Renowned novelist and freelance journalist Chuck Palahniuk was quoted as saying “When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep, and you’re never really awake.” Sufficient sleep is as important to our health and well-being as what following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise is.  Approximately 150 million people across the developing world are affected by insomnia and other sleeping disorders according to the research conducted by the Warwick Medical School. Insomnia, which is twice as common among women as it is men, has countless causes and an equal amount of potential remedies. In order to have the possible chance of finding a long-term solution for your sleeping disorder, it is important to understand the possible causes, dangers and the treatment options available to you.

Your mattress could be keeping you awake

Do you often find yourself tossing and turning, struggling to find a comfortable position? What about waking up stiff and sore, feeling like you have run a marathon when you barely left the house the day before? If you have answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions chances are you are in need of a new mattress.  There are, of course, other signs that may point to the fact that a mattress upgrade is overdue.

Signs that you might need a new mattress

If you notice a dent in your mattress when you get out of bed or find areas that are lumpy and uneven, it is time to find a replacement. Discoloration, an unpleasant odor and a sudden upsurge in allergies are also all good indications that a new mattress should be at the top of your to-do list. The presence of bed bugs is also a very worrying sign that you not only need a new mattress but need to give your entire room a spring clean as well.  If you have had your mattress for more than ten years you should also possibly start considering getting a new one although some manufacturers claim that their products are good to use for as long as 25 years (and even longer in some instances)

Finding the best mattress for you

Personal preference is definitely key when choosing a new mattress. While some people like to sleep on a soft surface, others prefer a firmer mattress that supports their backs better. Don’t be duped into believing that a high price tag automatically guarantees you the best mattress on the market. Do some research and shop around before settling on the one that will provide you with sound sleep for many years to come.  You can help keep your new mattress smelling fresh by making a simple mattress spray by combining 1 cup cooled boiled water with 1 cup vinegar and 24 drops of essential lavender oil a spray bottle, gently spraying your mattress with it once a week. Apart from smelling nice, the lavender will also help you sleep better.

Your insomnia could be making you sick

We all know that losing out on sleep can make you feel lethargic and groggy, but did you know that prolonged insomnia can have serious effects on your health? Studies show that lack of sleep can lead to accidents and injuries on the job with more than 5,000 people dying in drowsy-related accidents in the USA alone every year.  There are also a number of medical conditions, such as the following, that can be brought on by insomnia.

Insomnia-related health disorders

The cumulative effects of poor sleep have been linked to a large range of serious health concerns that include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, depression, and cardiac disease.  While sleep deprivation is not the sole cause of these and other, illnesses, it does play a huge role by compromising the immune system and suppressing hormone release and impeding the metabolism.  Healthy adults should engage in at least 8 hours of sleep a night according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) or risk becoming susceptible to a number of unpleasant and potentially dangerous side-effects.

How to address your insomnia naturally

While there are countless pills and potions on the market that are designed to address insomnia, many come with their own unique set of side-effects. Unfortunately, the media has conditioned us into believing that only mass-produced pharmaceuticals can ease our agony. Where possible, it is always best to call on Mother Nature to help you combat your sleep deprivation.

Reasons to steer clear of commercial sleeping pills

Although sleeping pills can offer a short-term solution to a sleeping disorder, it can cause side effects ranging from headaches and nausea to constipation, dizziness, and sore muscles which may even be more intense than the original symptoms brought on by your sleep deprivation. Even if you are lucky enough to not experience any of the horrible side effects brought on by the medication, you won’t benefit from it in the long-run as you are bound to become significantly resistant to it. Once this tolerance builds up you will have to either increase your dosage or find an even stronger replacement which could soon end up in an addiction.

Natural remedies for insomnia

There is a myriad of natural sleeping aids such as chamomile tea, wild lettuce, Valerian, long pepper, and even bananas that can help you get some decent shuteye.  You can also try sip on a glass of organic tart cherry juice before bed, as the high melatonin content of cherries is bound to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.  Taking a magnesium supplement, or eating magnesium-rich foods such as avocado, nuts, tofu, and legumes, can relieve stress and aid in muscle relaxation which can promote healthy sleep patterns even more.  Also, remember to limit your screen time before going to bed and to have a nice relaxing bath or shower to help you relax even more.

As harrowing as insomnia may be and helpless as it may have you feeling, it is important to remember that it can be treated. By identifying all the possible causes behind your lack of sleep and addressing them in a natural, healthy way you will soon find yourself not only sleeping soundly but enjoying better overall health and improved well-being as well.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.