Insomnia/ Sleep

Sleep Hygiene

Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Arise at a specific hour each morning, regardless of the previous night’s sleep to help set your biological clock. To consolidate and deepen sleep, restrict the amount of sleep to only as much as needed to feel refreshed during the following day. Exercising regularly helps deepen sleep; however, strenuous exercise should be completed three-four hours before going to bed. Arrange the bedroom so that it is a comfortable setting. Insulate it against sound and light by using carpets and curtains; ear plugs and eye masks may be helpful.

  • Keep the room at a cool to moderate temperature. Excessive heat disturbs sleep.
  • Avoid liquids before going to sleep to minimize nighttime trips to the bathroom. If liquids are not a problem, try drinking a small hot beverage (dairy, rice, or soy milk) at bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeinated beverages (especially in the evening). Note: Although alcohol may help a person fall asleep, it causes subsequent sleep to be fragmented.
  • As far as possible, work out family or job related problems before going to sleep.

Use the bedroom for sleeping and sexual activity only. If you can’t fall asleep, don’t get angry at yourself; get up, leave the room, and engage in another activity like reading or stretching. Hide the clock if you find yourself waking up to see the time. Avoid napping longer than one-hour or after four pm. Turn off the telephone. Try a relaxation technique, such as, biofeedback, meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or massage to prepare the mind and body for sleep. Some of the major herbs for insomnia are: The following herbs can be used during the day, or try using 20-30 minutes before bedtime.

http://conditions.about.com/cc/insomnia/overview/causes/precipitating-factors?utm_content=6154729&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_campaign=healthsl&utm_term=

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb which can be safely used by children and adults alike. Chamomile tea is commonly used in Europe, South America, and Mexico for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, particularly in children. Chamomile oil can also be put in bath water (5-6 drops) to soothe overwrought nerves, diluted to 2% to make an excellent massage oil, or used as an inhalant.

  • Dose: Tincture, 30 drops 3 x daily.

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis): Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to a bath before bedtime are recommended for persons with sleep disorders. Additionally, the oil may be used as a compress or massage oil or simply inhaled to alleviate insomnia.

  • Dose: Essential oil–oil may be inhaled, massaged into the skin (use 10 drops essential oil per ounce of vegetable oil), or added to baths (3-10 drops).

Sleep formula, With the following three herbs combined into one formula:
Hops (Humulus lupulus): In the early 1900s, Eclectic physicians used hops as a sedative specifically for insomnia due to worry or nerve weakness. Hops, a major flavoring component of beer, has a long history of use for sleeplessness, nervousness, and restlessness. Hops pillows are sometimes used for mild insomnia.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): In the United States, herbalists use valerian extensively for its sedative action against insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness. It is recommended for those type of people who have a hard time falling asleep, because it shortens sleep latency. It also reduces nighttime waking. Valerian is an excellent herbal sedative that has none of the negative side effects of Valium and other synthetic sedatives. It works well in combination with other sedative herbs, such as California poppy, skullcap, hops, and passion flower.

The chemical make-up of Valerian has a very calming effect on the nervous system. So for mental disorders involving the nerves, like panic attacks, tension, irritability, depression, hysteria, anxiety and excitability, Valerian root is a natural and herbal alternative to using drugs or medication. It is even used by patients using benzodiazepines (drugs for a calming effect) to switch to a less chemical and more natural medicine.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/medical-benefits-of-valerian-root.html

Skullcap Leaf:

Introduction

Skullcap is an herbaceous perennial mint with ridged leaves and tiny flowers that can range in color from purple and blue to pink and white. The two-lobed flowers resemble the military helmets worn by early European settlers, hence the herb’s name. A hardy plant, it grows 1 to 4 feet (25 cm to 1 m) high, thriving in the woods and swamplands of eastern North America. Settlers in the late 1700’s promoted the herb’s effectiveness as a cure for rabies, giving rise to one of its common names, mad dog weed. This claim was later discarded, and herbalists began to focus on the plant’s considerable value.

Constituents

Volatile oil, scutellarin, bitter glycoside, tannin, fat, bitter principles, and sugar.

Typical Preparations

Traditionally taken as a tea or tincture; can be used in capsule form. For a mild sedative, combine equal parts skullcap, hops and valerian root. This can be taken as a tea or tincture three times daily and a half hour before retiring. 15-20 drops of skullcap tincture taken every hour or two can lessen the severity of drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Functions

Skullcap is a comforting herb, traditionally used to alleviate nervous tension and exhaustion. It is used to promote emotional wellbeing and relaxation during times of occasional distress.

References

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann page 582
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12652886
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=21222632

Precautions

Not toxic in normal amounts, although overdoses of skullcap tincture may cause confusion, giddiness, stupor, and seizures. Due to its use in expelling afterbirth, it should not be used by pregnant women. Skullcap cut with related species can be dangerous (for example, Teucrium chamaedrys, a close relative of pink skullcap, can cause hepatitis and liver damage), so make certain you are getting authentic scutellaria.

Other Sedative Herbs:

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica): California poppy is my favorite sedative and sleep-promoting herb which can currently be found in a variety of herbal remedies sold in the United States for promoting sleep, helping one to relax, and easing mild anxiety. Because of its mild sedative and analgesic properties, it can be given safely to children. Clinical and laboratory work on California poppy has clearly demonstrated the plant’s sedative and anti-anxiety properties; it has been shown to improve both sleep latency and quality.

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata): Herbalists consider passion flower an important herb for insomnia caused by mental worry, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. In England it is an ingredient in forty different commonly-sold sedative preparations. Passion flower is used for minor sleep problems in both children and adults It is an excellent sedative with no side effects even when used in large doses.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa): Wild lettuce is a mild sedative and nervine used for restlessness and insomnia. It may be found in a variety of formulas for the treatment of acute and chronic insomnia. It is used homeopathically for restlessness and insomnia. Because of its safety of use and calming effects, wild lettuce is a good children’s remedy.

Kava kava (Piper methysticum): Kava is the national drink of Fiji and is popular throughout the South Seas. It imparts a calm feeling, relaxes the body, and sometimes enhances communication and dreaming. This sedative herb is often used for sleeplessness and fatigue.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): This common yellow-flowered weedy herb from Europe is quickly becoming an important part of modern herbal therapeutics. It has a long history of use dating back to ancient Greek times. Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. Because this herb can sensitize the skin to sunlight, if you are taking a full dose, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight.

  • Dose: Tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 2-3 x daily; Allow 2-3 weeks for the full therapeutic effect to develop. If you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant symptoms, reduce or discontinue the St. John’s wort and consult a qualified herbalist for a total program.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a human hormone that is increasingly popular as a supplement to promote sound sleep, especially in people who travel between time zones or who work odd hours. People report mixed success with this product; some people find real benefit and others feel nothing from its use, while a smaller percentage of users experience side effects such as nervousness and increased insomnia. Whether you have benefited from the use of melatonin or not, one or more of the sleep hygiene tips, as well as safe and natural herbs and formulas covered in this article are likely to help you get a deep refreshing sleep, without side effects.

Help with mental energy and clarity: Memory Stimulant or Gingko leaf  and/or Memory Boost that  contains neuroprotective nicotinamide, which supports both memory and mood. Likewise, L-Theanine improves cognitive performance while supporting a sense of calm. Memory Boost™ also contains guarana and panax ginseng to encourage concentration.

Truman’s Supergreenfoods- Super Green Foods w/Herbs (Super Veggie Powder) gives you a convenient way to get the nutritional benefits of organic vegetables in your diet. Rich in chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, beta carotene, DNA, RNA and enzymes. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber as well.

MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES will give you ideas for more energy and healthier life!

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