Insomnia - Natural Alternatives

Defined as inability to fall or stay asleep in the absence of external impediments such as noise, bright light etc. It may vary in degree from restlessness to curtailment of the normal length of sleep to absolute wakefulness. It may be comforting to know that 15-25% of all adults suffer from insomnia at some stage. Often the cause may be a hair loss, which is treated by such drugs as It may be amusing to consider that when an insomniac meets someone suffering from narcolepsy (a person who uncontrollably falls asleep) each will envy the others condition! However, if you are currently suffering from this debilitating condition it's no laughing matter. So, what can you do in order to get a good night's sleep?

The good news is that not everyone will need eight hours sleep every night. Most people who consider themselves as an insomniac actually sleep for several hours. The acid test to determine whether you're getting enough sleep is if you wake feeling refreshed and relaxed in the morning. If you don't, there are several options open to you . . .

Pharmaceutical sedatives. They work - but they can become addictive and interfere with natural sleep cycles. We don't recommend them. Some medication can disturb sleep. If you are taking prescription medicines discuss the problem with your doctor to see if you can either change the prescription or cease taking the medicine.

Homoeopathic Remedies. Coffee as a sedative? Yes, the homoeopathic preparation from coffee 'Coffea' is effective in helping both mind and body to relax. Take a dose half an hour before retiring. 'Passiflora Incarnata' is the remedy produced from the passion flower and has a quieting effect on the nervous system. The generic remedy for insomnia in children and the elderly, it is also used to treat mentally worried and over-worked persons.

Herbal Remedies. A cup of tea made from four teaspoons of the dried herb Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) in boiling water is an excellent herbal remedy for inducing sleep. You can also try the herb Valerian (valeriana officinalis). Again, you can prepare a tea with one or two teaspoons of dried herb to a cupful of boiling water. We've tried it and it doen't taste very nice. An alternative is standardised extract in capsule form. Many over the counter sleep aids include Valerian - why? Because it works. Just in case you're thinking Valerian is somehow related to Valium - don't worry, it's not.

Aromatherapy. Take a warm bath and add a few drops of essential oil. Alternatively you can put 1-2 drops on a handkerchief or tissue and place near your pillow. Or, try using a room fragrancer. Suitable oils are Chamomile, Lavender, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang. Be sure that you purchase Lavender from an Aromatherapist and specify that you wish to use it as an aid to sleep. Spanish Lavender has a stimulating effect similar to Rosemary.

Relaxation. Try sex. Making love can be extremely relaxing and can help prepare you mentally and physically for dreamland. Alternatively (but perhaps not as much fun!) contact a hypnotherapist and learn the pleasant art of deep relaxation techniques.

Avoid. Products which include large doses of caffeine - Colas, aspirin, diet pills, black tea and coffee. Nicotine and alcohol also have a stimulant effect and should be avoided prior to retiring for the night. Contrary to popular belief, warm milk actually stimulates brain activity. Avoid exercising late at night because aerobic exercise will generate too much energy which can take several hours to dissipate.

Try to establish a pattern before retiring each night and stick to it. Don't use your bedroom as an office or for any other stimulating activities such as a gymnasium etc. Use the bedroom for sleeping and relaxing such that you form a mental association between the bedroom and relaxation. Lastly, if you have a television in your bedroom move it into your kitchen instead!


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