Getting to sleep easily is a struggle for millions of Americans. Many turn to medications or supplements to help them fall asleep or stay asleep all night. Whether someone is using a prescription like Ambien or Lunesta, or using something from the local pharmacy like Benadryl or NyQuil, medications don’t allow for the best quality sleep.
No doubt that most of these medications will help you fall asleep, but they can also cause fatigue or drowsiness during the day. Medication sleep aids also have habit forming potential and can cause a laundry list of other negative side effects. So, how do you get a restful night’s sleep without taking an aid? There are many ways to naturally ease yourself into sleep or to finally stop taking sleep aids for good.
Sleep hygiene tips are a great place to start:
- Using a light and sound blocker such as ear plugs, eye masks, or white noise like ocean sounds can make getting to sleep and staying asleep easier. Eye masks help to block out ambient light that can keep you up.
- Ear plugs help you not only block sounds that would wake you up but can help you hear your sleep breath and ease you into a deeper sleep.
- Many people don’t replace their mattress often enough and sleep can be impacted by a bad or old bed.
- Slow down an hour before bed with a bath or by reading something calming. You can also stretch. Stop using computer, cell phone, and tablets 30 minutes before bed.
- Having your room be slightly cool helps you sleep more easily.
- Strengthen the association of your bed with sleep: Limit bedroom activities. Keep computers, TVs and work materials out of your bedroom.
- Some foods can also help to ease you into a better night’s sleep. Chamomile tea and Passionfruit tea have been known to help promote sleep for years.
- Many people associate Thanksgiving turkey with sleep due to the tryptophan content in the meat. While turkey contains tryptophan, it’s actually more likely that the overeating at holidays cause the sleepiness. After all, you don’t fall asleep after your lunchtime turkey sandwich, do you?
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime can also help with a better night’s sleep since both beverages can have negative sleep side effects and can cause you to wake up during the night.
Possibly the most effective, albeit costly, way to achieve a better night’s sleep is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy…[that] helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way…[and] can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.” While working with a therapist can be extremely helpful it can also be expensive, but for tough cases it’s worth it.
Fortunately, there are several items on the market that help teach CBT “relaxation, meditation, hypnosis and stress relief.” Practicing yoga can also promote better sleep since you learn to focus on your body and learn quality breathing techniques that you can use while you fall asleep. Using an audio program like can be very helpful in aiding in sleep. In fact, in a study 81.6% of users found relief. “Sleep Easily teaches you five physical triggers to ease you to sleep.” This method is effective because, unlike yoga and meditation, you don’t have to quiet your mind. You simply calm several body sensations, which then eases you into sleep.
For many, once these tools are utilized, people can achieve a good night’s sleep without using any medication sleep aid. Some people will find that they only need one of the solutions to help them sleep, and some may need many or all of them. The good news is that sleep without medication is possible!
Author: Richard Shane, Ph. D., founder Sleep Easily
Featured images Courtesy of Sleep Easily