With depression and anxiety, I constantly have difficulty sleeping. I’ve had insomnia for as long as I could remember, and I know how much it can break you down, mentally and physically. I’m one of those people who only took medication, if I absolutely had to. I was also one of those people that absolutely hated taking sleeping medications. The entire day after taking medication, I would feel foggy, and no amount of coffee would help. So, I started trying natural remedies to help myself fall asleep. After years of struggling with insomnia, I have finally found ways that help me fall asleep fast, so now I’m sharing them with you to help you catch up on some Z’s. Here are my five natural ways to fall asleep fast when you have insomnia (Ps. all of these have scientific evidence to explain why they are helpful):
1. Count backwards from 100
I’m sure you have heard of counting sheep, but this is a little different. This is my go-to, and why it is number 1 on the list! My therapist and I were trying to come up with ways to combat my insomnia, and she suggested counting. It took me a while to figure out what worked best for me, but counting backwards has always been my quick fix to sleeping issues. What I do is start at 100 and start counting backwards. If my mind wanders, where I start thinking about other things than counting, I start over. I repeat it over and over again, until I fall asleep. In fact, there are multiples ways to do this, For example, Michael Brues, a clinical psychologist’s method is to start at 300 and count backwards by threes. Since this is a little difficult, it helps your mind turn off from the anxieties of the world, and it’s boring enough to put you to sleep.
2. Increase Melatonin
Did you know the body naturally produces melatonin? You can increase it naturally by meditating, managing your stress, and sunlight exposure during the day. Eating proper foods, such as rice, tomatoes, bananas, and almonds also help increase melatonin. You can also try melatonin tables. While melatonin tablets are technically synthetic, as they are made in a laboratory, they do help adjust the body’s internal clock.
3. The 4-7-8 Method
People with stress tend to not breathe deeply enough, depriving them of oxygen. This causes a build up of excess carbon dioxide in your tissues, which contributes to oxidative stress, inflammation and acidification in your body, which are foundations for disease. If you aren’t getting enough oxygen, you can’t think properly. The 4-7-8 technique promotes stress relief by allowing you to intake more oxygen, and expelling carbon dioxide.
Step 1: Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth.
Step 2: Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Step 3: Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Step 4: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
If you have an apple watch, utilize the “breathe app”.
4. Listen to music (Calm app)
Soft, soothing music is very helpful when you have insomnia. Research has shown that music can actually shorten Stage 2 of your sleep cycle, also known as NREM. This is a light stage of sleep, where your body temperature starts to lower, your blood pressure lowers, breathing starts to normalize, and it becomes a little harder to wake you up. Shortening this stage of sleep, which accounts for most of our sleep, will allow you to go into REM sleep faster, which is the dreaming stage of sleep.
5. A consistent bed routine with a warm shower
We make our children have a bedtime routine, so why don’t we? Going to bed and waking at the same time every day sets our clocks. Combine this with a nice, hot shower, and you’ll be out in no time. There are actual health benefits to getting a warm shower, such as cleansing the skin (don’t turn the heat up too much- you might dry out your skin), relieving stiff muscles, and hot showers are a natural sedative. Not only do our bodies crave consistency, but a daily rhythm is essential to functioning.
If you have insomnia, what tricks have you used to help yourself fall asleep?
Here are some items that may help you get a better nights rest, when you’ve been having insomnia: