Natural Methods & Sleep Lessons: Conquering Insomnia
Are you getting enough sleep at night?
Do you find yourself waking up through the course of the night, or unable to doze off before bed?
If so, you are not alone; one in four Americans develop insomnia every year. This is a growing problem in the United States that costs the country $63 billion in lost productivity per year.
So, obviously, insomnia is a huge problem.
While it is reasonable to have some sleepless nights here and there, the inability to fall or stay asleep throughout the night is irregular. Insomnia can arise for a multitude of reasons, it could be a result of poor sleeping habits, or it may stem from a short-term issue.
In the long run, sleeping pills won’t do the trick, but there are some natural remedies and lifestyle changes that you can start implementing today.
Why Sleep is so Important?
Unless you are superhuman (or amphibian), you need sleep! Your body needs to revitalize and get rest so that it can be active during the day.
So what really goes on when you’re in dreamland? Here’s the low down.
When you’re sleeping, your heart and blood vessels are healing and being repaired. Your blood pressure goes down, and the most critical organ in your body (your heart) is being revitalized.
Loss of sleep over time can lead to significant health problems down the road. Your body needs rest, and without it, you may be at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes later in life.
Fortunately, no matter how long you have been experiencing insomnia symptoms, there is an alternative way to deal with the root cause of your problem.
Let’s consider some options together and explore how they work.
Why Does Insomnia Happen?
So, why does insomnia happen to so many Americans?
Typically insomnia is due to stress, and more severe health conditions like anxiety, and depression. Insomnia can also be a result of other medications that you are taking, or any changes in your daily routine that are taking place.
Insomnia can also be the result of bad sleeping habits like eating too many late-night snacks, scrolling through your cell phone for hours, or snoozing on your couch in front of the TV rather than your comfortable bed.
Now that we know sleep is essential, and have gone over the leading causes of insomnia, let’s dive into some of the solutions.
The Risks Associated with Sleeping Pills
At first, sleeping pills may seem like a dream come true for many patients who have insomnia. But there are serious risks involved with taking prescription sleeping pills that you should be aware of.
These risks include:
- Building up a tolerance
- Drowsy driving
- Falling down
- Behavioral side effects
- Cancer and death
Studies show that you can begin to build a tolerance to sleeping pills after just 7-10 days of use. Data proves that certain types of sleeping pills like zolpidem (Ambien) carry over into the next day and cause prolonged drowsiness.
Hospital Patients on zolpidem were discovered to be four times more likely to fall than those not taking the drug. Amnesia and sleep-walking are known side effects of taking sleeping pills, in particular, benzodiazepines.
Lastly, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal people who took sleeping pills regularly were more likely to be at risk for cancer.
These risks do not sound very good but don’t be anxious, accept that the easy way out is not always the best route. And that is, simply put,- reality as it is.
The best route is to take a look at your life, your habits, your routines, and figure out what you can do to get back on the right track and sleep well.
Long Term Healthy Habits
As a naturopathic doctor, we look at long term healthy habits to prevent the root cause of your symptoms.
We just went over the root causes above, so what we are trying to prevent here is stress, anxiety, and depression.
How can you combat stress, anxiety, and depression naturally?
Here are some suggestions:
- Create a regular exercise routine
- Get some sunlight
- Stretch your muscles (yoga)
- Keep a journal
- Listen to sleep hypnosis recordings
- Get to sleep early
- Change your diet
Exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your body. Endorphins can relieve stress, boost self-esteem, fight off anxiety and depression, and improve sleep.
Try opening your blinds first thing in the morning and flooding your bedroom with natural light. This sends your body a message that it’s time to wake up, and can reset your natural clock.
Yoga gives your body the ability to curtail inflammatory responses associated with stress, try to do 5-10 minutes of stretching a day and release.
Keeping a daily journal can help you keep track of what you are thankful for, guide you towards your passions, and combat depression.
There are sleep hypnosis recordings are all over Youtube; many of them are designed to release stress, anxiety, and an overactive mind. Try one out before sleeping and they will help you pass right out.
Meditation and mindfulness also reduce the inflammatory responses associated with stress and can bring you peace and relaxation throughout the day
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have larger appetites.
This is because their leptin concentrations (leptin is a hormone regulating your appetite) drop. When your leptin concentrations drop, your body encourages an increased appetite. This connection between hunger and sleep offers additional proof that there is a connection between sleep and obesity.
Lifestyle changes can be difficult; however, if you want to prevent problems from occurring later on in life, it is import to consider giving them a try.
All-Natural Sleep Aids
While some of the lifestyle changes listed above offer benefits in the long-run, there are some natural remedies that you can try out tonight before hitting the hay!
Natural Remedies to Aid Sleep:
- Chamomile tea
- St. John’s Wort
- Valerian Root
- Tart Cherry (melatonin)
Chamomile tea has been used as a relaxation aid for centuries. It helps calm your nerves, release anxiety, and soothe insomnia: brew two or three bags for ultimate effect.
If you are struggling with an overactive mind before bed, St. John’s Wort is a lovely little weed that can relieve anxiety and depression. Steep it for a flavorful tea.
Tart cherries and tart cherry juice are filled with melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake pattern.
Valerian root has been proven to help people doze off and get to sleep faster. Use this flower under the direction of a naturopathic doctor for deep sleep results.
Take advantage of aromatherapy; lavender scents can have a powerful effect on your mood. Relax, unwind, and ease your anxiety with lavender on your pillow or by your bedside before sleeping.
Meet With Your Naturopathic Doctor
Meeting with a naturopathic doctor could help you clear up any confusion you are having about your condition. Head on in to my office in Washington DC, and we will get to the root cause of your insomnia together.