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8 Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Updated on April 7, 2010

Tossing and turning all night only to feel like you've been awake all night at the sound of the alarm clock is an all too familiar scene for millions of people. Everyone has struggled with this from time to time. There are natural remedies for insomnia you can use though to help you with this problem.

While it may seem hopeless or like you need to just get used to being tired, it is important to overcome this condition. There are potentially long term health effects of not getting enough sleep. If you suffer from insomnia you are more prone to getting into accidents, as well as more prone to developing heart disease. You are also more susceptible to family stress and arguments. People do not handle stress as easily when they are fatigued. You are also at an increased risk for obesity. Not to mention, you will not accomplish as much if you are exhausted as if you are well rested, so it is very important to get a handle on your sleepless predicament.

Here are eight insomnia remedies you can use to help you get that good night restful sleep you've been missing.

1. Chamomile as an herbal remedy for insomnia

Chamomile is an excellent remedy for insomnia. I use it often. I work 24 hour shifts as a paramedic and my work schedule makes my sleeping patterns very erratic. Chamomile is one of my favorite ways to help me relax and get a good sleep. I tend to take is in tea form, but you can also had it as an herbal extract and add it to an eye pillow or place it in an enclosed piece of cloth under your pillow.

The component of chamomile that makes this herbal insomnia remedy effective is chrysin. The great thing about it is you do not need to let it build up in your system like you do for many remedies such as vitamin C and gout. So you only need to use it when you are restless.

2. Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in our bodies.  It is produced by the pineal gland and the retinas.  The pineal gland is located in the brain.  This hormone is what our body uses to help us sleep.  Unfortunately, as we age this hormone is produced less causing increased sleepless nights.  This is one of the reasons you see seniors who get up so early.  Some of this is because of their lifetime habits, but much of it is due to decreased melatonin production. 

If you are having trouble sleeping, you can take melatonin supplements.  They will have varying effects depending on the person.  For some people, melatonin is wonderful.  It helps them sleep well and they wake up refreshed.  For others, it makes them sleepy, but they feel groggy in the morning.  For those who qualify in the second category, you might want to try a smaller dosage.  As with any supplement or remedy, seek your physician's counsel to determine what works best for you. 

3. Keep a Consistent Daily Routine

If you suffer from chronic insomnia, it is very important to keep consistent a daily routine as possible.  Sleep Journal in their April 1 issue stated that lack of a consistent daily routine changed people's circadian rhythm which affects your sleeping patterns as well as reduced a person's natural melatonin production.  

A consistent daily routine may be hard for some individuals, such as myself, but where you are able to create some consistency, it is important to do so.   

4. Valerian

Valerian is another natural herb you can use for insomnia. Valerian has been used for many years for insomnia.  It also used to be widely used to help with relaxation and minor mental disorders.  In studies, valerian did not have the morning groggy side effects that you can sometimes experience with melatonin or prescription or over the counter drugs.  In studies, those who participated stated their sleep was greatly improved. 

Valerian has been used for centuries for various remedies and has very little side effects.  Valerian also helps insomnia because it increases the amount of time that a person spends in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for proper rest, memory retention, and body repair. 

5. Sleep in a Dark Room

Sleeping in a dark room is crucial if you suffer from insomnia.  The darkness of the room helps aid relaxation and also acts as a sort of melatonin for your body.  If you have a digital alarm clock, turn the clock away from you.  The lights in the clock can actually decrease your quality of sleep.  I have tried this personally and it works.  Many people also wake up and see the clock and depending on the time on the clock, this can increase anxiety and make it harder to go back to sleep. 


6. Maintain a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Stress can play a big role in your inability to sleep well.  Reducing stress is vital to helping you overcome insomnia, especially reducing a stressful environment in the bedroom.  If possible, make the temperature in your room comfortable.  Whether it's too hot or too cold, you will not sleep well. 

Another way to help yourself is to have a comfortable and proper sized pillow.  You can buy a good pillow at most chiropractor offices.  A good chiropractor will also help you size your pillow. 

A good comfortable bed is also important to getting the proper amount of sleep.  If you cannot afford to get a new bed, you can add inexpensive padding if it is too hard.  Many people use "egg carton" foam padding.  Experiment and see what provides the most comfort for you. 

7. Stop Eating A Couple Hours Before Bed

Eating too big a meal can make it hard for you to get to sleep.  Discomfort is one of the reasons for this, but your stomach has to work overtime to digest your food.  If you are hungry and you feel you need to eat, especially if you are a diabetic, consider eating a small meal instead. 

Obesity can sometimes play a part in insomnia, so eating healthy is not only important in overall health, but can lead to helping decrease stress on the body and help to alleviate the severity of insomnia. 

8. Avoid Caffeine

Avoiding caffeine especially in the evening is something you should consider doing if you have a hard time sleeping at night.  Caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands, and this is one of the last things you want to do just before going to bed.  Stimulating your adrenal glands adds to anxiety and stress.   If you want to drink coffee or tea consider drinking decaf, although if you are supersensitive to caffeine, you may even need to avoid decaf as it usually contains minor amounts of caffeine.  Try drinking chamomile tea instead. 


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