Difficulty falling asleep and trouble staying asleep may just be frustrating symptoms that are a rare nuisance for some but, for others, it is the norm. If you spend hours trying to fall asleep, or find yourself frequently waking during the night on a regular basis, you may be suffering from insomnia. Mayo Clinic provides an explanation of what insomnia is, “Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.How much sleep is enough varies from person to person. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night.Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.”
There are a myriad of reasons that one might experience insomnia, including: significant stress (such as moving, divorce, job change, etc.), pain, noise, light, illness, depression, anxiety, medication, medical conditions, and more. Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia and look to their physicians for guidance as to how to eliminate insomnia. But, so often, the solution comes in the form of a prescription. While there is a place for prescription medication, if patients would seek out naturopathic help, they would find that the vast majority can manage their insomnia with naturopathy.
As a first line of treatment, simply by enhancing mindfulness and meditation, patients can see a reduction in symptoms of insomnia. By keeping a sleep diary, practicing meditation, practicing yoga and more, it can help your body relax, de-stress and set its natural clock which may help eliminate insomnia. Next, it is important to reduce your intake of common stimulants like coffee or energy drinks that contain caffeine. When you consume anything with caffeine, your body can remain stimulated long after the final sip and may cause sleep disturbances. Along the same line, do not eat late in the evening and consider reducing your intake of alcohol as both may cause sleep disturbances. It is also advisable to establish a routine by creating a bedtime ritual and going to bed at the same time each night which will help establish a natural rhythm for your body. Further, there are natural supplements such as melatonin and valerian that may help reduce insomnia. Dr. Weil explains why these two natural remedies work to treat insomnia, “The two best natural sleep aids are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. You can find standardized extracts in health food stores and pharmacies. Take one to two capsules a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Try sublingual tablets (to be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve); take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose, making sure that your bedroom is completely dark. A much lower dose, 0.25 to 0.3 mg, is more effective for regular use.” If you are experiencing the symptoms of insomnia, do not suffer in silence. Speak to your naturopathic physician who can help assess your health from a holistic approach and help you determine the best, most natural path to restoring sleep.