Insomnia is the most common complaint associated with sleep in the world. Simply, it means that you are unable to sleep enough to feel well-rested and fresh the next day. However, the amount of sleep varies amongst individuals therefore; insomnia is based on the quality of sleep, not on how many hours you are sleeping.
For example, even if you get 8 hours of sleep, you waking up the next day feeling fatigued and drowsy may indicate that you have insomnia.
Insomnia is often referred to as a symptom of an underlying cause, which can also vary amongst individuals. For some, it may be due to overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol or emotional stress-related issues such as having too much work or feeling like you have too many responsibilities to deal with. Tension is one of the most common causes of stress-related insomnia in adults.
If you’re looking to treat insomnia naturally then you’re definitely going to want to check this out. Very beneficial information to help you combat your insomnia!
If you’re suffering from stress, insomnia, or both, take heart, there is a solution for everybody and no, we aren’t talking about sleeping pills or medicinal drugs. There are several natural remedies for stress and insomnia; you just need to find the ones that suit you best.
But first, let’s look at the common symptoms associated with insomnia:
Stress is a normal response in our everyday life. During any threatening situation, we go into a fight or flight mode which protects us from danger. Caveman used this to save themselves from possible danger, for example, when they were being chased by say, saber tooth lions while they were hunting.
However, this stress response sticks with us and occurs even when we are in a negative situation. For example, you have a deadline to meet and you only have a few hours to complete a project. This is when the pressure builds up, you start working faster, your concentration level elevates, you are able to stay up for several hours in the night to finish the task and in the end, you are done with it. However, too much stress can cause anxiety, depression and sleep problems.
Fortunately, there is a way to deal with stress and allow you to sleep at night without any issues:
1. Find out what’s stressing you out so much
Your first move should be to find out what the cause is. Have a good look at yourself and your lifestyle. Is your stress work-related or related to your social or personal life? Are you having a tough love life or is your partner complaining too much? Is your stress more of a physical problem — do you have any physical condition that is affecting your daily activities because of the pain etc.? Identify the stressors in your life, write them down and find ways to prevent them from causing stress.
2. Seek help from others
Spend time with your friends and family more often to calm your body and mind. Share your problems with people who love you and care for you. It doesn’t hurt to seek support from others when you aren’t able to determine a solution that’s best for you. This may be the most clichéd thing you’ll see on most health sites, but hanging out with friends and family, having your meals together and having positive conversations is the best way to buffer the stress in your life.
You can however, improve your mood solo by doing things you enjoy such as reading a book, evaluating your life and being grateful for what you have or just going for a leisurely walk in the park — smell the roses!
3. Calm your body
Overthinking your problems will just tax your mind further and allow stress to linger longer. If you stress more, your body produces more cortisol, thus pushing your stress level higher. It’s a chain that can only be broken by you.
Have you ever tried exercising to reduce stress or doing some yoga? There are many ways through which you can relax your mind through physical exertion. Some other examples include dance or zumba, pilates, tai chi, jogging, swimming etc.
Understand that any form of physical activity will make you feel better because exercise does give you a positive high. It stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins in the brain that increase feelings of pleasure and make you feel good. Furthermore, exercise makes you more confident about yourself and the actions you make in your daily life. For some, exercise is quite superficial, we do it to make ourselves look better but the benefits of exercise are above and beyond your aesthetics. You just need to give it a try.
When you’re stressing out in the night, try controlled breathing. Meditation is the best way to be completely aware of yourself.
Try alternate nostril breathing. Close your right nostril with your index finger and inhale as much as you can through the left one. Once you have inhaled completely, unblock your right nostril; block the left one and release through the right. Inhale through the right and then exhale through the left. Keep alternating until you have completed 10 breaths. You can obviously do more if you want.
5. Limit your bedroom to sleep
This means you have to keep all pieces of technology and food out of the room. The light emitted from phones and computer screens, also known as blue light, suppresses the melatonin in the body. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep.
Exposure to blue light can disrupt the normal rhythm that governs your sleep and wake cycle. Make an attempt to stop using all pieces of technology an hour or two before bed time. Use the hour before to relax so that you can peacefully go to sleep.
6. Have foods that fight stress
When it comes to stress and food, emotional eating is not the solution. When you reach for foods to cope with your emotions, you often turn towards foods that are calorie dense and full of unhealthy fat, such as a tub of ice cream.
You might object to this and believe such foods actually make you feel better during an emotional or stressful situation but what’s actually happening is that there is a higher than normal level of serotonin, a feel-good chemical, in the brain, which may temporarily ease your stress or feeling of misery.
Unfortunately, what this temporary moment if bliss is doing to you in the long term outweighs its short term effects. You gain weight, consume excessive salt, sugar, fat and carbs which are clearly bad for your overall health and worst of all, you actually make yourself more susceptible to stress. There are foods that help relieve stress in a healthy manner and there are foods that worsen stress in the long term. Let’s look at the good stuff first:
7. Avoid having the worst foods for stress
According to many studies, while some foods might make you feel calmer, others may wreak havoc in the body and act as stimulants for a short period. Most of us turn towards common quick-fixes such as coffee or sugary foods to elevate our mood, but the effect is temporary and may lead to further problems.
The following are foods that may boost anxiety and do more harm than good in a stressful situation.
Caffeine inhibits serotonin levels in the brain, which ultimately may result in negative emotions such as irritability and depression. In addition, caffeine is a diuretic which can increase the number of bathroom visits you make. Diuretics dehydrate the body which may also cause depression.
Most importantly, caffeine keeps you awake which also leads to anxiety and stress. Sleep is essential for positive mood so instead of relying on coffee or energy drinks to keep you awake, try having a good night’s rest.
Coffee has been proven several times to be healthy as it has a positive effect on the heart. However, stick to no more than one or two cups a day and try your best to not get dependent on it and have it truly because you enjoy it.
Candy may make you feel good for a short period of time but this again, is just a temporary mood lift. The science behind this is simple. Sugar gets rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream because unlike in the case of complex carbs, the body doesn’t really have to do much to break it down. The rapid absorption will instantly give you more energy but once the effect wears off when the body starts increasing insulin levels to get rid of the excess sugar, you begin feel fatigued.
Also, having too much sugar results in sugar crashes and increases your craving for more.
Alcohol is a stimulant like caffeine and drinking more than you should, may result in some serious mood problems. Alcohol is a diuretic — which means it causes dehydration and makes you go to the bathroom a lot. Staying hydrated is the key to a happy lifestyle.
In addition, alcohol triggers the release of cortisol in the brain and studies show that heavy drinkers often have the highest levels of cortisol in the body than non-drinkers or light-drinkers. Therefore, if you do drink alcohol every day, stick to one glass of wine daily or no alcohol altogether.
Most processed foods that we turn to such as fries and burgers are also high in carbohydrates which often cause sluggishness and fatigue in most people. Consumption of high sodium foods also increases a person’s risk of hypertension.
Originally published at eunatural.com on July 8, 2015.
Originally published at medium.com