6 Natural Insomnia Remedies
It’s that age-old question, how to fall asleep? Can anybody tell me how we do it? Well, I’m going to answer that question and help you to fall asleep fast and rest well tonight.
I’ve struggled with sleep for most of my life and I’m pushing on 30 now so it’s time to get a grip and get to sleep. I am sure many of you are in a similar boat – the advice in this article is timeless and will help anyone at any age.
No one ever teaches us how to fall asleep. Do they? There is no class in school called ‘sleep studies’ so for a lot of us we can go our whole lives without being taught enough about one of the most fundamental parts of being alive; sleep.
I recall as a teenager I never really had many issues with sleep – in fact I think I sometimes saw sleep as an inconvenience. We’ve got other things to do, people to see, places to go and parties to attend. Other things were far more important than sleep. But as I’ve grown older and my priorities have changed my desire to stay up to see the sunrise is virtually zero and my desire to get a full night’s sleep is endless.
I have been thinking a lot recently about why it was easier to sleep when I was a teenager or younger and the answer I have arrived at is anxiety. You see, for most us (but certainly not all of us), we had a whole lot less to be anxious about as teenagers. Nestled safely in the bosom of our parents we didn’t really need to concern ourselves so much with worry. Finances are taken care of, things like clothes, roofs, and food – those concerns are all but removed from us. It is not until we are adults with our own houses, earning our own money, trying to make our own ends meet that these anxieties can occur.
The reason I picked money as an example is that money is an almost universal concern that I am sure anyone reading can empathize with but you can replace it with all manner of things. The brain often associates the bed with safety and so often it will feel safe to worry about things. This is an example of our brain being silly because it can stop us from sleeping.
Trick the brain and learn how to beat insomnia
The brain thinks it’s so smart and knows exactly what we want and need to do. Well, I got news for your brain, you’re not so smart. And the brain can be tricked. When the brain starts ruminating about something you need to convince it to stop. That can actually be easily achieved by telling the brain to stop. Say it out loud and see what happens. Your brain will be blank. It won’t have anything to say. It has nowhere to go.
Once we’ve got to this point the real task begins. Falling asleep. So how to fall asleep, you need to relax. Focus on your breathing for a little while. Big inhales, hold, 1, 2, 3, and exhale again. Relax your muscles and feel the comfort of your bed. Now the trick for me is letting your mind wander about something mundane. If you can keep your mind on something like a trip to the supermarket, you’re going to buy some fish. What you want to do is let your brain take control of this thought while it’s getting sleepy. If for any reason your brain wanders back to ruminating about something negate, repeat the process. STOP! And breathe.
When I notice myself falling asleep it’s always when my mind wanders from a random thought into something a little nuttier. This I can only imagine is the start of dreaming. When I was younger I took an interest in lucid dreaming so sometimes I can catch myself falling into one. This is what I recommend. Thinking about something mundane and letting that thought morph into a dream. It can happen quite quickly as long as there are no distractions and your environment is set up properly.
The right environment to fall asleep
So now I’ll run through a few tips on how to fall asleep and what to do with your bedroom. Some people do find it naturally very easy to sleep, they aren’t as bothered by noises, or light sources which could irritate some who struggle to sleep. How I wish I was one of those people, but sadly I am not. Anything that can annoy me, will annoy me. I have a little kitten who loves to cuddle up to sleep. Sadly the noise of his grooming is enough to stress me out so he has to sleep in the living room.
When my ex-girlfriend said she wanted to move into town I was a little apprehensive at first as I was worried about the noise levels. We ended up getting a ground floor flat almost in the city center. However, living in town would have lots of benefits, including significantly reducing my commute. To my surprise though our flat is relatively quiet. I have lucked out that I live just far enough away from the noisy areas. Aside from the occasional rowdy passerby and the occasional party in the block of flats, it’s pretty noise-free here.
The only issue comes when it rains. When it rains I can hear a drip outside the bedroom doors. When this happens all I can do is put something on low to muffle the noise. What I choose to do is put on NetFlix and watch a sitcom that I have seen before. I put my phone under my pillow and listen rather than watch. This actually aids me in falling asleep as I am barely paying attention to it and it can help my mind to wander off and into a dream. I find it important to hide the phone under the pillow to avoid any light disturbance.
How to beat insomnia in Your Bedroom
So how do we make our bedroom the best place to sleep? What will help us get to sleep quicker and won’t distract our minds when we’re trying to fall asleep. Our bedrooms should be a safe space and our sanctuary. We should look forward to getting into bed at the end of the day – we deserve it.
- Aromatherapy: Make sure the bedroom smells nice. Lavender is supposed to be very calming so you might want to invest in a small bottle of lavender spray. Or burn some lavender incense before bed.
- Get rid of light: Any light sources can convince our minds it’s still bedtime. So remove all laptops, TVs, and phones from the bedroom. Stop looking at them. And if you do anything that emits a small light you can cover it with some black tape.
- Relax: Take half an hour before bed to relax. Read a book in dim light, listen to a podcast and focus on your breathing. It helps to have an at night ritual that could help your brain and body know to get ready for bed.
- Routine: Routine is helpful for sleep. Try and get to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Shower: Take a warm shower around 15 minutes before bed.
- Mattress: Your mattress is so important and you spend so much time on it so you should really consider investing in a comfy mattress.
All of the above tips will help create a comforting and relaxing environment which will be ideal for falling asleep. Take the tips and combine them with letting your mind wander and drift into a dream. You will be well on your way to having a happy night’s rest every night.
Will napping stop me from falling asleep at night?
The short answer is: no. At least, it shouldn’t if you nap properly. Naps are incredibly useful and can help you have more energy throughout the day. The trick is to keep the nap short. Around 20-30 minutes. Longer and you run the risk of feeling a bit drained when you wake up. It would also be advised not to sleep too late in the day as this will have a direct effect on your ability to fall asleep.
The Spanish are well known for incorporating naps, or a siesta. Typically this would be early afternoon after lunch. It’s a practice that happens in warmer countries. The reason is that the warmer you are the more energy you are using and it can be tiring. So having a nap in the afternoon can help you feel revitalized. This same practice can be said for all kinds of people. There’s no reason you shouldn’t feel like you can have a nap if you want one.
The trouble is work and school can certainly interfere with the desire to nap. You have to work around quite rigid schedules. Plus work doesn’t often provide a safe place to nap (although if you have the option you could pick your car). I went through a nap phase a couple of years ago and I am almost ashamed to say I picked the disabled toilet floor. However, it helped me get through those days. So really it was a win.
Falling asleep tonight
You can try this out tonight! Give it a go and let me know if it works in the comments below. The idea here is to discourage rumination and encourage imagination. Bring on the dreams and you will be able to lull yourself to sleep. Just remember to acknowledge your brain and shout stop when you need to take back control. Bedtime is not the right time for obsessively thinking about something negative.
Hopefully, you will be able to bring on sleep quickly and be able to sleep soundly throughout the night. This one works for me and it can actually be quite fun, especially if you have any experience with lucid dreaming. If you don’t though it could be a cool hobby to take up and will make bedtime more exciting.