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Switching off insomnia – naturally

In the final part of this five part post series we look at some of the natural things we can do to break the pattern of sleep deprivation.

Sleep is incredibly important for health. We need sleep for our body to heal and rejuvenate from our day’s activities. Unfortunately, many people either have difficulty falling asleep or simply don’t get enough sleep, which is where Insomnia remedies come in. Here’s some things you can do to change things for the better.

1. Go Camping

When the lure of the TV or fiddling on the phone keep you up late at night, it’s time to grab the tent and go camping. Stay away from electronic devices and enjoy a digital detox once in a while. Put yourself in a distraction-free zone and be mindful of your surroundings and yourself. Utilize this time to meditate, do some yoga, write, recollect your thoughts, or simply breathe.

According to several studies, campers who stay away from gadgets and practice winding down rituals such as meditating or listening to music fell asleep about 2 hours earlier than usual. Another important point to remember is that digital devices contribute to insomnia. It is found that artificial light sources can negatively affect circadian rhythms. Try sleeping on the ground, not in your car or cabin. That way you’ll get grounded and be one with nature. Regardless of what you do during camping, the ultimate goal is to relax, remove yourself from distractions and demands from others, to stay away from artificial light, and be one with nature. Bath under the natural sun light and fall asleep when the sun goes down. In no time at all, you’ll reset your sleep rhythms.

2. Music Therapy

Music has been used since ancient times to combat insomnia. It is a healing tool that can help to ease anxiety which can contribute to poor sleep quality. The major advantage of this technique is that it’s easy to use and has no side effect. There are many different types of music therapies, and they differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke. For instance, classical music can be a powerful tool for comfort and relaxation while rock music may cause discomfort. Try to go for soft relaxing music that has sounds of nature like the ocean, birds, waterfall, etc. Several studies showed that people who listen to calming music before going to bed had improved sleep quality during the night than people who don’t. Hence, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, this could be a solution.

Relaxing music that has sounds of nature like the ocean, birds, waterfall, etc. can help trigger sleep

3. Power Down For Better Sleep

Sleep is not an on-and-off switch. Your body needs time to unwind and ready itself for shuteye. Insomniacs often find it difficult to shut off their brain at night. You can try to power down for better sleep. This technique aids in quieting things down so that your body will understand that it’s time to get some rest. To set the stage for sleep, it is significant to unwind and dim our mind. For instance, if you take a warm shower before bedtime, it’ll create a drop in body temperature, triggering the body to start prepping for sleep. Your body temperature will slow down metabolic functions like breathing, digestion, and heart rate. Your body will understand that it’s time to slow down and relax. If you have the habit of listening to music before heading to bed every night, your body will be conditioned that listening to music at night signals bed time. It’s all about habits and conditioning. Carve out at least half an hour of wind-down time before bed to do breathing or relaxation exercise to clear your mind. The goal of this power down hour is to signal your brain that it’s time to wind down, relax and sleep.

4. Sleep In A Cool Room

Those who have a problem falling asleep usually have a higher core body temperature immediately prior falling asleep as compared to their healthier counterparts. Thus, this group of insomniacs needs to wait for at least 2 to 4 hours before their body temperature lowers and initiates sleep. Research shows that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius. When you’re trying to sleep, your brain enjoys the cold environment.

Besides, sleeping in a cold bedroom also helps in anti-aging. It aids in releasing of anti-aging hormones known as melatonin, a potent antioxidant that tackles inflammation, strengthens the immune system, prevents cognitive deterioration and cancer. There’s a saying that those who go to bed early and rise early live longer. It makes a lot of sense considering that sleeping in a cold bedroom reduces neurodegeneration and oxidative stress. I can go on and on regarding the anti-aging benefits of having a good night sleep in a cold environment. But the key to enhancing the production of anti-aging hormones in your body is to have an adequate sleep. And the first step to do that is to create an optimal sleeping environment by lowering the bedroom temperature. Insufficient sleep brings a lot of harmful effects to your physical and mental health. Ultimately, it can put your life at risk. So make sure to fix your sleeping habits, and you can begin doing so by creating an optmal sleeping environment.

Research shows that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius.

5. Break A Sweat

Exercise early. It’s no secret that exercise improves sleep and overall health. But a study published in the journal Sleep shows that the amount of exercise done and when they workout make a difference. Researchers found that women who exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes each morning, 7 days a week, have less trouble sleeping than women who exercise less or later in the day. Morning exercise seems to positively affect our body rhythms that in turn improves our sleep quality.One of the reasons for this interplay between exercise and sleep may be body temperature. Your body temperature rises during exercise and takes up to 6 hours to drop back down to normal. It’s because cooler body temperatures link to better sleep. So it’s important to give your body time to cool down before bed.  Sleep is a crucial part of our health and healing. Take it seriously, and seek out the help of a functional medicine practitioner if you can’t get your sleep under control. All these require discipline and commitment. Once you reset your biological clock and fall back into the normal sleep rhythm, you’ll finally enjoy the benefits of restful, restorative sleep.

Women who exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes each morning sleep better.

6. Meditation and yoga

For meditation, all you have to do is sit down and clear your mind. Try to listen to relaxing music to help calm you down. The moment you start to get used to the idea of meditating throughout the day, the mind will be able to relax faster at night and therefore you will have an easier time falling asleep. As for yoga, you can either go for yoga classes with a bunch of friends or practice at home for more privacy. It will benefit your sleep in many ways. The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation to the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle.

Remember, sleep is not a lifestyle choice or a luxury; it is natural and necessary. So root out the underlying causes, change your diet, drink a glass of warm milk, set up a sleeping schedule, do some yoga and meditate. Follow the pieces of advice mentioned above, and eventually, you’ll get your quality sleep.

In the above we have explored some of the remedies to overcome insomnia. However, these extrinsic factors could not deal with the root of insomnia. Yes, you can feel better after trying out those remedies, but insomnia can only be healed completely if the origin of the problem is removed. Otherwise, there is a high chance for insomnia to relapse.

So what is the root of insomnia? For many, the primary cause of insomnia is having a poor lifestyle and sleep habits. Simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to the quality of your sleep.  Although not all insomnia is caused by stress, it is undeniable that people who experience ongoing stress are more susceptible to insomnia. In the case of stress-related insomnia, treating or eliminating the stress will alleviate insomnia. As mentioned in the earlier chapter of this book, stress affects the quality of one’s sleep which can upset his or her sleep rhythm. Thus, one will find it difficult to fall asleep at night and stay awake during the day.

It is important to handle all parts of your life in the best manner possible to ensure that you are at a healthy balance. You need to make sure that you are getting sufficient sleep on a daily basis. Sleep plays a major role in your physical health. Insufficient sleep for a short time may make you more moody and irritable. Long-term effects can be serious: cardiac problems, depression, stroke, heart attack, to name a few.

According to sleep experts, several studies showed that when people get sufficient sleep, they will not only feel better, but will also increase their odds of living longer, healthier, and more accomplished lives. Fighting insomnia is an uphill battle. When you are trying to cure insomnia, you are actually trying to stop your mind from being too active at night. There is no reason to be afraid of staying up for countless nights in a row and wondering if it is all going to end.

Worrying will only bring about sleepless nights. So stop battling insomnia in your head! All that you need to do is ‘Switch Off’ your brain.

At night, you want your mind to slow down to the point where you can quickly fall asleep. Having a proper amount of sleep helps you to stay fully alert the next day, and ensures a good night rest. One of the reasons why people struggle to fall asleep is because their brain refuse to shut down.   More often than not, they start thinking about useless things that serve no purpose but only hinder them from falling asleep.

Switching off needs practice. For many busy adults, the only time they reflect upon their lives is during bedtime! It’s good to reflect once in a while, but not during bedtime. Often times, this is the biggest culprit that stops you from falling asleep.

So for those who want to reflect on their lives, consider waking up earlier to have time in the morning to do so or even schedule some time in the evening to do some reflection.

What do you think?

Written by Scott Williams

Scott Williams is one of Australia's most respected corporate communicators.

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