Do you toss and turn each night unable to fall asleep? Or, perhaps you lie awake in the middle of the night and stress about work, family pressures or upcoming events?
You may be suffering from acute insomnia.
However, you’re not alone: According to a recent study, about a quarter of Americans experience acute insomnia and have difficulty sleeping for brief periods of time.
Although, the good news is that acute insomnia is temporary. If you’re experiencing sleep difficulty, here are a few tips on how to get back your 8 hours of nightly rest the natural way.
Causes of Insomnia
Before taking steps to improve, it’s important that you understand the cause of your broken sleep cycle. There are many underlying triggers that can be associated with acute insomnia including:
- Stress (work, family, moving, or other pressures).
- Environmental factors (temperature, noise, or light)
- Lifestyle factors (too little exercise, too much caffeine, or late night screen time)
- Illness or injury.
- Discomfort or pain. (physical or emotional)
- Certain medications
- A traumatic experience.
If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for more than three nights a week over a three month period, you may be experiencing chronic insomnia. This can often be linked with a more serious long-term health problem, which can include depression/anxiety, chronic stress, sleep apnea, or chronic pain.
Once you have developed an understanding of the reasons behind your poor sleep pattern, we recommend consulting with your health care practitioner to ensure that your overall health is in order. Keep in mind that good sleep habits often start with good routines. However, during times of need, you may also want to consider one of several natural sleep supplements, which we have listed below.
Melatonin is a natural hormone which, when produced, sends signals to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Melatonin is produced by various tissues within the body, primarily the pineal gland, and its production is controlled by natural light cycles.
Levels fall during the day in response to light exposure and rise at night with the onset of darkness. This is a major part of your circadian rhythm, a set of biological processes our body has developed to facilitate the sleep-wake cycle.
Lifestyle factors, like shift work and international travel, can often throw your sleep-wake cycle out of synch. But even something as seemingly harmless as eating or exercising right before bed can disturb your body’s natural melatonin release.
If you experience occasional sleeplessness, or sleep disruptions resulting from similar factors, taking melatonin as a supplement can help. The recommended dose is about 1-3 mg, and it’s best taken one or two hours before bedtime.
Don’t take melatonin for more than a few weeks without consulting a doctor. It is also not recommended for use for those with depression, seizure disorder, hypertension or autoimmune problems.
Magnesium is responsible for more than 600 reactions in the body and is one of our main ways of processing energy. The mineral is a key player in protein metabolism, brain function, and cardiovascular functions. Magnesium supplements may be used to treat a range of problems including hypertension, depression, and migraines.
Magnesium is found in certain foods like nuts, green vegetables, and legumes. But according to some reports, at least half of Americans may be deficient and aren’t getting the required 320mg/day.
This important mineral could be helpful with relaxation and calming anxiety, and it may also be linked with the production of melatonin. Thus, many health professionals believe a lack of magnesium often causes poor sleep patterns. A small study on older adults showed positive results for the magnesium-taking group when it came to waking up too early, sleep duration, and sleep quality.
Generally speaking, taking magnesium should not cause serious side effects in healthy adults, but be aware that it can also interfere with some medications, so consult with your doctor before taking this supplement.
Cannabidiol Oil (CBD)
In addition to melatonin and magnesium, another form of alternative medicine used for sleeping better is CBD.
CBD oil is a derivative of marijuana, which does not deliver a psychological high. The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD has captured a great deal of scientific attention for its medicinal properties, including reducing pain, inflammation, anxiety, and seizures. In fact, Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil used for the treatment of severe epilepsy, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
By acting as a natural analgesic, CBD may improve sleep patterns in individuals who suffer from chronic pain that disturbs their sleep. Studies over the last four years have consistently shown that medication containing CBD, or a combination of equal parts CBD and THC, significantly improves sleep in up to 50% of patients with chronic pain resulting from multiple sclerosis and neuropathy.
The cannabis compound may also be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety-related sleep problems. CBD increases the release of dopamine, a “feel good” hormone that can help your body and mind relax. Studies in animals also show that 10-40 mg of CBD can improve total sleep and facilitate waking in response to daylight. But do bear in mind that it’s possible to build up a tolerance so it may not be a good idea to use CBD oil daily.
Lavender is a natural plant which is easily grown in your garden. You can also buy lavender essential oil at many health food stores, which can be used for a variety of purposes.
Lavender is supposedly soothing, and there is some evidence that it can encourage relaxation, decrease anxiety and promote sleep. Though concrete evidence isn’t plentiful, studies are positive that this natural and safe alternative can help induce sleep by reducing anxiety. Researchers believe this could be attributed to the plant’s rich concentration of linalool and linalyl acetate, which are compounds with proven relaxing properties.
Simply adding a few drops to a hot bath or an aromatherapy diffuser is an easy addition to your relaxation routine. Note that essential oils are not to be ingested and should be diluted when used topically.
Other Tips for a Better Night Sleep
Even though melatonin and the other supplements listed above can certainly help you sleep, if you are having trouble, some key lifestyle changes may help you achieve a more restful nights sleep.
Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep routine:
- Don’t eat or exercise within three hours of bedtime
- Limit the amount of “blue” light from computers, TVs and cell phones
- Hot baths, herbal teas, and meditation may calm your brain and body before bed
- Try to get as much natural daylight as possible during normal hours
Some people do naturally have different rhythms, so try to understand your body and adjust your schedule, where possible, to a time frame that feels most comfortable for you.