Today’s topic, 8 drug-free ways to get more sleep, was inspired by the doctors (and their patients) I have the pleasure of working with every day.
My day job is regional sales manager for a professional natural remedy company, and part of the way I discover what remedies a clinic may need, is by asking the doctor what conditions she see most often. And guess what comes up nearly every single time? Insomnia.
According to a poll by sleepfoundation.org:
- At least 25% of Americans take sleep meds (what’s even more alarming is the fact many people take these long-term with the O.K. from their doctors—these meds were NEVER meant for long-term use).
- Women are 1.3 times more likely to experience insomnia than men (no surprise there…how IS it that we live longer?).
- People with insomnia are 4 times more likely to suffer depression—another epidemic.
- Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a host of other issues including heart disease—yet, another epidemic.
GoodNESS, just the facts alone are enough to keep a girl up at night! Don’t fret, help is on the way…
I know what you may be thinking, “Lara, I have tried EVERYTHING natural and nothing works”.
I understand your frustration. I’ve been there. But before you resign yourself to a life of questionable sleep meds, or endless tossing and turning, try out some of our tips below. I’ll wager at least one of them could lead you to the cause of your sleep issues.
1. Turn off your Wi-Fi.
This may sound a bit out there, but I know more than one person (mothers in particular) who SWEAR by this simple trick. Wi-Fi routers (and cell phones, tablets, etc.) emit an electromagnetic field that, experts warn, could be responsible for a host a health issues including insomnia.
For more information on Wi-Fi and your health, check out this article by Dr. Mercola.
2. Try some melatonin…then switch to valerian.
Melatonin is a natural hormone supplement that helps re-set your body’s circadian rhythm. I like to use it when I’m traveling to help me switch time zones.
Even though studies confirm it is safe for long-term use, common sense tells me to use ANY type of hormone supplement sparingly. For more frequent use, the naturally sedative herb Valerian, is an effective, non-hormone, easy-to-find, alternative.
3. Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed.
Sorry peeps, you’re not off the hook just because you put your iPad or computer on airplane mode. The bright screen (even on a dim setting) may be what’s keeping you up…check out this article from CNN and consider a good old fashioned book instead.
4. Put your mind at rest.
Many of us have trouble sleeping because we just can’t switch off our brains. I think this is why us women—being the natural-born-multi-taskers that we are—have more trouble sleeping at night.
I have been able to overcome “restless-mind-syndrome” by journaling before bed. I write down the day’s victories, failures (yeah, those too), opportunities, and make a plan for the next day.
If you put your day to bed first, then you can drift off to sleep with a worry-free heart and mind.
5. Sleep like a polar bear.
Did you know the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit?
TURN DOWN THE HEAT AND PILE ON THE COVERS! Better yet, open a window for some fresh winter air…have you ever noticed you sleep better with the windows open? I sure do. It will save you money, save the environment, and save some extra zzzzzzs.
6. Try EFT
EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. It utilizes principles of Chinese Medicine and modern psychology to allow for emotional release. The process can be learned for free online or through The Tapping Solution Book…and it’s very easy to master.
Put simply, you hold the negative emotion you wish to release in your mind while you gently tap the body’s twelve meridian points (the same points acupuncturists work with) 5-7 times with your fingers.
It may sound too good to be true, but this technique has been featured in the New York Times, Dr. Oz, Pyschology Today, and the Huffington Post…and I can vouch for its effectiveness myself. What have you got to lose? Click the link and get tappin’!
7. Supplement with magnesium
We hear a lot about the benefits of calcium for sleep, but it’s magnesium that plays a major role in a person’s ability to fall asleep…and most of us are deficient. Why? Diet. Magnesium is found mostly in leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds—foods that most of us don’t get enough of.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the best dosage for sleep…and stop by the store for some kale and lentils while you’re at it.
8. Get your gut checked out
It always comes back to poop, doesn’t it?! Recent studies show that 95% of our serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) is found in our gut. This is important because serotonin is a precursor to melatonin—the master sleep hormone.
Besides sleeplessness, some common signs of gut issues may include poor digestion, food allergies, mood swings, depression, anxiety, constipation, constant sugar or carb cravings, brain fog, and fatigue.
If you suspect your gut may be keeping you up, consult a complementary healthcare practitioner who specializes in gut health and neurotransmitter therapy.
See? I bet you hadn’t tried EVERYTHING natural out there after all.
I hope this post serves as a wake-up call…or better yet a sleep-tight call…to the importance of getting to the root of sleep issues. There are sustainable, drug-free solutions out there, we just have to be willing to stay open and not give up. Our health depends on it.
How about you? Do you have any drug-free tips to share with us sleepy heads?
just for the health of it!