Top 4 herbal remedies for insomnia – better than drugs!

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If you suffer from regular insomnia, the world is a different place. For you, an online resource for natural insomnia remedies is likely laughable. These solutions, that include things like warm baths and relaxing music, are nice, but are made for people who have occasional problems with sleeplessness.

While greater relaxation can indeed promote sounder sleep, a warm bath before bed is not likely to put to sleep a chronic insomnia sufferer.

Sleeping pills

For a chronic insomnia sufferer, a quick solution might seem the best way. However, taking sleeping pills have been proven to have side effects and health complications. Why not try something natural instead?

If you’ve suffered from insomnia for any length of time, you’ve probably tried all of the basic suggestions. Things like getting daily strenuous exercise, establishing a regular bedtime routine, and meditation can all help create a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

When these things don’t work, you have a choice of sticking it out and settling for sleepless nights, discussing the problem with a medical doctor who will prescribe a sedative, or looking at all-natural remedies, many of which have been proven effective.

Here’s a list for those who want to try option number three:

Valerian Root

Valerian is a perennial plant with small pink and white flowers. But its roots are where you’ll find a possible sleep potion. This herb can be found in many over-the-counter sleep remedies in health-food stores and has been shown, through research, to increase sleep quality and quantity.

According to a double-blind study in the European Journal of Medical Research, a group receiving 600 mg. of valerian extract showed comparable results to a group receiving 10 mg of oxazeoam, a pharmaceutical insomnia drug. Even better, those taking the valerian had far fewer side effects (28.4%) than those on the prescription remedy (36%).

Melatonin

Melatonin is technically not an herb, but can be found on the shelves of any health food store and naturally in several foods. It is the hormone that helps to naturally regulate the sleep cycle in your body.

Studies on the effectiveness of melatonin in insomnia treatment have had varying findings, though many have shown promising results.

In one case, a study of autistic children found that 60 percent of participants found improved sleep patterns, including increased amount of sleep, following treatment with melatonin. Another study, from the Journal of Medicinal Food, focused specifically on the consumption of tart cherry juice (rich in melatonin), and found that consuming the juice in the mornings and evenings had a significant impact, dramatically reducing the occurrence of insomnia.

Melatonin production may also be encouraged through the consumption of foods like cherry juice, bananas and barley.

Chamomile

Chamomile for insomnia

Numerous studies have found chamomile to have beneficial effects in the treatment of insomnia and even anxiety.

We commonly see chamomile in teas, advertised as encouraging relaxation and sleepiness. But, these are not just fantastic claims by the tea-makers; they are backed with research.

Numerous studies have found chamomile to have beneficial effects in the treatment of insomnia and even anxiety. One study from Okayama University in Japan, looking at the effectiveness in “sleep-disturbed rats,” found that chamomile had hypnotic effects comparable to benzodiazepines, like Valium. Of course, there is also some research that does not agree with such dramatic findings. But with no reported side effects, and many studies reporting benefits, it would seem to be a useful treatment for at least some of those who suffer from sleepless nights.

Lavender

Perhaps the most exciting results have been found with the use of lavender. Unlike the other herbal treatments, lavender is not taken orally. Instead, it is used as aromatherapy, circulated around the room with a diffuser.

A Korean study found college students suffering from insomnia and depression had  beneficial results with the use of lavender.

Lavender for insomnia

Unlike the other herbal treatments, lavender is not taken orally. Instead, it is used as aromatherapy, circulated around the room with a diffuser. (Shutterstock photos)

In the Replacement of drug treatment for insomnia by ambient odour study, researchers discovered patients using prescription sleep aids could experience the same results from using lavender essential oils in an aromatherapy treatment. Participants were evaluated while on the medications, during a period with no treatment, and again during treatment with lavender essential oils. Their sleep satisfaction was identical during drug treatment and lavender aromatherapy treatment.

Insomnia is frustrating, to say the very least. And not getting adequate sleep can wreak havoc on your body’s general health, compromising your immune system and opening you up to a whole host of health problems.

While many say insomnia is nothing more than a mental block, where the affected person has convinced themselves that sleep is too difficult to attain, those who suffer from it are convinced otherwise after trying many helpful suggestions, including positive thinking and willing themselves to sleep.

While prescription drugs can send you into an overnight coma, there are natural remedies that can gently – and in some cases, dramatically — encourage sleep. In an effort to avoid habit-forming and costly prescription drugs, the presence of truly effective herbal insomnia treatments could be a dream come true for many.

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