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Natural Sleep Aids for Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation, and Snoring | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Sleep Better and Stop Snoring

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Sleeping Better at Night Naturally

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Tired of feeling tired? Take steps to sleep better at night—and also stop snoring. Here are 20 tips to get a good night’s sleep!

It’s natural for people to have trouble sleeping from time to time. Some common reasons are stress, a sick child, eating or drinking too close to bedtime, or certain medications. This is usually nothing to worry about, but it slows your thinking, makes it difficult to pay attention, and makes you feel cranky (which affects others)!

How to Sleep Better and Achieve Deep Sleep

It’s normal to take between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble and this is not a chronic case, here are some common natural sleep remedies that may work better than counting sheep!

  1. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Humans crave structure and rhythm. Help your body find its natural rhythm.
  2. Get up and walk around. If you keep tossing and turning in bed for 20 minutes, try getting up. Take a walk or do something quiet.
  3. Sleep in a dark, quiet room. Many reader suggest a slightly cooler room is helpful for sleeping at night so set your temperature down a degree or two. A few readers add that the feet can’t be too cold, and it helps to warm them in a bath or with socks before bedtime.
  4. Use your bed for sleeping. Do not watch TV in your room or use your computer in bed. When you lie down in bed, your body should be conditioned to think of the bed as sleep time, not for wakefulness.

  5. Don’t face the clock. Try removing clocks from your bedroom. Clock-watching can feed into the pattern of insomnia. If you need an alarm, put one outside your bedroom door.
  6. Go for a brisk daily walk. Exercise boosts natural sleep hormones so you’ll have an easier time going to sleep if you exercise.  However, exercising 2 to 3 hours right before going to bed will only keep you awake. So plan accordingly. Morning exercise is best as it exposes you to sunlight which aides the natural circadian rhythm.
  7. Wind yourself down. In the 30 minutes before bedtime, wind down by doing something relaxing. If you can develop a set bedtime ritual, that’s another way to condition your body.  Listen to music. Take a shower. Deep breath 20 times in and out.
  8. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, beer, wine, and liquor in the 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. A glass is wine is NOT a way to wind yourself down right before sleep. Alcohol is a stimulant that will disrupt sleep. 
  9. Skip the afternoon nap. Try to not take naps during the day because this can take away your ability to be able to have a deep sleep. If you do nap, don’t nap later than 3 P.M.
  10. Don’t eat large meals within 2 hours of bedtime. But don’t go to bed hungry. Have a few crackers or something small. 
  11. Milk and turkey can help. Though large meals are not advised, try having a glass of milk an hour before going to sleep. If milk upsets your stomach, eat half of a turkey sandwich. The chemical tryptophan in both milk and turkey causes drowsiness.
  12. Your sleep position can also be important and affect your health. Check out this article to see how your position might be affecting your sleep
  13. Consult your doctor. In some cases, taking medicine together with some changes to your routine can help most people with insomnia. Consult your health professional.

How to Stop Snoring

Do you snore? Snoring is caused by vibrating in the throat. Some people can make changes that will stop snoring. These include:

  1. Losing weight. Fat tissue in the neck and throat narrows airways. 
  2. Quit smoking; smokers are more likely to snore for a variety of reasons.
  3. Do not drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime to prevent relaxation of your airways.
  4. Sleeping on your side instead of on your back.
  5. Avoid medications that relax your muscles in the evening.

  6. Address dust mite and pet allergies which may cause snoring.

  7. Clear out your nasal sinuses; use saline solutions, humidifiers, and medication.

If you snore loudly and often and find that you are drowsy during the day, you may have sleep apnea. This is not uncommon, but it is dangerous because your breathing can stop during sleep. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you should see your doctor.

People with sleep apnea tend to be overweight. It is more common among men than women. In many cases, doctors will recommend a device that pushes air through your airway, but in some cases, you may need surgery.

To learn more about insomnia, apnea, and other sleep disorders, see the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.

Insomnia

Not getting enough sleep for a long time can cause long-term health problems. For example, it can make problems like diabetes and high blood pressure worse. If you have sleep issues that last most nights for 3 to 4 weeks or more, you need to consult a health professional. You may have a chronic case of insomnia; this issue is more common in women, people with depression, and people older than 60. Insomnia can become a habit that your body easily adopts if you don’t try to put a stop to the cycle.

There are also sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, that can make you sleep during the day. Certain disorders like restless legs syndrome can keep you up all night even though they don’t directly impact sleep.

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