Recently the FDA approved a new drug to treat insomnia. It is a sedative which blocks chemicals in the brain that keep people awake. Find more information here.
During my naturopathy studies I learnt a lot about common health issues. Insomnia is one of the top reasons that gets people knocking on their naturopaths door.
I've only had true insomnia once and it happened to be during my time at university. So as I was suffering, I was experimenting with ways to relieve it. Here are some ideas you could try if you're having trouble sleeping.
1. Limit caffeine and alcohol
I did this to the extreme, I drank absolutely no alcohol and limited my caffeine to just one or two coffees per week. When I got desperate, I cut coffee out all together. I do believe this helped me as I am sensitive to caffeine. But it's an individual thing, effecting people in different ways. In some cases caffeine before noon doesn't interrupt sleep at all, and drinking coffee and alcohol will make no difference to your sleep quality.
2. Establish a bedtime schedule and ritual
Did you know that sleep is a behaviour? Yes, our bodies do follow a natural circadian rhythm but through practicing good sleep habits and schedules we can reinforce this rhythm. During university I would often stay up late to finish assignments, so I had to set a bedtime for myself and I stuck with it. I developed a bedtime routine which I found relaxing. This could include reading, praying, journaling, taking a bath, listening to relaxing music, whatever you find calming and can be used as a wind down to your day. And of course you've heard it before, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Melatonin if used incorrectly can cause insomnia and depression. Therefore I strongly recommend speaking to a healthcare professional. I personally have never used melatonin, although I have seen clients, case studies and family members using it as prescribed, and experiencing great success.
Valerian root is a herbal remedy for treatment of insomnia. I used valerian for about a month. It takes two weeks of regular use for it to become effective. I am not a big fan of valerian root, firstly I can not stand the smell and taste of it. Secondly, maybe it was pure coincidence but I suffered terrible dreams and even some nightmare while I was taking valerian. It has been shown to improve sleep quality and decrease anxiety, but for me, it's not the answer to sleepless nights.
Magnesium encourages muscle relaxation and the deactivation of adrenaline among a host of other benefits. Every single person I have talked to who uses magnesium swears it made a difference to their sleep quality. Try taking 400-500mg of chelated form magnesium before you go to sleep. I found this to to also be great for decreasing muscle cramps and soreness.
Comment below with your tips for better sleep.