Natural Treatments for Insomnia

page backInsomnia takes different forms, including difficulty in falling asleep, restless sleeping, or waiting in the middle of the night.

Common causes are caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, especially if consumed in the evening. Nervous tension and anxiety, PMS or menopause, lack of exercise, eating too late in the evening, vitamin deficiencies, certain drugs, and food allergies may also cause insomnia.

Sleeping pills and sedatives may work initially but then interfere with sleep. In addition, these drugs are dangerous, habit-forming, and upsetting to the long-term balance of the body's natural rhythms. Better long-term solutions are to reduce anxiety (by practicing biofeedback or meditation, for example) and getting more exercise during the day (but not right before bed).

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Nutrition and Supplements

Eliminate or at least cut down on-the consumption of caffeine-containing drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate. A meal of complex carbohydrates (such as pasta, bread, and potatoes) may induce drowsiness, and foods that are rich in the amino acid tryptophan (found in soy foods, turkey and other meats, milk, and fish, as well as pumpkin seeds) stimulate the body to produce the calming neurotransmitter serotonin.

Supplements that may help relieve insomnia include:

  • calcium and magnesium, in a 2:1 ratio (for example, 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium): take at bedtime for its relaxing, sleep-inducing effects
  • niacinamide (vitamin B3), 50 mg daily or 500-1,000 mg thirty minutes before bed: along with the other B-complex vitamins, niacinamide is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system, and in megadoses has sedative properties
  • melatonin, 3 mg: this pineal gland hormone helps regulate sleep


Herbal Remedies

Herbs for insomnia can calm nervous tension and relax muscles. To induce sleep, take herbs as a warm tea, or in tincture or capsule form, thirty minutes before bedtime. A common dosage is 1 cup of tea, 1/2-1 teaspoon of tincture, or two capsules.

Choose from among the following herbs, which are generally recognized as effective sleep inducers and relaxants:

  • valerian
  • passionflower
  • California poppy
  • hops

The following herbs are milder sedatives, appropriate for children. They help calm an overly stimulated nervous system:

  • chamomile
  • catnip


Homeopathic Remedies

Common single remedies used to relieve insomnia include:

  • Arsenicum: for insomnia from anxiety, worry, and apprehension
  • Chamomilla: for a child with insomnia
  • Coffea: for insomnia from excitement or joy, overactive mind, or too much coffee
  • Pulsatilla: for insomnia from recurring thoughts

Combination remedies for insomnia include some of the above ingredients, along with others such as Hyoscyamus, Ignatia, Passionflower or Passiflora, and Hops.


Essential Oils

Essential oils can help relieve insomnia through massage (a whole body massage is optimal for relaxation), bath, and vaporization. Use any of the following essential oils, all of which have sedative properties:

  • chamomile
  • lavender
  • rose


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