Like many of you who deal with fibromyalgia and body pain, I suffered from insomnia for many, many years. More than I’d like to count. Everything conspired to keep me up at night — joint pain, lower back aches, headaches, dizziness, head and neck pain, rib pain, racing heartbeat, racing thoughts; you name it, I worried about it.
My bed and misnamed comforter became my enemy.
Every evening, I dreaded the long sleepless night that stretched ahead. It was frustrating beyond words to know that I not only wouldn’t be able to sleep, but that I had to function – no matter what – the next day. While everyone needs rest, it seems doubly so for those who deal with the daily strain of chronic illness and all over pain.
Most of us would prefer to go to sleep naturally, but we seek pharmaceutical solutions out of desperation. It’s understandable. The unfortunate truth is that many pharmaceutical sleep aids have alarming undesirable side effects including their addictive properties.
The great news is that there are many natural solutions to try. Keep in mind that everyone is different. What may be a solution for one may be ineffective for another.
Here are three steps you can take to invite a great night’s sleep.
1) Review your diet. It’s a good idea at the get-go, to eliminate – as best you can – the problems that cause sleeplessness in general. Are you consuming caffeine throughout the day? What about sugar and/or alcohol? These ingredients found in tea, coffee, chocolate, alcoholic drinks, and processed foods may be contributing to your sleepless nights. In addition, there’s growing evidence that food sensitivities play a role, too. You may experiment with removing dairy, wheat/gluten, and corn to begin. Check and see how you feel before bedtime. Stay properly hydrated (with water) and don’t overeat – especially before bedtime.
2) Create a cozy, sleep-inducing environment. Your bedroom should be a restful place. Remove the clutter from your room; the stacks of books and papers, your laundry yet to be folded, your exercise equipment, etc. Think about the elements that make a lavish hotel room inviting. Do your best to incorporate similar themes within your own budget. Do you have a CD, MP3, or sound machine to play soothing music? Find nature sounds that loop and are calming such as waves on a beach or rain in a forest. If your room isn’t sufficiently dark, don a sleep mask. Oodles of pillows, my favorite cotton throw, and of course, my beloved Pup, make my bed a haven for slumber.
3) Put self-care into practice. Are you caring for yourself properly throughout the day? Try to work in a fitness routine for at least 15-30 minutes per day (but not too close to bedtime). Yoga, meditation, and tai chi provide amazing benefits to not only keep the body and mind in shape, but they’re also known to induce a blissful night’s sleep. Before bed, a warm bath is in order and soaking in Epsom salts while sipping chamomile tea calms my mind, nerves, and muscles – which all leads to a better quality sleep.
Additionally, I don’t often mention specific supplements, but there are a few herbal remedies you may wish to try. Look for a high quality source of melatonin as it’s a “body clock” regulating aid. We produce less and less of it on our own as we age, so supplementation may be in order. Also, you may wish to try valerian as it also has mild sedating qualities. Essential oils may prove helpful, too. Many soothing options such as lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, and bergamot can help with sleep recovery.
It’s important to note that natural solutions take time, patience, and consistency to see results. They also work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle in general.
When it comes to insomnia types, there’s no shortage of variety. Some types don’t fall asleep at all. Some sleep and wake in fits and starts. This leaves them feeling more exhausted in the morning than when they went to bed. Others simply wake up too early and never can seem to get the elusive sandman to return.
Whatever variety of insomnia plagues you, it’s important to know that there are healthy and natural options available. These options allow you the comfort of a peaceful night’s sleep every night of the week. As a bonus, taking a proactive approach to tackle your insomnia concerns can not only benefit you, but also those around you.
Best of all, once you’ve experimented and found solutions that work, going to bed at night can once again be an enjoyable and restorative experience!
Have you found natural sleep solutions that work for you? Please share a comment below!
Interested in co-creating your own program to heal from the inside out?