ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES AND ALL NATURAL SLEEP AIDS FOR A RESTFUL NIGHTS SLEEP!
Sometimes at night we just cannot sleep…we toss and turn, and we are up and down, from one side to another. Sometimes it is stress related, sometimes our mind just cannot shut down to rest.
Sometimes it is just the foods we have eaten during the day, that may not have agreed with our systems. In maturing women it could be menopause. Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone and she stops menstruating. It is a normal part of aging and marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Menopause typically occurs in a woman’s late 40’s to early 50’s. It can also lead to major sleep problems.
From Google Scholar: The Impact of Somatic Health Problems on Insomnia in Middle Age
Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the impact on insomnia symptoms of somatic diseases, psychological factors, living habits and life events during the previous year.
Background: Although health problems are a significant cause of insomnia, psychosocial factors are considered to be even most important. The relative impact of these and other factors on insomnia calls for further evaluation.The most relevant phychosocial factor is work-related stress. this has the potential to negatively affect an individual’s psychological and physical health. Therefore, it is recognized world-wide as a major challenge to workers’ health especially in males. Males also start to loose testosterone as they start heading towards middle age which is said to begin at 40, which begins the male menopause stages of a males life.
Methods: A questionnaire study in a randomly selected middle-aged population in Finland.
Results: In the conducted study, 9.8% of men and 17.0% of women reported the occurrence of insomnia at least once a week during the previous 3 months. Insomniacs perceived their health as ‘poor’ or ‘rather poor’ more often than others and depression, allergic rhinitis, asthma, hypertension and heart symptoms such as arrhythmias were more common among them. Insomnia was not a side-effect of the treatment of these diseases; lack of medical treatment was associated with a higher incidence of insomnia. Work-related factors such as ‘moving to a poorer job or to poorer working conditions’ during the past year increased the possibility of insomnia, while moving house seemed to have a positive effect. When comparing these associations in logistic regression models, nervousness and tension were, however, the factors most significantly associated with insomnia.
Conclusions: Psychosocial factors appeared to be more significantly associated with prolonged insomnia than somatic health problems.
Here are some important remedies that can help calm down the mind, body and soul and help relax.
Melatonin is a popular remedy to help people fall asleep when the sleep/wake cycle has been disturbed, such as in shift workers or people who with jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. The pineal gland in the brain makes serotonin which is then converted into melatonin at night when exposure to light decreases.
Melatonin also decreases in the brain with age, and has been found to be a miracle worker when sleep is much needed.
Melatonin is typically taken about 30 minutes before the desired bedtime. Some experts caution that melatonin should not be used by people with depression, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases, and other serious illness. Pregnant and nursing women should not use melatonin.
The University of Alberta study examined 17 studies with 651 people and found no significant side effects when used for three months or less.
2) Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are one of the most effective ways to increase sleep time, fall asleep faster, and feel more rested in the morning. They require a minimum of 20 minutes before going to bed. There are many different techniques:
Visualization – involves imagining a relaxing scene. You can try it in bed before falling asleep. Involve all your senses. If you’re imagining yourself on a tropical island, think of the way the warm breeze feels against your skin. Imagine the sweet scent of the flowers, look at the water and listen the waves–you get the picture. The more vivid the visualization and the more senses you involve, the more effective it will be.
Relaxation Response – A mind/body technique based on the principles of Transcendental Meditation. Learn how to elicit the relaxation response.
Mindfulness – A type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present. Learn mindfulness.
Yoga – combines deep breathing, meditation, and stretching. A Harvard study found that daily yoga for eight weeks improved total sleep time, the time to fall asleep.
Cut out caffeine
Caffeine can have a pronounced effect on sleep, causing insomnia and restlessness. In addition to coffee, tea, and soft drinks, look for hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate, cough and cold medicine, and other over-the-counter medicine.
Although sugar can give a burst of energy, it’s short-lived and can cause uneven blood sugar levels. This can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night as blood sugar levels fall.
Eat foods that help you sleep
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin. Carbohydrate snacks such whole grain crackers before bedtime may help to promote sleep. Just be sure to stay away from sweets.
Eat magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium is a natural sedative. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. It has also been use for people with restless leg syndrome.
Foods rich in magnesium are legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.
Other foods include:
Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut and tuna—boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
B. Jasmine Rice
When healthy sleepers ate carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster at bedtime if the meal included high-glycemic-index (GI) jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While the authors aren’t sure how it happened, they speculated that the greater amounts of insulin triggered by the high-GI meals increased the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain.
C. Tart Cherry Juice
In a recent study, melatonin-rich tart cherry juice was shown to aid sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.Remember you can turn your tart cherry juice into a smoothie…yum.
Dairy products are well-known calcium-rich foods. But green leafy vegetables, such as including kale and collards, also boast healthy doses of calcium. And research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.
Bananas, well-known for being rich in potassium, are also a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Turkey has been accused of causing drowsiness: Tryptophan an ingredient in turkey, has a precursor to melatonin, a sleep-associated hormone manufactured in the brain’s pineal gland. “Melatonin secretion is increased during sleep,” and some studies have suggested that melatonin helps people fall asleep as well as adjust their body clocks to new time zones, says psychiatrist Jerry Siegel of the Center for Sleep Research at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The scent of English lavender has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep. Research is starting to confirm lavender’s sedative qualities. It’s been found to lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and make people feel refreshed. It appears to work better for women, possibly because women tend to have a more acute sense of smell.
The good thing about lavender is that it begins to work quickly. Try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow or place one to two drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief. Or add several drops of lavender oil to a bath — the drop in body temperature after a warm bath also helps with sleep. Other aromatherapy oils believed to help with sleep are chamomile and ylang ylang.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you may need more light in the morning. Light exposure plays a key role in telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Try taking a walk first thing in the morning. Just be sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays.
On the other hand, if you find you’re waking up too early in the morning, you may need more light in the afternoon. Try taking a walk in the late afternoon.
Gentle, slow music is another remedy that can help to improve sleep without medication. Music has been found to improve sleep quality, decrease nightly wakenings, lengthen sleep time, and increase satisfaction with sleep.
Acupuncture may help with insomnia. A University of Pittsburgh analysis concluded that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for insomnia. A preliminary study found that five weeks of acupuncture increase melatonin secretion in the evening and improved total sleep time.
8) Traditional Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, insomnia often stems from kidney energy weakness. This syndrome is not necessarily related to kidney disease in Western medicine. A few signs of kidney energy weakness are low back ache, tiredness and fatigue, and a burst of energy at about 11 pm in the evening. Women in menopause often experience this type of insomnia. People who are taking anti-estrogenic drugs such as tamoxifen also experience this type of insomnia, however, they should not take herbal combinations such as the herbal formula liu wei di huang that may increase estrogen levels.
9) Ayurvedic Medicine
In Ayurvedic medicine, insomnia is often associated with a vata imbalance. Vata regulates breathing and circulation. People with a vata imbalance often notice irritability, anxiety, and fear with insomnia. One Ayurvedic treatment is the application of oil on the head and feet. For the pitta type, room temperature coconut oil is used, for the vata type, warm sesame oil is applied, and for the kapha type, warm mustard oil is often applied.
Lack of exercise can contribute to poor sleep. Muscle tension and stress build in the body. Exercise can promote deep sleep that night. However, intense exercise too close to bed can increase adrenaline levels, leading to insomnia.
11) Natural Awesome Remedies
For hot flashes, a thin, flat foam pillow insert, called a Chillow, can help to cool the head throughout the night.
Chamomile is a wonderful tea that helps relax the body and then it’s magic makes you sleepy , hops, passionflower, lemon balm, and ashwagandha are often used for insomnia. Most people may find benefit from simply having a cup of chamomile tea one to two hours before going to bed. Chamomile can reduce anxiety, calm the digestive system, and relieve muscle tension.
12) Feng Shui
Feng shui, which originates in the Chinese philosophy of Taoism, instructs on how to arrange rooms, furniture, offices, houses, and other arrangements to maximize favorable energy flow throughout living spaces. Here are some recommendations that may help promote relaxing sleep:
Try not to have the bed in a corner of the room. The corners are where energy tends to be stagnant.
Avoid putting your bed next to a window. Energy can be drained this way.
The bed shouldn’t be positioned so that the soles of the feet, when lying face-up in bed, directly face the doorway.
When lying in bed, you should have full view of anyone coming in the door. If you can’t do this directly, hang a mirror to reflect the entranceway.
Try to avoid facing sharp corners from desks, bookcases, and other pieces of furniture.