7 Home Remedies That Fight Insomnia

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Long before over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications were readily available, people used home remedies to deal with insomnia. Their success may vary from person to person, but here are some favorite remedies of the past, many of which are still used today.

cumin seeds in a wood spoon

Cumin seeds

This spice has many medicinal properties, including helping to induce sleep. Mix together a mashed banana and one teaspoon of ground cumin seeds and eat before bed. Alternatively, you can make cumin tea by heating one teaspoon of the seeds over low heat for five to 10 seconds, then adding one cup of water. Bring the water and seeds to a boil, remove and steep for five minutes. Strain and drink.

nutmeg nuts and grind


This spice is known to work as a natural sleep aid because it has sedative properties. To use, add 1/8 of a teaspoon to a mug of warm milk and drink before you go to bed. It can also be mixed into fruit juice or plain water.

saffron on wood spoon


This herb has mild sedative properties and is commonly used to treat insomnia. Place two strands in a cup of warm milk or decaffeinated tea. Let it steep for a few minutes, then drink before bed.



Most people are unaware that eating a banana before bed can combat insomnia. Bananas contain tryptophan, which aids in sleep. They also contain minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, which may also help with sleep.

honey and honey comb


Meals should be consumed two to three hours before bedtime. However, consuming sugar around half an hour before bedtime can have a sedative quality. But don't go overboard! To combat insomnia, simply add 1 tablespoon of honey to decaffeinated tea or warm milk before bed.

filled tub with bubbles

Hot bath

Taking a hot bath is slowly becoming a luxury in today’s faced-paced world. However, hot baths were considered the first thing to do to treat insomnia generations ago. Soaking in a hot tub for 20 to 30 minutes prior to bedtime raises your body temperature. As your body cools down after, it relaxes you, preparing the body for sleep. For an added sleep boost, sip warm milk or decaffeinated tea while you soak. Avoid using your computer or other bright lights and noises before trying to sleep.

rocking chair on porch

Rock yourself

Babies have been rocked since the beginning of time to help them fall asleep. But science has shown that rocking doesn’t just benefit babies; it helps adults sleep, too. A rocking motion helps synchronize the brain for sleep. The next time insomnia gets a grip on you, find a rocking chair, listen to some soothing music, and sleep may come quicker.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.