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Natural sleep remedies

natural insomnia remedies

For so many women, sleep can be a huge issue as they get older. With lots reporting difficulty staying asleep throughout the night and others unable to drop off until the early hours of the morning (often with a day's work ahead of them), insomnia can have a huge impact on quality of life.

Subsisting on an inadequate amount of sleep is untenable in the long-term, but the good news is there are things you can do to improve your chances, and quality, of kip without resorting to medication. Here's our advice for finding a natural remedy for insomnia that works for you. 

 

Insomnia symptoms and causes

Common symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep and frequent waking during the night
  • Low mood and/or depression and irritability
  • Finding yourself consistently waking up too early
  • Tiredness during the day and worries about getting a good night's sleep
  • Increased 'brain fog' and memory problems

The causes of sleep disturbances are many and varied, from lying awake at night stressed from the day's events - or worrying about tomorrow's - to hormonal changes (common in menopausal and post-menopausal women) that result in difficulty sleeping. Here are a few reasons you could be finding yourself staring at the ceiling again at 3am.

Tired woman 

  • Worry and stress
  • Medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers and steroids
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Hot flushes and night sweats

 

Sleep remedies

Book an appointment with your GP

At first, it's easy to brush off a few nights of bad sleep - after all, women tend to soldier on through most things. But when disruptions in your sleeping pattern become frequent enough to affect your daily life, it's time to seek help. Booking an appointment with your doctor will mean that they can explore the cause of your insomnia and check whether any medication you're taking could be the culprit. They will then decide on the best course of action and sleep remedies for helping you drift off.

 

 

Keep a sleep diary

"My doctor minimised this until I took with me a sleep diary. Seeing it like that, she took notice."

Alarm clock

The first step in solving a chronic sleep issue is seeing your doctor for advice. In order to give them an idea of the scope and severity of your problem, and how badly it's affecting your life, it's a good idea to keep a sleep diary. 

 

 

Try a magnesium supplement

"Try magnesium an hour before bed. My husband really struggles to sleep but finds this works most nights."

Magnesium deficiency is responsible for all sorts of physical discomforts, though it's rarely the first thing that springs to mind when feelng below par. It regulates muscle and nerve function, helps to turn food into energy and a lack of it can cause (you guessed it) insomnia and sensitivity to noise.

Try BetterYou Magnesium Oil Goodnight Spray - sprays generally absorb faster and more effectively than capsules, and don't cause the stomach upset that some forms of oral magnesium sometimes can.

 

 

Natural and herbal sleep remedies

Lavender oil

Lavender"When I stayed with a friend, I slept right through the night. I saw that she had bowls of dried lavender from her garden in the bedroom so I now sprinkle oil of lavender on cotton wool pads in my bedroom (refreshed every week) and although I have the occasional bad night, I now sleep like a log."

Lavender has long been hailed as a sleep aid, and there's a reason for that. The University of Southampton carried out a study that resulted in 20% of participants getting better quality sleep in a lavender-scented room. Try This Works' Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.

 

Valerian - "At the moment I'm finding valerian tablets are helping me drift off."

Studies on women aged 50-60 have shown that valerian is often effective in treating insomnia in that age group. Taken in capsule or tea form, the supplement is also used to help ease mild anxiety, which is great for those who find that worry is the main reason they find it hard to drop off. Try Holland & Barrett Valerian Capsules.

 

White chestnut "You could try White Chestnut, one of the Bach flower remedies: it's for unwanted thoughts that go round and round."

Another supplement for those who find it hard to switch off. If you're stuck with thoughts that just keep going round and round in your head, mix a couple of drops with some water. Try Bach Original Flower Remedies White Chestnut.

 

 

White noise machines

"My saviour has been a white noise machine. After a week of training myself, I now find the noise goes on and almost immediately I feel sleepy, then I am off."

White noise acts as a background sound that masks louder ones that may disturb your sleep. In addition to this, lots of people meditate or practice mindfulness with white noise playing in the background, and even the simple act of turning it on as you get ready for bed each night will establish a routine that will make you more likely to drop off easily.

While you can buy white noise machines, from clever multi-purpose ones to slightly cheaper options, you could just use a white noise video from Youtube, or even an old radio left untuned.

 

Look at your diet

Are you a habitual midnight snacker? Late eater? This could be having an effect on your sleep patterns. Eating too late may cause heartburn and acid reflux - neither of which are particularly conducive to a good night's sleep. Try sticking to very light snacks later in the evening, instead.

 

You may be exercising - but are you exercising enough?

"I sleep much better if I go on my exercise bike for half hour at about 7:30pm."

Exercise group relaxation

And we don't mean the odd stroll after a Sunday lunch. It takes regular, consistent exercise for it to have any impact on your sleeping pattern. So keep plugging away at those 10,000 steps a day, join a gym, take up evening walks with a neighbour or get on yer bike - but just make sure you keep going with whichever activity you prefer. It will take a few weeks at least to see a real difference in your quality of sleep, so this one requires a bit of patience in the mean time (which, yes, is easy for us to say when we're not wide awake at four in the morning).

 


Try mindfulness for better sleep

"I meditate. It doesn't have to be too involved. Just think of nothing other than the sound of your own heartbeat. Meditation is amazing and helps in all sorts of stressful situations."

Mindfulness meditation forces a person to focus on the present moment instead of dwelling on the past, future or anything else that could cause stress or worry. Various studies have proven that mindfulness can be incredibly beneficial to both physical and mental wellbeing, including aiding sleep. There are plenty of online tools, videos and resources to help you if you decide to give it a try. Try the Headspace podcast, for simple mindfulness exercises to unwind with before bed.

 

 

HRT for menopause-related insomnia

"I take a very low dose of HRT but it seems to help."

HRT letters

Some women find menopause can cause quite significant disruption to their sleeping pattern and, while there are little things you can do to get a more comfortable night's sleep during 'the change', menopause-related insomnia can sometimes be eased with the help of hormone replacement therapy

 

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

"If you tend to get into cycles of worrying when lying awake, it might help to seek counselling, CBT or similar help to break the worry cycle, so that your mind can just float loose."

This is something that your GP would need to refer you for, and is sometimes decided upon in cases of chronic insomnia. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is used to treat the underlying causes of insomnia, usually through specific methods that are geared towards insomnia sufferers. 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

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