Often elusive for some people, sleep is immensely important for the overall maintenance of the body’s health. As you sleep, your system and tissues are busy cleaning out toxins and healing while you remain inactive. Turning your cognition off and sleeping through the night allows your body’s resources to attend to other issues going on in your body. Unfortunately, “drifting off” and staying that way is a foreign concept to a lot of people.
Needless to say, if you have trouble sleeping from an existing health condition, high levels of daytime stress, snoring, or whatever reason, there are certain things you can do to get soundly through the night. Let’s go straight to the herbs and minerals first.
Here are your best natural remedies for sleep disturbances, in order of effectiveness:
1) Valerian Root: This herb produces a “wave” that you can ride into sleep. You generally take it in tea form, but supplements are also quite effective and deliver a more potent dose. Studies have found that it improves sleep and the time required for you to fall asleep. It doesn’t leave you feeling lethargic in the morning.
2) Lemon Balm: This herb is very effective when used in combination with valerian root. This mix has been proven to be just as effective as a pharmaceutical sleep aid. Take a mix of supplements for this effect. They may come together or you may have to purchase two different bottles.
3) Melatonin: This could be the best thing to take if your insomnia is caused by disruptions to your sleep pattern. This is a natural chemical secreted by your brain at night. In jet-lagged patients, it’s been proven to limit fatigue and increase the quality and length of sleep. It’s been proven effective for shift workers, insomnia in the elderly, children unable to fall asleep, schizophrenics, and people who have a condition called “delayed sleep phase syndrome.”
4) Lavender: Some caution should be taken with lavender flower oil that is administered internally — although Germany’s progressive Commission E has approved such use to treat insomnia. If anything, you can try lavender aromatherapy — this is calming and it can relieve insomnia.
5) Kava: This herb works for anxiety and it has calming abilities that extend to sleep problems, too. Kava may help target stress and psychologically help you to sleep better.
Aside from herbal solutions, you should adjust your lifestyle to better fit your sleep problems. Experts suggest using your bed for sleeping and not for reading or watching television. Psychologically, you need to associate your bed with sleeping.
You need to develop a ritual that draws the line between awake time and sleep time. So, at 10 p.m. or so, you could drink a small cup of valerian tea. Or every night at 9 p.m., you could take a bath. Try to do something that draws the line in your mind — now it’s time for sleep.
You can try keeping a journal and making an entry before bedtime. Meditation can help as well or you can take a moment for quiet contemplation to help release your stress from the day. Getting exercise each day will help tire out your body, which, in turn, will help you to sleep at night. I wouldn’t exercise, however, within three hours of sleep, as your body might still have high levels of endorphins running through its system.
Reconsider the mattress or pillow you are using as well. An uncomfortable sleep is liable to wake you up in the middle of the night — and make you groggy in the morning.