Have you ever spent the night tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep? Or felt like you slept through the night only to wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed? Dealing with sleep issues can definitely take a toll on a person and can leave you feeling lethargic and irritable during the day. Whether you’re dealing with occasional insomnia, or have an ongoing sleep disorder, it can be hard to make it through the day if you’re not sleeping well. Thankfully there are some home remedies to try for a good night’s sleep. But, first let’s take a look at the two most common sleep disorders people struggle with.
Common Sleep Disorders
- Insomnia – Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. It affects a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It can leave you feeling tired and cranky during the day, with little motivation to carry on your day-to-day tasks. Some causes that can bring on insomnia can be stress, grief, depression, illness or shift work. You can have mild insomnia, where it only affects you at certain times of higher stress, or it can be more chronic, where it occurs night after night.
- Sleep Apnea – This is a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during the night. If you’re a person who snores a lot and feel tired after a full night of sleep, chances are you have sleep apnea. In more extreme cases, a person will gasp for air during sleep. Sleep apnea can be quite serious if left untreated. Considering that someone with this disorder stops breathing repeatedly in the night, this means that the brain and body are not getting enough oxygen. This explains why a person with sleep apnea feels tired throughout the day, even after getting enough sleep.There are two different types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central. With obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is most common, there is a blockage of the airways. This is often from soft tissue in the back of the throat collapsing during sleep. With central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send signals to the muscles to breathe. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your chances of health issues such as, depression, high blood pressure, poor memory & concentration, heart issues or headaches.
If you feel this is something you are dealing with, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about it and get sent for a sleep study to test for it.
Remedies to Sleep Better
Thankfully there are things you can try at home to improve your sleep quality. Finding ways to relax is one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for a good, restful night. Here are some things to try:
- Meditation – Some people may get thrown off by the word ‘meditate’, picturing someone who has sold all of their worldly possessions and spends the days sitting on the floor chanting. What exactly is meditation? It’s getting a lot more buzz now, in this fast-paced world where so many people struggle with anxiety. It is basically just slow, steady breathing while sitting quietly, usually with eyes closed. It is learning how to be present and in the moment, quieting all the distractions that come up in your mind. It has so many health benefits, such as reduced stress, better focus and improved sleep.
- Yoga – Like meditation, practicing yoga can have many health benefits. These stretching exercises are great to do in the evening to help you unwind before bed.
- Exercise – A great way to relieve stress is exercise. It can boost mood and energy and improve quality of sleep. Mild exercise, like walking, mixed with strength training is a great way to get the heart rate up and build strength and stamina, which has been shown to improve sleep. If you are more of a night-owl, the best time of day to exercise is from noon-8pm. However, if the early morning hours are the only time you can get a workout in, then go for it. Better to get somewhat of a workout in then none at all.
- Massage – Getting a relaxing or therapeutic massage relieves pain and muscle tension and reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. If you can’t get regular massages, try doing a self-massage, using lavender oil, which is a relaxing scent that promotes sleep. Or ask your partner to give you occasional massages at bedtime.
- Dim the lights – About two hours before you go to bed, dim all the lights in your home and either keep the phone off or lower the brightness on it. Keeping lights low will boost your natural melatonin production and let your body know that it’s close to bedtime. Also, do not watch television or use your phone in the bedroom. Keep your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only.
Best Herbs or Supplements for Sleep
- Magnesium – This mineral helps with deep sleep by helping muscles relax and maintain healthy levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that promotes sleep. It helps regulate the body’s stress-response system which reduces high stress and anxiety.
- Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Taking as a supplement is beneficial for people that suffer with insomnia or do shift-work. It reduces the time people need to fall asleep and improves total sleep time. It should only be taken occasionally as it can affect how much your body produces it naturally.
- Chamomile Tea – This tea has calming effects due to an antioxidant called apigen. It has been known to decrease anxiety and improve sleep.
Getting a restful, deep sleep is so important for overall health. Proper sleep improves focus and concentration, mood and lowers your risk of getting illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or depression.
I’d love to hear what you have tried that has helped you sleep better. Comment below with any thoughts or questions. Here’s to a good night of sleep! Sweet dreams.