Natural Sleep Aids

It happens to all of us every so often…we suffer from a couple of sleepless nights here and there and experience the symptoms of insomnia. But for many people, these sleepless nights are frequent and are caused by one of many different sleep disorders. There are numerous ways to treat sleep disorders, and many people end up taking sleep medications which can have reduced effectiveness over time, cause side effects and / or even lead to dependency. There are many other options that people have to help them get better sleep without using sleep medicine or OTC sleep aids.

Herbal Sleep Aids

Many people with sleeping difficulties find that herbal teas and other herbal remedies help them sleep.

Chamomile

This is an herb that is extremely popular as an herbal sedative and is most often ingested as a tea. Chamomile has long been used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, and is also effective in the treatment of many other health conditions, including anxiety (which can itself lead to insomnia), indigestion, migraines, diarrhea and menstrual disorders.

Valerian Root

Although it is not as effective as prescription medication, valerian root is an extremely popular herbal sleep aid. Because its effects are milder, those who use valerian root often find that they awaken more easily, and do not feel as groggy as they would had they taken prescription sleep medication. It is taken in a capsule form or made into tea. Valerian root is also used to treat anxiety.

Catnip

When most of us think of catnip, we think of something that gets cats “stoned”, or that it gets them all hyped up. Catnip has just the opposite effect on humans. People have been using catnip as a sleep aid for hundreds of years, and in addition to being a popular natural sleep aid, catnip is also good for relieving a mildly upset stomach.

Kava

This is an herb that is commonly used as a homeopathic treatment for anxiety, and because of its relaxing qualities, is also often used as a sleep aid. Kava is actually a member of the pepper family, and grows mainly in the South Pacific islands. Kava root is or brewed into a tea or can be found in capsule, tablet, and liquid extract forms.
Health concerns about Kava’s impact on liver health have been raised mostly due to the use of Kava roots and stems by supplement manufacturers as contrasted to the traditional use of only the root.

Lavender

Many people with sleep disorders find aromatherapy remedies useful in helping them get better sleep. Essential oil of lavender is used in light rings, diffusers or potpourri to distribute the scent of lavender before sleep. Lavender is also used to treat seasonal affective disorder and depression.

Before beginning any home treatments involving herbal remedies, consult with your physician to make sure that the herbs will not interact with other medications or health conditions and cause adverse effects.

Alternative Insomnia Treatments

In addition to using herbal sleep aids to help treat insomnia, many people use a number of other alternative treatments for insomnia.

Acupuncture

This is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been used successfully in the treatment of insomnia and many other conditions for centuries. Thin needles are inserted into the “Chi” points on the body (energy points), and the needles regulate the energy and promote relaxation.

Light Therapy

This is a type of therapy that is used to treat circadian rhythm sleep disorders and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This type of treatment involves using bright light to regulate the circadian rhythms in the body, or provide more exposure to natural light during the winter months.

Melatonin

There is a neurohormone that is produced by the brain called melatonin, and this neurohormone is at its highest levels just before bedtime. Taking additional melatonin before going to bed will actually decrease the amount of time it takes to get to sleep, and can even help to increase the amount of quality sleep.

Other Treatments for Insomnia

In addition to these treatments, other ways to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders naturally is to make some simple lifestyle changes. Diet plays a huge role, and not just what we eat. The time of day that we eat is also a factor in not being able to sleep, because if you eat just before bed the body will be working to digest the food, interrupting sleep. Quitting smoking is helpful, as is not drinking caffeinated beverages during the evening.

Before trying medications that are potentially habit-forming and may have side effects, people with sleep disorders should consider giving natural treatments a try. Additionally, they may be used in conjunction with sleep medicine to improve your sleep; however, be sure your doctor is aware of all of your alternative treatments to ensure they are safe to be used with your prescriptions.

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