Before we get into the natural sleep aids which are available, here is a little review of the term “Insomnia”. Insomnia is defined as inadequate or poor-quality sleep, and is not determined by how many hours of sleep you get, or how long it takes to get to sleep. This condition is often caused by any number of reasons, including: difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning and sleep which provides no refreshment or renewed energy.
Insomnia causes problems during the day, such as lack of energy or tiredness, inability to concentrate, and irritability. Transient Insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. If these episodes occur from time to time, the condition is said to be intermittent. Chronic Insomnia happens nearly every night and lasts a month or more.
As stated in previous articles, insomnia can be caused by various physical conditions and also by any number of life influences. You can go back and read the previous two articles to find out what some of these are.
Some Natural Herbal and Enzyme Helps
It is important to realize that not all herbals react exactly the same in all individuals and situations. Those included here are only suggestions, taken from real life situations and you should be cautious when trying anything for yourself. Always discuss your plans with your doctor and take note of any physical or emotional changes. The following information reflects some reports by various individuals.
VALERIAN: often seems to ease tension, calm anxiety, and level out the emotions, all of which will tend to aid sleep. Some people have reported not feeling mentally clear when Valerian was used for the purpose of getting to sleep.
PASSION FLOWER INCENSE: The scent of this incense has been reported to aid sleep, and helps to calm and soothe the emotions.
TEA of valerian, chamomile, and other herbs known for their effect on sleep, often helps ensure longer periods of sleep during the night. Tea doesn’t seem to be very effective however, for helping one to fall asleep.
GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) has been known to work with some people. When it works though, it often gives you vivid dreams.
MASSAGE, and AROMATHERAPY using lavender oil are both good aids for calming jangling nerves and emotional stress. They help to relax and relieve the general tightness associated with occasional stress.
MELATONIN, has a sleep-inducing effect but ordinarily doesn’t last long enough to maintain sleep throughout the night. This product helped me at first, but with increased problems from my medical conditions, it no longer seems effective. Many have reported great results with it, however.
5-HTP: a natural and safe alternative to L-Tryptophan is designed to regulate brain serotonin levels and is a compound synthesized in the body from the amino acid Tryptophan. It is ten times more active than L-Tryptophan and is the immediate precursor to serotonin (5-Hydroxy typtamine or 5-HT) which is found in the brain, blood platelets, and duodenal mucosa cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Since serotonin is found in the brain and central nervous system it has many implications on mood, behavior and sleep patterns and many have found it very helpful for improved emotional well being and better sleep.
Needless to say, you should see your health care professional for the best treatment for persistent insomnia. In the mean time, a few non-medical things you might try are:
ADOPT A REGULAR ROUTINE: Get up and go to bed at the same times each morning and night. Stretch: When you go to bed, stretch your legs and arms as far as possible and it seems to work within 15 minutes.
PROPER ROOM TEMPERATURE: It seems to be a common fact that it is easier to sleep in cooler temperatures. Turning the thermostat to 60 degrees often helps.
TRICK YOURSELF: Fall asleep on the couch during a good movie.
READ: One way many tell me they fall to sleep is to go to bed with an agonizingly, boring book.
STOP THINKING: Clear your mind as much as possible.
THINK ABOUT PROBLEMS: Remember those things you’ve been putting off because you don’t want to think about them? Trying to solve them at night might exhaust you, though this isn’t usually a good idea!
LISTEN TO TAPES: I have used some relaxation tapes to help me relax and fall asleep. Both the normal and subliminal recordings have helped at different times.
CAFFEINE, Yes or No? Caffeine is quite often a culprit in lack of sleep. Cutting this substance out of your diet is a good thing to try. However, some people seem to need it. What’s the moral here? Whatever works, use it! We’re all different and what works for one may not work for all.