According to research, around 60% of all Australians have insomnia symptoms. Luckily, natural remedies for sleeping problems can be more effective in the long term for helping deal with sleep disorders and insomnia than medications, without any nasty side effects.
Stress, anxiety, hormone imbalance and eating late at night are all reasons you might lie awake at night. Herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian root, and magnesium can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.
So, if you are always tired, struggle to fall asleep, or wake up regularly in the night, try our top tips to help you naturally get a better night’s sleep.
Why you can’t sleep at night
Insomnia comes in many forms. Some people find they can’t fall asleep; some wake up in the night, suffer from recurring nightmares, or wake up too early; others sleep so lightly they are always tired.
The reason you struggle to fall asleep could be anything from stress and anxiety to a hormonal imbalance keeping you awake.
These are the top causes of insomnia:
- Stress: It is the most common cause of insomnia worldwide. When you are stressed, your body is flooded with cortisol. This stimulates your brain into having a fight or flight reaction to tackle a stressful situation. Of course, this means you can’t fall asleep.
- Anxiety: Similar to stress, when you are anxious or worried, your brain just won’t switch off. When you suffer from anxiety, your brain also relies on the stress hormone cortisol, which fires the nerves in your brain to overthink. This is why anxiety sufferers often lie in bed thinking about everything.
- Hormonal imbalance: A hormonal imbalance can cause several issues, which may, in turn, keep you up at night. Your hormones could cause a hot flush, make you overthink, change your circadian rhythm or simply make you feel more awake at night.
- Eating late at night: If you frequently eat large meals late at night, you may struggle to sleep. When you fall asleep, your body will start to repair itself, and it can’t do this if you are actively digesting food. Your body will keep you awake while it digests and will only let you sleep later.
Insomnia is prevalent in adults because it can be caused by various things, including eating late at night, stress, anxiety, and a hormonal imbalance. Insomnia can mean you struggle to fall asleep, wake during the night, have nightmares or sleep very lightly.
Balance hormone to sleep better
Your hormones dictate your body’s natural sleep cycle, so when your hormones aren’t balanced, you will find you are not only tired during the day but also unable to sleep well at night. Learning to balance your hormones can help you fall asleep naturally without medications.
High levels of cortisol and low levels of melatonin or oestrogen can contribute to inadequate sleep. Low melatonin levels will make falling asleep challenging.
The same is true if you have low oestrogen levels because oestrogen helps move magnesium through cells triggering the neurotransmitters in your brain that say it’s time to sleep. Without these messages being sent around your body, you just won’t fall asleep, no matter how tired you are!
You may find your hormones unbalanced for several reasons, including a lack of exercise, bad circadian rhythm, or a bad diet. Therefore, to rebalance those hormones, leading a healthy lifestyle can promote a natural sleep cycle, and you may sleep well every night.
Additionally, suppose you want to give your hormones some extra help. In that case, you can try hormone balancing tea such as Ashwagandha, Fenugreek or papaya, or vitamin supplements to balance your hormones and naturally promote sleep.
Natural supplements and herbal teas can provide key nutrients and vitamins that help ensure your body is healthy and control your hormones correctly.
If you want to find out more about hormone imbalance or aren’t sure if you suffer from hormonal imbalance, check out this article for more information.
Unbalanced hormones will put your natural sleep cycle out of balance. This means that your brain won’t send messages telling you to sleep even if you are tired. Balancing your hormones is the best way to naturally ensure you fall asleep easily at night and sleep all night.
Relieve stress to promote sleep
If stress keeps you awake at night, the obvious answer to help you sleep better is to destress and find ways to relax. When you take the time to relax before bed, you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep for longer.
When you relax, your cortisol levels drop, allowing your body to start producing the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. With more melatonin and less cortisol, you will sleep deeper for longer.
Before you fall asleep, you should do something calming that will slow down your brain and encourage your body to produce less cortisol and more melatonin. This will slow signals in your brain to help you stop overthinking and worrying at night.
Cortisol, the stress hormone that can keep you awake, has a relatively short life. So, the good news is, a few stress-relieving activities just one hour before bed gives you enough time to relax properly.
To help you relax before bedtime, you can try multiple different things. You could try journaling, doing easy jigsaw puzzles, meditation, herbal tea or listening to music. Whatever you do to relax should be the final hour of your day to help your brain relax and prepare for sleep.
For more natural ways to relax, check out this article for the best herbal teas for stress and anxiety.
Too much stress means a high level of cortisol which keeps you awake. One hour before bed, you should find a relaxing activity to help your mind relax, giving you time to lower your cortisol levels and prepare your body for sleeping.
Improve your digestion to have a better sleep
If you like to eat late in the evening or enjoy a late-night snack, you can boost your digestion to get to sleep earlier.
If you lie down to sleep after overeating food, it can cause problems with your digestive system, which functions best when you are upright. You may experience heartburn, stomach pain, cramping, bloating and nausea.
While you are digesting, your body will try to stay awake, so making sure your food is well digested before going to bed will help you sleep better. You can improve your digestion by doing some gentle stretching half an hour after eating, giving yourself a stomach massage or drinking herbal digestive tea.
There are several ways to encourage better digestion naturally without taking medications.
Firstly, you should make sure your final meal is at least two hours before going to sleep, giving your body plenty of time to digest naturally.
Secondly, gentle stretching around half an hour after eating your evening meal can help massage your stomach muscles and move food through your system faster. By actively pulling and stretching your muscles, you can help push food through your system to prevent indigestion.
You can accomplish the same result by giving your stomach a gentle massage. Use your fist to massage your stomach gently. You can find the best way to massage your abdomen in this article.
Additionally, your body can digest food more efficiently when your digestive system functions well with a healthy gut. You can try herbal tea to improve digestion.
Some herbs and plants such as ginger, dandelion, hibiscus and fennel contain properties to promote better digestion and gut health. Or perhaps a tea blend like this Cinnamon Garden Digestive Aid could help you digest food faster and treat indigestion and nausea so you don’t lie awake.
If indigestion stops you from sleeping well at night, check out this article to learn about the best teas to help with your digestion.
Impaired digestion can cause insomnia, so ensuring good digestion can stop you from lying awake at night. Eating earlier in the evening, gentle stretching, and digestive aids can help speed up your digestion for better sleep.
Taking herbal teas to sleep better
Herbal teas are an excellent way to encourage sleep naturally. Depending on the type of tea you like, you can treat insomnia by sipping on a tisane or natural tea before heading to bed.
Herbal teas can help you relax, destress and stop overthinking due to their unique properties. Therefore, drinking some natural teas like Chamomile, Lavender, Valerian root and Lemon Myrtle before bed can be an excellent natural remedy to help you sleep better at night.
Encourage sleep with Chamomile
Organic Chamomile tea can help tackle insomnia because it has a high concentration of apigenin.
Apigenin binds with nerve receptors in your brain to slow down signals and messages, making you sleepy. This is precisely the same thing that pharmaceutical drugs do, but chamomile tea is all-natural.
Chamomile can start working quickly, so experts recommend taking just one cup of chamomile tea around 45 minutes before heading to sleep. This allows enough time for the apigenin to start working.
You can read this article to discover more about chamomile and other good teas for sleep.
Valerian root can help you relax
Valerian root is an excellent pre-bedtime drink because it can allow you to relax and fall asleep faster.
Once you’ve suffered a few bad nights’ sleep, you may start to worry and pressure yourself into sleeping more. The result is that you’ll stress and sleep worse, which is a downwards spiral.
You can break this pattern by drinking one cup of Valerian root an hour before going to bed. As a proven stress relief, Valerian root is so powerful at slowing the nerve signals in your brain and can help you relax.
If you lie awake most nights thinking, worrying and stressing, taking a cup of Valerian root tea before bed can help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the whole night meaning fewer disturbances for a more restful night.
Because of its strong effects, doctors recommend you don’t take Valerian root while on prescribed antidepressants. If you want to know more about Valerian root, this article contains everything you need to know.
Herbal teas such as Valerian root and chamomile can help treat the causes of insomnia. Both chamomile and Valerian root can help you relax and calm down before bed, which will help you sleep better at night.
Magnesium bath to relax your nervous system
Research shows that low magnesium levels cause insomnia, so ensuring you get enough magnesium is critical. Taking a magnesium bath means your body can absorb magnesium through your skin to boost magnesium levels and sleep better.
Every part of your body uses magnesium, but it is beneficial because it triggers your parasympathetic nervous system. These are the nerves that make you calm and relaxed. Magnesium also regulates the production of the hormone melatonin, which dictates your sleep cycle.
Therefore, low magnesium levels can make it hard to fall asleep and make you restless during the night.
To supplement magnesium, you can add Epsom salts to your evening bath. Epsom salts contain magnesium, and when you relax in a bath, the magnesium seeps into your body via your skin. This relaxes your muscles and nerves more effectively, helping you prepare for bed.
A warm bath with Epsom salts two hours before heading to bed should help you sleep through the night. You can also boost your magnesium levels for better sleep by taking a magnesium supplement or powder during the day.
If you’re interested in learning about magnesium baths, this article has more information.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for tackling insomnia because it affects your parasympathetic system. This part of your nervous system signals to your body that it’s time to relax and sleep. A warm bath with added Epsom salts can help your body directly absorb magnesium to relax your muscles and brain.
Other tips to help you sleep better
These are some other popular ways to sleep better at night. Depending on the cause of your insomnia, you can try several ways to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Aromatherapy to aid sleep
Aromatherapy has been used for years to aid sleep. Different herbs and plants have other benefits to improve your health and sleep.
You can choose a combination of essential oils to put on your pillow, in your bath or in a scent diffuser to help you sleep better. Popular oils to promote sleep include lavender, Ylang Ylang, peppermint, sandalwood.
Although you might think a glass of wine helps you relax, it actually doesn’t work in the long run. Alcohol is notorious for keeping you up and disturbing your sleep.
Alcohol encourages adenosine production, making you feel sleepy very fast, but the levels drop just as fast. This means you might fall asleep quickly, but you’ll wake in the night.
Try replacing any alcohol after 6 pm with herbal tea or another soft drink to increase your chances of a good nights’ sleep.
Take a hot shower or bath to promote sleep
The warm water surrounding you can help regulate your body temperature to promote sleep.
As you start to wind down for the night, your body temperature cools internally while your hands and feet get warm. You can help minimise the difference in body temperature to keep your core nice and warm, which will help your body relax, and you’ll sleep better.
It’s best if you can take a bath or shower for at least 10 minutes, around 90 minutes, before going to sleep. Don’t have the water temperature above 40 degrees; if it’s too hot or too cold, your nerves will be stimulated, keeping you awake.
Change your lighting to fall asleep naturally
Looking at harsh blue or white lights before bed can keep you awake. Your body’s natural rhythm is set to rise and fall with the sun, but artificial lighting has messed this up for many people.
Try switching light bulbs to warmer LED colours, avoid looking at your phone, laptop or TV and keep the lights dim to encourage your body to fall asleep naturally as it gets dark.
Stop clock watching
It can be tempting to check the time when you can’t sleep, but experts suggest this will actually keep you awake.
Not only does the sudden light stimulate your brain, but you’ll be putting more and more pressure on yourself to sleep. The result is that you’ll feel more stressed and unable to sleep.
When you wake in the night, instead of reaching for your phone to see what time it is, take a sip of water and immediately go back to bed. Try some breathing exercises or meditation to help you drift off again.
There are many reasons why you might not be able to sleep. The good news is there are lots of natural steps to take before resorting to sleeping pills. You can try aromatherapy and essential oils, and herbal teas to help you sleep. Changing your lighting at home and not watching the clock can also help you sleep better.
When to see a doctor for your insomnia
Sleep is essential for your overall health, so not getting enough sleep can seriously impact your health. Natural cures for insomnia can be very effective, but you may need a doctor’s professional help if you are still struggling.
Insomnia shouldn’t impact your daily life. If you struggle to sleep most nights and notice you cannot concentrate during the day, find your memory is getting worse, struggle with basic tasks, become forgetful or feel dizzy, you should speak to your healthcare provider.
Although being unable to sleep is common, if you find your insomnia continues for more than one week or starts to impact your daily life, you may have chronic insomnia. And you may need additional help.
In some cases, natural remedies can help cure the causes of insomnia and ensure you get a good night’s sleep. However, if your chronic insomnia is caused by something more serious such as physical pain or an unknown illness, your doctor can provide a diagnosis and further care.
To make the most out of your appointment and to cure your insomnia quickly, try keeping a sleep diary to record any patterns, unusual sleep behaviour or problems you may be having. It would be best to tell them about all the natural and herbal remedies you have tried and any medications you are taking.
If your insomnia continues for more than one week, you should consult your doctor for help. Sleep has a significant impact on your overall health. While natural remedies can be effective, if you are still struggling to sleep or waking up at night, you may need additional support.
Sleep is so important, and, surprisingly, so many of us have insomnia which leaves us feeling tired and fatigued daily. Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, indigestion or a hormonal imbalance.
Treating the underlying cause of insomnia with natural remedies can help treat insomnia without sleeping pills. Herbal teas such as Valerian root and chamomile, aromatherapy, magnesium baths and eating earlier in the evening can help you sleep better naturally.
If you are still struggling to sleep, seek advice from your doctor! Sleep is essential, and we all deserve a good night’s rest.