Insomnia treatment: can insomnia be cured?

November 26, 2020 7 mins read
Insomnia treatment: can insomnia be cured?

If you’ve found yourself tossing and turning all night (for more than one night in a row), we’re pretty sure you’re at the point where you’re researching insomnia treatment. We get that sleepless nights are no laughing matter, so we’re here to give you the low-down on insomnia remedies that can help you get back to the quality sleep you deserve.

What is insomnia?

Everyone at some point experiences sleep problems in their lifetime, but when they start to become a regular occurrence, they could be showing up as symptoms of neglectful sleep and lifestyle habits. It’s said that 1 in 4 adults globally has mild insomnia, and whereas these could be short-lived occurrences if left untreated, can develop into an unhealthy (and unwanted) relationship with sleep.

Insomnia is a disorder that is defined by the relentless inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Even though you may be keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule, you could still struggle to get enough sleep. Other symptoms that surround insomnia include excessive daytime sleepiness (because you’re exhausted from a night of counting all the farm animals) and other mental issues that affect your waking hours such as concentration, judgement, productivity and memory functions.

Ways to treat insomnia

There are a million reasons why you could be battling with falling and staying asleep. Bring on modern life with her deadlines, life events (2020 your time is up!), parenting and the list goes on. However, to be able to cope with the rat-race, we need to put our sleep first.

There are various ways to treat insomnia which we have explored in more depth below. But just like our sleeping habits, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and if you’re battling to sleep (even after all these suggested treatments), you should seek help from a sleep therapist.

Lifestyle changes

For those that suffer from mild cases of insomnia, taking a look at your current lifestyle habits could be a sign of why you’re not getting good sleep. Nipping any insomnia symptoms in the bud from the get-go can stop it progressing into an unwanted habit that could stick around and cause havoc with your health and wellbeing.

Try these simple lifestyle changes, and you may be surprised at the snoozing effect they can have on your sleep. (Sign me up for those z’s!)

  • Create a sleep schedule. Keep your wake and sleep times consistent (even on the weekend).
  • Curb the coffee (and nightcaps too). Anything that can mess with your sleep should be banished until the z’s return to normal. Alcohol, tobacco, coffee and certain foods can cause a sleep-unrest.
  • Up the reps, but down the tempo before bed. Exercise can help promote sleep but doing it too close to bedtime may keep those endorphins flowing through your body and keep you awake.
  • Skip the naps. Your body needs to re-learn when to sleep, and sneaking in a daytime nap that’s longer than 30 minutes will make it harder for you to do that later on.
  • Blue lights, be gone! Switch off all electronics leading up to bedtime.
  • Keep your bed as a sanctuary for sleep. Make sure it’s comfortable, dark, quiet and cool so that you look forward to sleep.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up. Sometimes lying in bed, thinking about why you can’t sleep can make your mind stress about getting to sleep. If you’ve been lying awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something boring. Fold the laundry or do the dishes. Just avoid the TV as you don’t want anything to stimulate your mind.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

There can be cases when adjusting your lifestyle habits just doesn’t do the trick (it takes 21 days to create a new habit after all). If this is the case, you may want to explore cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of sleep counseling that focuses on your anxieties around sleep and has been seen to extend sleep times up to 30-60 minutes a night (can we get a hell yeah!). It focuses on re-training your body on how to fall asleep by teaching techniques to help you relax through breathing exercises that slow down your busy mind and eventually get you to sleep.

Anyone who has experienced insomnia knows that the most frustrating thing is lying awake for what may seem like hours on end. This therapy has been said to try and limit the time you lie awake by getting you to perform exercises that induce tiredness, so when you do hit the pillow, you’re out like a light.

Medication

We cannot stress this enough. If you’ve tried the natural way to cure your acute insomnia and find that nothing seems to be working, going down the route of medication to help you sleep should be under the guidance of a sleep therapist or doctor.

There can be numerous underlying health issues that could be causing your insomnia (anxiety, depression, genetics), so getting on the right medication is vital. Even though you may think that over-the-counter medications can help, these are sometimes short-term solutions and can affect the quality of your sleep later on.

When you’re prescribed medication from your health professional, it’s important to ask what the effects on your sleep will be, how long you should be taking it and what other side-effects you might have. Openly admitting previous or current mental and physical health issues is also super important as a lot of prescribed medications, such as sleeping pills, have invasive side-effects on our waking life which if you’re a working professional could harm your ability to perform.

The most popular medication to help treat sleep issues is melatonin. This is a supplement that helps promote sleep by increasing the amount of melatonin (your sleep hormone) in your body. Melatonin is not a strong medication which is why it’s used as a starter treatment for sleep issues. But although it’s deemed a natural supplement, you will still require a prescription and consultation to figure out your dosage. If you’re still unable to get that shut-eye, your doctor will then be on hand to assist you in trialling other sleep medications.

How can I cure insomnia naturally?

Getting back on any good sleep-wicket is about consistency and establishing a good bedtime routine. However, if you’re suffering chronic insomnia, natural cures will be able to help as an aid, but more medical solutions will be needed.

Breaking any habits, (especially when you’ve gotten used to a sleepless life) can be tough, and that’s why it’s essential to put in place good sleep hygiene practices to help prevent insomnia from hitting again.

Here are some natural sleep-inducing tricks to start bringing into your bed:

Natural sleep aids

There is nothing better than a good warm cup of tea, followed by a bath before bed. (We like to think of it as the adult version of being tucked in for the night).

Sleep teas, aromatherapy oils, and certain natural supplements can all help us get ready for a good night of shut-eye. Sleep teas are one of our best herbal remedies; chamomile, lavender (which can be used as a scent too) and valerian root all have wonderfully sleepy effects and combined with an Epsom salt bath (which is full of magnesium to help you relax), it’s a recipe for sweet dreams.

Improve sleep hygiene

As we’ve said above, changing your lifestyle habits is your golden ticket to maintaining and reconciling quality sleep. When you improve your sleep hygiene habits, (limiting caffeine, getting regular exercise, making sure your bedroom is a sleep sanctuary, downing the devices, etc.) you will start to see how your preparation for sleep will also start to improve.

We know that habits take a while to change or create, but setting out a task list of a couple of things to improve on a night can start to become lifelong habits. Sleep should be an act that we look forward to, and if your body and mind can get on the same page, you will find that you’re ready to snooze even before the lights go out.

Let’s recap

Insomnia symptoms vary in severity, they can visit us one night and be gone the next, or they linger a little longer and start messing with our life. The key to curing any sleep disruptor is to start with yourself. Stress plays a big role in our quality of sleep, and with modern life throwing all she’s got at us, we’ve got to make sure that our sleep hygiene, our wind-down practices and healthy lifestyles are being looked after as best we can.