In this article I highlight my 10 natural treatments for insomnia. Insomnia is a common reality for many people and while many turn to medicine to help them sleep, there are many natural treatments and cures for insomnia and helping people get a good nights sleep. The most common cause of insomnia for many people is stress – but other factors include; noise, hormones, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, drug and alcohol use, caffeine intake and smoking and prescription drug use. We know that there are many problems associated with prescribed medications for insomnia such as tolerance and addiction, increased risk of falls and risk of cancer according to a 2012 study published in the British Medial Journal. Here are my top 10 tips and natural cures for insomnia;
My first natural cure for insomnia is Chamomile. Chamomile has a been used as a medicine for thousands of years to induce sedation and as an aid to sleep. Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilliser and sleep-inducer. Its sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain Abalone et al., 1996. Its easy to use, just infuse 2 teaspoons of the flowers in boiling water for 15 minutes and drink in the evening time.
2. Wild Lettuce
Wild lettuce also known as natures opium, due to its value as a remedy for insomnia and restlessness. It combines well with valerian and passion flower for the treatment of insomnia (Hoffman 1983. Again simply infuse 2 teaspoons of the leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes and drink 3 times daily.
Scientific evidence (Blumenthal et al 2000) supports the use of Hops for sleep disturbances, and insomnia. Hops has a sedative effect which is attributed to the bitter acids and hop oil. Hops is best used in combination with other herbs. In a review of the literature by Salter and Brownie 2010 found that a combination of valerian and hops was effective for some aspect of improving sleep. This combination was also found to be effective in the treatment of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms (Schmitz & Jackel 1998). Mario et al 2013 found evidence for the combination of passion flower, with hops and valerian effective for insomnia.
Numerous randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have investigated the effects of different valerian preparations as a treatment for insomnia (Stevinson and Ernst, 2000). Valerian helps people fall a sleep a little more quickly. A combination of Valerian and Lemon Balm is a good combination as a sleep tonic.
Lavender oil is very popular and well associated with helping people to sleep better (Blumenthal et al 2000). It is often combined with marjoram to induce sleep. Put two or three drops on your pillow before you go to bed. Or up to 10 drops in a bath before bed time.
Yoga can improve physical strength and flexibility, improve breathing, reduce stress and enhance mental focus. A new study indicates that yoga can help to improve sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia. Researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice might affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity.
There is an abundance of evidence that regular meditation can improve sleep patterns. Research indicates that an overly aroused nervous system is an important factor the development of chronic insomnia. As meditation helps to reduce nervous system arousal, it can be very effective in relieving insomnia.
Research from the Journal of Clinical Psychology (Ong and Sholtes 2010) has found that mindfulness can improve sleep in people suffering from insomnia. Mindfulness practice helps us to focus on the positive and by practicing gratitude and compassion to others, we can develop a more positive and relaxed attitude to life and reduce our stress levels and sleep better.
9. Reduce your coffee and alcohol intake
Stimulants like coffee are not good if your having problems sleeping. The same goes for alcohol which is a depressant, but regular drinking disrupts our sleep and increases our stress levels. If you want to improve your sleep patterns take a break from coffee and alcohol.
10. Positive sleep routine
Its very important to develop a lan your sleep routine.
- Go to bed at the same time.
- Do drink liquids before going to bed, especially coffee or alcohol.
- Take a bath before you go to bed.
- Mediate and read for a bit.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Change your bed linen often and keep your room uncluttered, clean and fresh.