Health ConditionsSigns & Symptoms

Can’t Sleep? 35 Proven Techniques to Fall Asleep Fast & Improve Long-Term Sleep Quality

We live in an insomniac world. In the 21st century, insomnia is an epidemic that can be found everywhere. It affects:
  • About 10% of Australians (1)
  • 7% of adult Europeans (2)
  • Between 9% and 20% of adult Americans. (3) (4)
  • 37% of adults in the UK (5)

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These sleep disorders can alter your life in all aspects, including physical and psychological. This is why, in this guide, we’ll help you understand it so you can combat it and get back your precious hours of sleep. If you suffer from recurrent insomnia, we recommend you take your time to go through this page to understand why this might be happening to you and how to find a long-term solution. If you’re just having an off night and are looking for a way to fall asleep fast, you may want to jump straight to this section with the best science-backed techniques.


Main Symptoms of Insomnia

The 7 Most Likely Reasons Why You Can't Sleep

Why Can’t I Sleep Through the Night: The Most Common Habits That Disrupt Your Sleep

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: 6 Infallible Techniques to Fall Asleep Fast

When to See a Sleep Specialist

Treatments for Insomnia

Can’t Sleep Without Medication? Here’s How to Be Able to Sleep Naturally Again

What’s a Healthy Sleep Schedule

How to Increase the Quality of Your Sleep

Key Takeaways


Main Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia can disrupt your life in many ways and have far more serious effects than just keeping you awake at night. During the night, insomnia means:

    • Not being able to fall asleep
    • Having difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
    • Waking up earlier than expected and not being able to fall asleep again
      If this sounds like you, the more likely symptoms you’ll experience the following day include:
      • Feeling too tired to carry on with your day as usual
      • Strong headaches
      • Irritability and maybe even aggressiveness
      • Little motivation to do anything
      • Not being able to concentrate

      Long-Term Consequences of Not Sleeping

      When you can’t sleep for a long time, the consequences can become more drastic and put your health in jeopardy. These are some of the most common long-term effects of not sleeping well or at all.

      Increased Risk of Mental Disorders

      Lack of sleep can lead to several types of chronic mental disorders. One of the most recurrent mental health issues caused by sleep deprivation is anxiety. (6) A study carried out with 88 healthy adults investigated the effects of not sleeping for 24 hours. The conclusion was that acute sleep deprivation increased symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as general distress.

      There is also a strong correlation between lack of sleep and depression. Actually, many researchers claim that doctors should be careful of diagnosing someone with depression if that person doesn’t have sleep problems since these two symptoms usually go hand in hand. (7)

      Insomnia and depression have also proven to be a very dangerous combination since they are one of the main causes of suicide. (8) Still, even without suffering from depression, people who suffer from chronic insomnia are at a very high risk of suicide. (9)

      More Chances of Suffering From Chronic Illnesses

      If you’re suffering from insomnia, then you probably know how devastating short-term effects can be on your daily life. But what about long-term physical consequences of a lack of sleep? One of the most common is obesity. Research has proven that lack of sleep has metabolic effects on the body that predispose it to weight gain. (10) A study carried out on 68,183 women aged 39 to 65 showed that sleeping fewer than seven hours on a recurrent basis is linked with a substantial increase in the risk of major weight gain and obesity (15 kg or more).

      Studies have also shown that people who deal with insomnia are at a higher risk of suffering from diabetes. This applies to both people who can’t sleep for the minimum amount of time (seven hours) and those who oversleep (more than nine hours). How does this happen? Chronic lack of sleep leads to metabolic changes, such as high cortisol levels, which in turn, increase the glucose in your blood. (11) To top this off, sleep disorders also affect your appetite hormones (ghrelin and leptin), leading you to eat more and gain weight, which also increases your insulin resistance.

      Another chronic illness caused by insomnia is high blood pressure. A 2022 study found that acute lack of sleep can cause an increase in blood pressure to compensate for the lack of rest. (12) This means that, if the sleep disturbances become something recurrent, as in the case of apnoea patients, lack of sleep may lead to hypertension. (13) (14)

      As a consequence, poor sleeping patterns can also lead to cardiovascular diseases. (15) A Nurses’ Health Study discovered that women that slept fewer than five hours or more than nine had 1.4x more chances of having a heart disease than those who slept eight hours. (16)

      Shorter Life Expectancy and Poor Quality of Life

      Sleeping well is a matter of life or death. If it hasn’t been clear enough, all the consequences of having a sleep disorder mentioned above will make you have a very poor quality of life and, ultimately, may cause you an early death. Both too little and too much sleep are associated with increased mortality. (17) What’s more, a research study that evaluated 2,200,425 participants showed that women who slept fewer than seven hours were at higher risk of all-cause mortality than men. (18)

      The 7 Most Likely Reasons Why You Can't Sleep

      The causes of insomnia are many and range from health issues to external problems. Here are the most common reasons why people can’t sleep according to science.

      #1 - Menopause

      Hot flashes, weight gain, low libido and… poor sleep. Though insomnia is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of menopause symptoms, it can be one of the most life-disrupting ones. In part, a sleep disorder can be caused by the other symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and depression. But sleep problems also arise because of the alterations in your hormone levels.

      Actually, women report poorer sleep quality than men during their entire life span, probably because of hormonal differences. (19) On top of this, as you get older and move from perimenopause to menopause, your sleep problems will probably get worse (20). Luckily, there are some measures you can take to mitigate hormonal insomnia, such as using natural remedies for sleep during perimenopause and menopause to improve your sleep quality and quantity.

      #2 - Stress

      Though we have talked about how insomnia can trigger chronic mental disorders, the other way around is also true. Stress and anxiety make your body increase the production of cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. This means that you will be aroused and alert, making it practically impossible for you to fall asleep. So, if you are under constant stress or your body has an abnormally exaggerated response to it, it only makes sense that you eventually develop a chronic sleep disorder. (21)

      A study sought to investigate how living stressful life events and the participants’ own perception of these situations affected sleep patterns in people with no previous history of sleep disorders. (22) The results were clear. After one year, those who reported higher levels of stress had more problems falling and staying asleep than those who led less stressful lives. This affected especially women.

      So, if you can’t sleep on a daily basis, you may want to evaluate if the cause of this is your stress and take steps to solve it. As the aforementioned study showed, what affects your sleep is not only what goes on in your life, but also how you react to it. As a result, you may need to seek help and learn new coping techniques to deal with your stress levels. Natural herbs, like valerian root, may also give you relief when it comes to releasing tension.

      #3 - Nightmares

      Having nightmares is one of the leading reasons why many people can’t sleep. (23) A French study found that 18.3% of the insomniac population suffered from nightmares, especially women. (24) However, having nightmares doesn’t always mean that you can’t sleep. Still, it does entail that even if you do manage to stay asleep while having a nightmare, your sleep quality will suffer, making you feel tired and sleepy in spite of having had a full night’s sleep. (25)

      A study on the sex-related differences in sleep patterns between men and women discovered that females suffer from nightmares much more frequently than men, which leads them to sleep disorders and eventually to psychiatric disorders, such as depression or anxiety. (26)

      If you suffer from recurrent nightmares that keep you from having a restorative night’s sleep, there are some cognitive behavioural therapy techniques that can help you (23):

      • Progressive deep muscle relaxation: This anxiety reduction technique consists in clenching different muscle groups and then relaxing them. You can start in the upper part of your body and go down little by little. So, you can first squeeze the muscles in your forehead for 15 seconds, and then release them for 30 seconds, focusing on feeling the difference. Then, move on to your jaws, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, glutes, legs and feet. By doing this, you can reduce your nightmares by 80% or even make them go away completely. Following a recording may help you achieve complete relaxation!
      • Systematic desensitisation: Though progressive muscle relaxation provides more immediate relief from nightmares, systematic desensitization shows better effectiveness in the long term. With this treatment, the patient learns a new association to an existing behaviour. So, if you suffer from trauma-based nightmares, you will work on overcoming your trauma by associating it with a state of calmness rather than fear and anxiety. Ideally, you should follow this technique with a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy.
      • Lucid dreaming therapy (not to be confused with vivid dreams): Lucid dreams take place when you realise that you are dreaming when you are asleep and take control of your dream. Fortunately, there are techniques to learn how to turn a nightmare into a lucid dream that have proven to be effective in reducing nightmares. (27) Though having lucid dreams takes practice and is not something that you can always control, it may be worth trying out if you can’t sleep because of recurrent nightmares.

      #4 - The Weather

      Humans are biologically programmed to have a lower body temperature as the night approaches, so our brain starts getting ready for sleep. (28) This is a natural stage of our circadian rhythm and, should a decrease in temperature not take place, you are very likely to experience insomnia. (29)

      However, if it’s scorching hot outside, your body temperature is bound to be affected. In other words, extreme weather conditions are one of the most common external reasons for poor sleep. Heat waves, particularly, affect human sleep both in quantity and quality. (30) A study conducted on six young men compared their sleep patterns in temperatures of 20º C and 35º C. The researchers found that the subjects suffered from very disturbed sleep during hot nights. Specifically, they had reduced sleep time and shorter REM cycles. (31)

      However, it’s not only the heat that can affect your sleep health. Cold temperatures are equally guilty of causing disorders, though they don’t affect your sleep in the same way. (32) Being exposed to the cold does not affect sleep stages or sleep quality, but it does affect cardiac autonomic response during sleep. This means increased blood pressure and a higher probability of suffering from adverse cardiac events. So, while sleeping in a cold environment may not be the reason why you can’t sleep, it is still something to be mindful of, since it may have other severe consequences on your health.

      What can you do to sleep in the heat? Here are a few tips:
      1. Don’t cover your hands and feet. Your extremities are key when it comes to regulating your body temperature. (33) So, if you keep them cool throughout the night, chances are you’re not going to suffer so much from the heat.
      2. Sleep in your birthday suit. Sleeping without clothes is a very effective way to regulate your body temperature.
      3. Use a “cold” water bottle. You don’t have to say goodbye to your hot water bottle once winter is over. You can fill it up with cold water to help you cool down your sleep during summer. To give it a boost, you can put it in the freezer for a few minutes before taking it to bed.
      4. Sleep downstairs. Heat tends to concentrate in the upper part of buildings. So, sleeping in a room on the ground floor could make all the difference when it comes to fighting the heat and having a good night’s sleep.
      5. Invest in a fan or AC. This is the foolproof way to keep the temperature down in your room at night. Though air conditioners are more expensive (both in how much they cost and how much electricity they require), they are more flexible since you can choose your desired temperature. However, if you opt for a fan, there are some tricks that can help you cool down even on the hottest of nights. You could, for example, place an ice tray in front of the fan. In this way, as the ice melts and cools the air above, your fan will blow the cold air in your direction. Plus, white noise, such as the one produced by fans, has been proven to help people who live in high-noise environments fall asleep. (34)

      #5 - You’re Uncomfortable

      If you are tossing and turning all night long and find it impossible to fall asleep, you may need to make some adjustments to feel more comfortable. For instance, you should make sure that your room is dark and at the right temperature. Ideally, your room temperature shouldn’t be over 20º C. It’s also a good idea to unplug all the devices in your room that could emit light, such as your TV or heater. Alternatively, you can just cover the lights with clothes or other objects so they don’t shine on your eyes.

      If you’re too uncomfortable to sleep, you may also want to try different sleeping positions. Try out sleeping on your side, back or stomach for a while and see if the change makes you more comfortable. The type of pillow you use can make all the difference here.

      If you’re in the habit of sleeping with your pet, try cuddling with them up to the point when you start feeling sleepy. Then, have them switch to their own beds, so you can sleep through the night without being disturbed by the night movements of your furry friend.

      #6 - Digestive Problems

      Over the past years, a growing number of scientists have started to study the interplay between the gut and sleep disturbances. (35) They have discovered that your gut microbiome and your sleep are deeply intertwined through the brain-gut-microbiome axis, which ensures that your brain and gut communicate constantly to control the correct functioning of your body. (36) While researchers have been studying for some time how sleep affects your gut, lately there has also been an increasing interest in how your gut influences sleep. For example, a research study found that microbiome composition is correlated with sleep efficiency. (37)

      A group of scientists put this into practice and manipulated the gut microbiota of children to help them overcome snoring. (38) Another study found that consuming a diet rich in prebiotics improves both REM and Non-REM sleep as well as reduces stress. (39)

      So, if you suffer from IBS, Crohn’s disease, or any other condition that disturbs your gut, it may be the reason why you also can’t sleep. Plus, symptoms such as bloating and gas can make you feel so uncomfortable that you can’t fall asleep, or if you do, you won’t stop tossing at night.

      If this sounds like you, there’s hope! You can resort to probiotics to help you stabilise your gut bacteria. Should you want a more definite solution for recurrent gut issues, the Complete Gut Repair System is worth trying out.

      Why Can’t I Sleep Through the Night: The Most Common Habits That Disrupt Your Sleep

      More often than not, it’s not a health condition that keeps you awake at night, but a bad habit. This is most probably the case if you notice a pattern about when it is that you can’t sleep or you just have one off night every now and then. Here are the most common sleep-preventing habits to get rid of to improve your “sleep hygiene”. (40)

      #1 - Using Your Bedroom for Different Activities

      One of the worst things you can do for your sleep is associating your bedroom with activities other than sleeping. Having TVs, phones, computers and other gadgets handy when you’re trying to sleep is sure to be a distraction. Plus, most devices emit lights or vibrate even when they are off, waking you up in the middle of the night.

      Before sleep, you should only do activities that help you unwind, and checking your work email, reading the news or watching the thriller everyone is talking about do not help with this. So, if you can’t sleep, you should get into the habit of only using your room to sleep and nothing else.

      This also includes not staying in bed when you’re suffering from insomnia. Lying awake will only help your brain associate staying in bed with feeling anxious and tired. Instead, you can get up and do something that helps you take your mind off your worries, such as reading.

      #2 - Exercising Right Before Bed

      You’ve probably heard countless times that you should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. While this is true (and it’s a great way to get better quality sleep), you shouldn’t work out too close to bedtime. Exercising will accelerate your heart rate, increase your body temperature and up your blood pressure. (41) So, instead of winding down and getting ready for a good night’s sleep, you’ll be telling your body to stay active.

      If right before bed is the only window of time you have to do some exercise, we recommend that you keep it calm and do some yoga or light stretching. Keep more intense workouts for the days when you have some more free time during the day. There should be, at least, one or two hours between your workout and the time you go off to bed.

      #3 - Not Sleeping Always at the Same Time

      If you can’t sleep recurrently, it may be that you don’t have good sleeping habits. If one night you go to sleep at 9 pm, the following one at 1 am, and the third night you don’t sleep at all, your body will get confused and will not be in the habit of feeling tired at one specific time.

      This is known as circadian rhythm, meaning the natural clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycles. (42) If you keep a consistent sleeping schedule, you’ll see how the quantity and quality of your sleep start to improve.

      You can do this by setting up an alarm at the time you should wake up. You’ll probably feel tired the first day if you went to bed late the night before, but the following night, you’ll be so tired that you will be able to fall asleep early. The following night, make sure to do the same, and before you know it, you’ll have trained your body to always fall asleep at the same time.

      #4 - Watching TV or Using Your Phone

      We get it, your smartphone has become an extension of your body and it’s difficult to let go of it for more than a few minutes. This is why so many people check their emails, read their social media feeds and send messages to their friends and family before going to bed. However, this is a terrible habit that kills off your sleep. (43)

      For starters, your brain is stimulated by what goes on on your screen, keeping you away from the state of relaxation you should reach to be able to fall asleep. (44) On top of that, the blue light of your screen signals to your brain that it’s time to stay awake, blocking the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. (45)

      What you can do to break this habit is to keep your phone out of reach once you’re in bed. (46) Otherwise, you may have the reflex to reach for it, and you’ll be checking what’s trending on Twitter before your know it. Instead, set up your alarm (if you need one) and put your phone in a place you can’t reach without getting out of bed. Make sure to turn off the sound of your notifications too.

      #5 - Your Diet

      Who hasn’t fallen prey to the temptation of having a satisfying midnight snack? First, you have dinner. Then, some dessert. A few hours later, you crave more food and raid your fridge. Patterns like this are not only bad for your sleep, but also for your overall health.

      You need to give your body a few hours to process all the food you’ve eaten before you lie down. (47) (48) (49) Otherwise, you’ll start feeling discomfort in your stomach, gas, bloating, and even heartburn. This will make you toss and turn all night at best. The worst-case scenario is that you won’t be able to sleep through the night.

      The same happens with drinking liquids before bed. (50) We’re not saying you shouldn’t drink any water before bed, but you should make sure to keep your liquid consumption to a minimum. Else, you’ll feel the need to get up to pee in the middle of the night, interrupting what could have been a good night’s sleep.

      So, for a restful night, have your last meal approximately two or three hours before going to bed, and don’t drink more water than you need to (or any other beverage).

      What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: 6 Infallible Techniques to Fall Asleep Fast

      Turning off the lights and laying down to sleep at night can be a nightmare for many people, who start thinking about everything that worries them and take ages to fall asleep. If your mind starts buzzing with thoughts of your past or future days, then here are some infallible techniques to turn your brain off and fall asleep fast.

      Relaxation Techniques to Fall Asleep

      Relaxing is key to falling asleep, but sometimes it is hard to put your mind at ease. Luckily, there are some relaxation techniques you can try, namely:

      #1 - The Military Technique to Falling Asleep

      As reported by S. Ackerman in his book Relax and Win: Championship Performance, the United States Navy designed a sleeping technique to help soldiers sleep within less than 2 minutes (even with gunfire noises in the background!). Mind you, the training for this strategy to work can take up to 6 weeks. Here are the steps:

      1. You need to relax all the muscles in your face, including the insides of your mouth.
      2. Release tension in your shoulders and hands.
      3. Relax your chest by breathing deeply.
      4. Then, relax the lower part of your body.
      5. Imagine an idyllic scene and force yourself not to think.
      6. Within a minute, you should be asleep!

      #2 - Progressive Muscle Relaxation

      Another option is to use the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique, which helps you unwind by first tensing your muscles and then releasing the tension. (51)

      1. Begin with your eyebrows and hold them as high as you can for at least 5 seconds and then let the tension drop.
      2. After 10 seconds, smile to tense your cheek muscles and hold for another 5 seconds. Relax and then pause again.
      3. Close your eyes and tilt your head back, holding for 5 seconds. Relax and let your neck rest on your pillow.
      4. Repeat these steps with the rest of your body (triceps, biceps, chest, thighs, feet, etc).
      5. You’ll start falling asleep, even if you haven’t finished with the rest of your muscles.

      Breathing Techniques to Fall Asleep

      Focusing on your breathing is a brilliant way to drift off to sleep and certain techniques are particularly effective when you can’t sleep. Let’s take a look at some of them:

      #3 - The 4-7-8 Technique

      The 4-7-8 technique combines the best of meditation and visualisation. (52) Take into account that it may not be suitable for everyone, as people suffering from asthma or COPD can see an aggravation of their symptoms if they perform this technique. These are the steps to get started:

      1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and exhale through your mouth.
      2. Inhale through your nose as you count to 4 and hold it for 7 seconds.
      3. Again, exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Try not to think as you breathe, to help your brain relax and unwind.

      #4 - The Buteyko Breathing Technique

      To master the Buteyko technique (53), you may need the help of a trained professional. Here’s an example of an exercise:

      1. Sit with your back straight and place your hands on your chest while you sleep through your nose.
      2. Concentrate on your lower chest while you breathe and, after a few minutes, move one of your hands to your lap.
      3. Start relaxing the muscles in your face, shoulders, abdomen, and the rest of your body progressively.
      4. Keep on going for 3 minutes and then go back to normal.

      Meditation Techniques to Fall Asleep

      Meditation has been used to fall asleep for hundreds of years, as it improves clarity and helps you remain calm by lowering your blood pressure and managing stress and anxiety symptoms. (54) The idea is to relax both your body and brain, quieting your thoughts to finally fall asleep.

      #5 - Body Scan Meditation

      Body Scan Meditation is a great method to fall asleep deeply and quickly, too. (55) As the name suggests, it involves gradually paying attention to all your body parts, making you aware of pains, tensions and discomfort so you can relieve them before sleeping.

      Similar to the other techniques described above, you need to close your eyes, slow your breathing, and become aware of your breathing process. The main difference is that in the body Scan Meditation, you’ll focus on your feelings. You need to identify whether your mind keeps wandering back to the same thought and try to empty your mind to favour sleep.

      #6 - Guided Meditation

      Would you like to meditate but don’t have a clue of where to start? Guided meditation is for you! This practice involves listening to a pre-recorded audio clip of a person leading the process, explaining the techniques and exercises and helping you relax. This is a brilliant way to start for beginners, though it may not work for everyone (particularly if you need silence to fall asleep). Here are some suggestions for guided meditation you can use:


      You can also find playlists on Spotify that feature dozens of guided meditations. Some examples are ending the day with gratitude and meditations focused on managing anxiety before bed.

        When to See a Sleep Specialist

        Irritability, daytime fatigue, an inability to relate successfully to others, and many other health consequences will impact your quality of life if you can’t sleep well at night. But when is the time to see a sleep specialist?

        Even though as many as 30% of adults complain of occasional insomnia and 10% of chronic insomnia, studies show that this disorder is mostly under-recognised, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. (56) If you feel that this might be your case too, but are not sure if you should go to the doctor, here are some of the main warning signs to know when to look for professional help. Whether you have, a few or all of these symptoms, talking to your physician will be of help.
        1. You have chronic insomnia. Different from an occasional inability to sleep, chronic insomnia is sustained in time and can wreak havoc on your life.
        2. You are sleepy and fatigued every day and this prevents you from carrying out the activities you would normally do.
        3. You snore loudly and suspect you have sleep apnea. One common indicator is waking up at night, struggling to breathe.
        4. You suffer from restless leg syndrome and this makes it difficult to sleep.
        5. You sleep more than 10 hours at night and feel very drowsy when waking up. (57)
        6. You feel like you need to speak to a professional. No matter how mild or insignificant your symptoms may seem, if you’re suffering or if you just feel you need to speak to a doctor, do so. Consulting with a health professional will put your fears at ease and will help you look for treatment early, preventing you from suffering from other health issues in the future.

        Tips to Prepare for Your Doctor’s Visit

        Here are some tips to make the most out of your interview with a health professional:

        • Write down questions you may have about your symptoms and potential treatments;
        • Record a diary to understand what you’re doing during the day and night and to identify behaviours that can be improved.
        • Recount any natural solutions you may have tried and how they helped you or not.
        • If you’re taking medication, have it with you (or at least their prescriptions with name and dosage).

        Treatments for Insomnia

        If you suffer from insomnia, that is, you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, then you know how much it can affect your life as a whole. It doesn’t only mean you’ll be tired all day long, but insomnia has an impact on your work performance, your relationships, and your ability to be happy (in addition to upping your risks of suffering from other conditions). The worst part? 10% to 30% of adults worldwide deal with some kind of insomnia today. (58)

        Insomnia is a condition that can be treated with or without medication. For this, you’ll probably need to make some lifestyle changes to improve your sleep hygiene and alleviate symptoms. Keep on reading and discover more about the classic treatments for insomnia.

        Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

        Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (also called CBT) is one of the first options when dealing with insomnia. Usually, it is prescribed and guided by licensed psychologists with experience in this type of treatment, which tries to replace unhealthy behaviours with healthier attitudes (59). For this, you’ll probably need to improve:

        • Your sleep hygiene. Healthy sleeping habits can improve your insomnia symptoms greatly. (60) These include falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day, not drinking alcohol or caffeine at night, and not using devices with blue light before bed, among many others.
        • Your control over stimulus. This is aimed at people who experience anxiety at the thought of falling asleep. The idea is to develop positive feelings towards sleep and using your bed only at night and getting up if you are unable to fall asleep within 10 minutes. The idea is to reduce the time people spend awake lying in bed and increase the time spent actually sleeping.
        • Relaxing. As mentioned above, meditation and breathing exercises can help you do away with insomnia and improve the quality of your sleep. (55)


          Medication for insomnia is effective when treating symptoms, but not all doctors choose to prescribe them, as they may bring about many side effects and dependency. Here are some examples of drugs commonly prescribed to treat insomnia:

          #1 - Benzodiazepines

          Also known as BZD or benzos, these are psychoactive drugs with sedative effects. They are typically used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks, with effects on insomnia. (61) Common types include diazepam (sold under the name of Valium) and alprazolam (sold under the name of Xanax).


          • They help you fall asleep regardless of your circumstances or symptoms.
          • They usually provide immediate relief for insomnia.
          • BZDs have a high risk for abuse and dependence, particularly for those who already have a substance use disorder. (62)
          • Patients can develop tolerance to sedative effects in the long run.
          • Patients can experience withdrawal symptoms if they use this medication for a long time.

          #2 - Nonbenzodiazepines

          Also known as hypnotic or Z drugs, nonbenzodiazepines have almost the same effects as BDZs but without many of their side effects (63), though they aim at helping you sleep for more time and more deeply. Some examples include Zolpidem (sold under the name of Ambien) and Zaleplon (sold under the name of Sonata).

          • They can help you not only fall but stay asleep for longer periods of time.
          • They are safer than BDZs in terms of addiction and dependence.
          • They do not address the underlying causes of insomnia.
          • Data is still limited regarding secondary or long-lasting effects of Z drugs. (64)

          #3 - Melatonin Agonist

          As the sun sets and natural light begins to fade, your glands start producing a hormone called melatonin. This hormone helps you start relaxing and feeling sleepy. At times, your body may not produce enough melatonin and that is when insomnia symptoms start appearing. Some medications, like ramelteon, act as melatonin agonists and help you fall asleep and relax. (65)

          As some studies suggest, treatments with melatonin are most effective when insomnia is triggered by circadian rhythm disorders. (66)


          • Side effects are less severe than with other medications.
          • Most of the time, it does not produce dependence.
          • Sleepiness during daytime
          • Feeling dizzy or nauseous
          • Dry mouth
          • Night sweats

          Can’t Sleep Without Medication? Here’s How to Be Able to Sleep Naturally Again

          As we discussed above, some sleep medications can cause dependence, making it difficult to sleep without your pills. The good news is that you can adopt several measures to restore natural rest and get your snooze without resorting to medication. Of course, every change you introduce should be guided by your doctor to ensure it’s the best for you at the moment.

          Natural Treatments: The 18 Herbs That Guarantee a Restful Night

          Sleep deprivation and insomnia can feel like a trap from which you can’t get out, affecting every aspect of your life and making it increasingly difficult to relax and sleep normally. One way to break the cycle is to adopt certain lifestyle patterns, including taking natural supplements and compounds that promote sleep without side effects. Here we present you with the most effective deep sleep activators that guarantee a restful night!

          #1 - Passionflower Extract

          Also called Passiflora Incarnata, this perennial plant has long been used to treat sleep problems and insomnia (67) as it has been shown to have properties that induce sleep and relaxation. This study (68), for example, recorded cerebral activity in sleeping rats before and after administering passionflower, discovering that the ones who received this extract stayed asleep for longer. And it has also shown promissory results in humans. This study, for example, gave passionflower tea to 41 adults for two weeks and concluded that it improves sleep quality due to the plants’ benzoflavone, capable of producing results similar to sedative drugs.

          #2 - Valerian Root

          Valerian root has also been used for centuries to promote sleep and relaxation. Research proves that the valerenic acid contained by the root of the plant can stop the breakdown of GABA, meaning it can help you feel more relaxed and drift to sleep easily. (69)

          #3 - Magnesium Citrate

          This is another go-to for help when dealing with sleeping disorders, particularly if you are in the postmenopausal period of your life. After menopause, many women have magnesium deficiencies, which can bring about a number of health issues, such as heart disease and insomnia. Thus, taking magnesium citrate is essential to balance this deficiency (70), particularly because magnesium can regulate the production of melatonin, too.

          #4 - Zinc Glycinate

          Zinc glycinate has crucial roles to play in your body, including helping you drift into sleep each night. As a supplement, it is beneficial for dealing with symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and insomnia without any side effects. (71)

          #5 - Hops Flower Extract

          Hops flower extract is also a potent deep sleep activator that can help women who are going through menopause. How is that so? Well, hops extract binds to oestrogen receptors, helping women balance their hormones and do away with insomnia caused by hormone imbalance. (72)

          #6 - Natural Glycine (Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides)

          Hydrolysed collagen peptides have a great number of benefits for human beings, like strengthening bones and ligaments, soothing inflammation and improving the quality of your sleep. This study (73), for example, examines the relationship between natural glycine and sleep, concluding it has calming effects on your nervous system and helps you lower your body temperature

          #7 - Curcuminoids

          Turmeric is one of the most-used spices today and for a reason. In addition to being incredibly flavourful, turmeric contains a powerful micronutrient called curcumin, which can boost your immunity, reduce inflammation, and protect you from oxidative stress. Plus, curcumin is efficient when balancing hormones like cortisol, improving the quality of your sleep (as poor sleep is many times tied to inflammation. (74)

          #8 - Pure Vitamin C

          The well-known vitamin C can also have beneficial effects when trying to sleep better. This vitamin helps you absorb and synthesise collagen, which in turn is a sleep enhancer. Plus, vitamin C addresses stress-related problems like sleep apnea (75) and restless leg syndrome. (76)

          #9 - Wild Jujube Extract

          Jujube is a tree that grows in Southeast Asia and produces a fruit that is packed with the most potent antioxidants. Additionally, it is used as a sleep enhancer, as research has shown it can help you sleep more deeply and for longer periods. (77)

          #10 - Magnolia Bark Extract

          Similarly, Magnolia bark is a tree found in China beneficial for women who are experiencing menopause and have difficulty sleeping well. This study with 89 menopausal women studied the effects of magnolia bark extract on insomnia and mood. They were given tablets for 24 weeks with great results when dealing with symptoms of insomnia, even improving mood. (78)

          #11 - Black Pepper Extract

          Black pepper works in a similar way to the other natural ingredients mentioned, increasing your levels of dopamine and serotonin (79), helping you relax and unwind after a long day. Plus, it can increase the absorption of curcumin by 2000% because of its active ingredient, piperine (80), improving the symptoms of insomnia caused by hormonal imbalance.

          #12 - Lactobacillus Casei

          One of the reasons why you can’t sleep at night is often an upset microbiome. That is, your “bad” bacteria and fungi have outgrown the good ones, producing a great variety of effects on your body, such as altering your circadian rhythms (81) and preventing you from sleeping.

          If you’re suffering from insomnia as a result of gut dysbiosis, then probiotics like Lactobacillus Casei can help you achieve restful sleep, as proven by research. (82) And the best part is that you can find this probiotic in fermented foods, like cheese or yoghurt!

          #13 - Baobab

          This indigenous tree that grows in Australia produces a vitamin-rich fruit that can benefit your health in a great variety of ways. For example, it can feed the good bacteria in your gut and help you maintain a healthy microbiome while its high levels of potassium can contribute to having a more restful, deep sleep. (83)

          #14 - Mesquite

          Also called Prosopis juliflora, mesquite is a tree used to treat a number of health issues, such as sleep disorders. It is high in nutrients and minerals like magnesium, which can help you sleep better by balancing your cortisol and blood sugar levels (84), helping you relax to achieve more restful sleep.

          #15 - L-Theanine

          This is an essential amino acid with many benefits, particularly for perimenopausal women who have trouble falling asleep because of their falling levels of oestrogen. In 2016, an Australian research team found that this amino acid stimulates alpha waves in the brain, making you feel relaxed and happy, and helping you get a good night’s sleep. (85)

          #16 - Reishi Mushroom Extract

          This mushroom, originally from Asia, has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to boost one’s immune system and to feel less tired. It acts as a tranquillizer, with results similar to the ones produced by benzodiazepines, but without their harmful side effects. (86)

          #17 - Himalayan Crystal Salt

          Also known as the healthiest type of sodium in the world, this salt is packed with minerals that can stabilise your pH levels, regulate your nervous system, and remain calm when you are awake and when you are asleep. (87)

          #18 - Kakadu Plum

          This is a tiny fruit with powerful effects. Packed with nutrients, it is the richest source of vitamin C in the world! And, as stated above, vitamin C is great for lowering stress hormones (88) and unwinding to achieve restful and fast sleep at night.

          What’s a Healthy Sleep Schedule

          You’ve probably heard that all of us should sleep 8 hours every day. But is this true for everyone or is it a myth? How long should I sleep for? To understand this, first, we need to explain how the sleep cycle works. (89) Let’s examine it below:

          Light Sleep

          Also called Stage 1, during this period you’ll feel drowsy as your brain slowly drifts into sleep. There’s not a minimum number of hours you should strive for, although too much sleep is sometimes linked to certain health issues like obesity or depression.

          Deep Sleep

          Deep Sleep encompasses stages 2 and 3. In stage 2, your heart rate slows down and your body temperature lowers, getting you ready for the next phase.

          In stage 3, your brain activity slows down, making awakenings very difficult. This is restorative sleep that takes place approximately an hour after going to bed. During this period, your heart rate and breathing are very slow and your muscles are completely relaxed. These are some other examples of things that happen in your body when you are sleeping deeply:

          • Your memories get consolidated inside your brain;
          • Your tissues and muscles recover;
          • Your metabolism balances itself;
          • Your immune system is boosted;
          • Your gut eliminates toxins.


          REM (or Rapid Eye Movement) is the stage when vivid dreams occur and your brain starts becoming more active. This is one of the most essential types of sleep you should get if you want to be healthy.

          Why Is Deep Sleep Important?

          As stated above, all the stages of sleep are important, but deep sleep, in particular, is essential to be strong and healthy. First, deep sleep helps your body release hormones and other chemicals to repair your tissues and keep your immune system functioning while regulating your metabolism and filling you with energy. (90) Plus, deep sleep is crucial for good cognitive function and the development of your brain (91), as important memories become consolidated and unimportant thoughts are discarded (92). So, getting a good night’s sleep means getting enough deep sleep to be prepared for the next day, both mentally and physically.

          TLDR: How Much Deep Sleep Do You Need?

          The first thing to know is how many hours of sleep are needed by age. Here are some details to consider:

          • Adults should try to sleep from 7 to 9 hours each night. (93) Of these hours, between 13% and 23% should be spent in deep sleep. (94) Of course, this is not usually a choice but, in normal conditions, your body self-regulates so you get the amount of sleep you need. For example, if you suffered an injury, you'll experience more deep sleep so your tissues can recover. (95)
          • Senior adults tend to have less deep sleep than young adults or children, though they still need at least 7 hours of rest each night to be healthy. This happens for a variety of reasons that go from insufficient exposure to natural light (96) to suffering from other health disorders that make them unable to sleep deeply.
          • Babies and small children need a lot more hours of rest than adults. Newborns spend between 14 and 17 hours out of 24 sleeping (with 50% of that time in REM) and as they grow, they need fewer hours. Preschoolers, for example, tend to sleep between 10 and 13 hours while teens rest for 8-10 hours a night. (93)

            How to Increase the Quality of Your Sleep

            If your quality of sleep is poor, you’re not alone: in the past years, people have been sleeping fewer hours and in worse conditions. (97) Here is some advice, supported by research, on how to improve the quality of your sleep without taking medication. Let’s go!

            #1 - Get Exposed to Bright Lights

            … but only during the day! Your body’s circadian rhythm organises all your vital functions, including when you go to sleep and when you wake up. (98) Not surprisingly, the circadian rhythm is affected by bright lights, whether natural or not. Research shows that if you’re exposed to sunlight for at least 2 hours during the day, for example, you’ll regain energy during the day and fall asleep more quickly at night (99). So, get exposed to bright lights for as long as possible to improve the quality of your sleep!

            #2 - No Napping

            Sleeping badly throughout the night can make you feel tempted to take long naps to make up for the lost hours of rest. But this can confuse your internal clock (100) and make you feel like you can’t sleep at night (again!). What is more, research shows that many people end up feeling sleepier during the day when they take a nap longer than 30 minutes (101).

            #3 - Supplement Your Diet With the Right Herbs

            Many natural herbs, spices and other ingredients can help you improve your sleep quality without nasty side effects. Here we present you with some options:

            • Melatonin, a hormone that helps you relax and go to sleep, can be a popular sleep aid often used to treat insomnia (102). It has no serious side or withdrawal effects and it can also help people adjust to new time zones whenever they travel (103). Naturopath and nutritionist Belinda Kirkpatrick actually recommends supporting your natural melatonin levels:

              “Because we’re often staring at a screen, with lights on or with the television, our natural melatonin production can be interrupted. So you may want to try to dim the lights, abandon screens for at least 30-60 minutes before bed”.

              Watch the full video with many other pieces of advice on how to sleep better here!

              For better results, you can support your production of melatonin with these herbs:

            • Valerian root. Research shows that taking around 500 mg of valerian root before going to bed is beneficial to achieve restful sleep. (104)
            • Lavender. 80-160 mg of lavender can also induce calmness and relaxation when you can’, making you fall asleep faster (105).
            • Ginkgo biloba. Although more research is necessary, some studies suggest that 250 mg of ginkgo before sleep can reduce stress, thus helping people who can’t sleep (106).

            #4 - Optimise Your Bedroom

            Many factors can affect the way you sleep at night, including noise, lighting, temperature, and even the furniture you own. If you live in a house or apartment where you can hear heavy traffic noise, then it can cause insomnia, together with many other long-term health problems (107). So, if you’re looking to take your sleep quality to the next level, it’s important to try to minimise noise, dim lights, and clean and tidy the bedroom.

            #5 - Exercise Regularly

            Exercising regularly is not only useful to maintain a healthy weight: it can also improve your homeostatic sleep drive (that is, your desire to go to bed), reducing symptoms of insomnia. This study, for example, shows that doing exercise 2-3 times a week can halve the time you need to fall asleep (108) and can reduce anxiety and heart rate when lying in bed. Just make sure you don’t work out too late in the day, as it can stimulate your body and end up producing an undesired effect of alertness.

            #6 - Don’t Drink Before Going to Bed

            If you want to get the best rest possible, there are some drinks you should avoid:

            • Obviously, try not to consume caffeinated drinks before going to bed, as they can stimulate your nervous system and make it harder to drift off to sleep. Research shows that consuming caffeine up to 5-6 hours before going to bed can affect the way you sleep. (109) Decaffeinated coffee can be your best ally, though, if you don’t want to abandon coffee before bed!
            • Alcohol can also affect the way you sleep, producing apnea, snoring and altering your circadian rhythm (110).

            #7 - Wind Down at the End of the Day

            Pre-sleeping routines are crucial when dealing with insomnia. Relaxation and breathing techniques (111), yoga, listening to calming sounds, reading a book and even getting a good massage (112) have proven to be helpful when winding down at the end of the day and falling asleep.

            Keeping anxiety levels under control is also essential to falling asleep fast (and staying asleep throughout the night!). Our expert naturopath and nutritionist Belinda Kirkpatrick shares some tips on how to calm your anxiety naturally before going to bed:

            “It’s really important to keep our blood sugar levels stable, so make sure to ingest protein, some veggies and a nice complex carbohydrate (brown rice, banana, pumpkin) that can help our bodies produce serotonin, our happiness hormone, and decrease anxiety”.

            Try out different techniques to discover the best one for you!

            #8 - Measure Your Sleep

            Measuring your sleep can be a great way to understand exactly what is happening to you and your sleep cycle. Even if the only truly accurate way to measure your sleep is in a clinical setting that records your brain activity, there are many devices you can easily buy that can give you a lot of useful information about your tossing and turning.

            Most smartwatches, for example, can tell you when you fell asleep, when you slept more deeply or lightly, your level of stress, and even how much light there was in the room at a particular time. Some examples are the Fitbit Sense and Garmin Venu. (113) (114) Of course, though they give you a good ballpark figure of how you slept, they are not exact. So, don’t stress too much over the data they provide. If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder, consult with your doctor to seek appropriate treatment.

            Key Takeaways

            Being up counting sheep every night can be a thing of the past! Tossing and turning to no avail can hurt your well being deeply, making you feel not only tired but also irritable, anxious, stressed, unable to concentrate or communicate properly with others, and more.

            So, what to do when you can’t sleep? In addition to changing certain lifestyle aspects, you can adopt meditation and breathing exercises to relax and unwind before going to bed. Plus, using natural herbs like valerian root or chamomile can do the trick, too! Our Deep Sleep Mode, for example, has a unique combination of 11 natural ingredients that help you get 7 - 9 hours of unbroken sleep every night. Just take 4 pills every night before going to bed and enjoy the most restful sleep you’ve had in months!

            And if you would like to get a tailored assessment of your specific situation, take our FREE quiz and learn more about your sleep habits and possible solutions!


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