Clinical herbalists say insomnia is highly responsive to herbs. But they remind you that herbal remedies may stop working if you fail to address the underlying cause of sleeplessness, such as stress or poor sleep hygiene. Here are some tips to address insomnia.
Start tonight with these 5 Steps to Better Sleep:
1. Manage stress.
Stress is a chief cause of insomnia. Everybody has stress, so make dealing with yours a priority. Maybe you need more relaxation time, or perhaps you need to back away from a relationship or a bad job. Consider regular meditation or yoga.
Nervine and the sedative herbs counter overstimulation and promote sleep. Valerian, hops, passionflower, skullcap, California poppy and chamomile are in this group.
2. Avoid or moderate stimulants.
Stay away from coffee, yerba mate, soda and tea, after three o’clock in the afternoon. Some people need a longer period.
Other stimulants are B vitamins, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, dementia medications, antihistimines, glucosamine and chondroitin and statins. Alcohol can sedate you initially, but it interferes with deep sleep. Don’t eat too late at night.
Physical activity is excellent to overcome insomnia and stress. But do it in the morning, or if you must do it later in the day, not just before bed.
4. Unplug before bed.
Light interferes with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, especially artificial light from televisions, smart phones, tables and indoor lighting. Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime, and dim all lights. Use an eye mask to help you sleep in total darkness.
5. Develop a sleep ritual.
If you have small children, you know that a bedtime ritual makes all the difference. Create one for yourself. Try a cup of relaxing herbal tea or warm milk with honey. Read something light, or write in your journal. Make love, listen to calming music, meditate, or take a bath.
Here’s an herbal tea remedy to inspire sleep:
This is a potent yet delicious sedative tea that can be used by persons of any age (just adjust the dose). If you use more lemon balm and less passionflower and skullcap, it will be less sedating.
This recipe is for a small cup of tea of just 4 to 6 ounces. It can also be premixed.
½ teaspoon lemon balm
½ teaspoon passionflower
½ teaspoon skullcap
½ teaspoon spearmint
1 heaping teaspoon honey (optional)
Combine the herbs. Pour 4 to 6 ounces of almost boiling water over the herbs. Cover and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, then sweeten to taste with honey, if desired.