I have dealt with sleep problems most of my life. As a child, I used to have night terrors and I also used to have other weird waking episodes that may well have been seizures, in retrospect. Later, those ‘things’ (as I called them) started happening at various phases throughout my adulthood. It was only really this year that things began to get better.
Sleep is something that is all too easily taken for granted. Those lucky enough to sleep well most of the time will never understand the struggles of those who consider themselves lucky to sleep through the night. Even now, as my sleep starts to improve, I still see sleep as a huge privilege.
Sleep problems come in all shapes and sizes. For some, it could be a case of insomnia – either battling to fall asleep in the first place or waking up at random hours of the night and being unable to return to sleep. For others, it could be something such as nocturnal seizures, nightmares, nocturnal anxiety attacks or even physical issues that interfere with sleep. Although I am a firm believer of holistic in the true sense of the word (as in conventional medicine and natural treatments working together), there are a number of surprisingly helpful natural strategies that have helped me greatly.
Natural Ways to Deal With Sleep Problems
First, let me say that sleep problems should not be dismissed or ignored. Always talk to your doctor if you are battling to sleep. There may be an underlying cause that needs to be investigated. Your doctor may be able to help. With that said, there are some natural ways that can help you sleep better that won’t interfere with any treatment or medication you may be taking. Here are some of the things that have helped my sleep issues the most:
I started doing lavender facial steams to help my sinus issues. By far, this has been one of the most helpful additions to my bedtime routine. Steaming helps to open up the sinuses, which, in turn, helps me breathe more easily throughout the night. Steaming is also super relaxing – especially with lavender oil. My skin loves the steams, too.
Breathing exercises and meditation also help prepare my brain for sleep. Every night, after my steam, I get into bed and I do a very simple breathing meditation for a few minutes. Nothing too hectic – simply being still, closing my eyes and focusing on my breath. This further helps my brain calm down, helping me relax and slip into sleep.
Something I learned over the years is that I overheat at night. When I am too hot, I am more likely to wake up. So, I sleep in light clothing all year round, only wearing socks and using my microwave warmer in the middle of winter. I do not use heavy blankets and from spring I keep the fan on at night. This prevents me from overheating, keeping me comfortable while I sleep.
When I have had serious sleep issues, bedtime yoga helped quite a lot. There are many yoga videos on YouTube that are made especially for insomnia and bedtime. I also do some simple yoga stretches just before doing my facial steam. Spinal rolls, twists and a few other asanas help to prepare my body and mind for sleep.
Humidifiers can help to prevent dry air, which helps us sleep better. Depending on the oils you use, they can also be very relaxing at bedtime. Some make a bit of noise and others have colour changing lights that are not always peaceful. If you shop around and find one that is subtle and quiet, it will be a great addition to your bedroom.
Another hugely important tip that took me far too long to learn – having a fixed bedtime is essential. You can make some variations but try very hard to have a fixed bedtime and waking time every day. Try and work around your natural sleep cycle. I need eight hours to feel rested and when I go to bed by 10pm and wake up at 6am every single day (yes, even weekends and holidays), it makes it easier to get into a healthy sleep routine.
It sounds cheesy – chamomile really does work. I have my last cup of tea for the day at around 6h30pm. Chamomile Rooibos is soothing and relaxing. Even though I drink a lot of regular chamomile in the day, there is something about milky chamomile Rooibos at bedtime that I find hugely comforting.
I hope that these natural strategies help give you a better night’s rest. How have you dealt with sleep problems?