Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep for a sufficient amount of time during regular sleeping hours. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep, on average, but people need less as they get older, and elderly people may need as little as 5-6 hours. An occasional sleepless night won’t do any harm, although feeling tired the next day. It is often caused due to stress, anxiety, or depression and may leave person continually tired, irritable, and unable to concentrate. Constipation, dyspepsia, overeating at night, excessive intake of tea or coffee, smoking, and going to bed hungry are among the other causes. Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake. Physical symptoms such as pain, breathing problems, and hot flashes, and some medicines, can also disturb sleep.
- Difficulty falling asleep at night.
- Waking up in the middle of the night or waking up too early.
- Tiredness, daytime fatigue or sleepiness.
- Feeling stressed, anxious and irritability.
- Difficulty in paying attention or focusing on tasks.
- Tension headaches.
Home Remedies for Insomnia
- Lavender: Try inhaling lavender oil, or add it to a warm bath before bedtime. Place 1/2 oz of lavender flowers in a packet and place it under your pillow. The scent will bring sleep more quickly. Lavender is gentle sedative that is aromatic and cooling.
- Chamomile: Drink a cup of chamomile tea 30 minute before bedtime, this will encourage sleep. Chamomile is excellent for individuals who are sensitive, restless and irritable. Its slightly sweet flowers will soothe digestion and are mild sedatives.
- Bananas: Eat bananas. Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium which are natural muscle relaxants. The fruit is also a source of melatonin, which is often known as ‘sleep hormone’.
- Milk & Honey: Take a glass of milk, sweetened with honey (with or without a pinch of nutmeg) every night half an hour before bedtime.
- Valerian: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoonful of dried valerian root, steep 5 to 10 minutes and then drink it. Valerian smells kind of nasty, so most people take it as a capsule or tincture, rather than a tea. Valerian may help to sleep faster and also improve sleep quality.
- Cherries: Eat 10 to 20 cherries daily which is good for mental fatigue and stress, both of which can contribute insomnia.
- Tomato juice: Drink 1 cup of tomato juice with 2 teaspoons of natural sugar and a pinch of nutmeg at around four or five in the afternoon.
- Massage: Massage gently using sesame oil or brahmi oil on the scalp and the soles of the feet before going to bed for few minutes.
Do’s for Insomnia
- Go to bed at a consistent time every night seven days a week and avoid day-time naps.
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
- Leave your worries at the bedroom doorstep.
- Practice relaxation exercises shortly before bedtime.
- Take a hot bath or shower at bedtime which will promote sound sleep.
- Do meditation. Prayer and meditation can also help you sleep more peacefully.
- Eat foods that have a calming and cooling effect and may help you to sleep such as chamomile tea, peppermint, pears, and watermelon.
- Eat lightly if prone to heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux.
- Exercise daily which has been proven to help you get a good night’s sleep. Even a 30 minute walk in the fresh air is beneficial.
- If you can’t fall sleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and read. Don’t watch TV.
Don’ts for Insomnia
- Don’t take naps during the day, even if feeling tired.
- Avoid having a TV or computer in the bedroom.
- Avoid coffee, tea, cola and alcohol.
- Stop smoking or at the least do not smoke within a few hours of going to bed, as nicotine is a stimulant.
- Avoid hot and spicy food.
- Don’t eat a heavy or rich meal less than 3 hours before going to bed.
- If feel depressed.
- Physical symptoms are preventing sleep.
- If still cannot sleep after trying the above measures.