Every person has different sleep habits. Some people can drink a cup of coffee before bed and still fall asleep when their head hits the pillow, while others lie awake counting sheep (or hours) until they finally get their brain to shut down. And, often the kind of night’s sleep you get will depend on how your day was. But, some people do suffer from the inability to sleep consistently. This is a condition called insomnia, and it can be debilitating. There are some prescription sleep medications on the market, but many people shy away from these medicines because they can be habit-forming. Instead, these people may opt for natural sleep aids.
Best Natural Sleep Aids
Much of the world drinks tea, partially as a cultural pastime and partially for health benefits. Some tea contains caffeine, and naturally those types should be avoided before going to bed, as caffeine is a stimulant. However, most herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free. And, certain kinds of tea are frequently used as sleep aids. Chamomile tea is one of the commonly consumed flavors that can also be used to help promote deep sleep. In fact, people have been using chamomile tea since ancient times to fight insomnia. While studies are inconclusive about the effectiveness of chamomile tea in humans, it has shown to be a safe, mild sleep aid in animal studies. Drinking a normal amount of chamomile tea should have no adverse effects, and whether or not the chamomile itself puts you to sleep, drinking warm liquid before bed can also have calming effects.
Aromatherapy is exactly what it sounds like: using heavily-scented herbs and oils to produce a therapeutic effect. While this can be accomplished in several ways, popular methods include drawing a bath with scented bath oils, diffusing oils into a room, or directly inhaling steam from 2-3 cups of boiling water containing about 4 drops of essential oil.
A variety of scents can be calming and effective for relaxation. However, lavender is one of the most popular oils to use pre-bedtime as a sleep aid. Use whichever aromatherapy method works best for you about a half-hour before you want to go to bed to allow your body and mind to relax before hitting the sheets. Just be careful not to put any essential oils directly onto your skin; they can be irritating when they are undiluted.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Essentially, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT) is training your body and mind to have a certain response. There are some CBT programs designed specifically for helping sleep. For example, “sleep hygiene” is when person sets a daily set of sleep habits, like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. This can help your body understand that, at certain times, it should be asleep. Another popular method of CBT is “stimulus control,” which involves removing distractions from the bedroom. That means someone with insomnia should remove televisions, cell phones, and computers from the bedroom, and only use it for sleeping and sex. This may help the brain power down in the bedroom instead of being kept awake by distracting electronic devices.
While insomnia can be an incredibly frustrating condition, there are certainly options for everyone looking to improve their ability to sleep. Talking to you doctor can be a great place to start if you’re not sure how to combat your sleep problems. She might be able to recommend a natural sleep aid that is right for you.