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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

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

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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 October 7, 2021

Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

1. Water is a Wise Choice

Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

2. Eggs — The Most Complete Protein

Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

5. Garlic is Really Good for You

This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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9. Ginseng Tea — Chock Full of Ginsenosides

Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

10. Green Tea Fights Aging

Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

11. Dark Chocolate — The Delicious Superfood

Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

13. Raw Honey — A Natural Antioxidant

Saving the sweetest for last!

Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

Indulge in Better Health

But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

Featured photo credit: Joanna Kosinska via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
[2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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