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Natural Relief for Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that afflicts many people. Studies show that 20 to 30 percent of American adults suffer from it. When we lack sleep it can lead to other health problems, like high blood pressure. Getting a good night’s sleep consistently is one of the most healing and revitalizing experiences people can have. Therefore, finding a remedy for your insomnia is vital.

Lifestyle Changes:

Lifestyle changes are the first place to start when trying to find relief. Making small changes costs us little, but may improve quality of life.

  • Keep a regular schedule – get up and go to bed at the same time daily. Doing this consistently will adjust your body clock. To deepen your sleep experience, set your schedule to allow the amount of sleep necessary to be refreshed.
  • Exercise regularly. Complete your activity three to four hours before bedtime. Regular, strenuous exercise will help you sleep better.
  • Arrange your bedroom— place furnishings in a comfortable, relaxing position. Make sure it is insulated against sound and light using curtains and carpeting. For additional help try wearing an eye mask and/or ear plugs. Also keep your room cool – too much heat disturbs sleep routines.
  • The bedroom is for sleeping and sexual activity only – if you’re not able to fall asleep, leave the bedroom and find something to do in another room. Stretching and reading may help you. Remember, getting angry will only heighten your lack of sleep.
  • Deal with stress – work through family issues or job related problems before retiring.
  • Limit liquids – Before bedtime limit the amount you drink to minimize bathroom trips. If drinking at bedtime isn’t a problem, try sipping a small hot beverage just before retiring. Dairy, soy, or rice milk works well. Personally, I like a cup of milk with ½ teaspoon each vanilla and stevia (or a teaspoon of sugar) with a pinch of nutmeg. I warm it in the microwave for 1 – 1½ minutes.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine – this is especially important in the evenings. Alcohol may help a person fall asleep, but it causes fragmented sleep later in the night.
  • Limit napping –avoid naps longer than one hour and after 4:00 pm.
  • Turn off the phone ringer.
  • Try relaxing activities – yoga, meditation, prayer, massage or progressive muscle relaxation are all good options. When you find what works for you it give you peace and prepare the body for sleep.

Herbal Remedies:

These may all be taken several times daily, but not later than twenty to thirty minutes before bedtime.

  • Chamomile – as a tea it is lightly sedative. It is safe for children and adults. Its oil can be used in a warm bath (five to six drops) to sooth the nerves. When diluted to 2 percent, it makes a great massage oil. It can also be inhaled as calming aroma. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 2-3x daily; Tincture – 30 drops, 3x daily.
  • Hops – this has long been used as a sedative, specifically for insomnia due to worry or nerve weakness. A pillow filled with hops can relieve mild insomnia. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 2-3x daily; Tincture – 30-40 drops, 2-3x daily.
  • Lavender – a gentle, strengthening tonic for the nervous system. Adding a few drops to a warm bath before bedtime is recommended for those with sleep disorders. The oil may also be used in compresses or as a massage oil. You can also just inhale it to calm mild insomnia. Add a few drops to a footbath to help you relax at the end of the day. Drink a cup of herb tea to add to its effect. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 2-3x daily; Essential oil –10 drops essential oil to an ounce of vegetable oil; Bath – 3-10 drops in a tub.
  • Passionflower – works well for insomnia caused by mental stress, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. Passionflower is safe for children and adults and has no known side effects, even in large doses. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 3x daily; Tincture – 30-60 drops, 3-4x daily.
  • Valerian – it is recommended as a sedative for those who have a hard time falling asleep. It also reduces nighttime waking. Valerian has no known side effects, unlike Valium and other synthetic sedatives. It will work well when combined with other sedative herbs. Dose: Tea – 1 cup as needed; Tincture – 2-5 droppersful, 2-3x daily.
  • Wild Lettuce – this is a mild sedative and nervine used for restlessness and insomnia. Due to its safety, it is a great sedative for children. Dose: Tincture – 2-3 droppersful, 3-4x daily.
  • California Poppy – a great sedative and sleep-promoting herb (just note that it is a mild opiate). California poppy will help one to relax and ease mild anxiety. Studies have shown that it not only brings calming rest, but it will also give better quality and longer, deeper sleep. Note: the tea is mild, so if you need a stronger dose, use the tincture. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 2-3x daily; Tincture – 30-40 drops, 2-3x daily.
  • Kava kava – best known as the ‘national drink of Fiji,’ kava kava calms and relaxes the body and sometimes enhances dreams. It is commonly used for fatigue and sleeplessness. Dose: Tea – 1 cup, 2-3x daily; Tincture – 3-4 droppersful, 2-3x daily.
  • St. John’s Wort – has been shown to relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression related to brain chemistry imbalance. Because this herb causes sun sensitivity, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight. You need to allow two to three weeks for full therapeutic value to develop. Discontinue St John’s Wort and talk to your healthcare provider if you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant side effects. Dose: Tincture – ½ – 1 teaspoon, 2-3x daily; powdered extract – 1-2 tablets or capsules, 2-3x daily.
  • Melatonin – this is a human hormone that is used to promote sound sleep. Those taking it have reported mixed success; some find very good relief while a small percentage has none.
  • Sleep Pillows – pillows made with equal parts of hops, lavender, chamomile, and bath salts. Place on the bed on or under your normal pillow to promote restful sleep. You can find these in some health food stores.
  • Calming Tea: 1 oz. linden flowers, 1 oz. hawthorn flowers and leaves, 2 oz. chamomile, 1 oz. catnip, 1 oz. lemon balm, 1 oz. wintergreen, and ¼ oz stevia leaves.
  • Bedtime Tea: 1½ oz. valerian, 1 oz. linden, 1 oz. kava kava, 1 oz. chamomile, and ½ oz. catnip.

Either of these last two tea blends should be prepared by the quart. The process is to boil the water, mix your herbs in a separate container, then add one teaspoon of tea per cup and an extra teaspoon “for the pot.” Cover and let steep twenty minutes. Strain and store in a quart jar in the fridge. The teas will keep up to three days. Warm and enjoy a cup several times daily and another at bedtime.

Don’t forget that you should always consult your doctor or healthcare professional before using any herbal or home remedies.

I pray that you find a way to relieve your insomnia here. Good health to ALL!

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