So many people have problems sleeping, whether it’s getting to sleep, waking during the night or having vivid crazy dreams. As anyone who has ever experienced a poor nights sleep knows, the impact shows up the next day with reduced concentration, lethargy, and fragile emotions. But there are effective natural remedies to help you get a good nights sleep.
The body requires sleep just as it does water, food and oxygen in order to function. Without sleep we would literally go crazy. When insomnia is long term (more than 3-4 weeks) it can have a major impact on your health, leading to memory problems, depression, irritability, with an increased risk of heart disease.
Insomnia, or sleeplessness, can be either an inability to fall asleep or waking up through the night before the expected waking time.
Tossing and turning for hours on end, worrying about not being able to get to sleep, or being unable to switch off can be very frustrating, and can even worsen the insomnia. The more you try to sleep, the more frustrated you get and the harder sleep becomes.
For many people insomnia is an ongoing issue that has some pretty big repercussions on their life. While it can be caused by many things, sleeplessness is often the result of poor sleep behaviour. These habits sometimes result from patterns established during childhood.
CAUSES OF SLEEPLESSNESS
There are quite a number of poor lifestyle habits that can actually be the cause or sleeplessness, or else worsen it. Here are a few that you may need to address:
- Going to bed at different times each night
- Daytime napping
- Poor sleeping environment, such as too much noise or light – your bedroom should be a ‘haven of calm’
- Spending too much time in bed while you are still awake
- Working evening or night shifts
- Not getting enough exercise
- Using the television, computer, or smartphone in bed
- Worrying about not being able to get to sleep can worsen the insomnia
The use of some medications and drugs may also affect sleep.
- Alcohol for instance may help you fall asleep initially but generally leads to waking up through the night.
- Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, especially when it’s drunk later in the day.
- There are a number of medications, including cold medicines and diet pills that can cause poor sleep. Be very careful about self-prescribing unless you know exactly what the effects of what you are taking are. This also applies to some herbs and supplements which can lead to insomnia.
- Heavy smoking can be a problem.
- When you take some drugs over an extended period they can have a reduced effect.
In addition to lifestyle habits there are a number of other physical, social, and mental health issues that can affect sleep patterns. These include:
- anxiety disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- certain medical conditions such as thyroid disease
- feeling sad or depressed
- physical pain or discomfort
- stress whether it is short-term or long-term.
However sometimes there is just no obvious reason for sleeplessness.
We have our own inbuilt body clock called the circadian rhythm, that regulates our sleep patterns. This is what makes us fall asleep at night and wake up again the next morning. The body clock is easily thrown out by overseas flying, rotating shift work, or even a few late nights. When your body clock gets disrupted you experience symptoms like jet lag.
Taking sleeping pills to help you sleep often leaves you with a ‘hangover’ effect. This is something you can avoid by using natural cures instead of sleeping pills.
For many the prospect of sleeping like a baby, anywhere, anytime seems like a remote daydream. But there are some natural remedies with proven success that may offer relief for insomnia.
RESET YOUR BODY CLOCK NATURALLY
There are effective natural ways to reset the body clock so you can get back to good sleeping patterns. Here are a few that have proven success.
The pineal gland releases the hormone melatonin which helps us relax so we can fall asleep. Melatonin is well-known for its ability to rebalance your body clock, and is often used to treat jet lag. It’s released in the absence of light. But we need to spend time in daylight to make enough melatonin in the first place. This is why it’s important you spend time outside after a long-haul flight. Taking a melatonin supplement can help to reset the body clock. Melatonin is made from the neurotransmitter seratonin. So if you prefer to use food as medicine you can address melatonin deficiency with foods that boost serotonin. Some are raw cacao, magnesium, fish oils and herbal tea containing hops, chamomile, ashwaganda and lemon balm.
Homeopathy has a marvelous history treating insomnia. There are many Homeopathic remedies that reset the body’s sleep patterns and calm your mind for restful sleep. While combination mixes are available, homeopathics act deeper and last longer when they’re prescribed individually. Consult your Homeopath, who selects remedies to suit your individual insomnia symptoms.
Some that a Homeopathic practitioner may consider for insomnia are:
- Arsenicum Album – useful when anxiety, fear, or worry prevents sleep
- Coffea – great when your thoughts are too active or you’re excited about a surprise, or good or bad news
- Nux-vomica – when very irritable, waking between 2-4am with racing thoughts only to fall asleep again about daybreak, with much stress caused by overstudy or work
- Ignatia – sleepless after disappointment or grief
- Passiflora – for restless sleeplessness with exhaustion
To choose between these remedies and many others requires examining the complete symptom picture. It would depend on all the symptoms you were experiencing apart from these few mentioned. Remedies need to be selected and taken according to homeopathic principles so consult your homeopath.
Some herbs that are very useful to induce sleep. Valerian root is known and often used for sleep problems. It is quite powerful and often taken when changing time zones for fast results. Valerian is useful when you have difficulty staying asleep. Some people however get the opposite effect from valerian and can get hyped-up after taking it.
Valerian works well when combined with Passionflower which helps you to fall asleep initially.
Kava is useful for short-term relief. It is useful to relieve anxiety in the moment.
Scullcap is great when you are very hyped-up and just can’t slow down. Or take it when experiencing anxiety and are emotionally stressed, and you can use it for longer periods.
Using Essential Oils can help bring on sleep. While there are a number of oils that induce sleep, lavender has long been recognized as being the ‘Queen of Calm’. Lavender essential oil will effectively calm down overwrought nervous systems. Add a few drops to a warm bath before bed. Or put some onto a cotton ball under the pillow which should bring on sleep.
SETTING A PERFECT SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Make sure your sleeping environment is calm and serene. The key is to SWITCH OFF. Leave your worries at the bedroom door.
Switch off all gadgets – phones (put them in flight mode), iPad, laptop, TV etc.
Take some time to settle down and relax. Set aside 30 minutes before bed as ‘unwind and de-stress time’. Read a good book, write your journal, or listen to soft music. Do anything that you find relaxes you and does not involve an electronic gadget. Remember, exposure to artificial light (electronics) before going to bed increases your alertness and suppresses melatonin. So it will keep you awake.
So here’s to a good nights sleep.
What are some of the ways you deal with sleeplessness?
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.