Insomnia? Fall Asleep Naturally

By Bobbi Kolonay RN MS – Certified Holistic Nurse and president of Holistic Aging in Pittsburgh PA

lack of sleepInsomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population worldwide. Insomnia is an inability to fall or stay asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. About 10 to 15 percent of people suffer from chronic insomnia, finding it difficult to get enough shuteye at least a few nights a week.

Getting to sleep and staying asleep is like solving a personal puzzle; it is different for each person and determining what piece of the puzzle will give you a good night’s rest is crucial to function at your best.

These methods can not only help you fall asleep and stay asleep, but they may also promote muscle relaxation.

1. Epson Salt Bath:Epsom-Salt-Bath

Epsom salts is made of magnesium sulphate. Besides being a natural muscle relaxant, magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar by assisting cells in producing energy from glucose. Releasing muscle tension is a key element in allowing the body to initiate the relaxation response and because the metabolism-supportive benefits of magnesium help to produce cellular energy, your blood sugar can be better stabilized—this is essential for maintaining balanced hormonal levels that help you sleep.

  •  I also recommend adding baking soda which is another powerful sleep aid. C02 in baking soda supports healthy REM sleep—which in turn promotes healthy sleep and keeps stress hormones at bay.

  • You may also want to add a few drops of essential oils of Lavender, Ylang-Ylang or Chamomile to your bath to heighten the relaxing effect and promote sleep.

  • Don’t have a full tub? Try a foot bath instead!

    2. Practice of Mindfulness Meditation:Meditation

    This is especially helpful if you find your mind racing or preoccupied, which many people with insomnia do. The idea is to continue to redirect your attention to your breathing and your body any time you find yourself lost in thought. When you let thoughts go and simply keep your attention on your breathing, you are better able to welcome sleep. To start your Meditation journey, you may consider one of the below:

    1. Headspace: This App Walks you through your entire mindfulness journey step-by-step

    2. Stop, Breath and Think: This has a specific “Falling Asleep” App

    3. U-Tube Body Scan: Guided Body Scan Meditation for Mind & Body Healing by Michael Sealey

      3. Herbs/Supplements:

  • Valerian (Valerina Officinilas): Studies cited by the National Institutes of Health report benefits similar to pharmaceutical preparations, such as Xanax, without the side effects. Herbalists use valerian extensively for its sedative action against insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness. It is recommended for those type of people who have a hard time falling asleep, because it shortens sleep latency. It also reduces nighttime waking. You can take Valerian in a tea, tincture form, or oral herbal supplement.

  • Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb commonly for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, herbsparticularly in children. Chamomile flowers can be consumed in a tea, or Chamomile essential oil can also be put in bath water (5-6 drops), diluted to 2% to make an excellent massage oil, or used as an inhalant.

  • Wild lettuce: If you’ve suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. It’s also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety—and may even quell restless legs syndrome.

  • Hops (Humulus lupulus):Beer fans will no doubt be familiar with the calming effect of hops, the flowers used in beer making.  In the early 1900’s physicians used hops as a sedative specifically for sleeplessness, nervousness, and restlessness. Hops pillows are sometimes used for mild insomnia.

  • L-theanine: This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night.

  • Melatonin or in its natural state of Cherry Juice: Cherry juice acts as an amazing natural medicine for sleep. This is because it contains high levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycles and promoting restful sleep. Melatonin puts the body to sleeping mode by bringing forth drowsiness and lowering the body temperature. Imbalance of the hormone melatonin in the body can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle and lead to lack of sleep and Insomnia.

    4. Try Mantram

Mantram is the practice of repeating over and over in the mind certain syllables, words or phrases that help unify consciousness and counteract negative mental states. It is especially helpful for people with restless minds, whose turbulent thoughts keep them from relaxing, concentrating and falling asleep. It is especially useful as an antidote when waking up and your mind starts racing. The repetition of a mantram is a way to calm the body, quiet the mind and to restore the spirit; is a way of focusing the thinking mind and counteracting thoughts that produce anxiety, agitation and unhappiness.

You can practice mantram anywhere, especially as a sleep aid and a natural remedy for insomnia – it is a totally portable technique, requires no training or equipment, and can be used in any circumstance, so long as you don’t practice it while doing something that otherwise requires your undivided attention. Choose a mantram that appeals to you or offers strength, support and is compatible with your religious background and/or spiritual beliefs. Some people have no difficulty choosing a mantram, such as when a word or phrase jumps out at them immediately. Others have to “try it on” and practice repeating it silently for a few days or even weeks, to see how it feels.

sleep revivedList of recommended Mantrams:

  • Om mani padme hum (Ohm mah-nee pahd-may hume)  = An invocation to the jewel (Self), in the lotus of the heart

  • Namo Butsaya (Nah-mo Boot-see-yah) = I bow to the Buddha

  • My God and My All = St. Francis of Assisi’s phrase

  • Kyrie Eleison (Kir-ee-ay Ee-lay-ee-sone) = Lord have mercy

  • Christe Eleison (Kreest-ay Ee-lay-ee-sone) = Christ have mercy

  • Hail Mary or Ave Maria = Mother of Jesus

  • Om Namah Shivaya (Ohm Nah-mah Shee-vah-yah) = Invocation to beauty and fearlessness

  • Om Prema (Ohm Pray-Mah) = A call for universal love

  • Om Shanti (Ohm Shawn-tee) = Invocation to eternal peace

  • Shalom (Shah-lome) = Peace, completeness

  • So Hum (So Hum) = I am that Self within

  • O Wakan Tanka (Wah-Kahn Tahn-Kah) = Great Spirit


Before you rush to the drugstore to buy an over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medication, try one a natural sleep remedies. “These are safer and have fewer side effects than OTC medications,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic and medical director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.

Hopefully, these few natural pieces of the puzzle will help you to fall and stay asleep.

Bobbi Kolonay RN MS is the owner of Holistic Aging which offers “Aging Well” services to the local Northerner suburbs of Pittsburgh PA .



5 Responses to “Insomnia? Fall Asleep Naturally”

  1. Maureen Powers

    great topic which I deal with using Essential oils

    • Bobbi Kolonay

      Yes, Maureen EO are wonderful to help with insomnia but they are not a one size fits all. What I like to even point out when teaching about the clinical use of EO’s is that there are 2 types of Lavender EO – Lavender Agustofolia has a calming effect while as Spikard Lavender has a stimulant effect. Make sure you are purchasing quality EO’s that provide the Botanical name and you understand the properties of these potent medicines!

  2. Elizabeth Scala

    What a wonderful topic! I would add ensuring that we get plenty of movement and activity in during the day. I find that when I don’t move my body, I feel more ‘awake’ at night. These are wonderful suggestions. I currently use Reiki and mindful breath work to fall asleep if I have trouble. Thanks, Bobbi!

    • Bobbi Kolonay

      So agree Elizabeth – I would also add that cardio activity should occur at least 4 hours prior to your bed time so that you are placing your mind and body in the state to prepare for rest. Yoga or stretching can put you in the prefect presence for sleep.

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