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Insomnia causes a person to have difficulty falling and staying asleep. There are various things that a person can try to help them fall and stay asleep, such as herbal tea, aromatherapy, white noise machines, and more.

This article examines various things a person can try to help them sleep. It also looks at when a person should seek medical help for insomnia.

A person is waking up and stretching after using things to help you sleep.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Panpreeda Mahaly / EyeEm / Getty Images.

Although research suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these. A person should talk with their healthcare provider before using essential oils, and they should be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. A person should always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Aromatherapy may help people to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep.

A 2012 study found that using aromatherapy oils mixed with lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli helped ease anxiety, improve the quality of sleep, and lower blood pressure in those with heart conditions in the intensive care unit (ICU).

A 2020 randomized controlled trial found that lavender and peppermint oil can improve the sleep quality of people with cancer. However, the authors also mention that researchers need to carry out more research to confirm the findings.

Another smaller 2015 trial, consisting of 60 people in the ICU, found that lavender essential oil increased sleep quality and reduced anxiety in those with coronary artery disease.

Those interested in trying aromatherapy should choose fragrances they find appealing.

There are many options for incorporating aromatherapy into a bedtime routine, including:

  • taking an oil or salt bath right before bed.
  • lighting candles while preparing for bed
  • using a linen spray on the pillows or sheets
  • using a diffuser while sleeping
  • massage with aromatherapy oils

Find out which essential oils can relieve anxiety here.

White noise machines produce a consistent noise that some people may find relaxing.

White noise is not the only option. Some devices produce noise at other frequencies.

Pink noise is a deeper and more consistent and smooth sound. A 2012 study suggests it may slow brain waves, potentially helping improve sleep stability.

Learn about 6 of the best white noise machines here.

A weighted blanket is a blanket that contains materials, such as plastic pellets or beads.

Research on weighted blankets has mixed results.

A 2020 systematic review found that although weighted blankets did not necessarily improve sleep, they may help reduce anxiety.

A 2015 study of adults also found that weighted blankets could ease nighttime anxiety.

Weighted blankets come in different sizes and weights.

Learn more about weighted blankets and anxiety here.

Wearing an eye mask may help a person sleep because they help block out light.

According to a small 2015 study consisting of 60 people, using an eye mask can significantly improve a person’s sleep quality.

Excessive noise can interrupt a person’s sleep or stop them from falling asleep.

Earplugs may help a person to block out noise.

One 2015 study found that a combination of earplugs and eye masks helped to promote sleep in those in the ICU.

Learn more about sleeping with earplugs here.

Snoring can affect a person’s quality of sleep.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, if locked or narrow airways causes the snoring, anti-snoring devices can help open up the nasal passages.

A wide range of options is, available, including strips that go on the outside of the nose and filters that go inside the nose.

Some pillows can help reduce snoring by keeping the head and neck aligned, which opens the airways.

Find out about 6 of the best pillows for snoring here.

Herbal teas may help a person sleep. This effect may be due to the act of drinking a warm drink, or it may be due to the specific herb.

A 2011 study compared passionflower tea to a placebo and found that the people who drank the passionflower tea saw some sleep improvements.

A 2015 study of postpartum women found that those who drank chamomile tea reported immediate reductions in depression and sleeplessness due to physical discomfort.

However, at 4 weeks, both the chamomile and placebo groups had similar results. This likely means that the effects of some herbal teas are only temporary.

People can experiment with different teas to find which works best for them.

Learn more about herbals teas for sleep here.

A person can try taking OTC medications.

Learn about the best types of sleeping pills here.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the following OTC medications are available:

Antihistamines

Although a person may become sleepy when taking antihistamines, a person should talk to a healthcare professional as they can be unsafe for some people.

Melatonin supplements

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that the body produces naturally. It helps the body identify when it is time to sleep. Melatonin is not a potent sleeping aid, but taking supplements may help.

It is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate dietary supplements in the same way as conventional medication.

Side effects can include:

Learn more about melatonin for sleep here.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine emphasize the importance of therapy and lifestyle changes to minimize the need for sleeping pills.

Sleep strategies

To get a better night’s sleep, a person can adapt some of their normal routines and practice good sleep hygiene.

  • Ensure the bedroom is sleep-friendly: Maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid artificial light from electronics.
  • Maintain a routine: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and alcohol can cause a person to sleep more lightly than normal.
  • Exercise regularly: A person should try exercise at least 5–6 hours before bed as exercise close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep, especially if it is very intense exercise.
  • Eat meals on a regular schedule: Avoid late-night dinners.
  • Limit fluids near bedtime: This helps a person sleep longer without waking up to use the bathroom.
  • Learn ways to manage stress: A person can follow a bedtime routine, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath to relax.

Learn about other ways to aid sleep here.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT for insomnia may also help. It may involve:

  • Cognitive therapy: This can help encourage positive thinking and reduce nervousness about going to sleep.
  • Relaxation or meditation therapy: This can help teach a person how to relax and fall asleep more quickly.
  • Sleep restriction therapy: This gives a person a set time to be in bed, regardless of how much sleep they get. This can help a person sleep better over time.
  • Stimulus control therapy: This involves going to bed only when a person is sleepy, then getting out of bed if they cannot sleep.

Learn more about CBT here.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.

CBD is a chemical that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD may improve a person’s quality of sleep. According to one 2019 study, 66.7% of people taking CBD found that their sleep scores improved.

However, these results appeared to fluctuate over time. The researchers concluded that CBD might be beneficial for sleep in the short term.

Learn more about CBD and sleep here.

A person should see a doctor if their insomnia is affecting the daily activities.

They should also see a doctor if:

  • they experience insomnia at least 3 nights a week, and it is interfering with daytime functioning
  • it does not get better with sleep improvement products or a better sleep routine
  • a person has other symptoms, such as confusion or memory problems
  • a person experiences severe snoring or wakes up throughout the night

Insomnia can be frustrating, and the side effects can last for a day or longer after a restless night.

The right sleep products can help a person get a better and more relaxing night’s sleep.

If insomnia persists, talk to a doctor.

SHOP FOR SLEEP AIDS

Some of the products listed in this article are available for purchase in stores and online: