The Holistic Approach to Insomnia
Insomnia affects roughly 1 in 3 people. Many people resort to taking sleeping medication as an option to fight off the frustration and desperation that comes from not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. But there are other healthier options that are available, as well as some lifestyle changes that can encourage healthier sleep patterns.
What is it?
Insomnia presents itself in a few ways. Someone that suffers from insomnia has one or all experiences of having difficulty falling asleep, sometimes taking hours to fall asleep. Others might be able to fall asleep, but wake up during the night and have difficulty going back to sleep. And then some may struggle to stay asleep for as long as they like or need.
How is it diagnosed?
Insomnia is typically diagnosed by your doctor. They will take a look at your medical and sleep history. They will look into possible stressors, lifestyle, diet, and more. They may also suggest a sleep study. For an in depth look at what the diagnostic process looks like, check out this article.
What causes it?
Insomnia can present itself either as primary or secondary insomnia. Secondary insomnia is the result of a side-effect of another problem. Some of the disorders and illness that cause insomnia are depression, anxiety, PTSD, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, overactive thyroid, and more.
How to treat insomnia in a holistic way?
- Check your sleeping tools. By this I mean your mattress, your pillow, your blankets, the room temperature, and so on. A bed that isn’t comfortable will make it much harder to fall and stay asleep.
- White noise. White noise is a lifesaver for drowning out all of those tiny noises that we hear throughout the night. Sometimes just the quiet can be incredibly loud.
- Practice meditation. Meditation and relaxing breathing is a great way to quiet the mind. An overactive mind is brutal when you are trying to fall asleep. Practice meditation each day and it will feel more natural and the “quiet” will come more quickly.
- Technology. Smartphones and electronics are a common cause of insomnia. They can reduce melatonin in the body and impede sleep. It’s best to turn electronics off an hour or two before sleep. But if you are going to have it on, use one of the blue light cancelling apps that make your screen more red than blue. Check out this article for more information about how the blue light affects our health.
- Diet. If alcohol and caffeine are part of your diet, and you are struggling with sleep, it is best to cut them out. If anything, don’t drink them within a few hours of trying to go to sleep. The caffeine and need to urinate can interrupt sleep.
- Develop a soothing nighttime routine. Routines aren’t just for children. Go to bed around the same time each night. Take a warm bath. Don’t eat a large meal just before bed. Use white noise. And practice your relaxing breathing.
- Get outside and get moving. Expose yourself to natural light as much as possible during the day. And get your body moving. A healthy and active lifestyle will promote a better night’s sleep.
- Use herbs or natural supplements. Some herbs that you can use to promote sleep are magnesium, ashwagandha, cordyceps, or eleuthero (Siberian) ginseng. Valerian and Melatonin are also popular herbs and supplements to encourage healthy sleep.
Insomnia affects one-third of the American population. It’s a common disorder, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Utilizing one or more of these natural methods can promote a better night’s sleep resulting in a happier and healthier you.