Do you toss and turn, count sheep, lay awake and think about all that you have to do at night? Do you wake up tired, feeling as if you’ve been run over by a truck? It could be that you suffer from insomnia. If this is the case, you’re not alone. Insomnia is one of the most frequent sleep complaints amongst Americans.
Insomnia may be a one-time thing with you or you may struggle most nights of the week to slip into a restful and healing sleep. Almost 60 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, which touches every aspect of life from work to personal relationships to overall health and well being. Sleep is as vital to life as food and water.
According to Dr. Weil, leading alternative health practitioner, the causes of insomnia vary from one individual to the next. However, depression is the most common cause along with side effects from medication, changes in environment, pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome, jet lag from traveling, or exposure to extreme temperatures.
People who are challenged by chronic insomnia may also suffer from chronic pain, sleep apnea, heart failure, arthritis, restless leg syndrome or asthma. Behavioral reasons for insomnia include smoking before bed, drinking before bed, anxiety, excessive napping during the day.
While many people, in complete desperation, turn to over-the-counter or prescription medication to help get some shut-eye, there are a number of natural herbs that are equally effective. It is always best to speak to your healthcare practitioner before taking any herbs.
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis): Valerian has earned a reputation as being an excellent anxiety reducer. If taken before bedtime, this sedative herb will reduce stress and promote a restful nights sleep. For best results take one or two capsules thirty minutes before you plan to go to bed.
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata): This tropical looking beauty is a top choice of many insomnia sufferers. Passion flower, is a great option for those that may fall asleep pretty quickly but wake up frequently during the night. Known to be perfectly safe for people of all ages and in all health conditions, passion flower can be found in capsule form or liquid. Aim for 30 to 60 drops of passion flower tincture taken 3 to 4 times a day. Because it is so safe, some people take it several times before going to bed to help them relax and prepare for sleep.
Magnolia Bark (Magnolia officinalis): Many people have elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes us to hang on to extra weight and promotes diabetes when elevated. Magnolia bark, a Chinese herb, lowers cortisol levels, which allows the body to relax. Because magnolia bark promotes rapid drowsiness, it is recommended not to take it during the day or when operating machinery or driving. Take this herb in a capsule form thirty minutes before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night and can not go back to sleep. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid this herb.
In addition to using some safe and effective herbs to help you sleep, be sure that you are exercising daily, eating a whole-food diet and managing stress. It also helps to set a regular sleep and wake time to help get your body in the rhythm of sleeping.
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