How To Treat Insomnia Naturally Without Medication Fix Sleeping Problems | Best Way To Sleep Better
10 Ways To Prevent Insomnia
If you have trouble sleeping, you’re in good company. Almost everyone experiences insomnia at some point, especially as you age. Why? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), short-term insomnia can result from stress, depression, diet, or jet lag. Curing insomnia requires some lifestyle adjustments, but they’ll be worth it once you can stop counting sheep every night. Give these 10 basic insomnia solutions a try:
1. Set a schedule.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you stick to a regular bedtime routine. That means going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even weekends!). Try to avoid spending more time in bed than you need. Maintaining good light hygiene will help: Open the blinds or go outside as soon as you wake to get energized, and shut off all the lights (including electronics) when you go to sleep. (For more fatigue-fighting tips, check out these 8 simple ways to get all-day energy.)
2. Eat well to sleep well.
The key to beating insomnia isn’t just in the bedroom—it’s also in your kitchen. Eat balanced meals throughout the day, and make breakfast your biggest. Digesting food requires energy, so if you eat a heavy meal late at night, your body will be hard at work digesting when it should be sleeping. Steer clear of greasy or fatty foods before bed as well, as they cause reflux which can wake you up during the night, says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, from the Council on Science and Public Health.
3. Cut the caffeine.
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 7 hours, so if you have trouble sleeping, don’t drink it past noon. “It can also increase nighttime urination and otherwise adversely impact your sleep,” says Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. Alcohol isn’t the answer, either. About 10-15% of chronic insomnia cases result from substance abuse, especially alcohol, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Excess alcohol tends to fragment sleep and cause you to wake every few hours, so limit yourself to one or two drinks with dinner.
MORE:Your Body On Alcohol (Infographic)
4. Say om to yoga.
Gentle yoga before sleep will put your mind and body to rest. You can even do these easy poses in bed!
Short meditation:Sit cross-legged on your bed and lean back slightly onto your pillows. Rest your hands on your thighs, close your eyes and just breathe for a few minutes.
Cross-legged bend:Still in this position, bend forward from your hips and stretch your arms out in front of you on the bed. Stay here for a few minutes.
Reclining twist:Lie flat on your bed. Hug your right knee into your chest, then twist your leg across your body to the left while turning your head to the right. Lower your leg, and then do the same with your left leg.
5. Pop some natural supplements.
Sleeping pills come with a lot of risky baggage, and they’ve been linked to negative side effects like headaches, nausea, fatigue, and addiction. Try natural alternatives instead, like melatonin: It’s a hormone produced in your body that controls your sleep cycle. As we age, melatonin levels drop, so you may want to try a supplement, but be sure to read this firstso you know the best way to take it for actual results.
6. Eat cherries.
Cherries are a great alternative for naturally boosting your melatonin levels. "When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body's natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep," says Russel J. Reiter, PhD, a biomedical scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center and one of the world's leading authorities on melatonin. (In fact, drinking cherry jucie was shown to help people sleep 90 more minutes a night.)
7. Put down the iPad.
Cell phones, laptops, iPads, TVs—they all need to be switched off if you expect to get a good night’s sleep. All the way off. Light emitting devices stimulate and engage the mind, which is the opposite of what you want to be doing right before bed. (Learn how you can organize your bedroom for better sleep in by Peter Walsh.)
8. Embrace exercise.
Some say that exercising in the evening makes elusive sleep harder to find, but it really depends on the person. Find the time of day that exercise makes your body most happy, and stick with it. One study showed that having a regular exercise schedule helped insomniacs feel less depressed and more energized throughout the day.
MORE: 10 Surprising Things That Are Killing Your Sleep
9. Stay cool.
When your body temperature drops, you start to produce more melatonin, so keep your bedroom temperature between 65° and 75°F. Taking a hot shower or bath right before bed helps too, since the quick drop of temperature after you get out makes you feel sleepy.
10. Stop smoking
If you need another reason to quit, here’s one: Nicotine is a natural stimulant, so it keeps you from falling asleep. Even worse, withdrawal pangs may keep you awake at night. Studies show that smokers are four times more likely to feel not as well rested after a night's sleep than nonsmokers.
Video: Doctor, I Have Insomnia. What Can I Do? - Alon Avidan, MD | UCLA Health Sleep Center
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