Looking For a Good Night's Sleep?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-11-2004
Looking For a Good Night's Sleep?
Sat, 08-07-2010 - 1:39pm

Tired of insomnia? Fortunately, there are alternatives to counting sheep to help you get a healthy night's sleep. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful:

* Create a restful place to sleep
* Remove or block noise, light, and other distractions, and make sure your mattress is comfortable for you

* Cut coffee and other stimulants
* Eliminate or cut down on drinks and foods that have caffeine, ephedra, or pseudoephedrine; work with your doctor to find alternatives if you take medication with any of these ingredients

* Learn to relax
* Relaxation tapes and other self-help tools or a counselor experienced in treating insomnia can help you let go of tension

* Check out valerian
* To fall asleep quicker and enjoy deeper sleep quality, take 300 to 600 mg of a concentrated root extract 30 minutes before bedtime, with or without other relaxing herbs such as lemon balm and passion flower

* Try melatonin
* Take 0.5 to 3.0 mg one to two hours before bedtime to help reset your body's biological clock

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full insomnia article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful. http://www.ivillage.com/insomnia-0/4-y-88802

Herbs that may be helpful

Herbal remedies have been used safely for centuries for insomnia. In modern herbal medicine, the leading herb for insomnia is valerian. Valerian root makes getting to sleep easier and increases deep sleep and dreaming. Valerian does not cause a morning "hangover," a side effect common to prescription sleep drugs in some people.23, 24 A double-blind trial found that valerian extract (600 mg 30 minutes before bedtime for 28 days) is comparable in efficacy to oxazepam (Serax®), a commonly prescribed drug for insomnia.25 In a separate double-blind trial, the same amount of valerian extract was found to improve subjective assessments of sleep quality and certain aspects of brain function during sleep as well.26 A concentrated (4-5:1) valerian root supplement in the amount of 300-600 mg can be taken 30 minutes before bedtime. Alternately, 2 to 3 grams of the dried root in a capsule or 5 ml tincture can be taken 30 minutes before bedtime.

A combination of valerian and lemon balm has been tested for improving sleep. A small preliminary trial compared the effect of valerian root extract (320 mg at bedtime) and an extract of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) with that of the sleeping drug triazolam (Halcion®).27 The effectiveness of the herbal combination was similar to that of Halcion, but only the Halcion group felt hung over and had trouble concentrating the next day. A double-blind trial found that a combination of valerian and lemon balm, taken over a two-week period, was effective in improving quality of sleep.28

Another double-blind trial found a combination of 360 mg valerian and 240 mg lemon balm taken before bed improved reported sleep quality in one-third of the participants.29

Combining valerian root with other mildly sedating herbs is common both in Europe and the United States. Chamomile, hops, passion flower, lemon balm, American scullcap, and catnip are commonly recommended by doctors.30 These herbs can also be used alone as mild sedatives for those suffering from insomnia or nervous exhaustion. Chamomile is a particularly good choice for younger children whose insomnia may be related to gastrointestinal upset. Hops and lemon balm are approved by the German government for relieving sleep disturbances.31 In a double-blind trial, the combination of valerian root and hops was significantly more effective than valerian root alone for treating insomnia.32

Bitter orange has a history of use as a calming agent and to counteract insomnia. There is no clinical trial data to support its efficacy in this regard. The usual amount of tincture used is 2 to 3 ml at bedtime.

Corydalis contains several ingredients, one of which has been shown to influence the nervous system, providing pain relief and promoting relaxation. People with insomnia were able to fall sleep more easily after taking 100 to 200 mg per day of a corydalis extract (called dl-tetrahydropalmatine, or DHP), according to a preliminary report.33 People taking the extract reported no drug hangover symptoms, such as dizziness or vertigo.

The volatile oil of lavender contains many medicinal components, including perillyl alcohol, linalool, and geraniol. The oil's aroma is known to be calming and thus may be helpful in some cases of insomnia.34 One study of elderly people with sleeping troubles found that inhaling lavender oil was as effective as some commonly prescribed sleep medications.35 Similar results were seen in another trial that included young and middle aged people with insomnia.36 Teas made from lavender flowers or from the oil (1 to 4 drops) are approved for internal use by the German Commission E for people with insomnia.37 Internal use of essential oils can be dangerous and should be done only with the supervision of a trained herbalist or healthcare professional. http://www.ivillage.com/insomnia-0/herbs/88802

 


 


 



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