You lie awake. You are over tired but can’t sleep. A million thoughts race through your mind, keeping you up all night. As you toss and turn, you wish that you could finally fall asleep! Stress about your meeting tomorrow and being over tired for it only adds to your frustration.
You ask yourself, “What should I do?” But you don’t have to suffer anymore. This is because I am about to show you 17 actionable steps you can take to overcome insomnia naturally without pills.
I will teach you what causes insomnia, how to change your lifestyle to bring about sleep, how to improve your sleep quality, and when to seek professional help.
These secrets are the same secrets I used to get a good night’s rest myself after battling insomnia for years. I know that they work and you are about to find out that they do when you put them to good use and finally get some much-needed rest.
You must make some changes to your lifestyle and your sleep routine, but these changes are not hard. They are certainly worth the result of good sleep!
So keep reading to learn how to banish insomnia for good – the natural way! Start to get proper rest and stop laying there in agony as you toss and turn.
There are multiple things that can cause you to stay up at night without any quality sleep. Learning the cause of your insomnia can help you find the cure. You won’t be able to treat insomnia if you don’t treat the root cause. The root cause will continue to keep you up at night until it is addressed.
These two mental conditions are the primary causes of insomnia. These conditions not only make you miserable, but they disturb the natural balance of chemicals in your brain. This makes it hard for your brain to produce melatonin, the chemical that puts you into night-night mode.So what messes with melatonin?
Stress does, for one.
Also, depression does. Depression can make you so tired that you can’t sleep! Working late and staring at blue light screens while stressing about work can also kill melatonin production, causing you to have trouble falling asleep once your head hits the pillow. Anxiety keeps your brain overactive, so that you can’t sleep because you are thinking too much.
Stress damages your immune system, which in turn needs sleep to heal.
Not being able to sleep because of stress can actually create a vicious cycle that wears your body down amazingly fast! Cue in constant colds and infections, rapid burnout at work, low productivity, muscle pain or headaches, weight gain, and depression.
If you find that you can’t sleep because you are constantly thinking about work or other concerns, or if you are tired throughout the day and dread getting out of bed to do the things on your to-do list, you are probably stressed.
Learn to minimize stress and relax before bed to shut your brain off. Also be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Some things don’t have to be done and other things can wait for another time.
One you might not have anticipated is sleep loss!
Most pregnant women complain of sleep problems, particularly during early pregnancy and the final few weeks.
A variety of factors contribute to your difficulty sleeping while pregnant. For one thing, it can be quite uncomfortable. Especially in early pregnancy, you have to frequently use the bathroom, which can disrupt your rest.
Finally, hormones can make your moods and energy levels fluctuate drastically, causing you to suffer bouts of insomnia. Some pregnant women also suffer hot flashes, which can wake them up in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Sometimes, being sick can kill your ability to sleep. Even just a common cold can keep you up for hours. But there are also more serious illnesses that can lead to sleep problems in most adults.
- Sleep apnea is one of the primary sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where you stop breathing while sleeping. Your body wakes itself up to resume normal breathing. If you have sleep apnea, you might have a vicious snoring problem that your partner remarks on. You may also suffer from nightmares and wake up periodically throughout the night.
- Chronic pain or arthritis. It is hard to sleep when you are in pain! Aches and pains can swiftly kill any and all hope of sleep. As you lie there wishing that the pain would go away, the hours drag by and you don’t sleep a wink. Getting treatment for pain is ideal to help you head off into slumber land.
- Asthma or allergies and congestion issues. Being all clogged up can really hurt your chances of sleeping peacefully. Breathing issues can alert your body that something is wrong. Your body will have trouble falling asleep if it is trying to help you breathe normally. Torch the sinus issues or asthma with proper medication that does not have side effects like insomnia.
- Endocrine issues. These issues can include thyroid problems or diabetes, where your hormones are out of whack. You have to treat the hormones at the source to cure insomnia. If you notice other symptoms, such as rapid weight gain or weight loss or foul-smelling breath and strong-smelling pee, you should visit the doctor to get your blood sugar levels and thyroid checked out. Rest assured knowing you are taking care of the problem.
- Acid reflux and heartburn can keep you awake, as acid scorches the inside of your throat and makes you want to throw up. Fortunately, stomach acid issues are easy to treat with diet and some stomach aids. You can also cut down on acid issues by not eating several hours before bed and avoiding spicy foods.
If you suspect that you are sick or if you don’t feel well when you can’t sleep, you should go to the doctor. Your doctor may sign you up for a sleep study, which will determine if you have any illnesses leading to your insomnia. You need to treat them, or they will worsen.
A host of medications list insomnia as an unpleasant side effect. Here are a few insomnia-inducing medications:
- Many antidepressants increase the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in your brain. These chemicals can make you more energetic and content, which is helpful if you suffer from depression. But the downside is that they make sleep difficult to achieve.
- Dopamine agonists (used to treat Parkinson’s). These medications increase the dopamine in your brain, which energizes you. Say good-bye to sleep if there is too much dopamine in your brain. You may stay awake, or experience more stress that makes sleep difficult.
- Beta agonists. While these medications are excellent for improving your bronchial health and minimizing asthma complications, they also can disrupt sleep. Combined with asthma breathing troubles, these medications can make for a rough night.
- Amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin). Amphetamines are known for making one wired and active. Therefore, they can prevent you from falling asleep.
- Psychostimulants (caffeine included!). Psychostimulants are chemicals that are designed to make you wakeful and active. That buzz you get when you drink a cup of espresso is an example of the effect that these psychostimulants have. They can make sleep nearly impossible.
- Anti-smoking aids. Some anti-smoking medications change the chemicals in your brain, disrupting melatonin production and cutting down on your ability to get sleep, even when you are tired.
- Cold medicines and decongestants. The way these medications work is to boost your immune system and kick out the viral infection you are suffering from. As a result, your body is overactive and may not welcome sleep the way that you would like.
- Like antidepressants, these medications change the chemistry of your brain to bring about mental health. The side effect of insomnia is common with these medications.
- Anticonvulsants and seizure medications. To reduce seizures, these medications alter the brain chemistry. This can limit the melatonin production within the brain, throwing your sleep cycle out of whack.
- This medication can harm your sleep for the same reasons that beta agonists do.
- Steroids (can be found in some allergy medications). Steroids force your body into its maximum performance, meaning that you operate on overdrive. This can really mess with your ability to sleep soundly.
- Niacin can boost your mood and immunity, but it can also add to your energy. It can cause rashes and warmth, which can increase your discomfort as you try to lie still for sleep. Niacin can be found in supplements and medications, but it can also be found in enriched flour.
- Diuretics increase how often you have to go to the bathroom. It can be hard to achieve proper rest if you are always waking up to use the toilet.
- Appetite suppressants and diet pills. These pills often have amphetamines or other chemicals that act as stimulants to make you avoid overeating and lose weight. These stimulants can keep you active and hyper for days on end.
- Some blood pressure medications. These medications can elevate your heart rate and change the chemicals in your brain, leading to a lack of restful sleep.
- Vitamin B Shots. While these shots can boost your energy exponentially, they can also boost your insomnia. The rush of energy you get from one of these shots can keep you awake for long periods of time. Vitamin B supplements also work in the same way, so avoid taking these supplements too close to bedtime.
If you take one of these medications, or if your medication lists insomnia as a side effect, ask your doctor what you can do to minimize the side effect without taking sleeping pills. You may need to take your medication earlier in the day, or lower the dose.
No matter the cause of your insomnia, there are many things that you can do to improve sleep quality and get good rest. You first must identify the root cause of your sleep problems. Seek treatment and medical advice for illnesses or medications that may be disturbing your slumber. Then use the following tips to get a good night’s rest every night. You will learn about Improving your Sleep, Adjusting your Lifestyle, and Seeking Professional Help
One way to do this is by having a set bedroom ritual. When you perform this ritual, you tell yourself that is time for sleep. You start to relax naturally as you go through this ritual.
Make sure this ritual is relaxing. Start turning electronic devices off and play relaxing music. Turn the lights down or light candles instead.
Start to relax: Draw a hot bubble bath. Spray a relaxing essential oil onto your bedsheets, ideally lavender. Slip into comfortable pajamas, drink some chamomile tea, and read a boring or relaxing book.
Do these things in a similar order each evening. Also, go to bed around the same time! This ritual should help you fall asleep faster as you learn that doing these activities means it is time for bed.
Your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary. You should train your mind to accept the bed as a place where it sleeps. This means that you should not use your bed for things like work, eating, or even exercising. It is for sleep and sex only!
Also, arrange your bedroom to be more comfortable and relaxing. Use black-out curtains to seal out light, noise, and distractions. Definitely eliminate blue light emitting electronics or devices, which can kill melatonin production in the brain and thus kill your ability to sleep well. Make your bed soft, inviting, and pleasant.
Decorate using soft pastel colors or plain colors that won’t distract you from sleep and minimize decorations. There is no need to heavily decorate your bedroom; focus on relaxation and comfort over beauty and opulence.
- Try sleeping naked. Scientists are beginning to find that sleeping naked can bring about better, healthier rest and a more natural sense of relaxation, so consider going nude at bedtime if you can get away with it.
- Stick your feet out. Yup— research says that keeping your toes cool makes you more likely to dose off. So pop them out of the covers and get snoozing!
- Cover Your Eyes Even if your room’s pretty dark, there’s probably some light that makes its way in. So, if you don’t have an eye mask, grab a warm washcloth (soak and microwave for a few seconds) or a t-shirt and cover your eyes so that all you can see is darkness.
- Try White Noise. Sometimes the unbearable silence is what’s keeping you up—so, try a white noise app to fill the space with subtle sounds
- Adjust Your Temperature. Science suggests that 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for sleep.
The act of digestion can really inhibit sleep. So if you eat before bed, you might just get insomnia.
Avoid eating lots of sugar, fat, fiber, or rich foods that are hard to digest. If you must have a bedtime snack, stick to something like crackers with peanut butter to sustain you through the night without disrupting digestion.
Bonus tip: Try eating cherries or drinking cherry juice before bed!
Caffeine and nicotine, among other stimulants, are created to keep you up. So consuming them before bedtime is obviously a bad idea.
Alcohol, while a depressant with sleep-inducing properties, can actually disrupt sleep as well. It can increase breathing issues, anxiety, and nightmares. Limit the alcohol you consume before bed to just one or two drinks. A drink is usually a glass of beer or wine, or a shot of liquor.
Your brain works a lot. It needs to shut off in order to sleep.
Overthinking can be a huge factor in insomnia. You may be physically tired, but overthinking keeps you up.
- Get active. Learn how to relax your brain with things like meditation or yoga to slow it down and help it slip into the relaxation and stillness required for sleep.
- Write it down. Writing in a journal right before bed enables you to process thoughts and let them go so that you do not lie awake ruminating all night.
- Bore yourself. You can also distract your brain and wind it down by reading or watching a calm movie or listening to relaxing music. Or try a podcast or audiobook that is a bit dense and boring for some soothing background noise.Bonus tip: Check out the Sleep With Me podcast that’s literally meant to bore you to sleep (you’ll be surprised how well it works).
- Sex is good. Having an orgasm before bed naturally floods you with relaxing hormones which can help you turn off your overthinking and get some sound slumber. One other helpful tip is to resolve issues from the day, such as a fight with your spouse, before you turn in for the night. This helps you let go of issues that have disturbed or upset you so that you can simply sleep without worry and wake up feeling refreshed, ready for a new day without the drama of yesterday.
Try some natural supplements. Essential oils are also helpful. Look for lavender or jasmine essential oils or put a lavender plant in your bedroom to bring about sleep the natural way.
A salt crystal lamp releases relaxing negative ions into your sleep space, which can relax you and recharge you after a stressful day and improve sleep as a result.
There are yoga routines meant to release tension built up in your body from the day, so that you can let all of that stress go and glide into sleep without any worries or swirling, busy thoughts. Tai Chi is similar and can also be relaxing right before bed.
Practice these things daily as part of your bedtime ritual and you should notice some drastic improvements in how well you sleep at night.
Clean up your sleep with sleep hygiene. This is where you treat sleep like an important activity that you must take care of just like you take care of your appearance or your kids’ PTA meetings. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Restrict your sleep to only six to seven hours a night.
Don’t consume caffeine after morning and don’t eat shortly before bed. Make sure that bedtime is a solid activity that you don’t have much flexibility around. You must go to bed at a certain time and wake up at a certain time, even if it is your day off and you want to sleep in. Doing these things will reset your Circadian rhythm and make your body want to sleep.
If you are tired but can’t sleep, obviously your lifestyle is not set up for good sleep. Making a few adjustments to how you live can really improve sleep quality. Your daily activity carries over into the night when you lie down, so it truly impacts how you sleep at night.
Have a lifestyle that facilitates proper rest. Add health to your days and relaxation to your nights. Just a few lifestyle tweaks can really help you fall asleep at night!
A stressful life is not a fun life. And stress can really make it hard or even impossible to fall asleep at night.
- Have a routine. This can minimize stress by having a routine and planning out your day. Practice good time management so that you can get things done efficiently in schedules slots instead of running around frantically trying to get everything done before bedtime.
- Focus more. Cut out distractions and only check emails and texts at set times to increase your focus and productivity. Set priorities and don’t worry about things that are not as important until you get things that are important done.
- Let go! Choose to let go of grudges and other things that you can do nothing about.
- Have some fun. A totally stress-free life is not always possible, so be sure to incorporate something you enjoy and a relaxing activity into each day to reduce the effects of the stress you naturally experience with work, school, and other facets of normal life.
- Just breathe. When you do start to freak out from stress, learn to step back, take a deep breath, and think, “This is not life or death, so I should not get so worked up about it. Everything will be fine.” Learn a relaxing tapping ritual to help you achieve a more serene place when life gets hectic. Most of the stress we experience in our lives is actually unnecessary and we can live without it if we simply learn to banish it from our minds. CBT can really help you learn how to cope with stress in a healthy and effective way.
Exercise does so many good things for your body. One of its surprising benefits is that it can even bring about great sleep if you achieve a good fitness level.
- Type of exercise is important. Doing at least thirty minutes of cardio exercise four times a week and twenty minutes of resistance training exercise four times a week will improve your heart health and your sleep.
- Get conditioning in. Conditioning, like yoga or Pilates, is also great to do a few times a week to stretch and tone your muscles and improve your circulation. Swimming and dancing are excellent exercise routines, since they incorporate cardio, resistance training, and conditioning all in one.
- Feel good with a good body. Working out will help you eliminate stress and balance the chemicals in your brain. Plus, as you develop a great body, your self-esteem will skyrocket and you will not stay up all night feeling guilty about how you look and how you don’t bother with fitness.
- Don’t work out shortly before bed. However, exercise elevates your heartrate and floods you with adrenalin, which can be bad just before bedtime. Stick to light, relaxing exercise like walking, Tai Chi, or yoga before bed. The evening is a time for winding down in preparation for bed, so it is not a good time for hard exercise or other such physically demanding pursuits.
As an adult, napping is actually not a good thing. Limit daytime naps to one nap a day for no more than thirty minutes. No nap at all is even more helpful. Never nap within six hours of bedtime, or your chances of falling asleep are shot. Only nap when you are truly tired; if you are not tired, why force yourself to sleep?
You already know smoking is a filthy and horrible habit that will harm your health with shocking efficiency. But I bet you didn’t know that your cigarette consumption is also messing with your sleep!
Nicotine is an incredibly powerful stimulant that makes you more awake and alert. Smoking during the day raises your stress levels. Smoking close to bedtime fills you with stimulation you don’t need if you are going to sleep.
You may feel that a cigarette actually calms your nerves, but this is because nicotine also has depressant properties. In reality, though, the stimulant properties are stronger than the depressant, so that sense of relaxation when you smoke is actually false and will not carry you into sleep very well.
Quit smoking for good. If you do continue to smoke, don’t smoke close to bedtime.
Some medications cause insomnia, as you have already discovered. Check your medications’ side effects to see if sleep disturbances are listed. Then adjust when you take the medication and how much you take with your doctor’s counsel. Maybe even switch medications if your doctor agrees. Doing this can help you get sleep if you are on medications that keep you up at night or raise your stress levels.
A diet that is high in sugar will naturally make you fatter, but it will also make you more hyper and stressed. Fats and oils can bog you down and increase your risk of developing heartburn at bedtime.
Eating whole foods and lots of fiber will help you stay calmer throughout the day. Fiber can help sustain your appetite while whole foods provide you with more proper nutrition.
Eating protein and fiber as your last meal will help you avoid late night snack cravings that can make you want to get out of bed. You will be healthier as a result of a better diet. This can make a huge difference in the quality of sleep you get each night.
Sometimes, you just have to let a professional step in when your sleep issues are getting too aggressively out of hand. Sleep is very important to your overall health. Not getting enough sleep, particularly when you are tired or stressed, is detrimental to your health because it does not let your body have some time off to heal itself.
What does a lack of sleep do? It can kill you, literally! It can lead to mental problems like depression, bodily aches and pains, digestive problems, immune system suppression, and poor healing of cuts and wounds or even the common cold. You have trouble concentrating and performing, and you risk certain dangerous behaviors such as falling asleep while working or driving.On top of that, lack of sleep has been linked with higher risks of cancer. In teens and kids, it has been linked to depression and poor growth.
Therefore, you can see that treating your insomnia is essential. Please do not wait too long to seek professional help if the above tips do not do the trick.
Why You Need More Sleep:
But sometimes you have to. It is time to visit the doctor if you try all of the basic self-help tips above and they do not help. Even if you think you are in great health, there may be some medical problem lying at the root of your insomnia.
Set up an appointment with your family doctor or regular practitioner. If he cannot help, then he can refer you to a sleep specialist or psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are known as doctors for crazy people, but they also understand the mental causes of insomnia and may be able to help you out in the sleep department!
Schedule sooner than later, because going too long without sleep can really hurt you in the long run. It is better to take care of the problem now rather than later.
Video about sleep studies:
You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need therapy? I have a sleep problem, not a mental problem!” But sleep is often related to your mental processes.
If you are depressed or anxious or stressed, sleep goes out the window. CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, is an excellent way to train your brain to think more positive thoughts and handle stress in a more uplifting way.
So how does CBT work?
Often we tend to think the worst, so CBT shows you how to identify when you are being negative for no good reason. Then you can chase your ugly thoughts away with brighter, healthier ones. Once you hit a more uplifting mental plane with good thinking, you are able to sleep because you are not as depressed or stressed.
You can do CBT on yourself using a thought journal, or you can visit a counselor who will guide you through retraining your brain.
How CBT Works:
So I said that this article was meant to teach you how to beat insomnia naturally without pills. But when all else fails, there is no choice but to try pills.
Fortunately, not all sleeping pills are the same. Some have hosts of undesirable side effects, while others are gentler and more natural. A conversation with your doctor about your disrupted sleep is a good idea. See what he recommends for you to try.
In addition, talk with him to ensure that you are not taking any medications currently that are interfering with your sleep patterns. Check with him concerning drug interactions, as you do not want to take any medications together that cause harmful or even deadly side effects.
So many supplements exist out there to help with insomnia. The best part is that they are natural, so you don’t have tons of side effects or problems such as addiction and a hungover feeling the morning after, as you do with sleeping medications.
- Herbs like chamomile and valerian root can really help you achieve relaxation and sedation naturally, without dangerous pills. Make tea with these herbs, or chew on valerian root.
- A host of natural supplements containing these herbs as ingredients can be found in health food stores or natural vitamin stores. These plants have been used for sleep since ancient times, proving their effectiveness.
- Melatonin tablets are also great natural sleep aids that can induce sleep without creating dependency. Melatonin is the same chemical that your brain naturally produces to put you to sleep, so it can be a very effective supplement to take to induce rest.
I am sure that you are absolutely sick of tossing and turning at night. You are sick of being tired but not being able to sleep. When you can’t stop yawning and your eyelids grow heavy, you know that your body needs rest. But if your mind does not shut off, you won’t get that much-needed rest.
Now you have the steps that will help you shut off your mind and induce a state of slumber naturally. Remember, you don’t have to do each of these steps or stress that you won’t sleep because you missed a step. Just do what you can to relax yourself and improve your lifestyle to bring about proper sleep. The main thing is to minimize stress and increase melatonin in your brain before bedtime.
Try these steps today to get a good night’s rest! Your body and your mind will both thank you for it. You will find that life is much more enjoyable when you are not exhausted and stressed from insomnia.