You’ve finished your day’s chores, and have readied your beautiful and invitingly comfortable bed for sweet sleep. You grab that boring book you’ve been meaning to read for ages as you climb onto the super soft mattress – The one more boring than a history lesson. You hope to fall asleep before finishing the first chapter. But, after 28 chapters of the medieval drama and countless hours of mindless web browsing, sleep still evades you. You give up and shut the lights and lie flat on your back trying to count sheep to no avail, as your eyes just won’t close! Before long, your fatigue has doubled and it’s time for your morning tea.
Sounds familiar? If yes, then you are one of more than one crore Indians who report their Insomnia every year. Also, about a tenth of India’s population suffers from chronic Insomnia, which means sleep evades them for 3 or more nights in a week, for at least three months.
While it is possible that certain medications and health issues, such as hyperthyroidism and depression, can induce sleeplessness and stress. Diet and age are factors too.
You’ve probably tried the most common suggestions, like reducing your caffeine intake and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. When all that doesn’t seem to work, you take the pill. These, being quick short-term solutions, require a certain degree of caution – next-day hangovers, excessive eating, memory loss are among the more common side effects of the pill.
But fret not! Natural home remedies come to the rescue yet again! These simple lifestyle changes are safe and effective, and, according to experts, are a better strategy even if they take time to have lasting effects.
- Monitor your pills:consult your doctor about your regular medicines and their potential for disrupting sleep. Research has shown medicines like decongestants, thyroid medication and certain antidepressants to be a cause of insomnia. If that is the case, discuss the possibility of lighter doses with your doctor.
- Reset your body clock: head out in the sun during the day, get enough exercise, and train your mind to adopt a pre-sleep ritual like reading a chapter of a book, before hitting the pillow at the same time every day for about a week. Formulate a fixed schedule and stick to it! This helps in re-tuning your circadian rhythm, eventually training your body to fall asleep at night.
- De-stress with exercise:Yoga, breathing exercises, and cardio are great ways to beat the blues since they release a lot of endorphins – your ‘happy hormones’. These also tire your body enough that it demands sleep at the end of the day.
- Go Herby! Many herbs have been proven to be effective relaxants when used in moderation. Chamomile, Valerian Root, and lavender essential oil are among many such herb products. These can be consumed in a variety of ways – as teas, pills, powders added to food and drinks, as tinctures, aromatics and as serums. These also require some caution, however. Consult an expert on the dosage, and be careful of the brands you shop for. Avoid using them as a mixture.
- Get the ambience right: Maintain dark and quiet surroundings while sleeping. Invest in earplugs and sleep masks. Ensure you are away from all screens and gadgets at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Use this time to settle down, brew yourself some herbal tea and prep your bed for sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day: Caffeine works wonders for students studying the night before an exam by keeping them up. Alcohol, although being a powerful sleep inducer, tends to disrupt peaceful sleep as it promotes frequent urination and also makes your brain skip the first few stages of your sleep cycle. Best to steer clear of both!
Do consult a doctor if you have chronic insomnia and discuss the natural alternative treatment you are resorting to. Your insomnia might not be insomnia after all, but because of something else altogether, and treating it might scare your insomnia away!