It’s 1:45am in the morning and you’re lying in bed wide awake, dreading how tired you’ll feel when the alarm goes off at 6am and you have to get ready for work. You’ve tried everything from having a warm bath to reliving your childhood with a glass of warm milk before bedtime. Even the boring book that used to leave you drowsy doesn’t seem to be doing the trick anymore. Just when you finally manage to get some shut eye, that annoying alarm starts wailing in your ears, reminding you to get up and set off for the day ahead.
Sleeplessness or insomnia is a terrible thing. Unfortunately, it is now a common complaint, defined as the inability to sleep or the disturbance of normal sleep patterns. Some causes of insomnia are:
Excess caffeine intake
Alcohol and drugs
Some of the symptoms of insomnia include:
Nervousness and restlessness
An over-active mind
In recent years, a new branch of medicine focusing on sleep disorders has emerged, with centres for diagnosis and treatment now located throughout the U.S and Europe.
Research shows that 15-17% of adults around the globe suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives. Furthermore, up to 50% of people who take conventional sleeping medicines for treatment of insomnia find the condition worsens.
So what can be done to relieve this nightmare scenario experienced by millions of people around the globe? What does nature have to offer as treatment or management alternatives to conventional medicine?
Our experts at Nature’s Lab® have compiled the following scientifically backed natural treatment options:
1. Chinese Traditional Medicine – Wild jujube, hoelen and fleeceflower are useful herbs for treating insomnia.
2. Home remedies – We recommend a hot foot-bath before bedtime. This helps relaxation by drawing blood away from the head. Nature’s Lab® recommends adding a little mustard powder to the water to increase the effect. Our experts also recommend eating a large leaf of lettuce about 30 minutes before bedtime as it has been shown to encourage sleep. Soaking in a bath containing Epsom salts just before bedtime has also proven beneficial to insomnia sufferers due to the high magnesium content that helps relax the muscles. Nature’s Lab also recommends drinking a glass of tart cherry juice just before bedtime. Research has shown that tart cherry is rich in melatonin, the hormone our body releases when it signals it’s time for sleep.
3. Herbal remedies – We recommend soaking in a warm bath infused with chamomile, catnip, lavender, or limeflowers. Nature’s Lab® experts recommend placing your herb(s) of choice in a muslin bag before infusing them in the bath. We also recommend drinking a glass of warm chamomile or lemon balm tea just before bedtime to help you relax. Finally, studies show that valerian reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian has fewer side effects and is a lot less likely to result in morning drowsiness.
4. Aromatherapy – An alternative to herb infused baths is essential oils. We recommend adding a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil to your nighttime baths. We also recommend using a chamomile, lavender, or rose based oil blended in a light carrier oil for a gentle body massage just before bedtime. Nature’s Lab® experts suggest placing a few drops of lavender oil in an aroma diffuser just before bedtime.
5. Homeopathy – We recommend taking remedies an hour before going to bed, for no more than 14 days. You should see a registered homeopath for best results but the following tips from our experts could be helpful:
Nux Vomica – for alcohol and food-induced sleeplessness
Pulsatilla – for when you are restless in the early hours of sleep
Arnica – for when the bed feels to hard and you’re overtired
Lycopodium – for when your mind is overactive at bedtime
Arsenicum – for when you tend to wake between midnight and 2A.M feeling worried and apprehensive
Rhus tox – for pain-induced sleeplessness
Aurum – for depression-related sleeplessness
Aconite – for trauma or shock-related sleeplessness
6. Vitamins & Minerals – We recommend increasing your intake of vitamins B, C, folic acid, zinc and calcium. Nature’s Lab® experts also recommend taking a Magnesium supplement for stress and muscle related insomnia. This is because Magnesium reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, in the bloodstream and makes it easier for us to fall asleep. There are loads of Magnesium supplements out there but our experts recommend Magnesium Taurate over other forms of Magnesium supplements. Please note that patients with renal problems should not supplement with magnesium without first consulting their doctor.
We realise that everyone is a unique individual and not all insomnia will present the same way. This is why we encourage you to reach out to us via email so one of our experts can offer free advice on how best to manage your specific case of insomnia.