by Amy Highland
When it comes to sleep, almost a third of Americans don’t get enough, but they never seem to stop trying.
Everybody is different, and so are the issues causing their sleep issues. However, the root causes tend to fall into a few different categories: stress, health issues or sleep disturbances.
One way to figure out what is troubling your sleep is to try to do a sleep study through your doctor’s office, whether in their offices or at home. That way, you can rule out the health issues, or figure out a way to treat those health issues. You can also keep a journal at home to figure out when and why you’re waking up in the middle of the night.
If sleep conditions have been ruled out, you're in luck because there are simple ways that you can change your lifestyle or your sleep environment to help you get more, and higher quality, sleep.
Change Your Sleep Environment
You will want to take a good, hard look at your sleep environment. Is your mattress comfortable to sleep on? If you haven’t replaced it in the last ten years, you’ll want to. Beds have life spans of between five and ten years. Make sure your mattress suits your weight, preferred sleeping position, and temperature.
While you’re keeping a journal, you can note whether you’re waking up at a particular time and if so, why you’re waking up. Whether it’s light leaking into the room, a pet jumping on the bed, or your partner’s alarm clock going off, you can work to remedy those issues.
Acupuncture has been a part of Chinese holistic medicine for thousands of years and has been found to be useful when trying to treat insomnia, among many other ailments.
It’s been found to increase the release of melatonin at night, as well as help to reduce anxiety. Acupuncture uses needles to puncture the skin of your body’s natural hormonal pathways, stimulating the nerve and sending signals to the brain to release the endorphins and hormones that make you feel better.
Explore Natural Medicines
If you don’t want to use prescription medicine, that’s fine. There are some natural options that you can try to help change your circadian rhythm or make you feel relaxed.
You can use lavender, chamomile, and jasmine in herbal teas or in candles or room sprays. These scents are supposed to be calming. You can also try taking melatonin in pill form. Your body naturally produces melatonin to make you feel tired, but you can grab melatonin pills over the counter in most drug stores. If you take those about an hour before you want to go to bed, it may help your body to begin producing more on its own.
If you wanted to combine these natural remedies with acupuncture, you’d be on the right track, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Acupuncture helps you sleep, but combining it with herbs and medications has been found to be more effective than either practice on their own.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.