If you have problems falling or staying asleep at night, know that you’re not alone: Millions of Americans experience sleep problems, ranging from a few nights of restless sleep to months of chronic insomnia.
We all know the importance of getting ample high-quality sleep.
Besides affecting your performance the next day, sleep deprivation is associated with increased irritability, poor memory, high blood pressure and blood sugar, and extreme fatigue. In the long term, sleep deprivation can increase your chances of developing various chronic health conditions like heart disease, troke, diabetes, and dementia.
Naturally, those who are sleep-deprived turn to their doctors for a sleep aid prescription. However, these medications come with a host of negative side effects. In addition, they fail to get to the root cause of sleep problems, providing — at best — a temporary solution.
In this guide from Aculief, we explain the root cause of sleep problems and provide natural five ways you can get relief — with no sleeping pills involved.
What Causes Sleep Problems?
Whether it’s one night of poor sleep or months of chronic insomnia, there are many potential causes of sleep problems.
Sometimes, sleep problems can stem from an underlying health problem. Conditions like chronic pain, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and hyperactive thyroid can all make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Treating these conditions should often be enough to resolve sleep problems.
However, there are just as many people who experience sleep problems without another health condition to blame it on. For these people, the cause may be a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Some researchers are zeroing in on what exactly these factors may be.
According to one prominent theory, sleep problems are caused by hyperarousal — a state of extremely high energy that can make someone feel like they’re always “on-edge.” As a result, they cannot relax enough at bedtime to fall asleep.
Hyperarousal can be both physical and psychological. From a psychological standpoint, those with sleep problems may experience excessive stress, worry, and anxiety throughout the day. When it’s time for bed, they may not be able to “turn off” their racing thoughts and emotions, making it hard for them to initiate sleep.
When trouble falling asleep is compounded with worries about not getting enough sleep — and all its negative consequences — the anxiety might get even worse at nighttime.
From a physical standpoint, hyperarousal can manifest as increased heart rate, breathing rate, metabolic rate, and even stress hormone levels. These factors can make it difficult for the body to enter a state of relaxation, further exacerbating sleep problems.
To get relief, millions of Americans turn to sleeping pills. While they can be effective in the short term, they may not be a great long-term solution. In the next section, we explain why.
Why You Shouldn’t Depend on Sleeping Pills
For those who experience chronic insomnia, sleeping pills can be extremely effective for getting some much-needed sleep. However, sleeping pills will not get to the root cause of sleep problems, which makes them a poor long-term solution.
In addition, sleeping pills often come with adverse side effects, like daytime grogginess, impaired cognitive function, gastrointestinal problems (such as nausea), dizziness, light-headedness, and headache. These side effects are compounded if you’re using sleeping pills with other medications.
As an alternative, it’s better to stick to medication-free approaches for sleep problems — some of which can be just as effective as medication.
In the next section, we’ll go over five natural ways to get relief from sleep problems the natural way.
5 Natural Ways To Improve Sleep
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures with deep breathing.
This technique stimulates the vagus nerve, which is part of your body’ parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for many of your body’s “rest” functions, such as heart rate, immunity, and digestion.
Practicing yoga throughout the day — and especially before bed — has been shown to lower heart rate, increase deep breathing, and lower stress hormones. For those with high rates of hyperarousal, yoga can be an effective way to relax the body and bring on sleepiness.
Meditation encourages us to “let go” of our anxious thoughts and to focus on something relaxing, like our breathing. For those who can’t seem to slow down their thinking enough to fall asleep at night, just ten minutes of meditation can help with calming the mind and inducing sleepiness.
3. Herbal Remedies
For thousands of years, humans have used various herbs to help with sleep problems. While herbal remedies don’t produce results that are dramatic, they are still incredibly effective — without the harmful side effects of conventional drugs.
A combination of natural ingredients can provide the best results.
We love the Wind Down Sleep Patch, which contains a blend of chamomile, valerian root, passion flower, skullcap herbs, and hops. For added help falling asleep, the Snooze Sleep Patch contains a blend of herbal extracts with melatonin, a sleep hormone produced naturally by the body.
4. Essential Oils
The most primal of our senses, what we smell can have a dramatic effect on our mood. Essential oils are concentrated versions of various plants, such as lavender, chamomile, or neroli, which can induce deep relaxation. As a bonus, essential oils are incredibly versatile, with various ways to incorporate them into your bedtime routine.
5. Sleep Accessories
Sometimes, the main reason for sleep problems may simply be due to an uncomfortable sleep environment. Investing in the right sleep accessories can go a long way in enhancing the bedroom and make it easier to fall asleep.
Our Weighted Blanket uses deep pressure stimulation to reduce cortisol levels, inducing relaxation and making it easier to fall asleep. Our Weighted Eye Mask can be used to provide relief from eye strain, sinus pressure, and other conditions that can interfere with sleep — while effectively blocking out sleep-disrupting light.
Find Relief WIth Aculief
Sleep deprivation can be a serious problem with many consequences for your health. If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, Aculief can help bring you relief with our selection of natural relaxation remedies and educational material from our Wellness Journal.