Sleeping pills are a multi-billion dollar industry: About 1 in 25 adults has taken a prescription sleep medicine in the last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. And according to Consumer Reports, Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015—a number that’s expected to reach $52 billion by 2020.
But many people these days are looking for natural remedies to help them fall asleep. Use of melatonin supplements, for exapmple, more than doubled in the United States from 2007 to 2012. And while scientific evidence for many herbal and alternative insomnia treatments is thin at best, there are some drug-free remedies that have been well studied by scientists.
According to Dr. Daniel Barone, neurologist at New York-Presbyterian and Weill-Cornell Medicine. “If getting to sleep or staying asleep is an ongoing problem, it’s important to figure out and address the underlying cause”. In the meantime, these alternative remedies may help you get back to sleep sooner.
Melatonin– Melatonin supplements are sometimes used to treat jet lag or sleep problems (insomnia). Scientists are also looking at other good uses for melatonin, such as:
Treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Helping to control sleep patterns for people who work night shifts.
Preventing or reducing problems with sleeping and confusion after surgery.
Reducing chronic cluster headaches.
Valerian Root– Studies show that Valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep, so if you can’t sleep, it may be just what you’re looking for. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, Valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness.
In folklore, pillows were filled with lavender flowers to help restless people fall sleep. Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders. Studies also suggest that massage with essential oils, particularly lavender, may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety. In one study, people who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received massage alone. Several small studies suggest that lavender aromatherapy may help reduce agitation in people with dementia. Lavender flowers have also been approved in Germany as a tea for insomnia, restlessness, and nervous stomach irritations.
Chamomile Tea-Do you suffer from insomnia like millions of other Americans? If so, you might find relief from a warm cup of chamomile tea taken about 30 minutes before bed. Molecular Medicine Reports notes:
“Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and CNS [central nervous system] depressant effects respectively… 10 cardiac patients are reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep lasting for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea.
Meditation– A 2015 study by Harvard Medical School shows that meditation for sleep — a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment — can be a powerful solution to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The 6-week study, which appears in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved 49 middle-aged and older adults who were experiencing insomnia. The first half of the group completed a mindfulness-awareness program which taught them meditation and mindfulness exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.”
If you’re spending many nights tossing and turning, you may have an excess of beta brain waves, which dominates our normal waking state of consciousness.
Beta brain waves is present when we are engaged in mental activity such as decision-making, attentiveness, and even when we are uneasy, anxious, or depressed.
Negative thoughts about your inability to fall asleep can escalate as the wee hours of the morning creep in, bringing in even more unwanted beta brainwaves.
This negative feedback loop makes falling asleep even more difficult as your clock gets closer to your dreaded wake up time.
We know meditation helps us relax, but what really happens in your brain during meditation?
Research suggests that people who meditate produce far more alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves — brainwaves that boost deep relaxation and deep sleep — and produce far less insomnia-causing, attention-inducing beta brainwaves.
Alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves produced during meditation directly cancel out beta brainwaves, allowing you to wake up refreshed in the morning and ready to perform at your best.
White Noise & Sound Machines– Most people can’t sleep with construction going on right outside or through their neighbors having a loud argument or blasting their television late at night.
Some people, however, find it just as difficult to sleep when it is completely silent in their bedroom. They find themselves attending to small sounds they wouldn’t normally pay any mind to, like the sound of their own heartbeat or breathing and the sounds of the house settling.
Some people even begin to believe they hear a high-pitched whine, just to fill the silence. Others, actually do hear such a sound, due to an auditory condition known as tinnitus. In either case, this is not conducive to sleeping well.
An alternative to combat the issue of trying to sleep when it’s too quiet is ambient sound generation. Ambient sounds are those that are consistent, quiet, and do not distract would-be sleepers from going to sleep. People often use ceiling or portable fans, wave sound machines, and white noise generators to accomplish this. Some use recorded nature sounds or music, although this can be less than ideal in shared sleeping arrangements.
So there you have it. 6 proven remedies to help you sleep. You might want to have one of these put on Santa’s list. We might find we are less naughty and more nice after a great nights sleep.
Have an idea for an upcoming article? We would love to hear from you. Contact me Eli at [email protected] “Breath well. Sleep tight”
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