Insomnia, the Itch, and All Natural Sleep Remedies
It’s 2 a.m. and you’re wide awake. There’s no danger of you falling asleep anytime soon because your brain is racing, contemplating the importance of belly button lint. You’d give your right arm and/or your firstborn child just to fall asleep.
Trying to get to sleep is like trying to stop an itch. You’re going to try whatever you can just to get some relief, no matter how out there that natural remedy ends up being.
As a long time insomniac, I’ve tried my fair share of all natural sleep remedies. Some have worked, a lot of have been epic fails. But none of them has been as far out as these totally weird natural sleep remedies for insomnia.
1. Smell an Onion for Sleep Before Bed
Onion as aromatherapy? It’s not exactly something that you’d think to stick in your diffuser at night. Heck, it’s not something I would have even thought to put in my natural sleeping aid arsenal.
All in all though, this is a pretty simple homemade sleeping aid. The only things you need is an onion and a glass jar with a lid.
Dice an onion and put it in a jelly jar or any small jar with a tight fitting lid. Before you go to bed, open it up and smell it for five minutes. Keep the sealed jar beside your bed. If you wake up in the middle of the night, open the jar and inhale the onion fumes for another five minutes.
Do onions make you sleepy? Well, yes, they actually do. But you’d be better off eating them than smelling them. Onions contain tryptophan, that lovely amino acid that converts into serotonin, one of two powerful sleep hormones.
Still, some people swear by sniffing onions. It’s worth a shot if you’re having trouble sleeping, and your partner would probably prefer the sniff method anyway. No smelly smooches!
2. Touch the Ground: Earthing and Sleep
Having direct contact with the ground (earthing) to help insomnia was a new one on me. I can get sleepy just by walking around barefoot? Really?
So how is earthing and sleep related?
The short answer is our bodies need the Earth’s negative electrical charge. Positive electrons build up in our bodies, through electromagnetic waves coming from our phone, tablets and wi-fi signals. That buildup of positive electrons can contribute to insomnia, as well as other problems. Coming into regular contact with the ground is supposed to, well, “ground” us and equalize our body’s electrical energy with that of the Earth.
So how do you do “earthing for sleep?” All you have to do is walk barefoot on the ground (sand/dirt/grass, etc.) for 10-15 minutes a day. You’ll absorb the Earth’s negative charge through your bare feet.
If you’re not into that or live in a concrete jungle, you can buy an earthing mat for sleeping and put it under your fitted sheet.
3. Take a Cold Shower for Sleep
Cold water therapy wasn’t even on my radar as a natural sleep remedy. I like to be all warm and cozy before I get into bed. This seems counter intuitive anyway. Wouldn’t a cold shower just wake me up?
There may be science behind this natural sleep remedy though. Your body temperature naturally dips in the evening in order to make you drowsy. If you exercise late in the afternoon, get overheated, or have menopause, your body temperature will be elevated and you’ll have trouble falling asleep.
Remember, a cool body is a sleepy body!
But don’t go jump in the shower just yet! Apparently there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Do: Begin showering in a warm shower at whatever temperature you prefer and bathe normally. When you’re clean, slowly turn the hot water off, leaving only the cold water running. Go as cool as you can stand it.
Don’t: Step right into a cold water shower. The sudden shock will wake you up and raise your blood pressure.
4. Drink Banana Peel Tea for Sleep
Yeah, I know I probably lost you on this one. But go with me here. I’ve actually tried this all natural sleep remedy, and it wasn’t as gross as I thought it was going to be. It had a surprisingly pleasant flavor.
Bananas are one of the best foods you can eat to help insomnia. They’re full of magnesium (a must have mineral for good sleep!), tryptophan, and potassium. These are three ingredients that you’ve got to have in your body to get a good night’s sleep.
You’re probably thinking that’s cool and all, so why can’t I just EAT the banana?
Yeah, if you eat a naked banana you’ll still get the good stuff, but there’s even more sleepy good stuff in the peel.
To make banana peel tea, bring 2 cups of water. Next, cut the ends off an unpeeled banana and place in the boiling water and Boil for 10 minutes. Add a splash of cinnamon and raw honey to sweeten to taste. Drink a cup of tea an hour before going to bed.
It’s really important that you use organic raw honey in this recipe. Honey has powerful sleep properties of its own, and most honeys from the grocery store have had these properties cooked out of them.
Not sure about ingesting banana peels? I’ve written about less weird ways to use bananas as a natural sleep aid in my “Yummy Ways to Take Bananas to Sleep” post.
5. Can’t Sleep? Try Rubbing your Stomach
When I heard about this one, I was like, no way. How can your stomach and sleep be related? I rubbed my son’s belly when he was a baby for gas. He did drift off eventually, so who knows?
It’s a pretty simple exercise:
- Lie flat on your back in bed.
- Put the palm of your hand over your belly button.
- Gently rub in a small clockwise circle around your navel.
- Gradually increase the size of your circles.
- When your circles have gotten as wide as your belly, gradually decrease the size of the circles until you’re back at your belly button.
- Now repeat the exercise, but in a counterclockwise direction.
If nothing else, belly rubbing will definitely relieve pressure and bloating that might keep you up at night. Your sleeping partner may not appreciate that, but I always say better out than in. 🙂
Some say this exercise works great for their insomnia. But I think rubbing your belly to fall asleep may have more to do with relaxation, and nothing to do with your stomach.
If your mind and body is relaxed, you’ll fall asleep easily. Doing relaxation exercises before bed is a good habit to get into, especially if you have trouble sleeping.
Rubbing your belly (or having someone else do it for you) would be a good one to add to your nightly ritual of relaxation exercises for sleep.
6. Try Foot Reflexology: Wiggle Toes to Sleep
This one is worth trying just for the fun of it. I mean, when was the last time you wiggled your toes?
If you can’t sleep, wiggle your toes up and then down. As you’re doing your toe wiggles, slowly breathe through your nose in, and then out. Do this a dozen times.
The toe wiggling is a form of foot reflexology. Reflexologists believe the foot is like a road map to the body. Each section of the foot is connected to a different organ or body part. When you wiggle your toes, you relax your feet, which in turn relax your whole body.
The slow breathing will also relax your body, but, more importantly, your mind. If you struggle with how to turn your brain off and sleep, slow breathing, combined with the toe wiggling, can help stop racing thoughts and worries by focusing your attention to something else.
This is a really great relaxation exercise for sleep, so next time you’re all uptight and tossing and turning at night and can’t sleep, try wiggling those toes!
7. Lettuce Makes You Sleepy
Warm milk? That’s so old school.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, why not nosh on…a salad?
Lettuce is actually an old fashioned sleep remedy. Way back in the day, people used to eat lettuce sandwiches or lettuce soup to help them sleep.
Lettuce contains a type of opiate, called lactucarium, that sedates the central nervous system and acts as a natural sedative.
You’re probably thinking, cool, I can have a salad, throw in some onions, maybe a little turkey, and I’ll sleep like a baby!
Commercial lettuce is pretty depleted of lactucarium, so you’d have to eat a whole head (or more) of store bought lettuce to get any benefit.
8. Put Live Plants that Make you Sleep in your Bedroom
It’s pretty common knowledge that keeping plants in the house are good for your health. But it’s even better if you put your little green friends in the bedroom.
Plants add oxygen to your space and purify and remove toxins that might be floating inside your home. Some plants even increase the amount of humidity in the air by 5%. That can be really helpful if dry nasal passages keep you from breathing well at night.
Surrounding your sleeping environment with plants can lower your blood pressure, help reduce stress and anxiety, and absorb carbon dioxide that you exhale during the night.
Now, putting just about any kind of houseplant in your bedroom would be beneficial, but these plants are known to help improve your sleep environment:
- Lavender. The scent of the lavender plant can reduce stress and increase the quality of deep sleep.
- Aloe Vera. Unlike most plants, the aloe plant releases oxygen at night instead of during the day.
- Spider Plant, Snake Plant, and Peace Lily. Just a few of the 12 plants that have been scientifically proven to remove formaldehyde and other dangerous toxic chemicals from the air.
Here’s a few more plants that can make you sleep:
Weird All Natural Sleep Remedies: Will They Work?
Most of these natural sleep aids have some basis in science and could be effective in helping you get to sleep. I mean, hey, if you want to sniff some onions and wiggle your toes, go for it. There’s a good chance it will work.
But even if they don’t, I still recommend trying all natural ways to get to sleep over taking sleeping pills. (unless prescribed by your doctor)
Lack of sleep is harmful to your health, so finding a way to fall asleep and stay asleep, even if it’s a wacky home remedy, is definitely worth a try.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done to get to sleep?