I’m no stranger to insomnia. When I was a teenager, our family nurse practitioner prescribed me a strong dose of diphenhydramine to help me fall asleep better. I didn’t like taking it, though, as I would wake up feeling very drowsy. Not the best thing for a teenager who already had a hard enough time getting out of bed.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to find natural ways to help myself fall asleep so that I wouldn’t need to depend on medications that made me feel drowsy.
The most important component in learning how to fall asleep naturally is to create a bedtime routine. Our bodies thrive on routine. Hormone production depends on it. And it is much easier to fall asleep at night when your body knows that it’s time for that transition once you start going through the motions of a sleep routine
What does that look like? It’s different for everyone, but can start with you telling yourself it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. It can include the following remedies and practices:
Certain herbs have very relaxing properties to help you get to sleep. You can try making a tea out of just one herb, combine a few into your own tea, or buy a special herbal tea for sleeping. Either way, here are a few herbs that can help you get to sleep easier:
- Chamomile – This herb is a well-known, relaxing herb.
- Catnip – Not just for cats, catnip is an anti-spasmodic and sleep aid.
- Lemon Balm – Lemon balm soothes both the digestive and central nervous systems, helping you relax.
- Valerian – This herb acts more like a (mild) tranquilizer. It can be used as a tea if you really have problems getting to sleep. Many natural herbal sleep teas on the market contain small amounts of valerian root.
- Hops – Ever get sleepy when drinking beer? Hops flowers are very relaxing and used to promote sleep.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is well-known for its calming effect. We use it often in our house for calming crazy kids and to help everyone relax before bed. Lavender essential oil is an oil that can be used neat (meaning it doesn’t need to be diluted) and is a safe remedy to use on children.
Try applying a drop to your temples, adding a drop to your pillow or applying a drop to the bottom of your feet for fast circulation throughout your whole body. You can also diffuse it in your room/house using an essential oil diffuser.
Some of us look for any excuse to take a bath. And for good reason. Warm water is very soothing and soaking in water can help you relax if you’re too tense to sleep. It’s also a great way to calm your mind. Sometimes, the reason I can’t sleep is because I can’t “turn off my brain.” Taking a bath and intentionally clearing my mind helps with that. I also add epsom salts and lavender essential oil.
Many of us are deficient in magnesium, which can cause things like muscle cramps and insomnia. While you could take a supplement, applying it topically is a great way to increase your intake. This way helps you absorb it easier and prevent the diarrhea side-effect of ingesting too much magnesium. You can do so simply by adding epsom salts to your bath (follow the directions on the package – typically 2 cups) or by making your own magnesium lotion. (Don’t want to make your own? Find magnesium lotion here.)
One of the main reasons I sometimes have trouble falling asleep is because of muscle pain. Thankfully, I’ve found that by doing a short bedtime yoga routine, I can stretch all of my tight/sore muscles, enabling them to relax enough for me to fall asleep easily.
This is also a great time to clear your thoughts, meditate and pray so you can easily transition into sleep.
Turn Off Screens
While not your typical natural remedy, I had to include this method. It is one of the easiest (and hardest) ways to get more sleep. It’s tempting to stay up too late looking at screens. I know – I can get a lot of work done while the kids are asleep. (Sometimes Facebook counts as work …). However, staring at a screen at night is like resetting your brain, waking you up when you should be winding down to go to sleep. A simple solution? Make a “no screen” rule an hour before bed. In our house, I aim to shut off the computer and put away my cell phone by 9 pm.
Have you tried any of these remedies? What works best for you?