If you have ever gazed at the clock at 3am and wondered why you just could not doze off, then you are like sixty-four million other Americans who have suffered some form of insomnia. More than just an annoyance, insomnia can seriously disrupt your life and health. There are many “sleep aids” on the market today, both natural and pharmaceutical, designed to help you get a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, these medicines and supplements can carry side-effects, so it is wise to first address the cause of your insomnia, before you leap to medicate it.
Insomnia can be brought on by stress, illness, diet, and anxiety. Practical tips for your bedtime ritual include abstaining from caffeine for at least three hours before bed, taking a warm bath or shower, going through a stretching and breathing sequence, and consuming warm milk or chamomile tea. Tucking a lavender-scented sachet beneath your pillow is also a tried-and-true relaxation tip.
If after all that, you still find yourself awake at odd hours, you may want to consider a sleep aid. Diphenhydramine is the most commonly-used sleep-inducing ingredient in OTC sleep medications, even though its intended usage is as an antihistamine. Frequent consumption of this medicine can cause severe sinus irritation. Additionally, “PM” medications like Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM include the pain reliever acetaminophen, which can cause kidney and liver problems if taken in excess. In order to avoid these side effects, one should use natural sleep aids.
As mentioned before, chamomile is one of the most traditional herbs used for relaxation. Chamomile tea can be purchased in any grocery store, and chamomile bath oils can be found in most health-and-beauty departments. With no documented side effects, it is safe for both adults and children.
Lavender, like chamomile, is an extremely popular, long-standing relaxant. Commonly found in lotions, body sprays, potpourri, and bath oils, lavender is an excellent herb for relaxation.
If you prefer a supplement to take orally, rather than an herb to work as aromatherapy, you may be interested in Valerian Root, St. John’s Wort, or Melatonin. Valerian Root and Melatonin are widely used in the US for treatment of sleep disorders, and have no recorded side effects. They can be consumed as teas or capsules, and are easily found wherever vitamins and minerals are sold. St. John’s Wort can be consumed in the same fashion, and is just as easy to acquire, but it does have an extensive record of side effects in people who are taking prescription medications. For this reason, it is not as safe to consume as Valerian Root or Melatonin, though it is just as effective.
By cutting down stressors in your life, employing these natural remedies, and learning how to relax before bedtime, you will equip your mind and body with the best opportunity for restful, restorative sleep.