There are few feelings more troubling than being unable to sleep. Insomnia, whether chronic or acute, affects millions of Americans every year. Here are some all-natural sleep aids.
It can have any one of a thousand causes, and if they are not addressed properly, they can lead to intense mental and physical stress. Pharmaceutical companies have turned the “sleep aid” industry into a billion dollar business, but the medications that they offer can be addicting and, if abused, cause significantly worse problems than insomnia down the road. Luckily, insomnia is hardly a new phenomenon, and there are plenty of low-tech solutions which have been discovered over the past few centuries.
Natural Sleep Aids Methods
The first and perhaps oldest method of sleep induction takes the term “all-natural” to its limits. While it may seem quite similar to other, pharmaceutical drug-assisted methods of forcing sleep, alcohol has been used for this purpose for thousands of years.
Whether it was a Viking drinking a flagon of mead or British royalty calling it a “nightcap”, alcohol’s sedative powers seem perfect for inducing sleep. Unfortunately, however, this method can backfire quite easily. Once the blood alcohol level subsides, the person naturally becomes more alert and can either have even more trouble falling asleep or wake up prematurely.
A healthier method to overcome insomnia is meditation or guided imagery. While the most common example of this is counting sheep, the underlying principle can actually take a number of various forms. The goal is to keep the mind relaxed yet occupied with something repetitive.
This can mean envisioning a scene from a beach or a waterfall (which has actually been proven to aid sleep more than counting sheep as it expends more mental energy), or meditative breathing. Inhaling for eight long seconds followed by exhaling for eight to ten seconds has been shown to relax the brain and body.
Research has shown that sex, or specifically orgasm, helps an individual sleep. This is because orgasm produces increased relaxation through the release of specific neurohormones.
Sleep Disorders: Removing Underlying Causes
Some insomnia is actually entirely preventable as it is due to a less than optimal sleeping environment. Light, whether artificial or natural, tends to throw off the body’s natural sleep rhythm. Some individuals are particularly sensitive to noise, while others are sensitive to a certain type of bedding.
Ideally, your sleeping environment should be as dark (and quiet) as a cave. While scientists can argue for days about evolutionary biology’s role on human sleep, the evidence is too strong to ignore. If you are like most people, you will simply fall asleep and experience a better quality slumber if there is a complete and utter lack of both noise and light.
If this cannot be achieved for some reason, or if you find yourself out of your normal sleeping quarters (like on an airplane), you can always turn to sleeping masks and earplugs. It is always best to attempt to remove the problem before turning to an extraneous solution, whether it be all-natural or purely pharmaceutical. Regardless of how you achieve it, sleep is one thing that no one can live without.