Sleep

Insomnia – a Comprehensive Look With Natural Remedies

BY Michael Edwards TIMEJuly 28, 2022 PRINT

I must have counted millions of sheep back when I regularly suffered from insomnia. I would lie in bed staring at the ceiling, or worse, staring at the clock. Minutes passed. Hours passed. I’d count the hours until I had to get up. Six hours. Five hours. Four. Regardless of how tired–how utterly exhausted my body and mind felt– I could not sleep.

Insomnia can be both debilitating and dangerous. According to The National Highway Safety Administration, 100,000 or more auto crashes each year are due to fatigue, with a resultant 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Some studies have shown that driving while exhausted can be even more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.

When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep… and you’re never really awake. – Fight Club

A chronic lack of sleep not only affects your work, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life, it also wreaks havoc with your hormonal system, your immune system, and your body’s ability to heal in every way (we regenerate while we sleep).

You don’t need to resort to pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects and residual fatigue upon waking. Use these natural remedies to reset your sleep cycle and end insomnia.

The # 1 Insomnia Cure – Earthing While Camping

Let’s cut to the chase before we get into everything else.For most people, camping is simply the best cure for insomnia. If you can get away for a few days, bring lots of organic produce and other healthy foods, forage if you know how, and go sleep outside! Leave your electronic devices at home. Leave your phone in the car. Take some time to meditate. Write. Do some yoga. Most importantly, sleep on the ground – not in a camper, your car, or a cabin. Get grounded. Reset. Your goal is to de-stress, to take a break from distractions and the EFTs, to avoid artificial light, and to use natural light and magnetic fields to re-set your circadian rhythms. By the third day, almost anyone will be falling asleep shortly after nightfall, as nature intended.

Camping and proper diet will work for most people’s insomnia, but for many people, camping is not an option right now. And for some, the need for significant dietary and lifestyle changes may need to happen before the benefits of camping.

The Different Kinds of Insomnia

There is onset insomnia, which is trouble falling asleep, and there is maintenance insomnia, which is waking from sleep prematurely and not being able to go back to sleep (marijuana and alcohol).

Onset insomnia is often caused by anxiety, depression, pain, sleep-shift disorder, and an active mind. Some studies have shown that very intelligent people often have a very hard time going to sleep, not so much because they can’t, but because they choose not to. After time, this can disturb the body’s sleep rhythm causing insomnia. When they try to get to sleep earlier, regardless of how tired they are, their bodies don’t cooperate. Imagine how much easier it was to go to sleep at the most opportune time before technology, before artificial light, even before candlelight. Camping is an obvious choice for those who just need to reset their biological rhythms and find some peace.

Depression, anxiety, and other altered mental states can cause insomnia by working the overactive mind that doesn’t want to go to sleep, but these conditions can be connected to health issues. When someone regularly gets depressed their brain is not working right, and this can typically be traced back to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and toxicity in the body.

Short-term Insomnia and Chronic Insomnia

Short term maintenance insomnia could be a result of drug use, chemical exposure, allergies, and sleep shift disorder. Short term onset insomnia is typically due to stress. Chronic onset insomnia can be caused by a wide variety of factors from poor health to an overactive imagination to high intelligence. Chronic maintenance insomnia is a sign that one’s health is seriously flawed.

Causes for Insomnia

  • Marijuana – Chronic use of marijuana can lead to chronic maintenance sleep insomnia, and it can lead to onset insomnia when the person quits using it.
  • Allergies – A runny nose; itchy, watering eyes; painful sinuses; and itchy rashes are not conducive to sleep.
  • Diet – Poor diet equals poor health, and anything can go wrong.
  • Toxicity – Chemical toxicity and heavy metal toxicity interferes with the neurological system, the endocrine system, the immune system and every function of the body.
  • Medications – Pharmaceuticals are toxic, which is why all of them have side effects.
  • Gastrointestinal problems – Candida overgrowth, leaky gut, bacterial and parasitic infections, and autoimmune disease lead to insomnia and originate with poor diet.
  • Asthma – It is very difficult to sleep when breathing is impaired by bronchiospasms and mucous.
  • Neurological conditions – Multiple Sclerosis, Restless Leg Syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
  • Chronic pain – Lower back pain, headaches, arthritis, migraines, injuries, etc.
  • Coffee – Other stimulants including nicotine, teas, energy drinks, and drugs.
  • Hormones – Thyroid, adrenal system, endocrine system (see gut health).
  • Brain Health – If the endocrine system (see above) is unwell, or blood is toxic, so is the brain.
  • Vitamin B deficiency – Almost anyone with any mental or emotional issues from schizophrenia to depression has a vitamin B deficiency.
  • Depression – See brain health.
  • Sleep Shift Disorder – When the circadian rhythm is disrupted, hormones that aid in sleep are not released at the appropriate time.

Natural Remedies for Insomnia

There are many more well-known causes of insomnia than we can go over here, and the same is true for solutions. From meditation to warm milk, everyone has their solution to prevent a sleepless night. Most will also admit, if probed, that their solution doesn’t always work that well.

If camping is impossible, prolonged exposure to early morning light and regular contact with the earth (try grounding for 15 minutes a day) will reset your biological clock. Spend two hours in the early morning sun for one or two days. Set your alarm if necessary, and go back to sleep outside (on the deck or in the yard).

Eliminate stimulants from your diet. Coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, energy drinks… If you won’t give these up, be sure to limit them to the early hours of the day.

For those who are too stressed out to sleep due to anxiety, consider stress management. Chronic anxiety should also be addressed as a physical health issue and addressed with nutrition. Don’t underestimate exercise, which has been proven in multiple studies to beat many prescription drugs in studies involving anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Studies also support the importance of getting out into nature. Take a walk in the woods, breathe the cleaner air, and just feel connected with nature. It’s also a good time to get grounded. Earthing, absorbing the energy, the electrical fields that we have been connected to for most of our existence, can improve health in a multitude of ways.

The aforementioned we should all be doing regularly regardless of how well we sleep. But, the best way to put an end to insomnia is to address the cause, or in most cases, the causes. While typically one of most common multiple causes of insomnia is a result of EMF exposure and not coming into contact with earth regularly, but there are many other common factors at play as well. Thyroid and adrenal fatigue can lead to insomnia and poor quality sleep, so address those glands, and the whole endocrine system, if needed. B vitamins are essential to the nervous system and deficiencies can result in disruption of sleep cycles. Take a high-quality B complex vitamin each day. If you do not get daily exposure to sunlight or you live north of Atlanta, Georgia or Los Angeles, California, supplement with vitamin D. A lack of healthy fats can also impair hormone production and proper vitamin B and D assimilation.

The only problem with getting healthier to get better sleep is that health doesn’t happen overnight, especially when said night is not restful, and it’s pretty hard to make good choices and take care of yourself when you’re chronically exhausted. Fortunately, there are plenty of herbal approaches that have been shown to put most to sleep without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Herbal Remedies and Supplements for Insomnia

To fix the biological clock long term, diet is key. B vitamins, thyroid health, and exercise are paramount, but the right combination of the following herbal remedies will knock almost anyone out at least for the first few nights they’re used, without the pharmaceutical side effects.

Tryptophan

Our bodies require tryptophan, an amino acid, to make serotonin and melatonin. It can help you fall asleep and improve your quality of sleep by lengthening the time you spend in deep sleep. In addition, studies have shown an increase in alertness upon waking. Tryptophan is plentiful in many different foods including tart cherries, spirulina, soy, many different kinds of meat, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, eggs, oats, lentils, and much more. The problem is that eating foods with tryptophan has been shown to not increase the tryptophan levels in the blood. Supplementation works better, but the need for tryptophan shows a need to address the endocrine system and balance the body’s hormones.

5 HTP (hydroxytryptophan)

5 HTP is produced in the body from tryptophan. You won’t get 5 HTP directly from your diet. The 5 HTP used in supplements is obtained from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a plant native to Africa. 5 HTP is a direct precursor of serotonin and it’s an intermediate for synthesis of melatonin.

Valerian Root

Valerian root aids in sleep onset as well as the quality of sleep. The best results are found when combining valerian root with melatonin or hops. Take 400-500 mg at bedtime.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and may be also synthesized in the gastrointestinal tract from L-tryptophan. There are those who cannot convert tryptophan into melatonin as well, which is likely the reason why many find melatonin works better than tryptophan. For some, melatonin can help with the length of sleep or the quality of sleep, but many say it helps with sleep onset, but they find themselves waking after four or five hours. Side effects may include strange dreams, nightmares, and daytime drowsiness. Dosage ranges from 1-10 mg.

Hops

Hops extract is another sleep aid that helps one get to sleep and  improves sleep quality. It works well with valerian extract and the combination may help increase alpha brain waves.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh minimizes sleep disturbances which is great for relief from maintenance insomnia, and it also reduces irritability and mood swings.

Passionflower

Passionflower clears anxiety and restores the body to a more peaceful state.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogen that blocks stress messages in the body, promoting relaxation and peacefulness.

Chamomile flower

Chamomile flower and leaf soothes anxiety and has sedative properties. Check out Organic Solutions Cal-Calm Tea, with chamomile, red clover, and raspberry leaf.

Skullcap

Skullcap promotes calmness and increases the body’s ability to adapt to stress. It also acts as a sedative for aches and pain.

Music and Sounds for Insomnia

My Own Protocol for Insomnia

Having a family with a small child and having a business I love makes insomnia much less common. I don’t get nearly enough sleep, but it’s typically by choice. It’s hard for me to stop working at night when everyone else is finally quiet and letting me work undisturbed. Growing up, I suffered from severe insomnia and depression. It was more of a health issue. Today, if insomnia does grip me, it’s usually because I’ve been staying up working too late for too long and I need to push back my sleep schedule. When I was younger, I used this protocol to reset my sleep rhythms and improve my sleep quality, and to ensure that I slept for as long as I needed for optimum health and woke up feeling alert and refreshed.

  • Anytime I need to get to sleep on time, no matter what, I make sure I exercised that day. I also stay active throughout the day, too.
  • I like naps, but of course, I skip them if I am having trouble sleeping at night.
  • When I am adjusting my internal sleep clock from weeks or months of going to bed too late, I always make sure to wake up at the same time every morning, and I stay up, regardless of when I went to bed. Make sure your bedtime allows for enough sleep, regardless of when you fall asleep, and get up at the same time every morning no matter what.
  • I also get grounded and take that time to do some peaceful meditation in the mornings and before bed.
  • I make sure I get sunlight during the day, and I take vitamin D and B vitamins.
  • Before going to sleep, all the lights should be turned off or covered (those little blue, red, flashing lights on electronics inhibit proper sleep rhythms). Absolute darkness aids in melatonin production. If thoughts are swirling in my mind, I write them down. A bedside journal can be a great sleep aid.
  • L-Tryptophan or melatonin, Shillington’s Nerve Sedative Formula, and some B vitamins will knock me out within a half an hour every time. I like L-Tryptophan better than a melatonin supplement because it increases production of melatonin and serotonin, and I know my gut is healthy enough to convert it as it should. I have also had very good results with using both.

30 mins Before Bed

Laying In Bed

When I lay down to go to sleep, I make sure I am breathing properly (see How to Breathe) and I do math in my head. If the math problems are big or complex (or both), it’s something I can focus on without drifting into thoughts that are more likely to keep me up, and it will eventually put me to sleep. I also like to make up a dream for myself, roleplay it out in my head, and imagine it is a dream. I try to feel it like a dream, which is not easy to explain, but it also works well for me.

Shillington’s Nerve Sedative Recipe:

  • 2 – parts Valerian Root
  • 2 – parts Lobelia Seed Pods
  • 2 – parts Passion Flower
  • 1 – part Hops Flowers
  • 1 – part Black Cohosh
  • 1 – part Blue Cohosh
  • 1 – part Skullcap
  • 1 – part Wild Yam

A “part” is a measurement by volume.  Blend all ingredients together and make into a tincture using a 50 – 50 blend of alcohol and distilled water.

A dropperfull is considered to be about 1/2 way up the dropper from a two-ounce bottle.

Be sure to shake well before each use.

Other Steps You Can Take

Eliminating EMFs can help keep your sleep schedule consistent and rejuvenating. Try pulling mattresses away from outlets and keep electronic devices at a distance, or better yet, out of the bedroom.

A humidifier can help some people with dry sinuses, allergies, and those who snore.

Sleep on nontoxic bedding with nontoxic pillows, sheets, and blankets. This is a big deal! As previously mentioned, there are multiple causes for any one case of insomnia. One of those causes, and in fact, one of the causes for overall poor health and diseases is toxicity. Conventional mattresses are very toxic. Laying on them and breathing in the offgasses all night makes for a very toxic toll on the body. Fortunately, our bodies can take a very high toxic load without much complaint if the diet is healthy. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from autoimmune diseases and other health issues, a toxic mattress may inhibit them from restoring their body to optimum health and getting enough sleep even when their diet is improved for a consistent period of time.

Conclusion

For those who just need to reset their sleep rhythms, once you get your biological clock reset, your new sleep habits will require discipline, but you will reap the benefits of healthy, restful sleep. The trick to having a set sleep schedule (besides health) is all in the wakeup time. If 7 a.m. is when you want to wake up, then that’s when you wake up, no matter what, for the next 6 weeks. This includes your days off work and the morning after staying up late on purpose.

If you suffer from chronic insomnia, be it onset, maintenance, or both, your hormones are off, your health is not well, and your gut flora is unbalanced. The thyroid, the adrenal glands, and the entire endocrine system will need to be healed, and to do that, you’ll need to fix the digestive system.

Again, get off the caffeine!

Let us know the tricks and tips you have to get to sleep easily. If none of these tips work for you, the least you can do is spend your time wisely.

Republished from OrganicLifestyleMagazine

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