For years I’ve taken sleep for granted, but now that it alludes me and I think back to when I was much younger, I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t sleep. To be totally truthful, I had a family reputation of being able to sleep through anything and falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Since hitting my menopausal years, I just can’t seem to sleep anymore, I know that it is connected to a decline in hormones. I thought that once I started taking hormone replacement my body would rebalance its self and glorious sleep would return, but it hasn’t. You really don’t appreciate the renewing qualities of this vital process until you are sleep deprived. So I started looking for something to help me sleep but I don’t want to feel hung over in the morning or feel weird after taking it or have to worry about becoming addicted. In my quest to get, good, quality sleep I started testing out allot of different products and techniques to find a great alternative that’s safe and all natural. Here are some of the things that I use or have tried:
- Exercise or yoga – regular exercise can improve your sleep pattern. Determine the best time to exercise for your body type. According to the Mayo Clinic, late-day exercise for some people can contribute to insomnia.
- Take a hot bath – 90 to 120 minutes before bed in sage or calendula
- Listen to music – it produces a relaxation response
- Drink milk – it’s loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep
- Lose weight – It can contribute to insomnia and restless sleeping, also cause disorders like sleep apnea and snoring.
- Tea, herbs & hormones – can really help with sleeplessness, and can help break the cycle with prescription drugs or over the counter sleep aids that have allot of side effects.
Chamomile is probably one the best known herbal teas that help you sleep and promote relaxation before bed. Chamomile makes a gentle and effective sleep tea because it contains the amino acid glycine, which acts as a nerve relaxant and mild sedative. In England, using chamomile tea to sleep has been a folk remedy since at least the Middle Ages! Chamomile tea is one of the best relaxing teas to bring on a good, calming night of rest, and it tastes great, too!
Hops, a mild sedative herb which you might recognize as a main ingredient in beer. While I don’t recommend drinking beer before bed (alcohol can make you drowsy, but it ultimately leads to poor quality sleep), hops brewed in a sleep tea with other rest-promoting herbs can have a noticeable sedative effect for people seeking quicker onset of sleep.
Passionflower is a plant native to South America which is used as a relaxant and anxiolytic. If you’re trying to increase vivid dreams, passionflower can have a synergistic effect when brewed in combination with other relaxing herbs. An infusion of passionflower with St. John’s Wort, hops and valerian root produces a very calming herbal tea for sleeping that’s also quite tasty. People who dream will often use passionflower as a potentiator for other herbs with specific calming or dream-promoting effects.
Kava kava may be the best plant medicine for quieting that inner voice that keeps us awake at night, and thus among the best tea that helps you sleep. The kavalactones in this herb promote calm, ease stress, and work to promote deep sleep, which can be useful for people with disrupted or low quality sleep. Kava kava’s calming qualities also help reduce anxiety and can cut down on the duration and intensity of mild panic attacks. If you’re interested in trying out kava’s stress-busting abilities for yourself, it is possible to obtain kava kava in many different forms, from the whole dried root to instant drink mixes and capsules. Try taking kava about 30-60 minutes before bed to get the most out of kava’s sleep-inducing powers.
Valarian Root, studies have suggested that valerian root is one of the best natural insomnia cures available. What makes it superior to other natural and pharmaceutical remedies? For one thing, unlike other sleep medication, valerian is totally non-toxic. And it does not result in impaired ability to drive or operate machinery. For many persons, those are big advantages.
Certain double-blind studies have found that valerian root is a very effective sedative for insomnia patients. More importantly, it was found that using valerian improved the quality of sleep, which puts it well ahead of some other sleep remedies.
Unlike certain pharmaceutical formulations, valerian does not result in lethargy the next day.
- Try Natural Hormones & Hormone Releasers
Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter,
chemicals that facilitate communication between nerve cells. GABA, which is
produced by the brain, suppresses nerve impulses related to stress and anxiety.
In a healthy, well-nourished person, the brain produces sufficient amounts of
However, since many people eat poor diets and are over-exposed to
environmental toxins, GABA levels may fall below optimum amounts. A low level of
GABA is associated with a range of problems, including anxiety, depression,
irritability and sleeplessness. Gaba is a mild natural tranqualizer that does not cause sedation or drowsiness but promotes relaxation, and can be taken with other natural tranquilizers like Valarian Root and Kava Kava. Recommended dosage 500-1000 mg before bedtime.
Melatonin is a very important hormone that is secreted naturally by the human body. It’s primary function is helping to keep our circadian rhythms – or body clocks – in check. When those clocks get out of whack, insomnia is a common result. Many people who struggle with insomnia find themselves eager to try sleep aids – natural sleep aids that include melatonin have been effective in managing the symptoms of insomnia.
The link between melatonin and insomnia seems to become stronger and stronger with every passing years, as more and more studies show a connection between the two. Interestingly, insomnia is much more common in older people – and levels of melatonin naturally begin to decline with age. If you suffer from insomnia, you should definitely look into melatonin and find out more about what it can do for you and always consult your physician before starting any new vitamin or herb. Suggested dosage 1.5 to 5 mg.
5-HTP is compound produced by the body from tryptophan. It is naturally found in food and also most commonly extracted from the seeds of the Griffonia plant. Europeans have used 5-HTP for decades as a approved treatment for depression, sleep problems & weight loss.
Clinical trials show that 5-HTP is a safe, natural way to boost the brain serotonin levels. Use of 5-HTP has been shown to produce results equal to or better than those of standard synthetic drugs used in the problems arising from serotonin deficiency syndrome.
5- HTP provides the quickest, most effective, and most consistent overall results in treating insomnia. It is an effective alternative for dealing with sleep problems in a safe and natural way compared to sleep medicines. 5-HTP improves the quality of sleep. More importantly, clinical studies show that 5- HTP is also useful in the treatment of sleep disorders other than insomnia. 5-HTP can up to 30 days to start working so be patient and don’t give up. Suggested dosage 100-300 mg, 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
- Change your bedtime routine
It helps to develop a bedtime routine. Have a series of things that you always do when going to sleep. For example, before going to bed, feed the dog, fold laundry, check the windows. Humans are creatures of habit.
Remember the guy with the dogs? He rang a bell and they knew it was dinnertime. It’s the same theory. Doing this will ‘program’ your body to know that it’s bedtime.”
Its important to reset your body’s natural sleep pattern, so make sure your room is quiet, dark, cool & comfortable. Open the curtains and blinds in the daytime to let the light in so your body knows the difference between, time to wake and time to sleep.
- Relationship Saver
One tip that has saved my marriage, and still enables me and my husband to sleep in the same room. My husband snores like a bear and I can’t sleep. My suggestion is to make sure you fall asleep first, at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before your significant other comes to bed.
I have found the 5-HTP works well for me, it did take about 2 weeks to start working. I have developed a routine every night, I take a shower or walk my dogs, take a bath or shower, drink tea, watch TV, make sure that I go to sleep at the same time every night, with the room dark, quiet and cool.
Be very careful when mixing herbs, herbal teas or natural hormones, with each other or other drugs especially SSRI’s which can have adverse reactions such as Seratonin Syndrome. Do your research and consult your physician or a naturopathic professional before trying any of these insomnia relief options.
Photo Credit: Dreamtime Photos