Fall asleep easier, where do we start?
Sleep is essential for well-balanced health. At least seven hours is ideal according to the CDC. It’s ironic though, that none of us seem to ever get enough of it. Whether you know the cause of your sleep issues or not, it is important to address and eliminate whatever is keeping you from those precious hours of recovery. If you need a little assistance getting your mind and body in sleep mode, the following four tips are natural and over-the-counter options to get a full night of rest.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by our bodies as a response to darkness, regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light will block the production of melatonin. This is why it is encouraged to turn off all of your electronics and light-emitting devices at bedtime- so your brain can recognize that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid-late evening, increase throughout the night to keep you sleeping, and fall as the sun rises so you are able to wake up.
How Much Melatonin Do You Need?
Over the counter melatonin comes in doses ranging from one-third to ten milligrams in several different forms- pill, dissolvable tablet, chewable, liquid, sublingual, and lozenge. It is best to take melatonin 30-60 minutes before you plan to go to sleep. This ensures that you are gradually introduced to sleep mode by the time you hit the hay. Melatonin should be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible. Start with one-third of a milligram and increase the dose as needed. Too high of a dose will increase sleepiness in the daytime, disturbing your sleep-wake cycle and affecting focus and concentration too.
If melatonin is not effective enough, another over-the-counter option is Benadryl. Benadryl is typically used for allergies and allergic reactions but is also a common go-to for insomnia. Benadryl has a significant side effect, which is sedation, making you feel tired and drowsy, ultimately causing you to fall asleep. If you are having trouble with insomnia and other remedies are not providing the rest you need, try Benadryl (after consulting with your doctor) and you should fall asleep fairly quickly.
The adult dose for insomnia is 50mg of Benadryl at bedtime as needed. Lower doses may be used at the advice of a prescriber. If 50mg seems too much, try 25mg at bedtime as needed. Do not take Benadryl for chronic insomnia; only take it to kick-start your slumber when necessary. Some additional side effects include dry mouth, constipation, and dizziness.
Lavender essential oil is a great natural option to promote a state of calm relaxation and sleep. It can be used topically on the skin, such as behind the ears or on the chest. You can also place a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow before heading to sleep. Adding lavender oil (or any lavender-scented bath products) to your bath will provide a calming retreat before bedtime as well. High-quality lavender oils have even been safely consumed internally to provide relief from anxiety. So, if you haven’t already, give lavender essential oil a try before heading to bed and you’ll notice you start sleeping a little more soundly.
4. Sleep Hygiene
Practicing proper sleep hygiene is the most effective way to initiate and maintain your overnight vacation. Eliminate distractions and develop a consistent routine every night. Check out these tips to improve your sleep cycle and establish proper sleep hygiene.
If after trying the natural and over-the-counter remedies you still find yourself in the slumber struggle, it may be best to re-evaluate your night routine to see where you can make some adjustments. This may include incorporating simple meditation practice, yoga, or calm sounds to encourage sleep. Persistent sleep problems may also require professional help to determine the root cause. Either way, ensure you are making the most of your overnight hours by allowing your body to get some rejuvenating, quality rest.