Nature’s Insomnia Cures

Insomnia is a miserable condition, and one that is not taken seriously enough. Its effects of your overall well-being and levels of stress can be extremely severe, and evidence suggests that chronic sufferers are more prone to mental health problems than sound sleepers. Sleep disruption can lead to a host of serious conditions, including lowered immune system function. It has been demonstrated that child brain development is particularly adversely affected by lack of sleep, especially in the teenage years, when connections between brain synapses are still being formed. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and repair themselves, and enables the brain to make sense of our daily lives as it processes the experiences we have during our waking hours. Dreams act as an important form of mental health regulation, which keep us balanced and anxiety-free.

Worrying New Research

It’s easy to find a drug addiction treatment center, but almost impossible to find a sleep clinic. Some babies and young children with severe sleep disturbance patterns can get help in ‘Baby Sleep Clinics’, but there is no similar provision for adults. A new report indicates a link between the use of sleeping pills an early death. In the light of this, doctors are less and less willing to prescribe medications, and more likely to suggest natural cures for insomnia. The US based research scientists behind the ground-breaking report, the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California, discovered that people prescribed these sleeping pills and other hypnotics were 4.6 times more likely to die during a 2.5-year period compared to those not on the drugs.

So it’s over to sufferers to treat themselves the natural way, and luckily there are several useful weapons in the armoury to help.

Herbal Help

There is the obvious and well-worn route of herbal sedation and sleeping aids, such as Valerian. Another herb favoured by practitioners is Chamomile, either as a tincture or as a tea. Chamomile tea taken an hour or so before bed does seem highly effective when combined with a regular bedtime routine. Chamomile tea is known to increase levels of glycine in the body, an amino acid which is shown to relieve muscular tensions and spasms. It is also a nerve relaxant. You can add Hops to your Chamomile tea mix for extra relaxing results.

Passion Flower tea is another ancient cure for insomnia, and was a favourite of the Aztecs. It has sedative and pain-relieving properties. You can make your own tea, or take 30 to 60 drops of Passion Flower tincture about an hour before retiring to bed.

Other herbs which have been shown to aid restfulness and help sleep are Lettuce, Lavender, Kava Kava, Celery and Catnip. There is a host of wonderful medicinal herbs out there to help crack the problem, so don’t be afraid to try a few and see what works for you.

Cool It

By heating your bedroom and wrapping yourself in blankets you could be making things worse. A new field of research that offers help is the study undertaken by Flinders University in Australia. They managed to establish a clear link between core body temperature and insomnia. Doctors demonstrated that insomniacs generally have a higher core body temperature than sound sleepers, which is associated with higher levels of mental arousal. Clearly, this is not a recipe for sound sleep. Researchers established that the optimum temperature for your bedroom is between 60 and 65 F. You could try opening a window, turning off the heating and having a cool shower before bed to cool yourself. Some manufacturers are making pillows which are made of endothermic gel – the same type of material used in laptop cooling mats. The gel draws heat away from the body and absorbs it, keeping your head cool and helping sleep. You could try this, or try just sleeping under a sheet rather than a duvet or blanket. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Good Habits

Doctors emphasise the importance of good ‘sleep hygiene’, and this is a great place to start. Go to bed at the same time every night. Don’t drink caffeine in the evening. Close your curtains, don’t stimulate your mind too much in the evening. Turn off your computer. Try eating tryptophan rich foods before bed, or drinking a glass of warm milk, which contains natural sedatives.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. George Grant, Ph.D., I.M.D. Specialist in Nutrition, Stress and Biofeedback