Insomnia can be the most frustrating thing in the world. If it’s not for the dark circles that have permanently made their home under your eyelids, it’s exhaustion day in and day out. Insomnia is classified as a sleep disorder in which an individual is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. There are a few different types of insomnia. Let’s try and break them down.
Primary insomnia means that an individual is having sleeping problems that aren’t directly related to any other medical/health issues.
Secondary insomnia means that an individual is having sleep problems because of a secondary issue such as new medication, health condition, or substance being used.
After determining if your insomnia is primary or secondary, it’s then time to determine how long it’s lasted and what the potential causal factors could be.
Acute insomnia, otherwise known as short-term insomnia, is often brought on by stressful situations and, sometimes, traumatic events. Acute insomnia can last anywhere from days to several weeks.
Chronic insomnia, otherwise known as long-term insomnia, is often labeled as a secondary insomnia. Chronic insomnia can last for months at a time.
What to do?
It’s important to consult a physician if you are having difficulty sleeping, but if it’s only been a few days perhaps you could discuss trying one of these green alternatives to sleep medication with your doctor!
1. Chamomile– chamomile is a sedative herb often found in tea to promote sleep aid. Grown in parts of Europe and Asia, chamomile has been used as a natural remedy for skin, gastrointestinal, and sleep disorders. Chamomile comes in tea, tincture, and capsule form. Try drinking one cup of warm chamomile tea an hour before going to bed.
2. Lavender– apart from its delicious smell, lavender is a great all-natural sleep enhancer. It’s also known as to strengthen the nervous system. Try drinking lavender infused tea, taking a hot bath with an all-natural lavender scented soap, or squeeze a few drops of all natural lavender essential oil on a cotton pad and stick in under your pillow at night.
3. Valerian- as a plant native to Europe and Asia, Valerian is known for it’s sedative effects and distinct scent that many find to be unpleasant. In earlier years, Valerian has been used to treat trembling, nervousness, and heart palpitations. According to a double blind study on the National Institutes of Health website, 75 participants with documented insomnia reported improvement in sleep.
4. Kava- this tall plant grown in the islands of the Pacific Ocean has been used to treat symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in the past. Kava has also been reported to have pain-relieving properties. Kava is available in tea, tincture, and capsule forms. For safety precautions, Kava should not be given to children or for more than 3 months at a time.
5. Passion Flower– with a milder effect than Valerian or Kava, Passion Flower is often combined with other herbal supplements to promote calmed nerves. In a study done by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the 91 participants all reported reduced anxiety symptoms. Passion Flower can be consumed in tea form, liquid extracts, and tinctures.
6. Melatonin– melatonin is something most of you have probably heard of. Melatonin is a natural hormone made from your body’s pineal gland, a tiny gland located behind the third ventricle of your brain. The gland produces melatonin, the hormone that affects your sleep patterns. Because melatonin is naturally occurring in certain foods, it is the only hormone approved by the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold over the counter as a dietary supplement. Melatonin can be taken in pill, tea, or tincture form.
7. Hops- are often dried and used to improve sleeping patterns. Hops can be used to improve restlessness, tension, indigestion, and even nerve pain. This can be taken as a tea, tincture, capsule, tablet, cream, or lotion.
8. California Poppy- is the state flower of California. The California Poppy’s flowers and leaves have been used to help symptoms of insomnia and to promote relaxation for years. It has recently be found to prevent night time pain. This herbal remedy can be taken in tea, pill, or tincture form, but should not be taken with any other sleep, narcotics, or anti-anxiety medications.
9. Ashwagandha- commonly referred to as “rasanya,” or “royal herb” by Ayurvedic healers, Ashwagandha is known to calm stress and anxiety, and help promote a healthy immune system. Ashwagandha contains alkaloids including sitoindosides that can help play a role in relaxation. Ashwagandha is available in capsule and tincture form.
10. Seriphos- containing a cortisol-regulating nutrient, phosphorylated serine, can help with sleep improvement. Seriphos can be taken in capsule or tincture form and often has the best effects when taken 6 hours before bedtime if you have difficulty falling asleep at night. Seriphos should not be taken for over 3 months.
While these herbal remedies may contribute to sleep improvement, they will not cure any sleep disorder. If you think you are suffering from a sleep disorder it is important to consult with a physician.