Do you struggle to fall asleep even if you are very tired? Or wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake for hours, thinking obsessively and anxiously watching the clock? Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, which is characterized by having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. It takes a toll on your physical health and emotional health.
beautiful resting woman cover white blanket
Common causes of insomnia
  • Psychological problems: depression, anxiety, chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.
  • Medications: antidepressants; pain control medications that contain caffeine, such as Midol and Excedrin; diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone medication
  • Medical problems: asthma, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, chronic pain, etc.
    • A glass of warm milk 15-20 minutes before going to bed can encourage drowsiness. Dairy products contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes sleep. Research shows that eating carbohydrates and protein at the same time makes tryptophan more available to the brain. For example, drinking milk with carbohydrate rich foods, such as an apple or banana may help promote relaxation. In addition, milk contains calcium. Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing hormone-melatonin, thus making dairy products more appealing as a sleeping inducing food.
    • Take your dinner at least 3 hours ahead of your bed time. Insomnia is often aggravated by digestive problems. Late dinners or snacks before bed can activate your digestive system and keep you up at night. Especially if you are suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) or heartburn, and this can make your symptoms even worse. Certainly you don’t want to overwhelm your bladder with excessive drinks right before you go to bed, you will end up frequent visits to the bathroom all night.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant; the effect from caffeine can last for quite a few hours. The sedative effect of alcohol may induce your sleep after the consumption, but it leads to poor sleep quality with frequent arousals. In addition, alcohol is a diuretic; it may increase your visits to the bathroom at night.
  • Research has shown that magnesium is a powerful relaxation mineral[3]. So, include magnesium rich foods in your diet, Sources of magnesium are dark leafy greens such as spinach, nuts and seeds especially pumpkin seeds, fish, beans and lentils, avocados, dry fruits such as figs, bananas and dark chocolate.


Aromatherapy Bath time: Bathing is a wonderful way to relax, adding Lavender, Roman chamomile or Clary sage essential oil to the bath helps relax muscles which will help induce sleep. A relaxation massage with these oils will help you feel more relaxed and easy to sleep. An easy way is to put a few drops of these essential oils on your pillow before you go to bed, the fragrant smell released from these essential oils will encourage your sleep. Alternatively, a sachet of lavender seeds near your pillow will have the same effect.

Environment and behavior control

  • A quiet and dark bedroom with comfortable temperature will help improve the quality of your sleep. Try dark color curtains if you have a big window in your bed room or a sleep mask to block out light when you sleep.
  • Regular sleep schedule even on weekend will help support your biological clock to set up a regular sleep rhythm.
  • A short nap no more than half an hour in the middle of the day is beneficial to your health, but a long nap during the day may affect your sleep at night.
  • If you have a hard time falling asleep, don’t try to force yourself to sleep. You mind may be occupied with negative thoughts, which makes it even more difficult to sleep. Read, listen to relaxation music, or get up to have a warm glass of milk with a piece of fruit and do some relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, to relax your mind and body. Sleep comes more easily after your body and mind relaxes completely.
  • Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and duration. However, intense exercise close to bed can increase adrenaline-fight to fight hormone levels and affect your sleep, because it takes hours for the adrenaline hormone back to normal level. Try to finish vigorous exercise at least three hours before you go to bed.
  • Control your thoughts. Most people believe they have little control over their sleep. Others belief that spending more time in bed will increase their sleep time. In fact, if you stay awake in your bed at night, it may create more negative thoughts in your mind and actually sabotage your sleep.



    • Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique for managing stress and achieving a deep state of relaxation. It involves Tensing and releasing various muscle groups throughout the body and produces a state of relaxation.
    • Meditation is a safe and simple way to reduce stress and relax your body and mind in a deep level. It is used to quiet thought process and relaxes the physical body, both are important to achieve a good night sleep.
  • Yoga combines deep breathing, meditation and stretching. It helps improve physical strength and flexibility, improve breathing and reduce stress. A Harvard study found that daily yoga for eight weeks improved total sleep time and reduced the time to fall asleep[5].
  • Visualization or guided imagery involves imagining a relaxing scene, in which you feel peaceful and relaxed. You can try it in bed before you sleep. Imagine you are walking on the beach; feeling relaxed and at ease…Involve all your senses. As you are enjoying the feeling of deep relaxation, slowly it brings you to your restful place.
  • Massage has lots of health benefits, including relaxation, reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

Nutritional Supplements

  • Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. The pineal gland in the brain produces serotonin and then it is converted into melatonin at night when exposure to light decreases. In fact, light affects how much melatonin your body produces. Melatonin is a popular remedy to help people fall asleep when the sleep cycle has been interrupted, such as shift work or jet lag. Some experts caution that people with serious illnesses, pregnant and nursing women should not use melatonin, check with your doctor about taking them.Tart cherry has the highest amount of natural melatonin among all food groups.For more information about melatonin content in different food, you can check Tart cherry
  • Valerian is an herb with mild sedative effects that may help improve your sleep[2]. However, evidence from clinical studies of the efficacy of valerian in treating insomnia is inconclusive, more research is needed.
  • Chamomile is an annual flowering plant that has been used for as a natural remedy for health problems, including sleep disorders and anxiety. It is another commonly used herb for the treatment of insomnia. However, more research is needed to prove its effectiveness. The FDA considers chamomile to be safe and it has no known adverse effects.
  • Magnesium and Calcium are natural sedatives. Calcium and magnesium are needed to relax muscles and nervous system. Oral magnesium supplementation may help improve relieve the symptoms of insomnia.
  • Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, it is traditionally considered as a “tonic herb” for a number of health benefits, including reducing stress and inducing sleep.
  • L-Theanine has been well researched and has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a restful sleep. At typical dosages of 100-200 mg, L-theanine does not act as a sedative, but it may improve sleep quality[7].
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical that the body makes from tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid from foods, the chemical is then changed into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and behavior. 5-HTP dietary supplements help raise serotonin levels in the brain. Since serotonin has a calming effect on the brain, 5-HTP may have a positive effect on sleep. The recommended dosage is 50 to 100 mg[7].

Alternative medicine

  • Acupuncture is a set of procedures involving penetration of the skin with needles to stimulate certain points on the body. Researches showed acupuncture may help with insomnia[8]. A University of Pittsburgh analysis concluded that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for insomnia.
  • Hypnotherapy is an immediate and effective tool for changing beliefs and/or behaviors. It can help you access your subconscious mind through deep relaxation and visualization techniques. It creates the belief that you will fall asleep and so it does because the subconscious mind does not know the difference between the reality and an imagination[9].
This hypnosis recording uses powerful brainwave technology and embeds the hypnosis recording in Theta brain wave background music, along with advanced hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) techniques such as Metaphor, anchoring and future pacing. It helps you to overcome insomnia easily and quickly!


  8. Sjoling M et al, Auricular acupuncture versus sham acupuncture in the treatment of women who have insomnia. J Altern Complement Med, 14; 2008.

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”~ Thomas Dekker

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About the author: Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu

As a Holistic Health Practitioner, Registered Dietitian, TCM Practitioner, Energy Healer, Master Hypnotist, Reiki Master, Advanced Theta Healing Practitioner, Author and Speaker, Lucy Liu, the founder of, has gained a good reputation in holistic health after many years of serving patients and clients as a holistic health practitioner. Lucy has developed a unique and comprehensive approach, which combines Western Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Energy Medicine, and Alternative Medicine together, to help others achieve optimal health by creating harmony between the body, mind, and spirit, and maintain long-term success for healthy lifestyle changes.
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Dietary interventions for insomnia