So last week marked the end of semester for my husband. He had a 60 page paper due for one of his classes and, of course, he enlisted my help. I obsessed over this paper for an entire weekend because well, writing, it’s kinda my thing. So after putting a lot of hours of research, planning, and typing into this project, it was finally turned in on Tuesday. I went to bed Tuesday night, exhausted and thinking I was about to get the best night’s sleep ever. I was wrong. I lay there awake, my mind racing, willing my body to slip into blissful slumber. I lay watching the hours pass by and listening to my husband’s gentle snoring. Before I knew it, my alarm was going off and I had had about 2 hours of sleep.
Suffer from Insomnia? You’re not the only one. Around 30-40% of American adults claim symptoms of insomnia throughout the course of a year. Although chronic insomnia is rare, it does happen and can be the result of some other underlying condition. So it is always important to see a doctor if you have frequent, recurring sleepless nights.
So what happens to us when we don’t get any sleep?
It can cause depression and anxiety
It can make you age faster. There’s truth to the phrase, “Getting your beauty sleep.”
Make your brain slower and not as functional, causing bad judgment and accidents
Can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
When it comes to insomnia, there’s a lot you can do to prevent it. Here are some natural insomnia cures:
1. Aromatherapy- Many times we lose sleep over stress. One way to relax and calm yourself is to strategically place soothing scents around your bed. Lavendar is my numero uno relaxation scent. I like to place a few drops of lavender oil on my pillow case before bedtime. Taking a relaxing bath with lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang will help soothe you into relaxation.
2. Diet- Yes, we’ve heard over and over again about how diet can affect restful sleep. It’s so true! Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all have major effects on how well we sleep. Quit smoking (if not for the myriad of other reasons) and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Eating foods that are rich in magnesium will also help you get to sleep. Magnesium is a natural sedative and when our bodies don’t get enough of it we are susceptible to insomnia, muscle cramps, irritability, anxiety, and constipation. Foods that are rich in magnesium are almonds, cashews and dark leafy greens.
3. Exercise- Maybe you can’t sleep because you have way too much flippin’ energy. To help maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you should be getting your butt moving vigorously for at least a 1/2 hour, 3 times a week. Walking, running, dancing, playing with your pet, whatever gets you moving and breaking a sweat. In fact, when you’re done reading this, get up and get your butt moving!!
4. Yoga- I never understood the power of yoga until I took my first Kundalini class. The amazing effects of the poses and soothing meditation was a lethal combination and helped me sleep like a baby. Since there are many forms of yoga, find a style that suits you. I find Kundalini incredibly grounding and I was on the yoga high for days afterwards.
5. Establish a bedtime ritual– When we were kids, our parents would make us take a bath and then maybe read us a story. This was a signal to us that it was time to settle down and get ready for sleep. It’s no different as an adult. Try taking a relaxing soak 2 hours before bed, shut down electronics at least an hour before bed, read a book or journal, and sip some herbal tea.
6. Keep a strict sleep schedule- This is important for our bodies. Believe it or not, we still retain many of our primal instincts and keeping a consistent sleep schedule is one of them. Our natural circadian rhythm is a part of our monkey brains and hates disruption. Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every single day will help keep your rhythm in balance.
7. Make sure your bedroom is the most amazing sleep sanctuary ever- Keep your bedroom cozy, quiet, and dark. Remove all electronics since they can also have a serious effect on our circadian rhythm. Never ever fight with your significant other in your bedroom–it brings bad ju ju and negative energy, which can alter peacefulness of your sleep sanctuary. Make sure your bedroom is only used for two things: sleep and sex.
You did all of the prevention tips but are still find yourself having a sleepless night? Try doing this to help you get back to sleep:
Meditation– Visualize a relaxing place, focus on your breathe. Don’t focus on the fact that you are not getting any sleep. It puts more pressure on yourself which can send you into an anxiety downward spiral (I am so guilty of this!)
Drink Chammomile tea– You’re up anyway, you might as well make a spot of tea. Chammomile is the master at relaxing you and lulling you to sleep.
Whatever you do, don’t turn on the t.v., computer, iPad, etc.- this will just stimulate your brain and keep you awake.
Looking for more information on the causes of insomnia? Check out these sites: National Sleep Foundation; National Center for Sleep Disorders
Related: Should You Try Kundalini Yoga?
Natural Beauty: Bedtime Rituals for Beauty Sleep
Dream Catcher – Tapping the Unconscious for Health and Creativity
Also by Krystle: 10 Super Useful Cooking Tricks
Photo: K. Troia-Alvarado