Insomnia - according to the dictionary is a chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time. We've all experienced this at least sometime in our lives. Insomnia becomes a problem for me when I have too much on my mind so I can't shut the brain off allowing my body to fall asleep. I keep telling myself that at least getting some rest is good, but who am I kidding. Sometimes I make the mistake of having too much caffeine late at night. I am one of these people that needs at least 7 hours of sleep a night; otherwise I will feel moody, listless, lethargic and just crappy in general. Life is a lot prettier when I am awake to see it.
On a much more serious note, insomnia can cause a breakdown of the immune system, car accidents and even industrial accidents. Billions are lost each year in the workplace from people being absent. I believe in alternatives when it comes to my health. I have never taken sleeping pills from a doctor and I won't take over the counter sleep aids either. I don't believe in putting those kinds of pills in my body. I search for other natural aids for relaxing and falling asleep when needed.
Old wives tales are out there regarding sleeping, but the glass of hot milk or a dish of cottage cheese really can assist you with sleep. There is an amino acid in milk that the body converts to a sleep enhancer in the brain. If you don't do dairy, try a small snack of soy nuts, chicken, turkey, or pumpkinseed inducing the hormone melatonin. You know how you feel after a Thanksgiving dinner, you can blame the turkey. Supposedly, melatonin supplements will not interfere with sleep quality, memory, or next day performance the way that pills do. It also won't lose its effectiveness in the long run. If you wish, take a melatonin supplement before you go to bed and see if this helps you. You might also try high carbs or bread which produces serotonin in the body. This hormone also relaxes and reduces anxiety. Vitamin B and magnesium assist with sleep as well. Herbs such as valerian are popular in Europe and available in health stores. Valerian improves sleep without causing a hangover effect. Just steep about 300-400 mg of the valerian root in hot water for tea 30 minutes before bedtime. Other popular herbs you might try are skullcap, passion flower, California poppy, and lemon balm. My vote would be to ingest any of those things instead of the sleeping pills. Remember, melatonin and serotonin are hormones and they can sometimes become complicated.
In Feng Shui - the Chinese art of placement; it is taught that changing your bedroom can assist with sleep. Take the television out of the bedroom because it can be like a big "eye" staring at you in the night. That is a little disconcerting don't you think? If you don't want to remove it, at least cover it up before you retire. Watching only bad news before you sleep isn't good either. Try turning the station and see if that helps get you more relaxed for sleep. Bright digital alarm clocks aren't good right by your head because of the light as well as the EMF's the electric appliances produce. If you bring a lot of work from the office into the bedroom you are asking for troubled sleep. Too much on your mind does not allow for relaxation. Are there a lot of books around your head? If you read a mystery or thriller at night, it isn't the best for relaxing and being calm at bedtime. Remove the books or read only calming things at night. Make sure your bed is positioned so that you face the door. You want to easily see who is coming into that door so you will feel less vulnerable. If you have a ceiling fan above the bed, you might think about removing it because those blades aren't the best thing to have positioned above the bed as you sleep. Logically you know it won't hurt you, but subliminally it could be keeping you awake.
If your bedroom feels good by the changes you have made, go the extra step and bring fragrance into the room at night. Use aromatherapy and essential oils for a calming experience. You can start with some relaxing scents in a bath. Some of the relaxing oils are: lavender; especially good for sleep, cedarwood, clary sage, neroli, marjoram sweet, palmarosa, patchouli, rose, vanilla, ylang ylang, vetiver, jasmine, bergamot, and all of the camomiles. Pick one up at your health food store and see what you think. If nightly baths aren't your thing, experiment with mixing the oils and a little water. Spray them into the room and around you before you sleep at night. Place a little oil on a cloth and keep it beside your pillow. Essential oils can stain fabric so don't put them directly on your pillowcases. I know from experience that a little lavender on a cloth placed by a child's pillow immediately calms and relaxes the little one that is reluctant to fall asleep.
Taking care of insomnia shouldn't mean popping sleeping pills for a quick fix. There is the occasional need to assist the body with falling asleep, and try not to fall into the trap of what the commercials tell you and experiment with some easy natural ways to get those ZZZZZ's.
Beverly Marshall is a successful freelance writer, certified Aromatherapist and Feng Shui consultant. Her many articles offer guidance, suggestions and common sense ideas to change your life.