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15 Natural Insomnia Cures That You Haven’t Tried But Actually Work

15 Natural Insomnia Cures That You Haven’t Tried But Actually Work

It’s been another sleepless night and now you’re miserable. After all, you’ve tried all the natural insomnia cures you can think of and yet nothing seems to work.

You’ve tried cutting out out alcohol and caffeine.

You’ve tried setting a regular bedtime routine and avoiding naps during the day.

You’ve ever tried getting a brand new bed and luxurious new pillows so that you can be as comfortable.

Yet there you are, still tossing and turning night after night.

But don’t despair too soon.

Just because you haven’t yet found a way to cure your insomnia without medication that doesn’t mean you never will.

Today, we look at a number of natural insomnia cures that have proven to be effective time and time again.

Not only that, but they work with none of the side effects or negative consequences that typically come with prescription sleep aids.

Ready to finally enjoy a peaceful night’s rest?

Here are some natural sleep remedies you can try to help you start sleeping better from tonight onwards.

1. Get the right amount of exercise at the right time

Time and time again, studies show that people who exercise on a regular basis enjoy much better sleep quality than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Just before you let out a large groan and drag yourself wearily to the gym, there is some good news:

Getting exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon every day or spending every waking hour lifting weights.

Most experts recommend that moderate aerobic exercise such as walking or even an easy bike ride can do just as much -if not more- good for your sleep than strenuous exercise.

So far, so good, but that mean getting the bike out or doing push-ups just before you hit the sack?

Not exactly.

To benefit the most from exercise, schedule it for earlier in the day.

Mornings are always best, but afternoons will work in cases where that’s not possible.

If you leave aerobic exercise too late in the day, it’s likely that all the adrenalin you built up will linger on and still be there at bedtime.

The result, of course, is that when you’re trying to sleep, your brain and body are still pretty wired from the exercise and thus insomnia strikes.

The earlier you do it, the more chance the adrenalin has to wear off, leaving you feeling perfectly sleepy and ready for a long night’s rest.

2. Manage your exposure to light and dark

Here’s another good reason for taking your exercise early in the day rather than late at night:

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Exposure to natural daylight can significantly increase our energy through the day and help us sleep better at night.

So, wherever possible, it’s a good idea to get your exercise outdoors and get double the benefits you get from it.

Here’s why:

Light and dark influence the body’s circadian system which regulates our sleep.

Get plenty of light early on, and we have plenty of energy to burn off during the day, which leaves our body ready for a natural period of rest later on at night.

However, if we then stay up well into the evening in bright environments, say with the light bulb on, the television on and your smartphone screen emitting light, that could mess with the circadian signals that tell the body it’s time to rest.

With that in mind, aim for as much daylight as you can and then reduce artificial lighting as the day comes to an end to improve the chances of finally beating that insomnia.

3. Enjoy a long soak

Is there anything more enjoyable than a long, relaxing soak in the bathtub after a long and stressful day?

How about a long, relaxing soak followed by an even longer, peaceful night’s sleep?

Researchers at Kyushu University in Japan found that exposure to warm water can make us feel sleepier, thus making it much easier to fall asleep properly.[1]

Again, this has a lot to do with our circadian system, which is very sensitive to body temperature.

When we start to cool down after a bath, it causes our circadian rhythm to signal to the body that it’s time to prepare for our rest. Our body responds by slowing down our heart rate and our breathing rate, putting us into the perfect state for a good night’s sleep.

It doesn’t have to be a soak in the bathtub either. The Kyushu University study found that a shower, or even a footbath, could help make us sleepier.

4. Drink chamomile tea

Of all the natural insomnia cures on our list today, this one is no doubt the tastiest.

Perfectly safe and usually delicious, chamomile is often referred to as a mild type of tranquillizer, and its effectiveness as a remedy for insomnia has been proven time and time again.

In 2011, a study was conducted involving people dealing with chronic insomnia. Those who were given 270 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days were found to fall asleep 15 minutes than those who didn’t have any chamomile extract.[2]

That’s just one of many studies conducted over the years which shows what a powerful remedy chamomile can be.

One of the reasons for this is that it contains plentiful amounts of Apigenin, an antioxidant which can reduce anxiety and help us drift off faster. Once our eyes are closed, chamomile’s other components get to work on ensuring we stay well rested through the night.

If you’re not a fan of drinking chamomile as a tea, you can also get it as an extract from most health stores.

5. Practice meditation or breathing exercises

For many people, it’s anxiety, worry or racing thoughts that keep them up at night.

Often, this can even be at a subconscious level. We go to bed fully expecting to sleep, only to find that the stress and anxiety that we’ve built up throughout the day leaves us too wired to rest.

This is where meditation or simple breathing exercises can really help out.

Focusing on our breathing and practicing mindfulness meditation makes us feel relaxed, alleviating stress, depression, and even physical pain.

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Like many of the insomnia cures we’re looking at today, this is one you can start using right now without spending any money.

The web is a great place to turn for scores of tools to help with meditation and breathing. Take a look online and see try different ones to see which work best for you.

You can also try this meditation guide: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

Or these breathing exercises: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

6. Try valerian root

If chamomile wasn’t to your liking, good old-fashioned valerian might do just the thing.

A mild sedative, valerian root has been one of the most widely used insomnia cures for centuries, with recorded uses dating all the way back to Hippocrates in the 2nd century.

Not only that, but it also proves incredibly effective to help alleviate nerves, tension and anxiety.

In fact, back in World War 2, the English would regularly use it to alleviate the stress caused by air raids.

We may live in less frightening times today, but valerian is no less effective than it was back then.

In a study published back in the late 1980s by the Foellinger Health Center in Sweden, some 89% of those taking part improved their sleep after taking it, all without any of the side effects typically caused by prescription medication.[3]

Though dried valerian root is often sold as a tea, it’s also widely available in capsule or liquid form.

7. Use lavender

To anyone familiar with lavender’s calming properties, it’s inclusion on our list today should come as no surprise.

Whether used in a bath, applied to your skin as an oil or inhaled as steam, few plants can help you relax in as many ways as lavender.

As well as providing you with lots of good stuff like vitamin A, calcium, and iron, lavender is often used to reduce anxiety, fatigue and nervousness.

Naturally then, it also works very well as a natural insomnia cure, helping to lower the heart rate and breathing rate so that you can achieve optimum sleep conditions faster than usual.

As well as all the methods listed above, lavender can also be added to foods and eaten or drank as a tea.

8. Turn on some soothing sounds

Remember when you were little, your parents helped send you off to dreamland by singing a gentle lullaby?

There’s a reason so many parents do this with their children:

It works.

When the brain hears a sound, its first action is to asses whether that sound represents a threat. For example, the slow, repetitive pattern of rainfall is simple, predictable and gently persistent, meaning our brains are unlikely to see it as a problem.

A loud, sharp, noise going off at random intervals, however, can be quite alarming, and signal to the brain that there’s danger.

So, if we surround ourselves with gentle, repetitive, low-frequency sounds when we go to bed, our brains are going to be in a much more relaxed state.

It’s for this reason that so many people struggling to find a natural cure for insomnia turn to white noise machines.

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These handy little devices block out the kind of background noises that are likely to keep them awake and instead replace them with calming sounds that help with inducing sleep.

That being said, the same sounds don’t necessarily work for everyone.

So, if you’ve tried a white noise machine (or used one of the many white noise apps available for your phone) and found that it doesn’t work, there’s plenty of other sounds you can try.

Rainfall, ocean waves, thunderstorms, crackling fires, the list goes on.

Try out different sleep sound apps or download sounds to your devices and see which one works best for you.

9. Enjoy a little passionflower

For years, passionflower tea has been used as a natural cure for insomnia, anxiety and stress.

If that alone isn’t enough to make it worth a try in your efforts to finally reclaim your sleep, this will. It tastes delightful.

Typically found in southern parts of the United States and in South America, this tropical plant comes from the same family that gives us the passion fruit, so you can imagine how delicious it is.

In this instance, the plant’s leaves, flowers and stems are dried and used to create a tea that has natural relaxing properties.

In one study conducted in 2013, a combination of passionflower and valerian was proven to be just as effective at improving sleep quality as Ambien, a prescription medication used for curing insomnia.

10. Try journaling before bedtime

If it’s worrying thoughts that are keeping you up at night, you might find journalling incredibly helpful.

Rather than giving you more things to dwell on as your head hits the pillow, writing in a journal actually allows you to effectively dump all those thoughts out, lock them away in a book and forget about them.

The act of taking worries, stresses and anxieties from within us and physically putting them down on paper can be very powerful. The effect is literally like taking a weight off your mind.

As such, you’re left feeling lighter, more relaxed, and ready to rest.

11. Use melatonin supplements

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. It’s produced naturally according to our exposure to light and dark, which is why managing that exposure ranked so highly earlier in our list.

The more sunlight we get through natural sunlight, the more melatonin we’re able to produce once we’re in a properly darkened place, such as in our bedrooms with the curtains drawn, the lights off, and our devices switched off.

If we’re still not getting enough sunlight, the body will struggle to make enough once we’re in that darkened bedroom.

Conversely, if we spend all our nights in brightly-lit bedrooms with the lights blazing, our bodies won’t have the exposure to darkness that they need to produce the right amount.

If you think a melatonin deficiency could be the cause of your sleepless nights, you can buy supplements that help your body get just the right amount to regulate your sleep-wake cycle properly.

The result, of course, is that you feel sleepy when it’s the right time to feel sleepy and ultimately enjoy a much better rest.

12. Buy some lemon balm

A 2011 study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that people who use a 600 mg of lemon balm extract every day for 15 days saw a 42% reduction in insomnia symptoms.[4]

Of course, while we’d all like a 100% reduction in our symptoms, using lemon balm in conjunction with some of the other remedies we’ve mentioned today can work wonders.

Lemon balm extract is normally used in aromatherapy for its soothing properties. You can buy lemon balm extract oil and put a little in an oil burner before using it as a massage oil or dropping a little in your bath to help wash away the stress of the day.

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13. Enjoy a simple cup of warm milk and honey

It’s sometimes said that the only reason warm milk helps us to sleep is that it reminds us of our childhood.

For some people, that in itself may be enough, but milk does much more than bring back warm, cozy memories.

It also contains plenty of tryptophan, which converts into the hormone serotonin. Serotonin acts as a natural sedative and helps induce sleep.

So why include the honey?

Well, for one thing, it makes that warm milk taste that much nicer. For another, it helps carry the serotonin to our brains much quicker, reducing the amount of time it takes for us to get into an optimum sleep state.

You can also drink it as a tea just before bedtime to help ease away anxiety and relax into the perfect conditions for quality sleep.

14. Attend a yoga class

Whilst much of yoga’s increasing popularity is down to its physical benefits, it can also prove incredibly helpful in getting you to sleep.

How?

By reducing stress.

Even at a subconcious level, stress is one of the major causes of insomnia, so anything you can do to reduce it is only going to work in your favour.

If the thought of attending a yoga class with other people fills you with more anxiety than it relieves, there’s nothing to say you can’t do it at home.

YouTube videos or DVDs can teach you the basics, and that can be more than enough to leave you with the kind of calm, easy feelings you need to finally banish your insomnia.

You can also take a look at this article for some simple yoga poses:

No More Insomnia: 5 Simple Yoga Poses For Better Sleep

15. Snack on almonds and bananas

Finally, if you prefer to take in your tryptophan by eating something rather than drinking milk and honey, then these foods are the way to go.

Almonds and bananas contain plenty of sleep-inducing tryptophan as well as magnesium. A lack of magnesium can cause sleep problems, as can calcium, which can be found in almonds as well as milk.

Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which proves very useful for muscle relaxation.

Finding natural cures for insomnia that really work for you

From delicious things to eat and drink to tips, tricks and techniques to try, we’ve covered a whole range of effective insomnia cures here.

Whilst any one of them alone might be just the thing to help you sleep, you might find that combining a number of them produces the best results.

You might, for example, try a light jog in the mornings, then take a warm bath at night before dimming the lights, sipping chamomile tea and finally retiring to a darkened room with your favourite white noise sounds.

Experiment with the different remedies featured here today and you’ll soon find an approach that finally helps you to make sleepless nights a thing of the past.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Skoyles

Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

1. For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

2. For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

4. For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
  • Shut down your thinking
  • Calm your feelings
  • Simply focus on the present moment

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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