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Home Remedies for Insomnia

If you find yourself tossing and turning during the early hours of the morning, read on for nine home remedies for insomnia.

| December/January 2010

  • Sleep cycles can vary among people and throughout a person’s life, and while one person may require only four hours of sleep, others need 10 hours to feel refreshed.
  • Lemon balm often is used in combination with chamomile to make a calming, delicious tea. Shelton
  • Passionflower aids sleep by reducing anxiety and providing a soothing feeling of well-being. To use passionflower for sleep, take it in tincture or extract form. Shelton
  • Skullcap contains a relaxing, antispasmodic compound called scutellarin that can ease fatigue. Shelton
  • Valerian is a powerful sleep aid that can be mildly habit-forming, so it’s best to only use valerian for sleep only occasionally. Shelton

Q. I find myself tossing and turning at 4 a.m., only to fall deeply asleep 20 minutes before my alarm sounds. I am incredibly frustrated! What are some home remedies for insomnia?

A. An occasional episode of insomnia can make it ­difficult to handle the day, but regular episodes of ­insomnia can make it difficult to handle life. You can at least take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. It is estimated that more than 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia regularly. In 2005, pharmacists filled more than 43 million prescriptions for sleep drugs—a 32 percent increase from 2001.

The causes of insomnia are varied, but psychological factors often are present. Environmental and dietary factors also play a prominent role, and statistics show that, for unknown reasons, insomnia is more common in women than men.

Insomnia is classified into two broad categories: sleep-onset insomnia (or difficulty falling asleep), and maintenance insomnia, which causes frequent or early waking. Treating either type of insomnia should begin with an awareness of your needs. All people don’t require the same amount of sleep, for example, and some may think they have a problem only because they don’t fit into the norm. Sleep cycles can vary among people and throughout a person’s life, and while one person may require only four hours of sleep, others need 10 hours to feel ­refreshed.

3 Lifestyle Changes

Health: Sleep disturbances can have underlying physiological causes, so treating the cause can solve the sleep problem. People suffering from hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, for example, can experience fluctuations in blood-sugar levels during the night. The brain needs a constant supply of glucose to function, and a drop in blood sugar signals the body to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that stimulate sugar release. The resulting rise in blood sugar may wake a person up. (A small amount of fruit or juice upon waking will relieve the symptoms.) It is important to have a correct diagnosis, however. If an exam and blood test reveal that you are ­hypoglycemic, ask your health-care provider whether nutritional measures are appropriate for you.

Serotonin is a natural chemical associated with inducing sleep. Sometimes, deficiencies in tryptophan, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium or other nutrients can inhibit the formation of this hormone.

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