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  • Natalie Rogers, HHP

Struggling To Fall Asleep?



Having trouble getting to sleep at night? Tired of tossing and turning and can’t get your chatter mind to quiet down? Many people suffer from insomnia and are struggling to get an adequate amount of sleep every night. According to NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, insomnia is defined as “…a common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor quality sleep. They may not feel refreshed when they wake up.” [1] Does this sound like you? Are you ready to get your lack of sleep under control? Than keep on reading!


One of the most important things to do (at least in my opinion) is to evaluate what a normal afternoon or evening looks like for you prior to getting ready for bed. What are you doing? What are you drinking? What are you eating? The AARP has put together a very easy to understand short article with a slideshow which lists foods that they recommend you avoid several hours before bedtime. These foods include: grapefruit, celery, tomatoes, cheese pizza, alcohol, black-bean chili, dark chocolate, candy, tacos, steak, soda, sandwiches, broccoli, and chips with salsa. [2] If you plan to eat any of these foods or consume these beverages, try to give at least three hours between consumption and when you are planning on going to sleep.

One of my favorite things is having a planned out routinely before going to sleep. What do you do before crawling under the sheets? Do you have some quiet time to read a book, bible study, yoga, or meditate? Come up with a routine and stick with it. My personal routine is to get my pajamas on, wash and moisturize my face, brush my teeth, and do a bit of reading or watch some television before shutting off the lights. We use salt lamps on our night stands which helps to create a peaceful ambiance before we are ready to fall asleep. Sticking with this routine has helped my body to adjust and recognize when it is time to wind down.


Many people love to use essential oils around bedtime to help them to unwind and relax so it is easier to fall asleep. I sometimes do this, but not always. One of the more popular essential oils to use would be lavender (Lavandula angustifolia/Lavandula officinalis). Lavender is very popular due to its sedative properties. This essential oil can be diffused in your bedroom for about an hour to help you relax and settle in for the night. The major constituent which gives lavender its sedative properties is linalyl-acetate. [3] To learn more about lavender essential oil, check out Aroma Web’s Lavender Essential Oil Profile.


Something that I always do when the lights have been turned off and I am ready to get settled and shut my eyes is to make sure I have music on. I prefer listening to classical piano, nature sounds (excluding any water noises), and meditation tracks. Spotify is a wonderful source for an extensive amount of music including pre-made playlists. One of my personal favorites is titled “Peaceful Piano”. Explore some music and see what resonates with you whether it is classical music, nature sounds, binaural beats, etc.

If you are tense from a long day at the office or a long day of chasing around kids and running errands all day, a warm bath for about ten minutes can be very beneficial in helping you get to sleep. Illinois State University put together a very helpful article for their students giving some tips and advice for helping them to get more adequate sleep. One of these is to take a warm bath as part of a pre-sleep ritual. [4] Dr. Catherine Darley, a specialist in naturopathic sleep medicine, explains that our body naturally gets sleepy due to a dip in our body temperature. There is a significant drop in our body temperature in the evening hours. So, when we take a warm bath, it temporarily raises our body temperature, and then afterwards our body temperature will drop back down which causes us to become sleepy. She recommends that people take a bath 60-90 minutes before bedtime. [5]


One more thing that can be beneficial is the use of herbs to help alleviate insomnia symptoms. A common herb that is used to help get a better night’s sleep is making a cup of chamomile tea. The use of chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a medicinal herb that has been used for many centuries dating all the way back to ancient Egypt.[6] Chamomile is a very versatile medicinal herb, but to use it to help with insomnia you can make tea with it. A basic recipe for herbal tea would be to use 1-3 tablespoons of dried herbs per cup of water. Boil your water and pour over your dried herbs, and steep until you reach your desired strength of flavor.


As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can naturally get a better night’s rest. Why don’t you give them a try? Just remember, always research essential oils and herbs before using to make sure there are no contraindications for them if you have allergies, are on medications, and to check the safe age ranges. If your symptoms don’t improve, please speak to a professional. These suggestions are not to be taken as medical advice under any circumstances.

References

[1] What Is Insomnia? - NHLBI, NIH. (2011). Nhlbi.nih.gov. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/inso

[2] Simon, N. Insomnia? Can't Sleep? Foods That Harm Sleep - AARP. AARP. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2014/foods-that-disrupt-sleep-photo.html#slide1

[3] Show Plant. Phytochem.nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem/plants/show/1141

[4] Sleep | Health Promotion and Wellness - Illinois State. Wellness.illinoisstate.edu. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from http://wellness.illinoisstate.edu/living/sleep/

[5] Darley, D. Does a Hot Bath Help Sleep? - Naturopathic Sleep Medicine. Naturopathic Sleep Medicine. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from http://www.naturalsleepmedicine.net/2012/05/24/does-a-hot-bath-help-sleep/

[6] Chamomile Benefits & Information (Matricaria Recutita). Herbwisdom. Retrieved 12 May 2017, from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html

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