According to Dr. John McDougall insomnia is actually pretty common, with 25% of adults experiencing sleeplessness. Conventional medicine’s answer is to restless nights is medication. Over 18 million new prescriptions are written every year!
But sleeping pills are a truly nightmare. The problem is that they don’t induce sleep. Instead they cloud memory and thinking so that the insomniac forgets he was awake during the night. Plus, after just 4 weeks of regular use, the body gets used to them and they become ineffective except in higher dossage.
Fortunately for anyone who suffers from occasional sleeplessnes there are several natural remedies for insomnia that have been shown to work. Here are the top 6.
- Use pure therapeutic-grade essential oils– Lavender is one of the best. Place a couple of drops of oil in your hands, rub them together, cup them in front of you nose and then breath deeply. Also apply a couple of drops to your temples and the soles of your feet. In 1998, University of Miami researchers found that inhalation of lavender oil increased beta waves in the brain, suggesting heightened relaxation.
- Get enough exercise – Peter Tanzer, MD, author of “The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep without Pills” suggests that exercising a couple of hours before bedtime is particularly helpful for relaxing the body before sleep.
- Try these herbs and teas – The simplest and safest herbal sleep remedy is passionflower tea. Steep one teaspoon of dried passionflower for 15 minutes in hot water and drink shortly before bedtime. Another common herbal remedy is to take 1 teaspoon of ginseng extract before bed. Finally, many herbalist suggest taking a teaspoon of valerian root tincture 1 hour before bed. As valerian is a mild depressant, it is best for occasional use only.
- Listen to music before bed – In a six month study Gail Mornhinweg, PhD and professor of nursing found that all patients reported falling asleep easier after listening to 15 minutes of Baroque or New Age music.
- Breathe deeply – As you lie down for sleep, focus your attention on your belly by resting your hand on it. Breathe into your belly so that your hand moves up and down. As you do relax your entire body starting from you forehead and working down to your toes. This should take about 5 minutes. Repeat as needed.
- Meditate before bedtime – If you have a meditation practice, sit for 10 minutes before sleeping and allow thoughts to settle and the mind to slow down.
There’s one last remedy that I’ve just discovered that looks to hold lots of promise. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but the testimonials are pretty impressive. It gets results even for people with chronic insomnia who have tried everything else.
It involves listening to an audio before sleep that is designed to correct the root cause of sleeplessness – a busy mind.
It’s worth checking out if you have trouble falling asleep.
And please share this with anyone you know who uses sleeping pills.
1. McDougall, John, MD. www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2005nl/050100puinsomnia.htm
2. Essential Oils Desk Reference, Essential Science Publishing, 2004, chapter 6.
3. Tanzer Peter, MD. “The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep without Pills.” Tresco Publishing, 1994.
4. Mornhinweg, Gail, “Music Fights Insomnia,” Journal of Holistic Nursing.