Insomnia and Herbal Remedies

Everyone has experienced insomnia at least once in a life. It’s like a message to you that there is something in your life that takes away your sleep; something keeps your mind so active or tense that you can not relax. Too much coffee, too scary movie, too exiting day, too many something – and here you are, counting sheep and dreaming about good healthy desirable sleep.

Insomnia is a sleep deprivation. It’s a state that is characterized by poor quality of sleep or inability to remain asleep for a long time. Most of the people who have problems with sleep or falling asleep have troubles falling asleep, frequently wake up during the night and can not easily return to sleep, wake up too early or when waken up do not feel themselves refreshed, even after 8 hours of sleep.

Insomnia can be short term, one that happens from time to time, chronic, primary and secondary (during depression or somebody’s snoring).

Common symptoms are:

– difficulty falling asleep

– waking up during you night sleep

– problems with falling asleep right after awakenings in the night

– waking up too early

– constant sleepiness no matter how much time you were sleeping

Insomnia in the night can cause huge problems during the day. After it you can’t easily concentrate and focus and memorize things, add to these that you have a poor motor coordination and are irritated with things that would have never cased such a reaction if only you get a nice sleep. The most difficult thing about insomnia is that you constantly want to sleep but when time is for sleeping – you fail to do that until the next day with half-opened sleepy eyes again. The symptoms of insomnia can be worsen if using alcohol or nonprescription sleep aids in order to treat it.

Anxiety, fear and stress. Excessive boredom, constant concerns and fears can steel your sleep from you.

Depression. How can you ever fall asleep when you are depressed and think about it all the time? Everything’s getting worse when you begin to associate your bed with your problems and your inability to sleep.

Scheduler shifts and environment changes.

Long-term use of sleep medications.(more than several weeks)
Too substantial supper close to your sleep time.
Medical conditions that cause pain.
Stimulants. Weight-loss products, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, high blood pressure medications, some other drugs and antidepressants can interfere with your sleep. Also caffeine and nicotine.

Attempts to sleep. Trying to fall asleep can be also a problem. 500 dollars were promised to a group A (to each participant) if they fall asleep – none of them can do that until the very morning. The same was promised to group B if they won’t fall asleep – everybody was sleeping by the morning.

Chances to have insomnia are higher if you are a traveler, a shift worker, a young adult student, a woman in menopause or a pregnant woman.

Small disruption may also cause big problems with sleep. Like snoring, periodic leg movements of your bed partner or someone’s sticky socks or loud party somewhere near your apartment.

Medical Approaches

Treatment of insomnia includes first of all behavioral therapy and then medications. Taking prescription sleeping pills may help you get to sleep: it’s nonbenzodiazepine sedatives such as eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien); and Ramelteon (Rozerem) which is a prescription drug that stimulates melatonin receptors. Though Ramelteon is the newest sleep medication they all appear to have some more or less risk of dependency, risk of allergic reaction as well as side effects (you won’t be able to fall asleep without drugs, some of them contain diphenhydramine, which can cause difficulty urinating and a drowsy feeling during the daytime ). In addition to that sleeping pills can become less effective after each using. It is better not to use the pills for more than 5 days and only occasionally.

Alternative Approaches

Kava Kava is a great remedy for insomnia. It is wildly used for anxiety, menopausal symptoms and insomnia nowadays due to its anxiolytic (calming) effect that brings clear thinking, sense of well-being and relaxed muscles. For Kava beverages, capsules, tablets and extracts the root and underground stem of the plant are used. Traditionally it is consumed as an herbal tea. As side effects – do not use it for a long time as besides skin color changes kava may cause liver damage (including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure) and may interact with several drugs.

Another good treatment for insomnia (besides other disorders) is Valerian Root; it has been a sleep aid for over 1,000 years. In herbal medicine it is used as sedative. Though it is considered to be non-addictive large doses can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped. The mechanism of action is still unknown but the effect is evident.
Chamomile is a perennial herb that is known as a mild sedative. To take a chamomile tea at your bed time or take a chamomile bath (16 tablespoonfuls of Chamomile with 1 quart of water and add to the bath) is the best way you can prepare you muscles and the whole body to relax and be ready for a sleep.

A cup of tea of Passion flower is also used for treating insomnia. It contains a component that has anti-depressant properties. Passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system (which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects) and has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the whole your body. Better not used by children and pregnant women.

Another herbal tea to help you fall asleep is from Rooibos. The product is commonly called african red tea and now are popular in many countries. It contains high level of antioxidants, flavonoids, phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin and lacks caffeine. With a calming effect of tea you’ll get the unique flavor of nice red beverage.

Schisandra (Magnolia Vine) contains a number of compounds: oils, acids and lignans (schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin). It is a nice anti-stress and anti-fatigue herb that helps to fight insomnia. You can have 1-6 grams of the fruit per day or use it in other forms (tinctures, capsules).

What else you can do while achieving a restful sleep? Practice relaxation therapy – try to reduce stress and body tension before sleep. Make your bed the sweet place for sleeping only (or making love) – do not eat, drink, read or watch TV in bed. Take some warm bath, listen to the music, take some herb tea, go to bed, relax and think that it is time for you to fly away from your body so to let it rest for the next busy day.

skasiaras@gmail.com2011-07-13 23:32:23
That is probably not the actual name of the tea. But the Latin name of the herb is semen zizyphus jujube, so you will want to look for Chinese herb teas or pills that contain that ingredient. Another good herb is albizzie. There is a special relaxing tea by Royal King that has both of them
robert-heck@att.net2011-05-20 11:25:43
I am looking for a sleep aid called jujube seed tea which was touted on the Dr Oz show on 5/19.