All too often we hear of doctors jumping the gun and prescribing sleeping pills to patients who complain of suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders. While these medications can be helpful in certain situations, they are also known for being heavily addictive, as well as having a number of side effects such as dizziness and headaches. Insomnia sufferers may benefit from trying some natural sleep remedies which are known for their sleep-inducing effects. We’ve made it easy for you, with a list of tips and recipes for making easy, natural sleep remedies at home.
- Snack on tryptophan-heavy foods
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid known for its sleep-inducing effects. It helps raise both serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, coercing our bodies to crave sleep. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce tryptophan on their own. The good news is that we can obtain it through eating protein foods, such as meat, almonds, milk, and eggs.
The World Health Organization recommends an average daily intake of approximately 300mg of tryptophan per day. By combining a healthy intake of tryptophan-heavy foods with carbohydrates, an improvement in sleep cycle is more likely. Some easy-to-make snacks include roasted soybeans, canned tuna, peanut or almond butter on toast, and pistachios.
- Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Although magnesium is one of the most common minerals on Earth, up to 80% of us may not be receiving the recommended daily intake. Insomnia is commonly a symptom of a magnesium deficiency. Before we can fall asleep, our bodies and brain must begin to relax. Magnesium plays a role in this by activating the nervous system responsible for calming the body. This means that the mineral plays a role in both helping us to fall asleep, and ensuring that the sleep we do get is of high quality.
The great thing about magnesium is that there is no need for supplements as it is commonly found in a wide variety of foods. If you or your doctor believes that a lack of sleep may be linked to a magnesium deficiency, try incorporating quinoa, spinach, kale, nuts, black beans and brown rice into your weekly meals and snacks. Magnesium is also found in water, so make an effort to consume between 2.7 and 3.7 litres of water per day. A simple cup of milk contains 100mg of tryptophan as well as calcium and magnesium, the perfect, comforting night-time drink.
Magnesium not only helps you get to sleep, but it also helps alleviate anxiety and depression. Those who suffer from anxiety and depression often experience restlessness at night when trying to fall asleep. Magnesium can enhance the effectiveness of standard treatments for such issues, allowing for an improvement in sleep cycles.
- Drinking Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is one of the most effective remedies for sleeping disorders, highly regarded for its tranquilizing and sleep-inducing effects. The tea is made from the flower of the chamomile plant which is commonly grown in Europe before being dried at the right temperature.
Chamomile tea is most effective for combating insomnia when consumed thirty minutes before sleep. Easy-to-use tea bags can be purchased from most grocery stores, and you just need to add boiling water and allow the tea to steep for a couple of minutes. If you’re feeling more adventurous and have access to fresh flowers, try making your own tea. Add 3-4 tablespoons of chamomile and a mint spring into a teapot. Add 8oz of boiling water, and leave for 5 minutes. A strainer can be used to separate the flowers from the tea, leaving you with a hot tea ready for sipping.
There are numerous positive effects provided by chamomile, including the promotion of sleep, alleviation of anxiety, and an improvement in mood. However, there are still questions as to how exactly these benefits are produced. One theory is that the chemicals found in chamomile bind themselves to certain neurotransmitters in the brain which are known to promote sleep. This leads to a fall in brain activity which has a sedative effect. The herbal flower is also known to relieve stomach cramps, menstrual disorders, and muscular spasms.
- Upping Your Melatonin Intake
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced within the brain’s pineal gland. At night, following sunset, the pineal gland is activated by the presence of darkness and our body begins to produce melatonin. This means that after approximately 9PM, increased levels of melatonin within our blood stream causes our body to become less alert, a sign that we are ready to sleep.
During daylight hours, or in the presence of artificial lighting, melatonin is not produced. This explains why some of us may find it difficult to sleep during summertime when the sun shines for longer each day, or when indoor lighting is present. Melatonin is found in certain foods, such as nuts, grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds. However, if you are experiencing insomnia or jet lag, melatonin supplements are an option. Because melatonin can be found naturally within food, no prescription is necessary, meaning that melatonin supplements are readily available in most health food stores and drug stores.
If necessary, doctors recommend taking a dose of 1-3mg of melatonin two hours before bedtime. Such a dose can raise melatonin levels in the blood from 1 to 20 times the normal amount, possibly explaining why some sufferers of sleep disorders have referred to it as a “miracle” sleeping aid. Although, we of course recommend that you consult your doctor before taking any supplements. You can also maximise the use of the supplement by following some of our simple pre-sleep tips for helping combat insomnia here from our last blog post(LINK).
- Using lavender
Lavender plants, grown in the Mediterranean, are known for their ability to relieve stress and improve both moods and sleep. As well as helping the body to unwind, allowing us to fall asleep quicker, it has also been found to increase slow-wave sleep. During this stage of sleep, the heartbeat drops to a slow pace and the body’s muscles are given a chance to repair.
There are a number of ways to incorporate lavender into your nighttime routine for better sleep. If you liked the idea of camomile tea, lavender tea is another option. Simply leave lavender petals and some mint leaves to steep in boiling water for 10 minutes before drinking. If you’re not keen on the taste, there are a number of ways to use the lavender aroma to get the same benefits.
One popular method is using lavender essential oils with a diffuser. Using the essential oil format of lavender, the diffuser sprays out a fragrant mist of lavender and water while you’re sleeping. If that’s too complicated, you can try getting creative. Grab some cotton balls and add a couple drops of lavender essential oils before slipping them inside your pillow case. You can also massage the oil into your arms and neck before sleeping for the same effect. Like most of the remedies mentioned here, lavender has the ability to decrease anxiety, as well as treating headaches and sinus infections.
All too many of us are aware of the frustration and exhaustion that accompanies insomnia. The remedies we have described here are mostly plant-based and natural sleep aids, with a wide range of other health benefits. Our Hush Weighted Blanket is also proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, helping provide a deeper sleep and sense of comfort. Who wouldn’t want that?