We’ve all heard of the most common ways to help you sleep. However, with chronic insomnia, you will need to treat the underlying anxiety surrounding sleep.
There are many methods to get your worries out during the day, and I wanted to highlight 5 unconventional ways to help you sleep so you have the best chance to get a good night’s rest. The solutions below are borrowed from customs all over the world and might seem strange. Keep in mind though that they have helped others alleviate anxiety associated with chronic insomnia so I encourage you to look into anything that piques your interest. You never know what might make you feel better!
We’ll start off easy with the alternative suggestions. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, and tense, massage therapy is great. Deep tissue massage (or a Swedish massage if you want a more relaxing massage rather than ‘work the knots out’ massage) will relax your body. Just as a tense mind can cause a tense body, a relaxed body can signal your mind to relax too.
I go to massage therapy once per month for relaxation and to prevent muscle tension, and would highly recommend it to anyone as part of their overall health plan.
Now we’re getting into the alternative help you sleep stuff!
I have tried everything under the sun for ways to help me sleep, including hypnotherapy. So I found a lady on Groupon and went for it.
I discussed with her why I was there (I was unable to sleep) and was hoping that she could speak to my unconscious mind to try and figure that out.
As a side note, hypnotherapists are NOT psychologists. Psychologists must have a certain level of education and register with a professional body. Hypnotherapists are not required to be certified (in Canada). However, if you do try one I recommend someone who is registered with the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists. There are hypnotists that specialize in curing insomnia, too.
Before our session, the hypnotherapist explained to me that I was always in control. I felt better since I’ve seen people doing all sorts of strange things at public performances. She explained how I would relax and I could have vivid images flash in my mind or feel sensations.
I’m not sure if all hypnotherapy sessions are like this, but it was really more like a guided meditation. She had me visualize certain things like the colour that I was feeling, ‘painting’ my body with that colour and then washing it off. After the session, I felt more relaxed and I actually did sleep well that night.
If you do not want to pay for hypnotherapy, you can try listening to the many free hypnotherapy videos on Youtube. Here is a video that has helped me sleep a few times:
Reiki is a healing technique that was developed in Japan about 100 years ago. It’s based on the principle that the reiki master can “…channel energy to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being” (source). The reiki master transfers “universal energy” through their palms to the patient in order to encourage physical, emotional, and mental healing. The reiki master does not typically touch you to “move energy”.
I have tried reiki therapy 3 times. It didn’t solve chronic insomnia, but I did feel more relaxed after each session and it did help me sleep. I would recommend trying it.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing practices that was developed thousands of years ago in India. It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
In Ayurveda, insomnia is known as Anidra. According to the Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas (energies) that are responsible for insomnia are Tarpak Kapha, Sadhak Pitta or Prana Vata.
Tarpak Kapha is a sub-dosha of Kapha (Water). It nourishes the brain cells and facilitates a good night’s sleep. Imbalance of this dosha causes poor nourishment of brain cells, leading to Insomnia.
Sadhak Pitta is a sub-dosha of Pitta (Fire) and is located in the heart. It controls emotions, desires, decisiveness, and spirituality. Its imbalance makes a person demanding and a workaholic, thereby leading to situations that may cause lack of sleep.
Prana Vata is a sub-dosha of Vata (Air). It is linked to insomnia, worry, anxiety, and problems like depression. Prana Vata makes the nervous system sensitive; this sensitive nervous system coupled with an aggravated Prana Vata lead to insomnia.
Ayurveda states that insomnia is due to malnutrition, emotional imbalance, or anxiety. Makes sense! While the western world treats insomnia with prescription drugs, Ayurveda suggests the following home remedies to help you sleep:
- Rub oil on your scalp and the soles of the feet before going to bed. Use sesame oil, jasmine oil, or coconut oil and massage gently for a few minutes.
- Drink 1 cup of warm almond milk before going to bed
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cumin on a sliced banana. Eat at night regularly.
Reflexology goes back to ancient Egypt where inscriptions have been found of the practice in a tomb. Reflexology is the application of pressure to specific areas on the feet, hands, or ears. The pressure points correspond to different organs and body systems, and pressing them has been said to be beneficial to organ functioning and improving overall health.
When it comes to chronic insomnia, you may be under a lot of stress from the insomnia itself or from whatever is causing your insomnia. Stress can then cause many of your organs to go into overdrive, and areas of your body to become tense. Reflexology works on the trigger point to help ease these points of tension and help you sleep.
Whether or not you believe in the theory behind reflexology, I found it quite relaxing to have my hands and feet massaged and recommend you try it out.