I’ve penned an article or two about my sleeping woes; and realizing that nixing caffeine doesn’t work for everyone, I wanted to offer another solution. Even though cutting caffeine from my diet completely has helped my insomnia tremendously, there are still some nights that I have trouble catching even a wink of sleep. Our sleep cycle is a sensitive thing and can be disrupted by many things including stress, certain foods, illness, etc. and it’s imperative to baby it so we can get the recommended 7 – 8 hours per day. Most of us, if we’re lucky, are probably getting around 5 hours a night and then channeling the zombies on The Living Dead during the day.
We are well-aware that there are numerous amounts of over the counter sleep aids and just as many prescriptions that claim to “fix” insomnia, but are they safe?
The reality is, these medications only cover up your lingering insomnia and hold the risk of dependency and some pretty freaky side effects if taken too much over an extended period of time. The only way to “fix” your insomnia is by resetting your circadian rhythm. Luckily for those of us who don’t want to take those risks, there are supplements that are easily accessible that can help induce relaxation and sleep around bed time – and can even reset your circadian rhythm.
Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that is already found in our bodies and is responsible for regulating our sleep cycle. It may be possible that your body isn’t releasing the hormone at bedtime or just not releasing enough of it to induce drowsiness. You can find it in two forms; a pill that is immediately released into your system to promote drowsiness, the other is an extended release pill that helps you stay asleep. If you’re someone who has trouble staying asleep, the extended release pill can enhance the amount and quality of your sleep. Doctors recommend taking 1 – 3mg an hour before bedtime.
Valerian Root: Given its usage to treat anxiety and depression because of its sedating qualities, researchers also believe that Valerian Root can effectively treat insomnia. Although the relaxation effects kick in immediately, it may take a week or two to induce drowsiness since it has more of an effect on your body the longer you take it. You can find Valerian Root in pill or tea-form at your local grocer or health food store. I like using the SleepyTime Extra Tea by Celestial Seasonings – it’s delicious and soothes you to sleep after 45 minutes to an hour. Doctors recommend taking 300 – 900mg one to two hours before bedtime.
Kava: This peppery plant has long been praised for its treatment in anxiety and studies suggest it can effectively treat insomnia. It comes in the form of a pill, tea or extract – all are effective and can be found at any health store. I LOVE the Yogi brand of Kava Kava Tea, I drink it about 30 minutes before bed and it helps encourage a restful slumber. Although taking this supplement is relatively safe and has been used for thousands of years, researchers warn that it can become slightly addictive and cause liver damage if taken in excess over time. Doctors recommend taking 100 – 200mg an hour before bedtime – but as always, check with your doctor to make sure you’re taking the correct dosage for your body.