If you are not able to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up extremely early, you are not alone.One in three people suffer from some version of insomnia during their lifetime and women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Insomnia can also be linked to genetics; about 35% of individuals who suffer from insomnia have a family history of it.Other mental, physical and spiritual health factors can play a major role in insomnia. For example, approximately 90% of people with depression also experience insomnia.Insomnia is defined as the inability to sleep, so in order to get a good night's rest, it is essential to ease, relax and unwind the mind, body and spirit.
8 Tips for Treating Insomnia:
1. Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil
Soaking in a warm bath one or two hours before you go to bed assists in detoxing and easing the body after a long, stressful day.
The reason why taking a warm bath is recommended a few hours before going to sleep is because your body temperature is a major factor on how fast and deep you fall asleep.
Your body temperature naturally drops in the evening and it is this slight decrease that signals your body that it is time to go to sleep.
So, when taking a bath, the warm temperature of the water causes your body temperature to rise just a few degrees and once you get out of the bath, the quick drop in your body's temperature not only relaxes you, but is more likely to put you in a deep sleep.
Adding epsom salt to a warm bath is also extremely beneficial to your health because it not only relieves inflammation and pain, but it also relaxes and naturally detoxes the body.
The magnesium ions in the Epsom salt not only break away and ease the body by promoting the production of serotonin, which reduce the effects of adrenaline, but they also help facilitate the body's use of calcium to transmit chemical signals throughout the nervous system, which in turn ensures that the nervous system is balanced, not over-activated or stressed.In addition to the epsom salt, lavender essential oil is excellent to add into your warm bath because it is known for its medicinal properties.
Lavender oil benefits the body in many ways such as: Alleviating headaches, improving sleep, reducing anxiety, balancing emotional stress, improving skin issues (i.e. acne, skin fungus, psoriasis, and eczema, burns and wounds)
2. Exercise: Yoga or Qigong
Low-impact exercises are a great way to unwind the body for a good night's rest.
Yoga is an ancient practice founded in India that incorporates the sensations of deep breathing with a series of poses designed to stretch the body and strengthen the mind. Researchers at Harvard University discovered that yoga improves aspects of sleep, including: the total amount of time you remain asleep, the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and deepening the sleep.
Yoga is excellent for reducing feelings of fatigue, improving sleep quality, improving vitality, respiration and energy, and releasing anxiety, depression and pain from the body. Here are a few links to help guide your yoga practice:
Qigong is also an excellent option as a gentle evening activity to improve insomnia. It is an ancient Chinese practice that incorporates soft movements, deep breathing and mediation.
Qigong is known for: lowering blood pressure, improving balance, easing anxiety & depression and relaxing the body and muscles.
3. Deep Breathing Exercises or Mediation
Dr. Weil, from Harvard University, stated that breathing practices combat anxiety, insomnia and stress because it strongly influences the physiology and thought processes, including emotions and moods. By consciously focusing on and bringing out attention to our breath, we can make ourselves relax and fall asleep.
The "4-7-8" breathing exercise is an ancient Indian practice that is described by Dr. Weil as a "natural tranquilizer for the nervous system" and eases the body into a state of balance, relaxation and calmness.
Meditation is also known to do and have the same effects as deep breathing exercises.
Here are a few links for guided deep breathing and meditation practices:
4. Diffused Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils is an excellent, affordable and easy method to relax and fall asleep. I personally enjoy diffusing lavender essential oil to help ease my anxiety and insomnia. Diffusing:
One of the easiest ways to utilize the medicinal, relaxing effects of essential oils. Most diffusers require that you fill them up with tap water and then add anywhere from 2-10 drops of essential oil(s) into them.
There are a variety of diffusers, all of which have different ways of operating. For example, some diffusers have night-lights and other diffusers have timers that can release the essential oils mist for 2-10 hours, depending on the individual settings of your diffuser.
My personal favorite diffuser is called the Riverock and can be bought on Amazon for less than $30. You can find the Riverock diffuser here!
(1) Add a few drops of your desired essential oil(s) to a bowl of steaming water. The heat quickly vaporizes the oil.
(2) Lean over and tilt your head downwards towards the bowl and place a towel over your head, taking in a few deep breathes. Because this method is very direct and therefore potent, the use of more than 1-2 drops may be overwhelming. **Please be advised that is extremely important to keep your eyes closed when using this method.**
This method involves the process of placing a few drops of essential oils into a water-based solution, shaken, and then sprayed into the air of your space or onto something such as the pillow that you sleep on to assist with insomnia (lavender essential oil is great for insomnia).
It is important to shake the bottle before spraying in order to spray the solution and not just water.
You can find a variety of empty spray bottles to create your own essential oil spray here!
5. Feng Shui
Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of harmonizing a room with the environment through the intentional design of a space.
You can help reduce your insomnia by practicing the following:
- Decluttering your room
- Making your bed in the morning
- Making sure no sharp edges are pointing towards your bed (i.e. chandeliers over the bed, unstable decorations over the bed, side table corners, sharp headboard edges, or having your bed in the corner of the room)
- Limiting technology usage and presence (especially 30 minutes before bed)
- Limiting bright lights, having calming colors
- Including small plants in your space
6. Plants that Promote a Restful Sleep
Click here for the link of plants that help ease insomnia.
7. Herbs: Valerian or Melatonin
Valerian is an herb that naturally sedates the body and has been used for centuries to treat insomnia. It is a common herb that can be found in pharmacies, food stores or herbal stores.
Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating the wake and sleep cycle of your body. In other words, it is meant to reset the body's internal clock and is a useful natural sleep aid if used properly. You can also find this in pharmacies, food stores or herbal stores.
**Be sure to speak with an herbalist or doctor before using either one of these options.**
8. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used for the treatment of insomnia (with or without medications) by using a variety of methods. This method involves participating in a structured program between you and the therapist that helps you identify and replace certain behaviors and thoughts that cause or worsen sleep problems by replacing them with healthy habits that promote relaxation and a sound sleep.
This specific method helps you discover and solve the root causes of your insomnia by using a variety of methods such as:
- Stimulus control therapy
- Sleep hygiene
- Sleep environment improvement
- Relaxation training
9. Limiting Caffeine, Nicotine and Technology
Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants prevent you from being able to sleep. For example, drinking coffee in the late afternoon can prevent you from being able to sleep at night. Other examples of caffeine include tea, energy drinks and sodas.
Nicotine, a component found in tobacco, is another stimulant that interferes with sleep, if you use tobacco products in the late afternoon and/or evening.
The same goes with technology. Allison Harvey, a professor of sleep and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, states that interactive technology such as video games, social media, and laptops, tablets and phone usage stimulates the brain and can make us more alert, leading to insomnia. Harvey also states that light from phone and computer screens also interfere with the body's circadian rhythm, leading to poorer sleep. It is recommended to have an "electronic curfew" at least 30 minutes before bed in order to ensure a good night's rest.
10. Himalayan Salt Lamps
Himalayan salt lamps release a very beneficial and necessary element called negative ions. These negative ions are not "negative" in anyway. In fact, they neutralize positive ions, and positive ions have been found to cause a variety of harsh health problems such: Insomnia, allergies, anxiety, asthma and depression. Positive ions are emitted from technology. These health issues occur because our brain is exposed to the electronic smog 20x more than it can handle. Thus, it is extremely important to neutralize these positive ions.
The negative ions that are naturally emitted from the salt of the Himalayan salt lamps neutralize these bad positive ions because opposites attract. The negative ions are released into the air and attach themselves onto the positive ions, neutralizing the air and therefore naturally detoxing and purifying your space.
Himalayan salt lamps help improve sleep because over-exposure from positive ions can negatively impact the quality of your sleep, therefore causing insomnia. By naturally neutralizing and therefore getting rid of the positive ions, the improved air quality allows you to get a better night's sleep, as well as positively enhances your mood by boosting serotonin levels, improving concentrating and improving blood and oxygen supply to the brain and organs.