There’s no worse feeling than crawling into bed at a reasonable hour to get your eight hours, but then you can’t fall asleep. So what do you do in this situation besides count sheep? You stare at the ceiling, let your thoughts race through your mind, and say goodbye to the good night’s sleep you were trying to get. If this happens to you, please understand that you are not alone and there are natural remedies that may help lull you to sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70 million American adults deal with chronic sleep disorders. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that about 35% of adults struggle with insomnia, a condition that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Roughly 10% of American adults deal with long-term insomnia, a condition that makes it near impossible to get enough sleep three nights or more per week.
Once you receive an insomnia diagnosis from your doctor, you may receive recommendations for cognitive or behavioral therapy. Additionally, there may be lifestyle changes and healthier habits to start adding to your nighttime routine. A number of sleep experts recommend experimenting with different modalities to help promote better sleep. Some of the more popular recommendations include meditation, stimulus control, mindfulness, hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. Continue reading to learn more about insomnia aids that may help you sleep better.
Hypnotherapy is a mind-body practice that uses hypnosis, a state of consciousness where you focus on a certain idea or image. During this process, an expert may help you alter brain activity and make you more receptive to new ideas. You are truly relaxed in a hypnotherapy session and can better control your response to stress. One study reported that hypnosis increased the amount of slow-wave sleep, suggesting it triggered deeper sleep. A separate review found that hypnosis is a promising and safe treatment for people with sleep disorders like insomnia. More research is still needed on this matter, but initial studies are very promising.
There is some evidence that supports lavender as an effective natural remedy for insomnia. For example, one study evaluated the efficacy of lavender essential oil use before bed for improving sleep. The study involved 79 college students with self-reported problems. One group wore patches with lavender essential oil on their chests before sleep while the other group practiced other sleep hygiene strategies. The group that solely practiced those strategies reported better sleep than the lavender patch group. Although lavender essential oil may promote relaxation, it may not be better than other natural sleep remedies. Another thing to consider is that some research indicates that lavender essential oil may affect estrogen and androgen hormones in the body. That can lead to unwanted side effects, so consult with your doctor if you want to incorporate more lavender into your bedtime routine.
It’s worth noting that valerian may not be safe for certain groups of people, including pregnant or breastfeeding women. Valerian root is commonly made into a tea, capsule, tincture, or tablet. Some studies have found that valerian may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, but is it an effective remedy for insomnia patients? Sleep experts caution that even though it may have some sleep benefits, valerian is not a suitable treatment for insomnia. Valerian has strong data in regards to promoting relaxation, but it doesn’t beat a placebo in meta-analysis. Consuming valerian may be the natural sleep aid you want to skip.
A 2020 study found that yoga may be a useful tool to significantly improve sleep and help women manage sleep problems. Researchers of that study observed fewer benefits in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women, as well as women with breast cancer. A separate national survey found that more than 55% of people who practiced yoga at night reported better sleep. What’s more, 85% of the people in that survey reported that yoga reduced stress levels. Practicing 15 minutes of simple yoga poses before bed can help relax your muscles and mind, calming you before sleep. Loosening up your muscles and slowing your heart rate are two primary benefits of pre-sleep yoga that may help you fall asleep more quickly.
Even though lots of people recommend chamomile as a sleep aid, does it actually help you fall asleep? One review found that chamomile may have a sedative effect on the body, but authors of the review noted that it may only promote relaxation. Several studies found that consuming chamomile in tea form or inhaling the chamomile essential oil’s aroma via a diffuser may help some drift off to sleep. If it isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it, especially when there is no harm in consuming a cup of chamomile tea before bed. It is possible that chamomile herb can interfere with certain medications, including warfarin (a blood thinner) and cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant).