Insomnia has been around since the beginning of man, and documentation exists from as early as the 15th century that sleep deprivation was utilized to punish prisoners. So, if you’re suffering from insomnia, you’re not alone, and yes, it is anguishing.
It is estimated that about 68% of the population, approximately 164 million Americans struggle with sleep issues at least once a week. What’s disturbing is the link between lack of sleep and disease. People who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to be overweight, have strokes and cardiovascular disease, infections, and certain types of cancer than those who get enough sleep, according to research.
Sure, there’s a pharmaceutical to combat insomnia--something that will knock you out, make you feel groggy in the morning. It may cause dizziness, sleepwalking, sleep eating and other strange side effects. The risks may outweigh the benefits. Thankfully, there are natural ways to help you get your zzzzz’s without the risk, and they’re easy to implement immediately, without a prescription.
Here are some ways to help you sleep better starting tonight:
Keep Your Cool:
Did you know that your body temperature drops while you’re sleeping? Circadian rhythm is like an internal temperature gauge, adjusting your body thermostat based on your needs, and when you sleep, you need a cooler environment. Ideally, you want your bedroom to be about 65 degrees for optimal sleep.
In a 2012 study on how temperature affects sleeping patterns, over 750,000 participants were surveyed, showing that sleep disruption occurred more in summer months when it’s warmer. It showed that warmer rooms reduced the body’s ability to cool itself, which is essential for deep sleep.
Your Nose Knows:
Essential oils can help induce relaxation and sleep. Lavender essential oil, for example, has been used for ages to help reduce anxiety and sleep issues.
You can put a few drops on your pillow or in a hot bath. Soaking in a hot bath prior to bedtime also helps relax the body. The drop in body temperature after a bath can also promote deeper sleep. Other essential oils that induce relaxation and sleep include ylang-ylang, chamomile and sandalwood.
Try a Sleepy Tea:
Chamomile doesn’t just work as aromatherapy. You can drink it--and it’s delicious. Used in herbal medicine to reduce anxiety, improve digestive upset and quality sleep, drinking chamomile tea in the evening has its benefits. Other herbal teas to try include passion flower, skullcap, catnip (it excites cats but calms humans), lavender and kava kava.
Nix These from Your Diet:
You may want to think twice about caffeine and alcohol if you’re experiencing insomnia, as both can cause restlessness. Caffeine has a six hour half life, so keep that in mind if you’re reaching for a soft drink or cup of coffee around 4 PM. This means that by 10 PM, you still have half the amount of caffeine in your system as you did when you initially drank it, which may still affect your ability to sleep.
If you find your energy levels dipping in the afternoon, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue, which can be easily combated by increasing your water intake.
Sugar can also boost energy levels, so be careful not to binge on ice cream or even a cup of hot chocolate right before bed. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can disrupt sleeping patterns.
Your best bet at getting a restful night’s sleep is eating foods rich in magnesium throughout the day. A magnesium deficiency can cause anxiety, depression, muscle aches and pains, heart palpitations, and of course insomnia.
Do you frequently get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, to only find you can’t get back to sleep? Interestingly, magnesium also helps with chronic nighttime urination, helping you to get a full night’s sleep without interruption.
Magnesium also helps regulate GABA levels, which in turn, help you receive deeper, more restorative sleep. Many prescriptions and over the counter sleep medications focus on increasing GABA levels as their mechanism of action. Magnesium, however, does exactly this without any of the unhealthy side effects.
Women need about 250-300 mg of magnesium a day; men require more, approximately 400 mg daily.
Because our soil and food is not as nutrient-dense as it once was, obtaining magnesium solely from diet may not be enough, so it’s also important to supplement with a quality magnesium supplement.
If you’re mostly sedentary throughout the day, you may want to move more in order to sleep better at night.
Exercise helps reduce stress for you constant overthinkers, which in turn, regulates stress hormones such as cortisol. It also boosts serotonin levels, helping to induce sleep.
Be sure to work an exercise regimen earlier in your day, rather than later. Exercising too close to bedtime may initially increase adrenaline, which may be counterintuitive, so time it at least three hours prior to your bedtime.
Establish Bedtime Routinezzzzz:
Do you go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends? Boring as it sounds, this is the way to better sleep. Stick to a schedule and stop trying to catch up on sleep with afternoon naps or slumber seshes on weekends. The same goes for the time you wake up in the morning. Getting up at the same time every day regulates sleep patterns, as well, and provides increased alertness throughout the day, improved focus, memory and immune function.
Dim the Lights:
Well-lit rooms, TV screens, computer screens and phone screens communicate with your eyes and brain that it’s daylight and time to be awake. This causes the brain to produce less melatonin, which is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle, according to research.
Although dimming the light on your iPhone when scrolling at night may help a little, blue light from your screen might be the culprit plaguing you with insomnia. You might want to buy a pair of blue light glasses to filter the screen light or better yet, stop all screen time at least two hours before bed.
Put Your Wifi to Bed:
Wireless devices may emit electromagnetic fields or EMF, which suppress melatonin and can affect the regenerative process that restores our bodies when we sleep. EMF dangers have been researched and linked to causing insomnia, brain abnormalities and even cancer growth.
In one small study of healthy men exposed to EMF frequencies at 2-Hz in weekly intervals demonstrated sleep interruptions in both non-rapid eye movement sleep and rapid eye movement sleep phases with EMF exposure.
Experts who believe that EMF disrupts sleep patterns and may be associated with other health issues provide these tips to prevent EMF toxicity:
*Keep your phone outside of your bedroom at night.
*Consider putting your phone and other devices on airplane mode and turning off your Wifi at night.
*Limit the amount of Wifi devices you use in your home.
*Remove any metal that might be near your bed and might intensify electrical fields. Metal might include picture frames and coils in your mattress.
Supplement your Sleep:
Taken daily, the following supplements may help you get more zzzz’s
A magnesium deficiency may present as chronic insomnia and anxiety among other symptoms. Magnesium helps relax the body, but it’s important to take a bioavailable form such as magnesium glycinate. Not all forms of magnesium are the same, so research the different forms of magnesium to find the one that is best for you.
Magnesium glycinate may be the best option in promoting calm and better sleep. Our core body temperature lowers when we relax, and this decrease helps to promote better quality, more restful sleep. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, showed that glycine, a component of magnesium glycinate, provides reduces core body temperature and calms the brain, resulting in higher quality sleep. Although the testing was performed on rats, the same outcomes are believed to apply to humans.
Our Optimum Magnesium contains two bioavailable forms of magnesium:
Di-Magnesium Malate, contains 69% malate (malic acid). Malic acid is utilized as it enhances magnesium. Magnesium and malate play crucial roles in energy production under aerobic conditions or when decreased oxygen levels are present. Malic acid is known to show protective benefits by binding aluminum.*
- Supports Cardiovascular Health
- Supports Healthy Muscle Function/Healthy Nerve Conduction
- Supports Bone Health
- Supports Energy Production
- May Support Healthy Glucose Metabolism
As mentioned earlier, GABA is instrumental in getting a good night's sleep. GABA tempers neuronal activity in the brain and central nervous system to create a feeling of calm and balance. GABA is naturally produced by our body but may be taken in supplement form to help manage anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. It has a similar effect on the body as Valium, only it is all natural.
Our Just Relax™ contains a blend of ingredients in natural cherry or citrus flavor powder that supports the body's natural synthesis of catecholamines, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, hormonal balance, and healthy glucose metabolism. As a convenient drink mix, Just Relax is formulated to provide a peaceful, calm and relaxed state of body and mind.
Sleeping is fundamental to achieving optimal health. Disruptions in sleeping patterns are a way your body is communicating with you that something might be wrong. Listen to your body and support it gently with natural remedies that help you relax and regenerate to build a stronger, healthier and vibrant you.