It is estimated that Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids in 2016. A number that is touted rise to almost $52 billion in the next three years. That is an indicator of a deep rooted problem in American adults who are unable to get some much needed shuteye every day.
A recent survey by Consumer Reports has revealed that 164 million American adults find it difficult to get restful sleep at least once a week.
Blame it on the extra work hours or the invasion of gadgets into lives, people are struggling to sleep. And the sleep aid industry is churning out everything from miracle supplements to white noise machines to help, laughing all the way to the bank in the process.
If you are struggling from sporadic episodes of insomnia or are a chronic sufferer, then skip the Ambien. It will help you get only 8-20 minutes of additional sleep anyway.
Instead, here are five natural ways to deal with insomnia.
This is not the most exhaustive list of natural remedies for sleeplessness. Nor is it assured that these methods will work for you. But even if it helps you sleep for a few extra minutes each night, it’s worth a shot.
It does not have the side effects that come with sleeping pills after all.
Adjust the body clock
You cannot just hop on to bed and hope to doze away into slumber land straight away. Instead, program the body and get it ready for sleep by starting to finish all your chores, shutting away any electronic devices and getting into bed at least an hour before sleep time. You might have to spend 15-20 minutes trying to meditate and flush out any negative thoughts out of your mind. Since this is not an external aid, it may not work right off the bat. But persistence pays for the betterment of your health.
Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that is released in the absence of light. It is responsible for your body’s sleep and waking cycle. The problem is that taking melatonin supplements has always produced mixed results for insomnia. It does help in some situations, like for example, if the person has jet lag or has been working extended night shifts. However, there are some natural remedies like cherry juice which is high in melatonin. Almond milk due its high calcium content also helps the body release melatonin. Add these to your bedtime routine and you will find it easier to sleep.
Cut down on Caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a known stimulant that releases adrenaline and its stimulating effects last in the body for almost 6 hours. So if you are guzzling coffee throughout the day, you are very likely to find it difficult to fall asleep. Cut down on your caffeine intake. Alcohol may knock you off sooner but your REM sleep stage (which is crucial for restful sleep) is disrupted and reduced. That’s the reason for the day drowsiness and lack of concentration that follows a night of binge drinking. (https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20130118/alcohol-sleep#1)
The Sleep Chamber
Create an environment that helps you get uninterrupted sleep. Any device that lets out a glowing light, including digital clocks, cell phones, photo frames should be removed from the room that you sleep in. Draw the shades, cut out outside sources of light and noise. Try and set the room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees for maximum comfort as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
Hit the gym
Exercise in almost any form, be it aerobics (moderate intensity), Yoga or Tai Chi helps in releasing endorphins or feel good hormones. This helps to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms which are pronounced in people with insomnia. Exercise also has an effect on the circadian rhythms, also known as the body clock. Multiple studies have revealed that people who exercised for more than four weeks fell asleep faster than the ones who didn’t. Also, it helped to increase the duration and quality of sleep.
There are some other methods also worth a mention. Valerian herbal tea for example, has mixed reviews. Some swear by the effectiveness of the herb to induce sleep. Others, feel that it’s nothing but a placebo effect.