oil) such as coconut oil, olive oil, carrot oil, grape seed oil etc.
Chamomile tea is a common tea that people take to relax and it has many beneficial properties. It is used to induce sleep through its effect on the nervous system. Many practitioners of natural medicine regard it as a mild sleep inducer or tranquilizer. It is a common suggestion if you report of having sleeping problems, stress or just want a relaxing tea.
How to use:
Take the tea as prescribed on the pack
St.John’s wort supplement
This herb is used for insomnia and other related conditions such as to relieve stress, depression, anxiety, etc. It has a similar benefit to the use of warm milk and honey with its improvement in the melatonin and serotonin chemicals that are needed to regulate major body functions such as moods, sleep, appetite etc.
You can use the tea or the supplement. They are both effective. Simply take as prescribed on the pack of the product.
Star fruit is known for its shape and sweet-sour taste. It is high fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C content.
This fruit is suspected to cause health complications in some so to be on the safe side, avoid taking large amounts of the fruit within a short period of time.
I was surprised to read this caution because my sister loves this fruit and she takes sometimes 3-4 pieces at once and she is well and healthy. But, since some studies show otherwise it is best to be on the safe side.
For insomnia, Take about 3-4 and not more than that at once just before bed. It is best consumed raw and alone without adding it to a recipe or eating it with side dishes.
Star fruit according to some studies, it is not safe for those on dialysis or those with kidney problems as it can cause adverse reactions in their body. So if you fall under this umbrella, kindly select other remedies from the list.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is necessary for a healthy immune system, regulating muscle, blood pressure, and nerve function, bone health, etc.
With regards to sleep, magnesium mainly helps in relaxing the muscles and brain. This is necessary at the beginning of every sleep cycle before we fall asleep. It also regulates the melatonin hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle thus, you will have a more continuous/uninterrupted sleep when your body has enough magnesium.
Another important function of magnesium to know is that it quietens the nerve activity in the body. Many sleeping pills like Ambien also work by calming quieting the nerves. Making you fall asleep faster.
The foods with the highest magnesium content are pumpkin seeds, boiled spinach, peanuts, dark chocolate/cacao, avocados, almonds, cashews, black-eyed beans, etc. Find out more magnesium-rich foods in Healthline.
Some of us are more likely to have lower magnesium levels such as older adults, those with diabetes, digestive problems, and alcohol dependence.
In summary, magnesium has been proven by numerous studies to have significant impact on sleep, sleep quality and sleep cycles.
It is important that a magnesium-rich diet or supplement is used as part of your treatment for insomnia if other remedies in this article are not working for you such as warm milk, mint, good sleeping and lifestyle habits, etc.
Fresh Mint tea
Mint is commonly used as tea and food by the Indians and Arabs. Mint has relaxing properties that help us sleep for longer hours and it also improves our overall sleep quality. If you cannot get mint, some use peppermint. Though I no experience using it, it is said to be equally effective.
Here, we are referring to a freshly brewed tea from fresh mint leaves made strong about 30 minutes before you sleep. Use a big handful of the leaves for just one cup of tea and add honey not sugar if you need a sweetener.
habits That combat insomnia
Some habits to improve if you want to get rid of your insomnia permanently:
- Avoid over-eating just before (at least 1 hour) sleeping.
- Eat about 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid using any digital device at least 1 hour before bedtime.
- Keep away all digital devices about 2 hours before bedtime and engage in some meditation or relaxing exercise like yoga. This will calm your body and subconsciously prepare it for sleeping.
- Avoid eating stimulating foods such as coffee, chocolate, etc. and also habits such as drinking and smoking from the late evening because they keep you awake
- When you feel the need for a refreshment, you can select from some of the recommended teas and foods in the list above
- Have a comfortable sleeping area with dark curtains and it should be away from all noise.
- Avoid rigorous activities or exercise just before sleeping (2 hours) as it keeps the body awake and alert. It is recommended that you exercise during the day. That it is good for your health and can actually improve your insomnia.
- Eat a healthy, nutritious balanced diet as insomnia can be exacerbated by deficiencies of some minerals and vitamins e.g magnesium
- Try not to sleep during the day even if you feel tired as your need to re-adjust your body clock to sleep at night.
- Take a warm shower just before you sleep.
- Have and maintain a regular sleep schedule for when you should go to bed and when to wake up to train your body clock
You can read more on the help guide website.
It is widely known that a healthy adult needs at least 6 hours of sleep and optimally about 8-9 hours of sleep daily to be healthy. Therefore, it is important for our health and well-being that we get enough rest so that our bodies can function properly.
Many of us know that sleeping pills (without the need to be said) are bad for our health and the frequent use of them can have serious consequences. In most cases of chronic insomnia, they can be treated and cured with the appropriate remedies and therapy. So don’t despair yet. Have faith.
It is not enough to use remedies if you will continue your bad habits or when you don’t know the root cause of your sleeping problem. I will recommend that you investigate yourself and your environment so that you can permanently stop this condition and improve your health once and for all.
With the stress that many of us are going through today, it is no wonder that even on the google trends graph, insomnia searches are increasing every year. As we mentioned earlier, stress is a major cause of insomnia. So, we should try to take care of ourselves because stress is a leading cause of many diseases beyond just insomnia.
I hope you found a lasting solution to your insomnia from these remedies. Please rate this article down below so that I can improve my writing skills and delivery.
Thank you for stopping by and have a nice day.