Insomnia is a widespread issue, and most people experience it at one time or another. Many people suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders may have trouble falling asleep at night, staying asleep, or they may simply wake up several times throughout the night. For others, the issue is that they wake up too early in the morning, resulting in reduced productivity, moodiness, poor memory retention, fatigue throughout the day, and sometimes even a lack of enjoyment for life in general.
Although it’s perfectly normal to have a restless night here and there, not getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis can be hard on your health, both mentally and physically. For some people, insomnia is a lifelong problem. For others, the issue is temporary, lasting days, weeks, or even months before sleep patterns return to normal. Thankfully, there are several alternative medicine solutions that can help people who are suffering from sleep disorders.
What Causes Temporary Insomnia?
Temporary insomnia can last anywhere from a single night to several weeks. Many things can bring on this problem, but the most common cause is stress. Illness or temporary pain from some sort of injury can also bring on periods of insomnia. Sometimes the problem is caused by something in the environment, such as sleeping in a new place, too much light, or too much noise.
And, of course, changes in the sleep pattern, such as working a different shift or jet lag, can also bring on periods of temporary insomnia. If you are experiencing temporary insomnia, it’s essential to be aware of daytime fatigue that could lead to accidents on the road at your job.
What Causes Chronic Insomnia?
For most people, temporary insomnia will usually resolve itself. However, temporary insomnia can develop into a chronic issue if the cause of your inability to sleep is not addressed. In more severe cases, chronic insomnia may be the result of mental or emotional disorders, including extreme stress, depression, and anxiety.
Other health conditions, like sleep apnea, breathing problems, hormonal or digestive disorders, and even heart conditions, can cause chronic insomnia. Drug and alcohol abuse and overuse of stimulants like caffeine and tobacco are also common causes. And finally, poor bedtime habits, like keeping the television on when you’re trying to fall asleep or not having a regular bedtime schedule, could also be the cause.
Using Herbalism and Supplements to Relieve Insomnia
There are several herbs and supplements that are recommended for the treatment of insomnia. Herbs and supplements are a great alternative to conventional sleeping pills because they are usually non-addictive, and they don’t generally leave you feeling drowsy when you wake up in the morning.
Here are some herbs and supplements to consider trying if you are suffering from chronic or temporary insomnia:
- Valerian: Valerian has been used as a remedy for insomnia for centuries. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for many, it is just as effective as conventional sleeping pills. If you decide to try this herb, take it about one hour before you go to bed for best results.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that not only helps with insomnia, it’s also essential for heart and brain health. It also quiets the body and mind, so you can fall asleep more easily.
- Passionflower: Passionflower is an herbal remedy that’s often recommended for the treatment of insomnia. It’s especially useful when it’s paired with other natural remedies.
- Glycine: The amino acid glycine may be beneficial to those suffering from insomnia because of its effect on the nervous system. It has been shown to lower the body temperature, which signals to the body that it’s time for sleep.
Aromatherapy for Insomnia Relief
“If you’re having racing thoughts and difficulty settling into a restful sleep, insomnia may creep in,” says Yinova Center Chinese Medicine expert, Kate Reil. Kate is an acupuncturist and herbalist who often incorporates essential oils into an overall treatment plan for patients suffering from insomnia. She goes on to say that essential oils can be used for easing feelings of anxiety and promoting deep sleep.
Here are some essential oils to try:
- Lavender: Lavender is useful for calming and has been reported to have anxiety reducing effects that are similar to Valium, without the dangerous side effects. Try placing a few drops of the oil onto our pillow before you go to sleep.
- Orange: Orange essential oil is recommended for calming the mind and balancing emotions. Try it combined with cedarwood and lavender in a diffuser at bedtime.
- Bergamot: This essential is excellent for regulating emotions and harmonizing your mood.
- Clary Sage: Clary sage is known to relax muscles and regulate hormones. For a relaxing bath that will help you fall asleep, try adding 10 drops of clary sage to your bathwater along with two cups of Epsom salts. Epsom salts can give a boost of magnesium, which is also helpful for sleep disorders.
- Cedarwood: Cedarwood has a grounding and calming effect. To calm anxiety before bedtime, try rubbing a few drops of cedarwood oil into the soles of your feet.
Relaxation Techniques to Relieve Insomnia
Relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep longer, and feel more rested when you wake up. They should be used about 20 or 30 minutes before bedtime, and there are several different techniques you can try.
One of the easiest techniques to try is visualization. All you do is get in a comfortable position and imagine a calming scene. Try to include all of your senses. For example, if you’re at the beach, think about the way the breeze feels on your skin, hear the waves, smell the salt water, and picture the waves in your mind. The more vivid you visualize the scene, the more effective it will be.
Yoga is beneficial for insomnia because it includes several relaxation techniques, including stretching, meditation, and deep breathing. A study done by Harvard showed that people who do yoga every day for eight weeks fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and don’t wake up as often during the night. Try searching online for a gentle nighttime yoga routine and do it every night about half an hour before bedtime.
Massage Therapy for Insomnia
Studies done by the Mayo Clinic show that massage therapy is beneficial for reducing the stress that can lead to insomnia. Massage can help people sleep more deeply and restoratively. Massage can help boost the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin, which are both critical for quality sleep. It’s a smart, drug-free option that can be used over the long term to help with both short-term and chronic insomnia.
Many physicians are beginning to recognize the value of alternative medicine for treating insomnia. Conventional sleeping pills are beginning to take a back seat to safer, more natural therapies. A multi-dimensional approach that addresses the patient as a whole may improve the outcome for patients who are hesitant to turn to pharmaceuticals.