January 28, 2020

Try These Natural Tricks to Fall Asleep More Easily

Complementary approaches can aid medical methods

A couple sleeping peacefully in bed at night

Are you trying desperately to get better sleep at night? You might want to consider complementary medicine as another way to help you get back to restful slumber.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Complementary medicine refers to forms of non-invasive therapies that a patient can use alongside conventional Western medicine. Nearly 40% of Americans use this approach for specific conditions or overall well-being, says the National Institutes of Health.

“Many complementary therapies have been shown, through high-quality scientific evidence, to be safe and effective in helping people sleep better,” says integrative medicine specialist Melissa C. Young, MD.

Complementary therapies for insomnia are comprised of four categories:

  • Mind-body therapies.
  • Body-based therapies.
  • Biologically based therapies.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Here’s a rundown of the four categories and how you can leverage them to get back to sleep.

Mind-body therapies

The mind is a key player when it comes to how easily you fall asleep and stay asleep. This is why people should try mind-body techniques first when they experience insomnia, Dr. Young says.

Advertisement

Examples of mind-body techniques include meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, tai chi and yoga. These practices can help to calm people’s thoughts and help them relax. They are particularly helpful for older adults.

Body-based therapies

Body-based therapies can relax the body enough so that it is ready for sleep. These include massage and acupuncture, as well as energy techniques for stress reduction. Massage benefits everyone from infants to older adults and those who have cancer. Acupuncture enhances sleep quality, especially if you’re feeling pain. Energy techniques include Reiki, healing touch and therapeutic touch.

Biologically based therapies

Biological supplements aren’t sleeping pills. They help to balance your body’s chemistry and rhythm naturally, and make it easier to fall asleep.

Dr. Young says the most effective and popular biological treatments are:

  • Magnesium, a mineral supplement.
  • Melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep.
  • Chamomile tea.
  • I-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a set of behavioral strategies and cognitive interventions that when implemented can help you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep and improve your sleep quality. At the same time, these strategies may also increase the overall amount of time you sleep. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in the short- and long-term, and has minimal side effects.

Advertisement

“It helps people change the thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep,” says sleep specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.

Dr. Drerup gives these suggestions:

  • Limit the time you spend awake in bed. If you find yourself still awake and feeling anxious after 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and stop “trying” to sleep. Instead do something relaxing like reading a book and return to bed when you feel drowsy again. This will help you to associate your bed with sleep only – not being awake, watching TV, answering work emails or worrying.
  • Create a sleep schedule—and stick to it. Wake up at the same time each day, no matter your nightly experience. This will help your body regulate its internal 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as your biological clock or circadian rhythm.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Part of getting good sleep is having healthy habits. Get regular exercise (but not too close to bedtime), develop a pre-bedtime relaxation routine, avoid or limit caffeine, avoid or limit naps to 30 minutes and limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Study up on sleep. It’s easier to change sleep habits when you know how and why people sleep, and which beliefs, behaviors and outside influences affect your sleep.
  • Consider cognitive therapy. Five mental processes influence insomnia: worry, selective attention and monitoring, distorted perception of sleep and daytime deficits, unhelpful beliefs about sleep and counterproductive safety behaviors. Cognitive therapy helps you to reverse these mental processes. Cognitive therapy is especially helpful in preventing relapse.
  • Learn relaxation and meditation strategies. This is often easier said than done. This is why relaxation training from a sleep psychologist or a professional trained in services such as meditation and guided imagery may help. Results are not immediate, but can be used for a lifetime and unlike medications, your “prescription” for relaxation will never expire.

Related Articles

Tired cancer patient reading at night
February 27, 2024
The Link Between Insomnia and Cancer Treatment

Medications, tubing and stress can steal away the ZZZs you need

Older woman awake in bed in the middle of the night looking a smartphone
February 20, 2024
Does Menopause Cause Insomnia and Sleeplessness?

Hormone changes can definitely leave you tossing and turning at night, but help is available

female awake in bed staring ahead with male next to her asleep
January 19, 2024
3 Steps for Managing Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

Keeping a sleep diary and seeing a sleep specialist can help you stay asleep and get the ZZZs you need

An illustration of sheep jumping over a fence.
May 10, 2022
Can COVID-19 Cause Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems?

COVID-19 can lead to a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia

sleeping pills on bedside table with clock and glass of water
March 8, 2022
Can Melatonin Really Help You Sleep Better?

Does this supplement help you get more ZZZ's

man in pain after sleeping
January 12, 2022
How To Keep Sore Hips, Knees and Shoulders From Ruining Your Sleep

Find the right sleep position to tame your joint pain

woman sleeping and dreaming of covid virus
August 31, 2021
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Can Impact Your Sleep

Here's how to get some rest in the face of pandemic-caused insomnia

Circular orange pills spilling out of a tipped-over bottle
June 28, 2021
Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?

The scoop on magnesium sleep aids

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad