Having Trouble Sleeping?
Getting a good nights sleep is essential for your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Tossing and turning when you should be resting is no fun. Good sleep is essential for good health. Not getting adequate sleep can lead to other health problems, exacerbate existing conditions, creates sleep anxiety and can even lead to weight gain.1)http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/how-sleep-loss-adds-to-weight-gain/
One third of the adult population reports difficulty sleeping. 2)
Having suffered from hormone induced sleep issues and even sleep anxiety, I’m eager to share the remedies that work for me 98% of the time. When you have trouble sleeping and you find something that works, you want to shout it out loud. 😊
Just remember, if you have chronic insomnia please seek out appropriate medical attention. This article is to simply inform you of natural sleep remedies that work for us and is no way to be construed as medical advice. Sleep deprivation can be dangerous and can even lead to tragic death such as falling asleep while driving or suicide from depression. 2) 2)
Sleep deprivation is serious.
Many people—both male and female—experience insomnia. The causes for that are many, however some of the natural remedies work, no matter the cause. For me sleep issues began with menopause.
Insomnia is treatable. If you have chronic insomnia, please seek proper medical advice.
Menopause and Sleep Problems
Stress can lead to anxiety which naturally affects sleep. Hormonal changes can cause release of the stress hormones, which can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, worry and fear, and are often the cause sleep issues, especially in women, who suffer from insomnia more than men.
In our family we’re strong advocates of prevention, so we always start with natural remedies whenever possible. If that doesn’t work we seek out our naturopathic doctors. 2) Since most illness is attributable to diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, it just makes sense to start there for our medicine.
Natural remedies put us more in control of our own health and wellness.
We’ll get into more specific reasons and remedies for sleep challenges in another article if you want a deeper dive. However, for the topic in this article we’re just addressing what to do if you find yourself unable to sleep, for whatever reason, (barring a serious health issue of course, in which case you seek appropriate medical attention).
There are five remedies I use alternatively, and sometimes both together.
Seven Natural Sleep Remedies
Sleep troubles can escalate health and anxiety issues. Being tired makes us vulnerable to other issues because when we’re tired and “not ourselves”, we feel weaker, vulnerable and fearful and out of control or our life.
As hormonal changes progressed for me, I needed to move to stronger remedies as well as a combination of things. But, more than any medically prescribed remedy, these have worked best for me.
Natural Sleep Supplements that Work
To use medication and remedies rather than to address and try to fix the causes generally leads to more problems down the road. Ultimately, we need to eliminate the causes of sleeplessness rather than rely on supplementation.
If a baby is crying because her diaper is wet, to offer her a bottle might placate her for a time, but it doesn’t take care of the original problem. Rather, it will only make it worse. 😉
Same thing with the “cries” from our body. If you are consistently not sleeping well, it’s should be your first priority to reverse that by eliminating things that disturb sleep, such as stimulants, technology and lights in your room, etc., and adding things that will help, such as relaxing reading, soothing music, yoga and meditation.
However, for the occasional sleeplessness, here’s what works for me 99% of the time.
Seven Favorite Natural Sleep Remedies
My first go-to remedy is a melatonin based spray applied under the tongue.
In supplements, melatonin is derived from animal and plant sources. When ours isn’t working well, melatonin supplements can really help.
I use these two melatonin sprays:
1. Melatonin Sprays
Melatonin 1.5 Miligrams
In my experience both of these work equally well and are priced about the same. However, the Isagenix is the better value for double the size, and half the serving size (3 sprays vs. Mercola’s recommended 6). However the Isagenix brand does not show the melatonin milligrams on the label the melatonin milligrams.
The Isagenix brand also has a milder taste and requires three spray pumps per serving as compared to Mercola’s recommended six, making the Mercola version several times more expensive. However, I’ve found that three spray pumps usually work equally for me with either of these so perhaps the melatonin milligrams is similar in each.
The next best remedy that almost always works is less expensive than either of those. When one hasn’t yet done the trick, both together will have me out like a light and sound asleep in short order.
This home remedy won’t work if you’re lactose intolerant, so if that’s you, scroll on to the next sleep remedy recommendation.
For more information on sleep and Mercola2)http://products.mercola.com/melatonin-sleep-spray/
2. Warm Milk with Honey and Nutmeg
My second favorite sleep remedy is warm milk with nutmeg and honey. All three of these: warm milk, honey and nutmeg, each have sleep inducing qualities. So when you take the three together in a pleasing hot bedtime toddy, chances are you’ll sleep like a baby.3)
Milk contains L-tryptophan which is an essential amino acid occurring naturally in some animal and plant foods, such as milk, known to aid in relaxation and stress relief. In the body the l-tryptophan converts to 5-HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan), and then to serotonin one of the relaxing, feel-good hormones, which is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland in response to darkness. Some say that warm milk does not actually induce sleepiness, other than psychologically, because it needs a carbohydrate to conduct the amino acid through the brain-blood barrier. However that’s where the honey comes in. 3)
Honey provides the carbohydrates needed to stimulate the release of insulin which provides safe passage of l-tryptophan to the brain, which contributes to the release of l-tryptophan and subsequently melatonin release when taken at night.
Another benefit of honey for sleep is by taking a teaspoon or two before bed, it will replenish your liver glycogen levels which relaxes the load on the liver and subsequently the brain, so you’ll be supporting a healthy metabolism as your liver has the fuel it needs to work on breaking down the toxins that are ultimately stored in fat cells. 3)3)
A sprinkle of Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, has a calming soothing effect, but just a sprinkle. Nutmeg is a powerful spice and its myristicin content has hallucinogenic properties. So while up to a 1/4 teaspoon per serving can have a relaxing, soothing effect, more would not. 3)
3. Sleep Inducing Herbal Teas
If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, and can’t do the warm milk toddy, try some of the many wonderful herbal tea remedies on the market.
Best Herbs for Sleep
This is not a conclusive list of soothing, sleep-inducing herbs, but it’s of the most commonly used in herbal teas for sleep and relaxation.
- Lemon verbena
- Linden flower
- Mints – peppermint, lemon balm, spearmint, catnip
- Passion Flower
- Tulsi (a.k.a. holy basil in India; reportedly also lowers cortisol, the stress hormone)
Ideally, begin sipping on these soothing herbal teas when the sun goes down. However, if you get to this closer to bedtime, you may want to try my shortcut to tea for sleep without the inconvenience of too many night time bathroom trips.
Shot of Herbs for Sleep
Try a strong dose of chamomile, mint or Sleepy Time Tea before bedtime. When I say “strong dose”, what I mean is, steep 1-2 teabags in only about a quarter cup of water. Let it steep 10 minutes, then swig it once it’s cooled enough.
That concentrated dose should work as well as drinking a couple cups. But by adding less water it’s less likely to cause a late night trudges to the bathroom from consuming too much liquid at bedtime, and yet you’re ingesting the full serving of soothing herb.
Concentration tea infusions help to keep you out of the bathroom at night.
For a very interesting article on the stages of sleep, what happens in each, and which are most important to your health and wellbeing, you will enjoy this article on DailyGood.com. 3)
4. Clary Sage
I’ve tried several Clary Sage oils and they were all good. I like the compact size and roller-application of this one. Quick and easy to enjoy the uniquely soothing floral herbal fragrance of clary sage.
But what is clary sage?
Clary sage is native Mediterranean perennial herb. Considered one of the most beneficial herbs, topically applied, clary sage is a nerve tonic that soothes and calms, which is why it’s beneficial to cortisol related hormonal conditions.
5.Menopause tinctures – sublingual drops
Meno Formula 44 by Biogetica.comThis menopause formula by Biogetica is the best of the Menopause tinctures I’ve tried. This helped to alleviate menopausal symptoms and hot flashes, though nothing I have tried thus far has eliminated them altogether. However this does keep it manageable.
For more on hot flashes, you may enjoy this article.
If you’ve had success with any natural remedy/remedies that alleviated hot flashes, please let me know, and we will add it to this article to help others as well.
For any of you who’ve experience severe hot flashes, you know that it’s a lot more than your body temperature suddenly shooting so far up that within seconds you’re breaking a sweat. Intense hot flashes can even be excruciatingly painful, perhaps akin to having the flu and fever, where the heat coursing through your body leaving a flaming pathway of singed nerves.
6. FemGuard Menopause Supplement
Designs for Health is a stellar company with only the highest grade quality products. It is the company that our naturopathic doctors, Jade Teta and Keoni Teta recommend and use for manufacturing their supplement line.
This Designs for Health FemGuard menopause supplement was recommended by my naturopathic doctors and has continued to be a beneficial part of my menopause support regimen. More than a remedy, FemGuard is a menopausal vitamin with beneficial herbal ingredients.
7. Cortisol Reducer
When hormone-induced anxiety interrupted my sleep—and my life—traditional medicine and hormone replacement therapy, HRT, did not work, I had to find another solution.
HRT helped reduce hot flashes for awhile, the recommended dosages based on blood tests caused my cortisol, and thus anxiety, to escalate to the point where I did not feel like myself at all.
In this state of cortisol-induced anxiety, I could actually conceive of how it is that someone could spiral into fear, depression, mental illness and even suicide. I could also see how easy it would be for someone suffering from these cortisol-induced symptoms, to give in to taking heavy-duty medications like valium, or fall to drinking too much to soften the sharp edges of anxiety and keep life bearable and manageable.
Hormone induced anxiety sneaks up on your like a kind of reverse teenage hormone attack.
This brings to mind the tragic plight of many middle-aged, menopausal women. Hormone induced anxiety sneaks up on you like a kind of reverse teenage hormone attack. Except rather than feeling energized, ambitious, and a bit sassy, you might feel quite the opposite.
Menopausal hormone effect is similar to teenage hormones in the intense rollercoaster effect, and surges of drama and emotion. But with menopause those surges can be fear instead of excitement and anticipation. The drama might be an internal cascade of anxieties, phobias, fear and doubt, exacerbated by our changing body and a feeling of seeing ourselves slip away into an unfamiliar aging reflection in the mirror.
Many menopausal women lack the knowledge of what’s happening to them and end up dependent on—and sometimes addicted to—prescription medication just to get through the day. This is unfortunate, sad and utterly unnecessary.
With menopause we need to heed the signals from our body and give it what it needs.
Anxiety can be embarrassing, unnerving and disorienting. Cortisol can create an irrational state of mind that can escalate whatever minor fear and anxiety we might have. And… cortisol spikes, and thus anxiety, is often at it’s worse at night. There’s another term for that known as sundowners or sundown syndrome.
Reference this study published by NCBI.nim.gov on sundowners and cortisol. 3)
No doctor told me what was happening to me and why.
At first I didn’t know what was happening to me. Hormones affect and impact most of us far more than we know. Foods we eat impact our hormones, which in turn affects how we feel, what we way and even how we think.
At first I didn’t know that the raging anxiety that was happening to me was menopause or hormone related. Traditional medical recommendations and HRT made my condition worse. I chose not to go back, so I had to seek another way, and I found it.
I have been able to heal my own anxiety with a combination of these natural remedies.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I’m NOT advising that for anyone here! I’ve always been acutely sensitive to medication so that’s likely one reason HRT didn’t work for me. I’m not a doctor or medical practitioner. I’m just sharing what I found to has work in the event that it might be useful information for others.
If I could only take one menopausal remedy, it would be this:
This herbal cortisol blocker or reducer, helped me reduce radical cortisol spikes, regain piece of mind, reduce the cortisol-induced anxiety and balance my hormones.
At the risk of being dramatic, this herbal remedy saved my sanctity.
Used in conjunction with these other things, this tincture was the game changer that saved me from a long and bumpy road of prescriptions with side effects. Fighting the daily cortisol-induced anxiety spikes, was actually changing who I am. I tend to be calm, balanced, rational, peaceful, joyful… have mostly always slept well.
Menopause induced hormone surges caused a tremendous cortisol imbalance that affected me physically, emotionally and mentally. I was becoming less and less of who I really am.
These remedies gave me back myself.
If you are struggling, please see your physician if you need to and ask her what natural remedies she can recommend. Meanwhile, as you’re awaiting your appointment time, give some of these a go. Either way, please let us know how you’re doing.
For more on the importance of sleep, you may enjoy this indepth article.
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