It can often get quite frustrating lying wide awake in your bed when it’s time to sleep. Not only does it mess up your sleep cycle, but it can also leave you tired, irritated and lethargic. Do you regularly suffer from chronic insomnia and don’t want to rely on sleep medicine to treat it?
Well, then you’ve come to the right place. Having suffered from this problem for many months now, I’ll give you some of the tips that have helped me regain deep sleep without the need of popping any pills. Take a look.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
Sleep Hygiene refers to a group of simple habits you can adopt to improve your chances of falling asleep easily and have a good sleep that is uninterrupted and deep. By consistently following these habits and having a stable schedule, you can expect to rid yourself of insomnia over time. Take a look at these lifestyle tips and habits:
Daily Lifestyle Tips to Improve Sleep
- Have a stable sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at a set time nearly every day
- Exercise every day for at least half an hour; only exercise rigorously during the mornings and try to do relaxing workouts during the evening
- Get plenty of light, either through sunlight or a lightbox, first thing in the morning to help your brain wake up and synchronize your body’s natural rhythms
- Associate your bed with sleep and sex only; don’t work, eat, or watch anything on your bed
- If after twenty minutes you still can’t sleep, get up from bed and do a relaxing and light activity, such as reading, and return to bed when you are sleepy
- Change your sheets every 1-2 weeks
- Try earthing sheets to see if they improve your sleep
- If you have a pet sleeping with you who makes a lot of noise during the night, consider situating the pet elsewhere
- Reduce stressors in your life if it’s stress and worry that’s keeping you up
- Associate darkness with sleep; this will help you go to sleep at night more easily
Things You Can Do Right Before Bedtime
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine with candles, light music, and low lights
- Go to bed only when you are feeling tired and sleepy
- Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed
- Make sure your room is adequately dark and there’s no noise or disturbance in the room; use eye masks or earplugs if necessary
- Ensure that your bed and pillow are comfortable
- When you’re going to bed, turn off alerts and sounds on your phone
- If there’s something on your mind that’s hindering your sleep, write it down on a piece of paper and revisit it the next day
What To Avoid
- There are some habits, food, and drinks that are part of your sleep hygiene, which you can avoid in order to sleep well and go to sleep quickly at night. They are the following:
- Do not have caffeine after noon; these include coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc
- Avoid alcohol in the evenings; it may make you drowsy at the moment, but later on, the sleep wears off and your insomnia returns
- Avoid having chocolates, nicotine and other stimulants right before bedtime
- Don’t have a large meal at night or right before sleeping as it can activate your digestive system and contribute to insomnia
- Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed
- Avoid screen time before going to sleep; such as by using your phone, laptop, television or other device
- Limit daytime naps as much as you can, even if it is to catch up on missed sleep
- Don’t drink a lot of fluids before going to bed, as you will need frequent visits to the bathroom
If Sleep Hygiene Does Not Work
Practicing sleep hygiene consistently can often be enough to rid people of insomnia. However, for some people who struggle with chronic and severe insomnia, that may not be true. Moreover, sometimes, it may be hard to stay disciplined and follow these habits. In these cases, it might be time that you start considering other methods to manage and treat your chronic insomnia. These include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
This is a popular and thorough type of therapy that helps individuals improve their daily habits, correct their inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that contribute to irregular sleep patterns, and teach them how to modify their behaviors to achieve better sleep.
This therapy takes place over the course of weeks and months but is a longer-term solution to insomnia. In some cases, it is even more effective than sleep aids. Moreover, if you have been consuming sleeping pills but want to stop, CBT can help manage insomnia and reduce the side effects of stopping the pills.
In this type of therapy, a behavioral therapist works with you and devise a treatment plan tailored to your case. The treatment plan can include the following:
- Help deal with ongoing stress and anxiety contributing to insomnia
- Sleep stimulation methods
- Scheduling your sleep
- Using a sleep journal
If Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not something you can get access to, then another method of improving sleep for the longer term is practicing mindful meditation. This consists of slow and steady breathing while sitting down in a quiet and calm area. During meditation, you take a closer look at your breathing, thoughts, and feelings as you breathe in and out.
Mindfulness meditation aids in sleep by improving your concentration, reducing stress and anxiety, and boost your immunity. Paired with a healthy lifestyle, it can genuinely help manage insomnia. You can meditate on your own or with a group, and it can be either in the mornings or evenings. You could even practice meditation right before going to bed.
Research (link) has shown that massage therapy can significantly contribute to better sleep and falling asleep quickly as it helps the body relax and unwind. It also reduces pain, anxiety, stress, and depression. If you can’t get a professional massage, you can always self-massage or ask your partner to give you a massage. As you are receiving the massage, try to breathe slowly and focus on the movements and sensations.
Aromatherapy may not have enough evidence to show how well it works, but it can still be effective for some people. Oils like lavender have been used in folk therapy to help fall asleep. This is because this oil can help reduce stress and pain and manage depression. You can place this oil in your bath, a few drops on your pillowcase or handkerchief, and place lavender sachets around your room. You can also ingest lavender oil through capsules, and that would be effective as well.
As mentioned earlier, physical exercise can improve sleep and help you fall asleep quickly. Performing light movements and relaxing exercises, such as yoga, can alleviate stress and improve your bodily functions and boost mental functioning. Choose movements that focus more on stretching the body and breathing.
When You Can Use Sleep Aids
Sleep aids should only be taken for short-term use, such as traveling or having a stressful week of work. Suppose your symptoms of insomnia continue to persist for weeks, even after following sleep hygiene tricks or employing any of the above-mentioned relaxation methods and therapy. In that case, it is time to consider visiting a doctor. Persistent insomnia can be an indication of an underlying health concern.
However, when all else fails, it might be time also to consider medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get rid of insomnia without medication?
By following the above-mentioned sleep hygiene tips or employing cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, massage therapy, or yoga.
Can insomnia go away on its own?
Short-term insomnia can go away on its own, especially if you follow some sleep hygiene habits. However, if it’s chronic insomnia, it will likely not go away on its own.
How can I get rid of insomnia naturally?
Yes, you can! There are a number of natural remedies you can use to get rid of insomnia and get good sleep, for example, waking up and sleeping at the same time, improving your diet, avoiding caffeine after noon, and avoiding heavy meals or eating before sleeping.
How long does it take to recover from insomnia?
It can take days or weeks to recover from insomnia. Each individual has different sleeping patterns, triggers, and whatnot, so it entirely depends on person to person. However, typically, one hour of lost sleep requires four days to recover.
This was everything about the ways to get over insomnia without the use of medication. Sleep aids should always be the last resort for people because they can be addictive and have harmful side effects. It’s best to use natural remedies to fix your sleeping patterns and inability to fall asleep. We hope this helped you; if you have any comments or questions, feel free to let us know down below.