What started off as being a typical psychiatric appointment turned into an answer for a chronic condition. I knew I had always had uncontrollable anxiety, but little did I know that I had insomnia as well.

Yes, I wasn't the best sleeper, but I thought what I experienced was normal. I brought up to my doctor how I kept waking up every night at the same time and had trouble sleeping in. He then asked if I had trouble falling asleep and I admitted that sometimes I did. Little did I know that these three conditions are all associated with insomnia and I had been living with it all my life. 

There I was at 18 years old trying to connect the dots on how it never occurred to me that I had been living through sleepless nights without even questioning if something was wrong with me. I had been used to always being fatigued and walking around with a cloudy head that I just assumed it was normal. I asked my doctor what I could possibly do to ensure a better sleep and he gave me a few natural remedies. 

1. Read Before Bed

Woman reads a book on a wooden desk, by Thought Catalog | Unsplash

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He told me to find, "an activity that is mildly pleasant and not very stimulating." I had tried coloring, but I would get too stressed about coloring within the lines (I'm 12-year-old, I know). Instead, I found myself walking to my campus library the next day and picking out as many light and happy books I could find. After numerous nights of getting into a routine of reading for an hour before bed, my body started to learn that when I read, that meant I was preparing for sleep. The melatonin in my body naturally would start producing during this time, which made it easier to fall asleep at night. 

2. Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical in your body. Melatonin production occurs when your body is getting ready for bed. Traditionally, melatonin is recommended for when you're traveling into different time zones to adjust your sleep cycle. However, my doctor recommended I try 5 mg of a melatonin supplement to help regulate my sleep cycle.

3. Omega 3  

My doctor also recommended I take an Omega 3 supplement every day for better brain health and sleep. Some experiments have shown that people who increase their intake of Omega 3 have fewer sleep disturbances, a major symptom of insomnia. A more natural way to get more Omega 3s is to eat more fish, nuts and seeds.

4. Use an Actual Alarm Clock

Everyone knows how bad it is to be on your phone before bed. The light decreases melatonin production and confuses your body on when it's actually time to sleep. Rather than relying on your phone as a clock, get an alarm clock. Every time you check the time on your phone in the middle of the night, your body is jolted awake by its blinding light. It is crucial for people with insomnia to leave their phone away from their beds and use an alarm clock as a quick way of checking the time instead. 

5. Beds Are For Sleep

My doctor told me numerous times to stay out of bed unless I was sleeping. Although this is extremely difficult in a tiny dorm room like mine, when you do work or watch TV in your bed during the day, it confuses your body on when you actually want to go to sleep. By refusing to get into bed until you're actually tired, your body understands that it should only produce melatonin when you lay your head down on your pillows. 

Dealing with insomnia can be annoying but there are definitely ways to cope with it. With the support of my doctors and family, insomnia has turned from being a burden to just being part of my normal day.