Sleep is one of the most important things that we can do to keep ourselves healthy, yet many of us do not get a good night’s sleep often enough. A CDC survey showed that more than 35 percent of Americans do not sleep the recommended 8 hours on a regular basis.

Many people resort to all kinds of treatments to try to get enough sleep. We all know how doctors are quick to prescribe pharmaceuticals for sleeping problems. However, they also have a lot of side effects that can be almost as bad for you as not sleeping – such as lightheadedness, headaches and prolonged drowsiness.

The good news is, if you are struggling with insomnia, there are ways to help you get a better night’s sleep that do not require additional medications.

Something to check first is the bed itself. Is your bed uncomfortable, causing you to wake up with aches and pains?  Side sleepers may need a softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers. Is it time to get new sheets, pillows or a mattress?  If you’re waking up with aches and pains, try adjusting the way that you sleep or the number of pillows you sleep with. Side sleepers may need a softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers. There are stores that can test your body to see what bed is the appropriate level of firmness for you.

Are your pets waking you up in the middle of the night by jumping up to snuggle with you? Maybe it’s time to start training your fur baby to sleep in the cage or outside the room. If you need to, ban the pets from the bed for a few weeks. They’ll whine, but they’ll get used to it.

Are you waking up a few times to go to the bathroom and then can’t get back to sleep? Reducing your water intake during the evening will probably help. Night sweats waking you up? Your hormones may be off. All of these may lead to the root cause of your insomnia.  Look into this with your doctor.

The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping a sleep diary before visiting your doctor that includes how you feel during the day, what you’ve tried to do to improve your sleep, how often you wake up at night, and what you do when you can’t sleep. If you have a partner, ask them to help you keep track of it. This diary can also be used as part of your nightly routine to write down what, if anything, is causing you anxiety as you try to rest.

You should bring that diary with you to talk to your doctor, to see if any other medicines you’re taking could cause insomnia or sleep issues.  Your doctor may also recommend a sleep study to observe your sleep habits firsthand and then develop the best plan for you.

Acupuncture can be very beneficial for insomnia. In Chinese Medicine, the “shen’ is likened to our spirit that flies around us during the day like birds and at night settles into the heart. If the heart is filled with any intention, the birds have nowhere to rest and that is why a person can have insomnia. Overthinking and too many thoughts will keep us awake and our spirit cannot settle down. There are other diagnostic tools we can use to come up with a treatment plan. If acupuncture alone isn’t helping 100%, we prescribe Chinese Herbal Medicine which usually helps.  I have also been selling high grade CBD oil for insomnia (purchase here) and been getting rave reviews. I can’t keep it on the shelves because it’s selling out so fast.

Good sleep hygiene is imperative whatever route you choose for your insomnia.  Try not to do work in your bed during the day. Make your bed a place where you only sleep. Also, decluttering your bedroom and making it a peaceful area will also settle your nervous system. The most important thing is trying to go to bed and wake up the same time everyday.

Some helpful tips before bedtime include:

Turn off all electronics an hour before bed.

Slow stretching or restorative yoga poses before bed.

Taking a bath with lavender epsom salts.

Putting lavender on your pillow and on your temples.

Listen to a sleep Meditation App while laying in bed – I like the free app ‘Calm’.

Doing a body scan of your musculature to find the most tensed body parts and relaxing each one of them individually. (The app Calm has a guided mediation for this).

Remember, lack of sleep has been linked to many different diseases so try to make an effort to clean up your sleep habits. You’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!