We’ve all suffered an occasional sleepless night, but when one sleepless night turns into several, we begin to suffer the effects of chronic sleep loss. Sometimes sleeplessness can be caused by a medical condition such as heart disease, sleep apnea, depression, hot flashes and others, so it’s important to consult with your doctor if you are having difficulty sleeping, but there are several natural remedies you can try to help you with insomnia, also. Many of these can be used in concert with treatments that your doctor suggests or alone. If you are using herbal remedies, be sure that they will not have a negative effect on any medication that you may be taking.
• Melatonin – This is a popular supplement for helping with sleeplessness, and works well for people with jet lag or shift workers whose sleep/wake cycle has been disturbed. Melatonin works to help the body feel sleepy when light exposure decreases. People who are pregnant, nursing or have depression, schizophrenia or autoimmune diseases shouldn’t take it.
• Valerian – Valerian has long been used as a sleep aid. It works well for some people and not as well for others. How it works isn’t yet known, but it is not believed to be addictive and doesn’t cause grogginess in the morning. It shouldn’t be taken with any other medications or alcohol or by people with liver disease, or before or after surgery.
• Sleep Inducing Teas – There are several teas that are composed of herbal formulas to help induce sleep available.
• Relaxation Techniques – Using relaxation techniques is one of the best natural ways to help you get a good night’s sleep. You can use deep cleansing breathing, meditation, visualization or a calm and relaxing scene, or simple yoga moves to calm and ready the body and mind for a good rest.
• Exercise – Getting regular exercise every day will help you sleep better. Exercise releases muscle tension and also helps to relax your mind. Just don’t do any intense exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
• Eat a Sleep Healthy Diet – Less caffeine (or better yet, no caffeine), and less sugar in your regular diet will help your body stay calm and relaxed and also keep your blood sugar levels on a more even keel. You can also eat foods containing tryptophan late in the day or before bedtime. Tryptophan helps your body produce melatonin, and can be found in turkey, cheddar cheese, chicken, whole grains, salmon, bananas and sunflower seeds. Magnesium rich foods such as legumes, almonds, dark leafy vegetables and cashews also help sleep.
• Try Aromatherapy – English lavender has been used for ages to help relax and calm. It’s been known to lengthen sleep time and help people feel more refreshed upon waking. You can use lavender scented sachets, bath gel or oil, lotions or heat lavender essential oil in a diffuser. Other aromatherapy scents that are thought to help sleep are ylang ylang and chamomile.
• Music/Sound – Some of us sleep better with a bit of sound. Often gentle, soft, slow music or the sounds of a burbling stream or ocean waves lull us to sleep and keep us there. You can find machines that play nature sounds while you are falling asleep and that have an automatic shut-off. There are lots of good “sleep” CDs on the market too.
Sleep is as important to health as the food we eat and proper exercise. If you are having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep on a regular basis, see your doctor and try some of these sleep inducing remedies as a way to get back on the right track sleep-wise.