Remedies for Insomnia

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 02, 2020

Getting a good night’s sleep is an important part of maintaining your overall health. If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night, this could be a sign of insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Typically, adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This number isn’t the same for everyone and can vary depending on a number of factors. More important than the number of hours you sleep is the quality of your sleep each night. Your sleep needs also change over your lifetime as you age.

Insomnia can leave you tired throughout the day and can affect both your physical and emotional health. If your body doesn’t have enough proper rest, it can affect your mood and ability to concentrate. You also may be at higher risk for conditions like depression, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Remedies and Treatments for Insomnia

Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Uncomfortable sleeping conditions, like beds, temperature, or light
  • Noise
  • Drug use
  • Irregular shift work hours
  • Alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine

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The good news is that there are several treatments for insomnia that you can try at home. By changing some of your habits and routines, you may be able to improve the quality of your sleep.

Exercise

Getting in some daily physical activity is one of the best remedies for insomnia. Exercise is good for your overall health, but research also shows that it helps to improve your quality of sleep.

As exercise releases endorphins that make you feel awake and energized, try to get in a workout earlier in the day. You should avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime.

Sleep Hygiene 

Practicing good sleep hygiene and sleep habits can help you overcome insomnia. This means that you should try to stick to a regular sleep schedule every day. Set a regular bedtime and a regular time to wake up so that your body gets into the habit of sleeping during those hours.

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You should also avoid napping throughout the day. This way you will be more tired when it comes to your nightly bedtime.

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Nutrition

What you eat and drink may also play a part in your sleep quality. Eating a healthy diet has many advantages, but make sure you don’t eat big meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.

This goes for alcohol and caffeine too. Both caffeine and alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep or make it hard for you to fall asleep. Stop drinking caffeine by mid-afternoon and avoid alcohol after dinner.

One of the most popular remedies for insomnia is to drink warm milk or chamomile tea before bedtime. Both are believed to have effects on the brain that make it easier for you to fall asleep.

Light Regulation

When your room is dark, it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Use thick curtains or blinds to block out light that may wake you up, or try sleeping with a sleep mask.

This goes for artificial light, too. Avoid watching TV or using your phone or tablet before going to bed. Full-spectrum light from electronic gadgets has a stimulating effect, making it harder to sleep. Instead, try something relaxing, like reading, listening to music, or taking a bath, before bed.

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If you wake up in the middle of the night to use the washroom, don’t turn on the light. Instead, use a flashlight to help guide you to the bathroom. The overhead light of the bathroom can make you take longer to fall back asleep.

Relaxation

Try to get your most demanding tasks or challenges finished earlier in the day and not within a couple of hours of bedtime. Get your bedroom comfortable and ready for relaxation by dimming the lights, lowering the temperature if possible, and lowering the noise. Items like earplugs and a white noise machine may help.

Hide the clocks in your room so that you’re not tempted to look at them at night and get anxious about the time. The more you worry about sleep, the more difficult it can be to fall asleep and overcome insomnia.

When to See a Doctor

If you’ve tried several insomnia remedies and they aren’t working, it may be time to see a doctor. Your doctor may give you a physical exam and will ask you questions about your sleep habits and patterns.

You should see a doctor if your insomnia lasts over a period of months or if it’s affecting your daily life. Your doctor may suggest treatments for insomnia like a sleep aid or behavioral therapy to help you learn better habits and change the way you think about sleep.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Harvard Health Publishing: “Insomnia: Restoring restful sleep.”

John Hopkins Medicine: “Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep.”

Mayo Clinic: “Insomnia.”

National Health Service: “Insomnia.”

National Health Service  Inform: “Insomnia.”

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