Staying up all night might have been fun when you were 13-years-old and having a slumber party with best friends. But getting no sleep, night after night as an adult, isn’t what one would consider “fun.” It is completely normal to have a sleepless night or two, but insomnia is the inability to sleep or sleep throughout the night without waking up. This can affect the day-to-day ability to function properly.
There are two different forms of insomnia, acute and chronic. Acute can be brief and comes from life circumstances; for example, a college student may not sleep if they are worried about a presentation the next day. Acute insomnia can often go away after a few days. Chronic insomnia is more intense. It can be short term or it can last up to six months. Chronic is waking up consistently throughout the night or just a sleepless night in general.
Insomnia is something that affects around three million people in the U.S. annually. It can be treated, but not fully cured. It can be related to a lot of different problems, such as anxiety, depression, chronic illnesses, lack of exercise, etc. It usually affects people from the ages of 19 to 60 or even older, and it can put a strain on daily activities.
Gabby Chaj, a SUNY Plattsburgh senior, experiences sleepless nights every so often. “I found that lavender helps to sleep. I put some in a spray bottle, and before I go to bed, I put it on my pillow and I find that I fall asleep quicker.”
If experiencing insomnia or just a couple sleepless nights, there are a natural sleep remedies that can help.
- Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is often referred to as a “mild tranquilizer” or a sleep inducer. The tea has an abundance of apigen, which is an antioxidant that is known for its calming tendencies. It targets different receptors in the brain and can decrease anxiety and depression.
Sleepy time tea that contains chamomile and mint. Photo taken by Sophia DeVito.
Meditation is a form of relaxation to reduce stress and improve one’s well-being. Focusing attention on one thing, such as breathing or a happy place, can calm down the mind and offer a better night’s rest.
- Food & Diet
Food and diet can have a large impact on the amount of sleep one is getting at night. According to Food for the Brain, having three regular meals a day and enjoying three snacks can help improve sleep. It also suggests to eat food that are high in tryptophan. These foods include chicken, tofu, nuts, cheese, tuna and eggs. Tryptophan is a naturally occuring amino acid that is converted into melatonin. To learn more about this check out Food for the Brain’s action plan for insomnia.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the sleeping cycle in the brain. Melatonin can be purchased as a supplement at a variety of different stores, including your local drug store or supermarket. It has been used to help regulate sleep. Chaj said, “Whenever I feel like I won’t sleep that night, I take some melatonin about an hour before I want to fall asleep. It sometimes makes me feel a little groggy the next day but it’s worth it.”
A bottle of melatonin that improves sleep. Photo taken by Sophia DeVito.
CBD oil is the new buzz that everyone is talking about. It is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Most CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, which is the compound in marijuana that gives off the “high.” However, some sellers offer CBD with zero percent THC. In order for CBD to be a certified hemp product, it must contain less than 0.03 percent THC. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about CBD giving you a high or showing up on drug tests. CBD can help reduce anxiety levels, which in turn leads to a better sleep. It also can improve alertness and reduce daytime sleepiness.
While these remedies will not cure insomnia, they are a good way to start focusing on a better and deeper sleep. Insomnia can be caused by another serious medical illness that needs further attention. Consult with a doctor to make sure there isn’t a larger underlying reason for your insomnia.