Today, one of the biggest challenges that we are facing is catching up with our fast-paced life. Days are increasingly becoming shorter and our schedules, longer. But, we stay at it, not giving up. So, some times, by skipping breakfast, by over-speeding or just by missing calls, we try and stay up to speed with life. No big deal, it is fine, we tell ourselves, this is the least we can do, to fit in and make the most of our time.
Well, it truly does go well, till our sleep goes out of the window, like a sly cat and our lives begin to change.
Sleeplessness becoming an Epidemic
Losing sleep is almost like a universal epidemic!
Losing sleep may seem like a petty issue, initially. Most people mostly consider one night or two manageable. They pick up a book or magazine, listen to some soothing music to while away their night. The next day, they resort to coffee and tea to stay awake and attentive. However, this can’t be a way of life.
Sleeping is therapeutic. It is when our body heals, all damaged cells repair, the food is digested and the mind, re-energized. When we sleep, we are emotionally and physically rejuvenated. We are able to make better decisions and grasp things properly. Clearly, it is something that no one can afford to miss.
Today, millions of people around the world have trouble going to sleep. They depend upon prescription sleeping pills and aids for the same. However, it is almost like, to battle something dangerous, you are choosing something even more dangerous.
Sleeping pills, many experts warn, can prove very dangerous in a long run. They are fine for consumption during an illness or perhaps, occasionally but they can’t answer a person’s daily sleeplessness. They affect blood pressure, are addictive and in some cases, have known to cause more harm than good.
Unfortunately, many people continue to blindly trust sleeping pills to catch on normal sleep. However, there are many effective ways through which a person can, in deed, sleep better without any help from sleeping pills.
Simple Ways to Sleep without Pills
It might seem too good to be true but these are small steps that move you closer to a normal sleep. However, it is important to note that chronic insomnia needs expert treatment and more than the remedies mentioned here.
1. If Can’t Sleep, Get Out of Bed
Want to sleep? Stop thinking about it! Do something else!
What is worse than sleeplessness? Well, it is unsuccessful attempts at sleeping, night after night. It leaves you mentally exhausted, cranky and at your wits’ ends. You change sides, waiting for that one moment to arrive when you will drift off to sleep, but to no avail.
The result – you are farther from sleep than you ever were! In addition, you are angry and irritated at yourself. Among many people, this also leads to headache, high blood pressure and indigestion. So, you are not only attending to sleeplessness but its many vicious friends.
Here are some tips for the time when you can’t sleep
- Leave the bed after 30 minutes, if you are not able to sleep. There is no point tiring yourself over it especially when it doesn’t give any results.
- Walk out to a balcony to get some fresh air.
- Take deep breaths. Concentrate on each one of them. This is known to have a relaxing effect and could eventually prepare your body for sleep.
- If you enjoy music, you can play a soothing number. The trick here is to loosen your body, close your eyes and let your brain perceive the sound waves. Relax your face – no puckered eyebrows or knotty shoulders.
Chances are that if you empty your brains of everything but the music, sleep will slowly take you in its embrace!
2. Take Help of Progressive Muscle Relaxation to Sleep
Nothing lures sleep like Muscle Relaxation does!
It is one of the oldest and the most trusted of all sleep inducing methods. How this works is you rhythmically tense your body muscles and then relax them.
The benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Sleep
- It is known to reduce physical and mental fatigue.
- It improves concentration.
- It is also a stress-buster.
When trying Progressive Muscle Relaxation, you might want to close your eyes for better results!
3. Meditation Helps in Sleeping
Meditation could unite you with sleep!
There are many prerequisites to good sleep like lower than normal body temperature, dim lights and relaxed muscles. This is where meditation comes into the picture.
It has been proven that those who meditate sleep better and longer.
Things to remember when meditating for sleep
Now, it is important to understand the true essence of meditation before trying it out.
- It is not a one-step remedy but a practice. So, don’t expect results on day one itself.
- If possible, join a meditation group close to your house.
- Or just start with deep breathing and relaxed posture.
Your concentration level is going to get better with time and you will definitely sleep better than before, without pills of course! And know that sleep itself is the greatest form of meditation! This will help you bring closer to your aim- better sleep.
4. Take Warm Bath to have Better Sleep
Warmth soothes to prepare your body for sleep!
This one is extremely effective. Not just lack of sleep, it works beautifully for those days when your body feels sore due to exertion of a tiring day.
On a sleepless night, you can run a hot bath and add some aromatic bathing oil in it. Some oils are muscle-relaxers and are known to relieve stress!
How warm bath works for better sleep
This is what happens when you soak in warm water – your body temperature rises when you soak in warm water or stand under a warm shower but it drops again when you are out. This ‘cool down’ prepares the brain for sleep. It has been proven that bathing in warm water results in good and longer duration of sleep.
Alternatively, you can seat yourself comfortably, soak your feet in hot water and listen to your favorite music, as you find sleep
5. Sweat it out to sleep better
Regular exercising has more merits than you can imagine. Apart from keeping you in shape and healthy, it can also lead you to better quality sleep.
People who flex a muscle or two are likely to sleep better as compared to those who don’t exercise at all.
Remember these tips when you exercise for sleep
- You needn’t hit a gym. Brisk walking or mild exercise at home will do just fine, as long as you are regularly doing it.
- Don’t restrict yourself to morning or night. Once a day for at least 30 minutes should give good results.
- Avoid working out immediately before hitting the bed. Make sure you finish your exercises at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Exercising regularly has immense benefits. However, if none of them were able to convince you, probably better sleep might prove to be an effective hook!
6. Do Yoga to Fight off Sleeplessness
This one is a favorite, for many reasons. Surya Namaskar, Shav-aasana, Shirshasana, Yoga has countless poses that have been benefiting people since ages.
How Yoga helps you sleep better
- Yoga not only sculpts your body and restores balance; it is known to have a relaxing effect on the muscles.
- It improves posture and digestion, which are inter-linked with sleep.
- It relaxes the mind, calms it down, thus giving way to a much more quieter and calmer you. As a result of which, you are able to go to sleep much more easily than before.
Starting tomorrow, grab a mat and some time in the morning. Give yoga a chance to tuck you into bed with quality sleep!
7. Avoid Caffeine Before you Go to Sleep
Caffeine, in some form or the other, reaches our system throughout the day. However, if you have trouble sleeping then you might want to distance that cup of coffee from your bedtime.
How caffeine affects sleep
- Caffeine, unfortunately, stays in to your system, even 5 hours after your last cup!
- It is a diuretic, meaning it makes you want to empty your bladder more frequently. Again, this means it will lead to a disturbed sleep!
Agreed that you need your daily fix of coffee, it is strongly advisable to cut it down or at least, have it in the early evening hours. That is when you will experience sleep tiptoeing towards you, just in time!
8. Disconnect from Work to Fall Asleep
Keep work off bed, if you want sleep !
Many people are in a habit of carrying their laptops, iPads and files to their beds. After they are done with their work, they realize, they are not sleepy, anymore.
How does work affect sleep
- Carrying your laptop to bed is almost like you are stuffing your brain with workload and then suddenly expecting it to sail to the land of dreams!
- Your brain becomes more attentive as it gets into the work mode. Consequently, it doesn’t register the presence of sleep, leaving you squirming in sleeplessness.
Make it a point to never carry work with you to the bed. Or on a day when you have a lot to finish, go to bed only after you are done.
Remember, the only thing that should accompany you to bed is a relaxed mind and body!
9. Take Chamomile Herbal Tea to Get Better Sleep
Chamomile tea is a natural sleep-inducer, which is why it is known as ‘sleepy time tea’!
It has stress-relieving properties and is trusted to relax your body and mind, helping you to sleep better. You can brew a cup of chamomile tea and pick a book of your choice, half an hour before sleeping. It has worked for so many people out there and it is sure to help you, too!
10. Bring Lifestyle Changes to Sleep Better
Some lifestyle changes can also promise better sleep. Some of them are listed here:
- Smoking and sleep are at loggerheads, or so the reports have to say. Smokers are more likely to get up, feeling tired than non-smokers!
- Heavy drinking before bedtime is not a great idea, at all. It increases your blood pressure and makes you want to rush to the bathroom quite a few times. Again, bad news for good sleep!
- Your dinner should be at least 2 hours before bedtime. Also, prefer a light meal than indulging in a four-course meal. When you hit the sack with lots of food in your stomach, chances are you will have poor sleep.
11. Use Cognitive Sleep Therapy to Get Better Sleep
Often referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), it is a great scientific method for people whose sleeplessness borders on insomnia. You might need a trained therapist for this one, a sleep journal and a reality check about your habits!
What does a CBT normally involve to induce sleepiness
- A comprehensive interaction with the therapist
- A discussion about various habits and sleep patterns (recorded in the sleep journal).
- Several ways of sleep assessment
You might have to visit often but it is, every bit, worth your time. Most therapy sessions make you feel really light and at ease. There are many who will vouch for the success of this method. Also, it is particularly helpful if you are subconsciously harboring an emotional issue.
If you haven’t slept over a long span of time and it is getting to you, look up a therapist in your city and get an appointment at the earliest. It will give your sleep back and will relax your heart, as a bonus!
Take Supplements to Help Yourself Sleep
Natural supplements are better than sleeping pills! Yes, there are many herbal as well as other supplements that claim to make you fall asleep. You may take one of these sleep supplements. However, consult a doctor or a medical herbalist before you take one otherwise they may, in the long run, prove to be a distorted form of your sleeping pills only! Here are some supplements that can help you with your sleep.
12. Valerian Supplement for Sleep
Many studies have shown that the Valerian herb may reduce the time taken to fall asleep and thus help you sleep better. However, there may be some side effects too such as headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems etc. Also, if you are a pregnant or breast-feeding woman, you should avoid taking any kind of supplement, at least without consulting your doctor. Those suffering from liver disease should also avoid taking Valerian.
Natural Alternative to Valerian Supplement
If you are not comfortable with supplement, you can even think of having Valerian tea an hour or so before you go to bed. However, it is again recommended to consult your doctor before taking this supplement or tea as it can interact with certain prescription medicines.
13. L-theanine Supplement for Sleep
L-theanine can be understood as an amino acid and you can found it naturally present in green tea. A research shows that L-theanine works by neutralizing the bad effects of caffeine without affecting its mind-energizing and fat-burning features. This means when you take L-theanine supplement, your body gets relaxed and your mind calms down but drowsiness is nowhere in the scene! This is something like the effect of nerve soothing music and is just the kind of relaxation sleep therapists want you to have. This is actually pre-sleep relaxation and it is one of the best thing to combat insomnia. So, you can think of having this supplement for better sleep but after consulting your doctor.
Natural Alternative to L-theanine Supplement
If supplements are not what you favor, just have green tea to get some L-theanine in your system, an hour before you go to sleep!
14. Melatonin Supplement for Sleep
Melatonin has been popularized as the sleep hormone but in fact it is not so. It is, in fact, ‘hormone of darkness’ because melatonin production in your body is stimulated only in the dark. It is actually useful for treating disorders that affect your body’s clock that may get disrupted due to, say, jet lag. Melatonin supplement can help with your circadian rhythm but it does not induce sleepiness. However, if you take it a few hours before you go to sleep, you may assist your body in natural production of sleep hormone properly. Talk to your doctor if you want to get the benefits of melatonin supplement.
Natural Alternative to Melatonin Supplement
If you don’t want to have any supplement, have certain foods that are said to boost the production of melatonin in your body. These are pineapples, bananas, oranges, oats, sweet corn, rice, tomatoes, and barley.
15. Use Lavender Oil Aromatherapy for Sleep
This is a proven fact. Researches have found that the aroma of lavender relieves anxiety and cures insomnia. While experimenting, the subjects who sniffed lavender essential oil before going to sleep at night not only slept better but also felt more energetic the next morning. The research had concluded that lavender increases the slow-wave sleep which is the deep slumber where heartbeat slows and body muscles relax to give you better sleep at night and ample energy in the morning.
So, just get a bottle of lavender essential oil and sprinkle a few drops on a piece of cotton and place it under your pillow. You may even use an aromatherapy diffuser.
Sleep is a scientific process but going to sleep is more psychological than we like to acknowledge. And, to a good extent, it is in our hands. Let’s take control of our life and twist our schedules and habits a little, to squeeze in some good sleep!