Overcoming Insomnia: 14 Natural Remedies for a Good Night’s Sleep

Sophia Delphi May 15, 2022 - 12 min read
Fact Checked

For most people, it is quite common to have a sleepless night or two every once in a while. It can be caused by anything from stress to a physical injury. However, they simply return to their usual sleeping routine after a stressful period or when the injury has passed.

The same cannot be said for those who suffer from insomnia. This condition can be extremely debilitating, and it manifests through the inability to fall asleep or excessive waking throughout the night.

Such chronic sleep problems can lead to a variety of other health issues, including diabetes and depression. To avoid these, many people try taking OTC sleep aids. While they might help in the present moment, these meds almost always have detrimental long-term effects.

Luckily, there are natural remedies that you can take to get the relief you seek without causing any more trouble to your health. Keep reading to find out what they are.

1. Melatonin

Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone because it helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. As such, it’s a recommended supplement for anyone who has sleep-related conditions or problems. Studies show that it is most helpful for those who struggle with regularly changing work shifts or have jet lag because of regular flights.

Low melatonin levels can be tied to many disorders. Since it is generated from serotonin, low levels of this hormone often affect melatonin as well. That is why insomnia or any other sleeping issues often occur side by side with depression, which is caused by low serotonin levels, among other things.

Other factors that can affect melatonin levels are aging, anxiety (or any other affective disorders), jet lag, delayed sleep-wake disorder, etc. In all of these conditions, taking melatonin supplements can vastly improve your quality of life and help you get more sleep at night.

In most cases, doctors suggest taking melatonin around two hours before bed. Taking them any earlier would be counterproductive, as it would make you groggy and moody during the day. Thus, timing melatonin therapy right is the key to its success.

The most important thing you ought to remember when it comes to melatonin is never to take it without consulting your doctor. They can do tests to determine whether your insomnia is caused by low melatonin levels and whether a supplement would really help you. In addition, they can help you plan how you will take it and monitor your progress while you do.

All in all, melatonin is one of the best natural remedies for sleep. As long as you take it under your doctor’s supervision, it could really help you live a better and healthier life.

2. Light Therapy

Experts have long theorized that light therapy could be used to treat different sleep-related issues. In a lot of cases, the lack of sleep or the inability to sleep restfully at night can be caused by not being exposed to enough light during the day.

Generally speaking, light exposure can let your body know when to produce melatonin and when to stop. Thus, if you time being exposed to light well, you can ensure your body creates melatonin at night and stops when it is time to wake up and go about your day.

To achieve this balance, all you have to do is take a 30-minute walk early in the morning. However, if you are waking up too early or you can’t fight off sleep in the afternoon, an afternoon walk will be a better choice. Of course, it is important that your walks take place when it is light outside, whether it is in the morning or later in the day.

As always, it is best to discuss these plans and habits with your doctor. That way, you will be sure you are doing the best for your health.

3. Meditation and Other Relaxing Activities

In a lot of cases, insomnia is caused by a person being exposed to too much stress in their everyday life. Thus, techniques that help you relax can also help you get more sleep at night. As far as relaxation goes, no techniques are as successful as meditation.

Meditation involves focusing all your thoughts on one thing, be it an idea, memory, or just the sound of your own breathing. If you do it correctly, you can increase your awareness, decrease stress, and calm down your mind and body.

As far as meditation goes, you can also try different exercises, including visualization, relaxation response techniques, and mindfulness. Which one you will prefer depends on your character and how much time you have, so it is best to try them all and see which works best.

Visualization involves imagining a relaxing scene. It can be anything from waves crashing into each other to the sound of rain falling. It is best to do this in bed, right before bedtime. The more vivid and detailed your imagination, the more you will get to relax. In turn, it will be much easier for you to fall asleep.

Guided meditation is based on closely following another person’s instructions during meditation. They tell you what to imagine, how to behave, what to focus on, etc. Mindfulness is slightly different, as it involves anchoring yourself in the present and focusing on it.

All of these techniques are intended to invoke your relaxation response — the opposite of the “fight or flight” instinct, which raises stress levels.

Though a lot of research is still necessary, there is enough evidence to suggest that these techniques can indeed help treat insomnia. If nothing else, there are no side-effects, only benefits.

4. Yoga

Though most people often only consider the physical benefits of yoga, studies suggest that it can also be beneficial for treating insomnia. If you look at the definition of yoga that says it is the union of the body, spirit, and mind, it is easy to see the connection.

Thus, you can try practicing yoga a few times a week to sleep better. It does not have to be anything too strenuous and excessive. Even the lightest of the exercises can be helpful. With time, you can try different things and learn what helps you the most.

5. Hypnosis

People often define hypnosis as a state of mind in which a person is more aware and susceptible to suggestion. That is why hypnosis was often used to help those suffering from different types of insomnia.

In essence, hypnosis has similar effects as meditation or mindfulness. It slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and brings about a change in the amount of alpha wave brain patterns in your brain. As such, it can help you fall asleep more quickly and get more rest at night.

However, there is still a lot of stigma around hypnosis. What’s more, there is a lot of debate about how and whether it truly works. Until there are more substantial studies on the matter, it might be better to choose another remedy on this list, especially if you are unsure about doing hypnosis.

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese form of alternative medicine. It involves inserting long thin needles into different pressure points in the body. The therapy should help you relax and treat various conditions.

Certain studies show that acupuncture and acupressure (applying pressure without needles) can help treat insomnia. However, a lot of further research is still necessary to confirm those claims.

7. Aromatherapy

For centuries now, people have used lavender oil to help them relax and induce sleep. As it is the most soothing essential oil, it is only natural that it can help those suffering from a lack of sleep.

What you can do to try this out is place a lavender sachet under your pillow before going to bed. You can also put a few drops of lavender oil on a handkerchief you use regularly. If you like to take long baths, you can also put some oil into your water before a nighttime soak.

So far, no conclusive studies have proved that essential oils really help with insomnia symptoms. However, it doesn’t hurt to try them. Apart from lavender, you can also try oils made of patchouli, chamomile, and ylang-ylang.

8. Diet Changes

Your dietary habits can also greatly affect how easily you fall asleep and get rest at night. Here are the main factors you can keep track of to improve your overall health.

Limit Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol Intake

As you probably already know, both nicotine and caffeine can have significant effects on making you alert, restless, and ensuring you stay awake longer. You can find caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea, and different sodas. However, it is also present in different chocolates and some OTC meds.

For some people, consuming alcohol at night can also result in wakefulness and being on high alert. For that reason, it is best to avoid drinking at night. The same goes for smoking and consuming caffeine, for reasons explained above.

Cut Back On Sweets

Consuming too much sugar during the day and right before going to bed will make your blood sugar higher. When it inevitably lowers during the night, your body will probably wake you up and demand more sugar.

Thus, it is best to keep your sugar intake as low as possible. If you do have to consume something sweet, try to do it as early in the day as possible.

Consume Foods That Can Help You Sleep

Certain amino acids and supplements can also help your body produce more melatonin. These include tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium.

To get your daily dose of these substances, you should consume:

  • whole-grain crackers (for tryptophan)
  • sunflower seeds and bananas (for vitamin B6)
  • green leafy vegetables, almonds, and cashews (for magnesium)

1. Chaste Tree

Chaste tree is an herb, also known as Vitex agnus castus. This herb is especially effective in treating insomnia or other sleep-related issues stemming from menstruation and menopause. If those are the roots of your insomnia, then Vitex agnus castus supplements are the way to go.

However, it is important to consult your doctor before taking these supplements. For one, you shouldn’t take them if you are on any type of birth control pills, hormonal therapy, or dopamine-related meds. So, always consult your doctor first.

2. Valerian

Valerian is another herb you can consume either through tea or as a supplement. People often use it to induce relaxation, since it can act as a sedative.

So far, the results of valerian and insomnia studies have been inconclusive. While some swear by it and say it has helped them significantly, others have noticed no change since they started taking the supplement.

If your doctor prescribes valerian, it is best that you take it around an hour before bedtime. That way, it will have the desired effects and help you fall asleep easily.

3. Lemon Balm

For many people, this supplement reduces anxiety and has an overall calming effect. It is often present in valerian supplements, as the two bounce off each other nicely.

While one study suggested lemon balm is good for treating sleep disorders, a lot more research is still necessary. Until then, it is best to take it cautiously and with your doctor’s permission.

4. Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Chinese traditional medicine, insomnia is often thought to stem from kidney weakness. To treat it, practitioners use different herbs and massages, all of which should help your kidneys get better.

You should only try these herbs if your doctor allows it and if you can find a practitioner you really trust. Otherwise, it is best to try one of the other remedies on this list first.

5. Ayurveda

As far as Ayurvedic medicine experts are concerned, insomnia is caused by a Vata imbalance. Vata regulates circulation, which is why those suffering from an imbalance are often jittery, anxious, and cannot fall asleep at night.

To treat this imbalance, practitioners apply warm sesame oil on the feet and head. You can try this method if everything else fails. Of course, don’t do it if you are allergic to sesame.

6. Chamomile

Chamomile tea usually helps by easing your muscle tension, reducing anxiety, and easing digestion. All of that can also help you sleep better if those are the causes of your insomnia.

You can always try drinking chamomile tea before bed. However, make sure it contains as little caffeine as possible.

Beyond These Remedies

There are other things you can try if everything above fails. For example, you can try doing relaxing activities before bed. These can include playing gentle music, reading, spending time with those you love, and so on. See what works for you, and you might just find the solution.

Another thing to consider is your room setup. You should make it as comfortable as possible and ensure that you can really get rest in it. Look up some bedroom Feng Shui tips, and you will definitely find the best way to arrange your sleeping space.

Finally, you can also try exercising more. Doing so will ease your muscles and help you release any pent-up stress. However, it is pivotal that you only do light exercises and stretching. That way, you will not raise your adrenaline levels, meaning that you will be able to fall asleep quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do these remedies have any side effects?

As mentioned above, some herbs and supplements can have side effects, especially if you are already taking certain meds. That is why it is necessary to consult your doctor before making any decisions.

2. Are the remedies safe for pregnant people?

Besides being safe during pregnancy, some of the remedies we’ve mentioned can actually help make you feel better. They include meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.

However, supplements and aromatherapy can be harmful, which is why it is, again, essential to consult your doctor before doing anything. That way, you will protect your own health and that of your child.

To Sum Up

Natural remedies for insomnia can help you manage this condition without suffering any side effects from OTC meds. Remember to consult your doctor and then try out what works for you. One of these solutions might just be what you need to get back to your normal sleeping schedule. Good luck, and stay safe!