If the condition only occurs once in a while, it is considered sleeplessness. However, if it happens for weeks or months, it is insomnia. There is a saying that, to one degree or another, one hundred million Americans have this condition and take six hundred tons of sleeping pills each year to avoid it. About seven times as many females as males experience the problem. Sleeping pills are second only to aspirin sales in the United States.
Side effects from sleeping pills include anxiety, skin rashes, loss of appetite, depression, poor coordination, high blood pressure, irritability, difficulty with vision, dizziness, digestive disturbance, confusion, break down of parts of the blood (such as the white blood cells which fight infection), circulatory and respiration disorders, memory problems, liver and kidney damage, and injury to the central nervous system.
According to the experts, if you go to bed properly, have fresh air in the room, and lay there quietly, you will get the right amount of rest even though you did not fall asleep as fast as you wanted—many people that complain about insomnia sleep more than they realize.
Also, restless leg syndrome is another reason people fail to fall asleep. The twitching and kicking of their legs awaken them. Eating bad food and overeating too close to bedtime can cause insomnia and sleeplessness. Systemic conditions in the liver, kidneys, pancreas, endocrines, brain, lungs, heart and digestive organs can all affect your sleep.
Natural Remedies for Insomnia
Consume nutritional foods and allow breakfast and lunch to be your main meals. Eat light in the evening, several hours before going to sleep.
Foods with tryptophan, an amino acid that promote sleep, should be consumed regularly, such as dates, whole grain crackers, and figs.
Take magnesium (250 mg) and calcium (2000 mg). An absence of these nutrients can result in you waking up after little sleep and unable to go back to sleep.
Take vitamin B6 (500 mg), niacinamide (500 mg), vitamin C (1000 mg in divided doses), pantothenic acid (100 mg), and inositol (600 mg).
Stay away from indigestible and complicated foods (including meat) before going to bed. Actually, it is best to keep junk food directly out of your diet. Before bed, do not consume spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, sugars, and potatoes. They contain tyramine, which encourages the release of a brain stimulant named norepinephrine.
Other foods that should be avoided before bed include allergenic foods, additives, chemical preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, white flour, sugar, and fatty foods.
Before bed, do not consume wine, sausage, ham, chocolate, bacon, and cheese.
Hypnotics, alcohol, and barbituates do not solve the sleep problem but only worsen it. Alcohol can interfere with sleep later on in the night. Nicotine can seem to be calming, but it is considered a neuro-stimulant.
Please avoid the following substances during the day because they can excite the brain and prevent adequate sleep during the night: aspartame (NutraSweet), tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. Eating meat for supper can keep you awake.
Avoid cold medications and nasal decongestants because they can stimulate some individuals from falling asleep.
The following drugs will interfere with your sleep; therefore, they should be avoided: medications for high blood pressure, amphetamines, tranquilizers, chemotherapy, steroids, Dopar (for Parkinson’s), many asthma drugs, some birth-control pills, antidepressant drugs, Triaminic, Excedrin, and Anacin.
Getting adequate sunlight during the daytime helps you sleep at night. In the morning, open the shades and allow the sunlight into the room. Consume breakfast as close to the sunlit window as possible. Abstain from dark glasses in the morning time and late in the day.
According to studies, people in countries that nap during the daytime have fewer accidents and higher productivity. The vital factor here is consistency. Keep a regular schedule to retire to bed at night. If you are a day napper, do it on a consistent schedule. Taking a nap before meals is better than taking one after.
If you are struggling with sleep one night: avoid napping the next day, and you are more likely to go straight to sleep that night. If you’re extra sleepy, go straight to bed and do not fight it.
Get plenty of exercise during the daytime. Try to exercise regularly in the late afternoon or early evening, but never before sleep.
Make sure your mattress is comfortable.
Before Going to Bed
Instead of showering, take a hot bath one or two hours before bed.
Take a walk outside before bedtime; a quiet walk in the fresh air for thirty to forty-five minutes is beneficial.
Some individuals need a quiet bedroom. Others require some sound to mask out background noises. In those cases, turning on a fan works well.
If you are religious, trust God, who promises beloved rest.
Some people prefer daytime naps, which makes it harder to sleep at night. However, for some older folks, a little rest before a meal during the day benefits them. Therefore, any sleeplessness at night wouldn’t fatigue them.
A lot of people take calcium or melatonin to aid in going to sleep. Both elements promote sleep. Be careful because taking too many melatonin products can stop your melatonin production.
Please avoid sleeping pills! They possess pain relievers such as scopolamine and/or antihistamines and bromides. However, these are ineffective. Their side effects are unpleasant and interfere with the brain’s normal functioning, resulting in poor sleep quality. They can also create a hangover effect, impeding your duties the next day. The brain is highly adaptable and will adapt to the pills; therefore, they are no longer effective after four to six weeks, leading to consuming more. The safest way to overcome the habit of popping sleeping pills is to go on herbal teas simultaneously.
Herbs to Take Before Bedtime
Hops, skullcap, and catnip are excellent herbal teas that increase sleepiness. However, please do not depend on herbal teas to help you sleep every night. Also, lemon balm is an excellent sedative that soothes the stomach.
Valerian tea (1-2 teaspoons per cup of water or 150-300 milligrams of the valerian extract) about thirty minutes before bedtime is an excellent sleep remedy. It works so well that over eighty drugstore preparations of valerian are sold in the United Kingdom. In addition, passionflower tea works well also.
Another English remedy used in hospitals utilizes lavender oil by sprinkling it on the sheets or putting it in the evening bathwater. (Do not ever drink essential oils).
Lavender, chamomile, balm, and wormwood are used in old remedies to help nervous people sleep by placing compresses of the herbs on their heads.
The following are some herbal teas to help individuals sleep:
Here is an herbal tea to help you sleep: Mix two parts valerian, and three parts hops. Steep one teaspoon in ½ cup of boiling water. Take ½ -1 cup daily, unsweetened, in mouthful doses without interruption. Discontinue use after two weeks.
Here is another fantastic herbal tea: Mix equal parts hops, passionflower, valerian root, and skullcap. Put the dried herbal mixture into capsules. Take two about an hour before bed and another two while in bed.
During The Night
Consistency in your habits is crucial. Regularity is vital if you want to beat your insomnia. Always retire to bed at the same time and arise at a definite time. The human body has regular rhythmic cycles. Individuals with regular habits have faster reaction times and are more content than those with irregular sleeping times. Waking every morning at the correct hour will help you go to sleep at night at the right moment. Though, sleeping in on the weekends disrupts the biological clock. Staying up late every so often causes sleep problems.
The bedroom temperature should be set to 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the room is too warm, it is more likely that you will move about more often and frequently awaken from your slumber. The main issue is the lack of air.
For a good and relaxing night’s sleep, ensure a slight current of air passing through the room, even when it is cold in winter. Sleep is usually interrupted when it is too stuffy.
If sleep is eluding you, relax, lie in your bed, and rest. This is nearly as good as sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping in the middle of the night, you can get up, do some quiet and calm activity for a short time, and then proceed back to sleep. An excellent method is to go outside and look up at the stars, breathe some fresh air, and more fresh air. Think of all the blessings you possess, such as loved ones – then head back to bed and eventually sleep.
Restless leg syndrome at night is a problem for many people. Magnesium (250 mg), potassium (5000 mg), zinc (30 mg), and calcium (2000 mg) supplements can help get rid of that problem. However, take the needed precautions to ensure you are not anemic.
Maintain Proper Melatonin Levels
Melatonin is a hormone; therefore, it is essential to exist so that you will not depend on taking melatonin supplements from animal sources. When it gets dark at the end of the day, melatonin production is stimulated. In the morning, when light from the sun hits the retina, neural impulses signal the hormone’s production to slow down.
Therefore, light and darkness play a significant role in setting the rhythms of melatonin production. Though, those are not the only factors involved. In fact, it has been discovered that various regular daily routines can enhance the rhythm of melatonin production. The following are a few helpful recommendations that can assist you in maintaining your body’s levels of this vital hormone:
- Consume regular meals. Regular daily routines enhance the process of melatonin production. Keep meal times as standard as possible to keep your body in sync with the rhythms of the day.
- Always eat a small light meal a few hours before bedtime. When the production of melatonin begins after nightfall, digestion slows down. Therefore, eating heavy foods too close to bedtime can lead to digestive issues, interrupting sleep.
- Stay clear of stimulants. Stimulants such as caffeine-containing medications, soft drinks, and coffee can interfere with sleep. Try your best to eliminate all stimulants from your lifestyle and diet.
- Do not exercise late at night. Melatonin secretion is delayed during vigorous exercise. Morning exercise reinforces healthy sleeping habits that eventually lead to regular melatonin production. For the best results, perform your exercise outdoors in the morning or afternoon sun.
- Finally, please keep your thoughts on heaven; you will find it much easier to sleep at night.
- Vance Ferrell Harold M. Cherne, M.D. The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia [Book]. – Altamont, TN: Harvestime Books, 2010. – Vol. Seventh Edition: 7: pp. 547, 548, 549.