12 Home Remedies for Sleep that Will Knock You Out In No Time
Sleepless nights aren’t all terrible – at least you’re using this one productively to research the best home remedies for sleep.
If you’ve been spending most nights staring at that same spot on the ceiling, letting that one, tiny, out of reach crack in the plaster drive you nuts, let me guess – you feel like you’ve tried everything, and you’re slowly resigning yourself to a life of sleeplessness, right? A lot of us have been in that same situation, but I’m here to tell you that you haven’t tried it all.
So, forget the interior decorating and instead take a scan through this list of 12 helpful DIY tricks and remedies for getting your nocturnal life back on track.
If you’re a regular on sleep and mental health blogs, you’ll be familiar with meditation – you might even be tired of seeing it recommended for every ailment under the sun, but it’s one of the simplest, least intensive and most effective remedies for sleeplessness.
In essence, when we talk about meditation, we’re talking about breathing cycles. There are a few different techniques to use here, but let’s take a look at the two most popular and simple methods.
The first isn’t technical at all – it’s very simply a series of deep, slow breaths over and over; nothing fancy right? The trick is all in the mind, instead.
While you’re adopting this rhythmic, consistent breathing pattern, try and put distractions out of your mind and focus solely on the feeling of the air slipping in and out of your lungs. Before long this’ll become second nature, and you should drift off without any of that ‘mental chattering’ that can plague us on restless nights.
The second is a little more involved. This is the ‘4-7-8’ method, which is the be all and end all for many sleep and fitness blogs on the internet. It works in the same way, by bringing extra oxygen into your blood stream and relaxing your body as a result – the difference is in the rhythm.
Breathe in through your nose while counting to four. Then hold that breath in, while counting to seven and slowly, deliberately exhale whilst counting to eight. Exhale through your mouth, however, not your nose – and make a concerted effort to let the air ‘sing’ as it leaves. I.e. with a ‘shhhhhhh’ sound on the out-breath.
Develop a low-impact habit
One of the biggest, modern issues with sleeplessness is the amount of distractions that keep us from having a regular, consistent bed time. It’s not like the good old days when your parents would send to you to bed at 9 on the dot and that was that – now we’re adults, with responsibilities and our own bed times… Yeesh.
So, a great way to establish a regular bed time and get your body into the rhythm of a nightly slumber is to develop a relaxing, low-impact habit. Why not read a book for half an hour every night before bed? Or ten minutes of yoga/stretching to relax the muscles and calm your mind? Or, the old classic – take a soothing bath before slipping beneath the sheets.
Anything that you enjoy, that won’t stimulate your brain too much is a perfect pre-sleep activity. Now you just need to decide which one it’ll be!
Listen to white noise
White noise (and also pink and brown noise) have huge effects over the mind’s ability to filter out distractions and focus on an activity – many people use it when trying to study, for example.
This focus benefit can also help with getting to sleep, too, however. Plus, for those of us who are very prone to aural distractions (creaking of the house, dogs barking in the night, the ticking of a clock), white noise can expertly mask distracting or sleep-disturbing sounds, due to its uniform wall of noise. Because white noise is essentially just an organic battle of different frequencies making a mess with sound, there are no discernible patterns in the ‘music’, so you won’t pick up on a pattern and find it distracting.
Try downloading a white noise mp3 on your phone or tablet, or even investing in a white noise machine and see if your sleep habits improve as a result.
Keep a sleep journal
This one is for all the scientists out there, who like to work with empirical evidence rather than trial and error.
Writing a sleep journal or diary can work wonders if you have the time and dedication to stick with it. Keep a notepad by your bed, and then when you wake, record the results of the previous night’s sleep.
Try to include your mood, how alert and energetic you feel, how good your sleep itself was, if your room was too hot or too cold, too noisy or too quiet and so forth. Over time, you can begin to eliminate contributing factors in your restlessness until you’ve fine-tuned your sleeping environment for optimum ZZZZZs!
Try blocking out blue light
One of the golden rules for getting more sleep is to try and cut out TV/cell phone/tablet/computer screens towards bedtime. This just seems sensible, but there’s solid science behind it.
Vivien Bromundt – a researcher at the Centre of Chronobiology at the University of Basel – for example, has established that the blue light emitted from screens can effectively trick our biological clock into thinking it’s still day time. Hence, major issues with ‘turning off’ when it comes to sleep.
This research has fueled the development of orange tinted/amber lenses in glasses which effectively block out the blue light waves from screens and interior lighting. The thinking is that blue light blocking glasses are a simple remedy to the lighting issue without having to change our night time/technology habits…
Cut down on screen usage
If you still find yourself suffering from sleeplessness, even with blue blocking filters, then it’s definitely a solid move to try and cut down on your usage of blue-light emitting devices and technology, especially at night time.
Try folding this into tip number 2 – by making it a habit to turn off your phone/television etc. half an hour or an hour before bed time, to give your mind and your body enough to time to acclimate to the actual time of day and relax into a pre-sleep state.
Note: non-backlit technology, such as e-readers, should be generally okay to use as they aren’t emitting the same type or degree of light.
Nothing is nicer than a delicious herbal tea before bed – not to mention a great many of these natural bedtime herbs contain sleep-promoting and relaxing qualities that are known to curb insomnia and night-time restlessness.
Teas such as green, Valerian, Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint, Kava Kava… the list goes on. Most of these herbs have long been used for their healing properties in many regards, not just for insomnia and anxiety. As a bonus, you not only have the option of drinking them in soothing teas, but you can also adorn your room with balms and scents, or even cook with some of them as seasonings.
Tea is the simplest method, however, not to mention a steamy, warm beverage before bed can be a nice calming experience in and of itself.
Hit your local health foods store and raid their tea shelves!
Ignore the time
If you can – take your clock out of the room… There’s nothing more stressful and irritating than having a restlessness night and repeatedly checking the clock, only to find you’ve slept about twenty minutes since you last checked the time.
More often than not, getting trapped in this time-obsessed cycle will make your night much, much worse, because it’s incredibly difficult to shake the feeling of wasting time or counting down until the morning.
Take the clock out of the equation altogether – set in another room or near your bedroom door… Close enough to hear the alarm, far enough away to stop obsessing!
Recap the mundane
As long as you’re not an action hero with a day full of explosive death-defying stunts, this interesting trick should work. Or should that be uninteresting?
Bunker down in bed and close your eyes, and then let your mind wander over the day’s events… Everything from the way you buttered your toast in the morning, right up to the method of stirring your dinner in the pot.
Remember conversations, sights, the scents you picked up throughout the day, the noises you heard and the things you thought. This will de-stress your mind and put you in the right state for a decent kip.
Besides, it’ll bore you to the back teeth; who wants to stay awake and remember everything like it’s Groundhog Day? Nobody!
Don’t fight it
Things always go wrong when we try and force them to work for us… it’s nigh on impossible to switch your mind into thinking in a different away through sheer force of will, this is never more present than when trying to force yourself to go to sleep.
So, one of the key methods you can adopt for trying to work around sleeplessness is to work with it – try to force yourself to stay awake. Act as if this is what you want, that you’re trying not to sleep, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Picture a pleasant scene
This is another side of the meditation coin; rather than breathing exercises, instead incorporate images into your mental tactics. Picture a calming, relaxing scene or memory – somewhere that you’re happy and content, almost like constructing a dream from scratch.
As you fold yourself into this dream space, add more and more detail to it: sights, smells, animals, flowers, people, activities and so forth – the more you develop it, the less you’ll become aware of your physical surroundings and inability to drift off.
Before you know it, you’ll be so relaxed that you’ll have slipped straight into a night’s comforting sleep.
Rock yourself to sleep
It seems like the most natural thing in the world to do with a sleepless baby, but yet we never seem to keep it going beyond childhood. Rocking yourself can actually have a huge effect over your ability to drift off, as the repeated, gentle motion syncs the brain into a more relaxed pattern.
Some further research is still to be done, but a widely held belief is that the rocking motion can remind babies of being in the womb, with the natural sway of their mother’s bodies – there’s no real reason why this same mental trickery shouldn’t carry over into adulthood either.
Try simply rocking your body up and down or back and forth while lying in bed… Just try not to think of any cradles falling from trees.
There you have it, twelve simple yet effective methods for curbing that nightly insomnia and bringing yourself back to a healthy sleep schedule. All it takes is the right ingenious little trick to blow restlessness out of the water!