Are you having trouble sleeping and asking, “What can help me sleep at night?” If so, you are not the only one. About one-third of the population suffers from insomnia and each year millions of people in the U.S. take over-the-counter and prescription drugs, primarily antihistamines and benzodiazepines, to help them get a good night’s sleep. Although these can be effective in the short term, they can cause significant problems in the long term, including numerous side effects, addiction and abnormal sleep patterns. Instead of taking medications, try the following:
Take a Warm Bath
Take a warm, relaxing bath before going to bed. Add a few drops of one or more of the following essential oils to your bath water to help relieve stress: chamomile, sandalwood, lavender, neroli, geranium, jasmine, ylang-ylang and/or mandarin. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea
Drink a cup of herbal tea while taking a warm bath, after your bath or even without a bath. Beneficial herbs include chamomile and valerian. Chamomile has been used throughout the ages as an effective sleep aid and valerian is believed to have similar effects to valium (a benzodiazepine drug) by increasing a chemical in the brain that calms the body. Other herbs include passion flower and skullcap.
Relax and Take Deep Breaths
While waiting for the tea to take effect, or even if you don’t have the tea, lie down and listen to soft, soothing music or a CD with nature sounds such as a rain shower or the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. Close your eyes and clear your mind of all problems. Take about five deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose (using your stomach and not your chest), hold your breath for three to five seconds and slowly exhale through your mouth. Envision yourself in a peaceful place such as a field of daisies or a secluded beach with the sun setting.
Other Natural Ways to Help You Sleep at Night
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland especially in response to darkness. Several studies have shown taking melatonin can help induce and maintain sleep. However, the effects were most apparent in people with low levels of melatonin.
Buy or make a hops pillow and tack it to your sleeping pillow. The active ingredient in hops, lupulin, has been known to have a tranquilizing effect. Replace the hops once a month.
Place a pillow filled with flaxseed over your eyes to help you relax.
Drinking goat’s milk has had much success in treating people who suffer from severe insomnia. Drink 6 ounces three times a day before meals and 6 ounces before going to bed.
In addition to the above remedies, eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid beverages containing caffeine a few hours before bedtime.
Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)
Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen, Bottom Line’s Healing Remedies (2006)
Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments (from the editors of Bottom Line/Health) 2006
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