Can’t sleep without medication? You’re not the only one. Actually, within the past 5 years sleeping problems have been reported by 1 out of every 3 adults. (1)
Perhaps you’ve struggled with sleeping problems for years and after hitting your wit’s end, you decided to seek treatment and your doctor prescribed you medication. Maybe this medication has worked great for you and you’ve been catching z’s ever since, or maybe you feel conflicted because you took the medicine bottle home and started reading about the potential long-term side effects.
Many sleep aid medications can have dangerous risks or side effects associated with them. For example, if you accidentally mix your sleeping pills with alcohol, you could become extremely intoxicated to the point of not being able to drive or function safely.
The sad truth is that 80% of patients who take pharmaceuticals for their sleeping problems struggle with long-term residual effects associated with the medication, such as feeling overly tired the next day, and having difficulty focusing on tasks, and/or concentrating. (2)
Long-term use of sleep aids can also cause your body to become dependent on the medication, leading to withdrawal-like symptoms if you forget to take your medication or are weaning off of it. (3)
A survey included in a study done in 2021 showed that 2 out of every 3 individuals with sleep problems prefer to look online for natural treatment options for their issue rather than consult a doctor. (4)
There are many science-backed natural alternatives to sleep medications worth considering. Some are supplements you can take, and some are habits you’ll have to add to or adjust to within your regular daily routine.
The nice thing about these natural treatment options is they have been highly researched and have also proven to be highly successful in treating a wide array of sleep problems all over the world.
Today, I’m going to introduce you to 8 ways to drift off naturally if you can’t sleep without medication. I hope these solutions may finally provide you the relief you need to get a good night’s rest and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, instead of drained and struggling through brain fog.
Aromatherapy is just a fancy word for using natural aromatic treatments, such as essential oils, to improve your overall health and wellness. Essential oils are more heavily used in the UK, but in recent years they are also gaining more popularity in the United States, too.
A study done in 2021 conclusively showed that aromatherapy was beneficial in promoting better sleep, especially if you have insomnia. In terms of the best oil to use for your aromatherapy, the lavender essential oil was found to be most effective in easing sleep problems in comparison to other essential oils tried during the study. (5)
Another separate study done in 2020 evaluated the overall safety and benefits of lavender essential oil. Researchers found that inhaling lavender oil and letting it absorb through your skin allows it to reach your bloodstream within 5 minutes, hitting its peak concentration at around 20 minutes after initially using the essential oil. (6)
This makes aromatherapy more of a quick-and-easy solution compared to some of the other natural treatment options.
Experts recommend that you do everything you can to live a healthy lifestyle, including getting regular exercise. This will help maximise your chances of getting a good night’s sleep every night. (7)
Multiple studies in recent years have shown that low to moderate-intensity exercise can help improve sleep quality, even if you suffer from insomnia or more serious medical conditions such as breast cancer. (8)(9)
A study done in 2017 showed that after 12-16 weeks of consistent exercise, patients were sleeping better overall, falling asleep quicker and, in some cases, their need for sleep aid medication was decreasing. (10)
Would you believe me if I told you that most sleep problems stem from stress and intrusive worrisome thoughts?
Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can be done any time of day, but can be especially effective right before bed or anytime you’re trying to fall asleep. (11)
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a tactic that I’ve often used myself when I run into trouble sleeping, whatever the reason may be. It’s a super simple practice to do on your own and this is how it’s done.
- As you lay in bed at night and try to fall asleep, start tensing the muscles in your toes.
- Hold this for a few seconds and then release the tension.
- Next, tense the muscles in your feet.
- Once again, hold this for a few seconds and then release the tension.
- Continue with this same pattern of tensing your muscles and relaxing them, but do it body part by body part. If you start with your toes, you’ll do your feet next, then your ankles, your calves, and so on until you get to your forehead.
This process can also be done in reverse, starting with your head. In this case, you would start by tensing your forehead. Next, your nose. Then, your mouth and jaw, and continuing this process down your body until you reach your toes.
Multiple studies have shown that yoga and mindfulness improve sleep quality and lead to an overall decrease in sleep disturbances in women with breast cancer. And other studies have shown that the benefits of yoga and mindfulness on sleep quality, sleep duration, and even how long it takes you to fall asleep extend to anyone and everyone, regardless of gender or chronic health conditions. (14)(15)(16)(17)
A study done in 2017 showed that you’re more likely to sleep poorly or wake up in the middle of the night when it’s warm outside. In the summer months, your room may have trouble keeping as cool as it usually is the rest of the year. (1)
Another study done in 2018 showed that body temperature plays a key role in sleep quality. If your body temperature changes rapidly or if you get sweaty while you’re sleeping, it can lead you to experience poor sleep.
Experts recommend keeping your bedroom cool to optimise your potential for a good night’s sleep. Be sure to consider other potential factors that may influence your body temperature, such as the type of sheets, blankets, and pyjamas you use. (7)(18)
So, if you’ve ever woken up sweaty and kicked off your covers in the middle of a summer night, frustrated that you can’t seem to get cool enough to sleep—now you know why!
Stress is a normal part of life, but when it starts to spiral out of control it can lead to problems with your sleep, your memory, and even how well you concentrate. Sleep struggles can stem from a variety of issues, but one of the most common causes of poor sleep is excessive worry or anxiety.
Passionflower is a plant that helps reduce overactive stress responses, promote relaxation and, in some cases, even treat conditions such as anxiety and depression. Lucky for you, studies have also proven it valuable in the treatment of insomnia thanks to its sedative effects. (19)
A study done in 2021 did a comprehensive review of a variety of herbal remedies and their effects on the GABA neurotransmitters and one of the herbs included in this study was Passiflora incarnata, also known as passionflower. Researchers found that passionflower does, in fact, target GABA receptors and successfully decreases the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep, as well as increases your overall sleep time. (4)
Melatonin is the hormone in your body responsible for sleep (or more accurately, helping you fall asleep).
Sometimes people don’t produce enough of this hormone naturally and need to give their body a boost with melatonin supplements. And it appears like people need this boost more than ever. In the last 20 years, melatonin use has increased by an astounding 425%! (20)
Studies have proven melatonin to be a safe and effective supplement for treating poor sleep in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Not only did participants of the study report falling asleep quicker, but they also slept longer. (21)
If you want an extra little tip, there are even studies that show participating in yoga consistently can raise your melatonin levels naturally! (24)
We’re all very well aware that the high caffeine content of coffee can give you that jolt you need in the morning to get yourself fully awake and ready for the day, but did you know it might also be keeping you up at night?
Remember when we talked about how your body naturally produces the hormone melatonin to help you fall sleep? Well, research shows that caffeine can hinder your body from doing this, leading to lower melatonin levels and it taking your longer to fall asleep. In addition to this, the caffeine in coffee has been proven to cause you to wake up more in the middle of the night. (25)(26)
Not only is caffeine found in coffee, but it’s also in certain types of teas, energy drinks, soda, and even chocolates. Some of the supplements you take might even contain some amount of caffeine!
Up to 4-6 hours before bedtime, experts recommend limiting or completely cutting off your caffeine intake to avoid it causing interference with your sleep. If you need something warm to sip on, consider passionflower tea to help get your body ready for bedtime. (4)(7)
These days, technology is usually synonymous with screen time, meaning that all of us, myself included, tend to spend an increasing amount of time in front of electronic screens. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is a direct link between screen time before bed and poor sleep quality. (27)
In further support of this, a 2021 study of Norwegian university students found that spending more time on electronics can not only affect how well you sleep but also how long you sleep, and how long it takes you to fall asleep. During this same study, researchers were also able to determine that if you have some degree of a social media addiction you are more prone to developing insomnia. (28)
To minimise the effects of your electronic devices on your sleep patterns, experts recommend that you avoid them during the evening or at least the last few hours before bed. (7)
If you haven’t already taken pharmaceuticals for your sleeping problems, consider these 8 ways to drift off naturally. The nice thing about natural treatment methods is they are generally much less dangerous than most pharmaceuticals.
If you’re unsure of where to start, consider beginning with natural supplements, such as the NEW & Ulta Potent Deep Sleep Mode. It’s been backed by over 13,289 scientific studies and can help you achieve 8 hours of restful sleep each night—even if you’ve had sleep problems for years!
You may recognise some of the ingredients in Deep Sleep Mode, such as passionflower and melatonin. It also includes other relaxing and sleep-inducing ingredients including magnesium, L-theanine, GABA, and valerian root.
Every person has their own unique health journey and it’s up to you to decide what’s in your best interest. If you try out these natural methods consistently to help improve your sleep and they don’t quite do the trick, medication might be the final answer. But you won’t know unless you try!
I hope this guide was helpful, informative, and gives you the tips you need to sleep soundly night after night.