There are a whole bunch of home-based remedies for insomnia or sleeplessness. When you think about it, unintentional lack of sleep must have been around for a long, long time.
If you read much of this blog, you’ll understand that I’m completely convinced that the only long term remedy for insomnia is one that doesn’t require a prescription from a doctor, or a visit to your local drugstore for some off-the-shelf medication.
Insomnia Home Remedies
There are two categories I would put these remedies into: the first would be either actions you can take that involve either nothing but will, or at most stuff that you have in the refrigerator or the cupboard. The second would be things that are considered “natural” or “holistic” but you’d have to go out of your way to find them – likely at a health food store. So let’s cover them both:
- The main thing to try is a thing called “Sleep Hygiene“. There’s a whole post on that. Make sure that you have a clean, dark, comfortable, cool bedroom, don’t watch the TV or computer too close to bedtime, and get some exercise.
- The second attempt should be with some enhanced hygiene, but make sure you just pay attention to the first part of that post – the part about fixed bedtimes and awakenings – we don’t need to get into “stubborn insomnia” at first, but you might if things on this page don’t work out for you.
- For centuries, we’ve been told that a glass of warm milk before bed can help. There’s some reasons behind this (protein) that make it so. As long as that glass of milk doesn’t cause you to wake up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, go for it!
- Valerian is a herb widely used in Europe. Some say it works, but for others is a bust – much like almost everything in this inexact science.
- Kava root is used throughout Polynesia as a ceremonial beverage, but it’s also a sedative.
- Lavender is a flowering plant, the essential oil of which is often use to “aid insomnia”. I’ve never tried it because I don’t like the smell (smell’s like Grandma’s house, which is fine, but I can go outside and breathe fresh air at Grandma’s house too).
- Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone inside of you. It’s the chemical released from the pineal gland in your brain, and is triggered by darkness – so when it’s night-time, melatonin is released. Lots of people use this for jet lag (to re synchronize your body clock).
Modern Insomnia Remedies
Unfortunately, if you visit your doctor, chances are very good (I almost guarantee it) that you leave with a prescription. In my case, the prescription was for a drug called Lorazepam (Ativan) which, once I had been taking it for a while, I discovered there were all kinds of long term side effects – including a “weaning off” period for almost a year! I’m sure I’ll have an entire post on my Lorazepam experience – check the search bar.
The other medication I’ve found that works for me is called “doxylamine succinate ” tablets – it’s over the counter, and is the active sleep ingredient in medications like NyQuil and Unisom. This does work for me, and from time to time I take it, but it does have a big downside – it has a “hangover” effect so that you feel “drugged out” the entire next day.
I initially started on medication before I investigated insomnia thoroughly, and “if I knew then what I know now” I would never have gone down this path.
However, the insomnia occurred as part of the repercussions of a stroke, and my GP (doctor) said something that still sticks with me: “sleeping during your recovery is more important than playing around with natural treatment”. Probably right.
If I had to do it all again, I’d postpone going to the doctor about sleeplessness, and see if a good month-long attempt at more natural methods would work for me. I bet they would.