Solving Your Sleep Issues Naturally
We’ve all had nights when we didn’t sleep well. However, millions of people spend night after night struggling for a good night’s sleep. Not getting enough quality sleep can take quite a toll on our state of mind and rob your body of overall health.
Sleep is extremely important. It is during this time that our body naturally heals and repairs itself. Without the time to recoup and restore, inadequate sleep takes years of your life. Many of our body’s detoxification processes occur during sleep, as well.
Waking Up At The Same Time Every Night?
Do you wake up the same time every night, night after night? Well, your body just may be trying to tell you something. According to the Chinese Body Clock or the Meridian Clock, each organ has a peak flow time lasting 2 hours. Checking the time you wake up on the Meridian Clock can give you an idea where an imbalance might be in your body.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of your body’s processes from 9 P.M. to 7 A.M.
9 – 11 P.M. Triple Heater –Your endocrine system is adjusting the homeostasis of your body.
11 P.M. – 1 A.M. Gallbladder – This is the initial cleansing of all your tissues, processing of cholesterol and enhancement of brain functioning.
2 – 4 A.M. Liver – Cleansing of your blood and processing of wastes.
4 – 6 A.M. Lungs – Respiration, oxygenation, and expulsion of waste gases.
6 – 8 A.M. Large Intestine – Peak blood flow to the intestines. This is also why many people have their first bowel movements in the morning.
Once your are able to identify the organ that may be connected to your repeated waking, there are couple things you may want to consider:
- Acupuncture to align the imbalances of that particular meridian
- Taking an herbal cleansing supplement designed for that specific organ
Here is a great example. If you wake up around 3 A.M. every night, you may want to consider taking a liver cleanse supplement.
Can’t Fall Asleep?
Most people with sleep issues have trouble initially falling asleep. Often we are the culprits of our own sleeplessness – and are totally unaware of it. But, before you try any sleeping pills or supplements, there are several simple steps you can try to encourage falling asleep naturally. It can be really simple to incorporate these steps into your daily life.
No caffeine after lunch.
This includes soda and chocolate! Many people are sensitive to caffeine’s stimulating effects for hours after ingestion.
Don’t exercise within 3 hours of your bedtime.
This stimulates your blood flow and heart rate, which can keep you awake and alert for hours.
Shut the TV or computer off and hour before your bedtime.
The lit screen actually stimulates the brain making it harder to wind down.
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
This puts your body clock on a schedule.
If these four steps don’t solve your problem, you may want to try some safe, natural sleep inducing supplements. I will go into more detail about those later.
Dangers of Sleeping Pills
Millions of Americans are on prescription sleeping pills to help them sleep. Most of these drugs are highly addictive and hard to stop taking once started because your body ends up needing the drug to relax. In the beginning, prescription sleeping pills may seem wonderful because they are strong and work so well. However, once you quit, your sleeping issues will most likely be worse than before.
The side-effects of these sleeping pills are terrible. Many cause stomach and digestive issues, lowered sex drive and daytime grogginess. Drugs like Ambien, cause abnormal behaviors while sleeping. Some people walk, eat, and even drive while asleep!
My mother-in-law took Ambien to sleep while on a diet. She would wake each morning to open bags of chips and cookies with crumbs scattered all over the floor. She was sleep eating and had no memory of it! She was ruining her diet in the night! Thank God she didn’t get into the car and drive! Furthermore, these aren’t the worst of the side-effects!
A new study shows that sleeping pills increase your risk of death and cancer. Those who took 18 or fewer pills a year increased their risk of death 3.5 times more than those who didn’t take any at all. Those who took more than 132 pills a year increased their risk of death by 5 times and also increased their risk of cancer by 35%! 
Over-the-counter sleeping pills are just as terrible for you. I know many people who have done a lot of damage to their livers by taking Tylenol P.M. They come to me for help because they can’t sleep without it. Sadly, in their desperation to sleep, they caused a dramatic decline in their health. There is no such thing as a safe sleeping drug.
Natural Sleeping Supplements
Nature has provided some great sleeping remedies for those who need an extra boost to help with relaxation. I have seen these supplements change people’s lives, including my own. Many had been addicted to prescription meds and needed something to help train their body to sleep without drugs. Listed below are what I’ve seen work best for my clients and even for myself.[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’ ]
This is by far the most popular of sleep supplements. Melatonin is actually a sleep hormone that our body naturally produces. It doesn’t actually induce sleep, but helps the brain signal to the body that it is time to wind down. Do not use melatonin during the day, because it would then disturb your day/night body clock cycle. If it typically takes you more than an hour to fall asleep, then try taking a time-release melatonin. Take 2-3 mg to start. For those who wake in the night, keep a sublingual melatonin by your bed. Sublinguals dissolve and go right into your bloodstream for quick results.
For more information and tips about buying melatonin, please visit the Home Cure That Work product review on melatonin supplements to know which ones are safe for consumption. We’ve done the research for you so you can sleep peacefully at night.
If you have problems with sleep onset, or you wake up feeling unrested, valerian may be the herb for you. It tastes terrible so I recommend avoiding the tea and tincture and taking the pill form. A dose of 400-900 mg can help ease anxiety and create the relaxation your body needs to fall asleep at night. Some people feel results immediately, but for others it can take a week or two to get valerian’s full effects.
GABA is an amino acid neurotransmitter that stimulates relaxation and sleep. It is also responsible for good mood and a positive self-image. Many people, especially those who have anxiety attacks, have a GABA deficiency. For those who can’t sleep because they feel “wound up” or full of anxiety, GABA would be a great choice. It works so well that many call it “Nature’s Tranquilizer.” I recommend taking 500-1000 mg before bed to promote sleep. You can also take 250-500 mg during the day to help with daytime anxiety and stress.
L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a part in the synthesis of both serotonin (your feel good neurotransmitter) and melatonin (your sleep hormone). It supports restful sleep, relaxation and positive mood. L-Tryptophan is what I personally use myself and it has worked wonders.
I have never had a problem falling asleep and staying asleep each night. However, I wasn’t going into my deep REM sleep cycles like I should. I had three kids back-to-back and spent those years getting up for feedings, so my body had trained itself to not go into a deep restful sleep. L-Tryptophan helped me tremendously and I have recommended it ever since. It also gave me a more positive mood during the day due to the increase of serotonin. 500-1500mg before bed is the typical recommended dosage.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. It is great for easing those tense muscles so that you can truly relax and sleep. It is also fantastic for restless legs, which keep many people from sleeping well. I prefer magnesium in the powder form. It seems to absorb better and faster. Calm is a fantastic brand of powdered magnesium. You can mix it in hot or cold water for a relaxing nightcap.
One last sleep hindrance could be due to your teeth. Many people, including myself, grind their teeth at night. Teeth grinding, or Bruxism, is caused by stress and anxiety. Many of the supplements above, like GABA and L-Tryptophan, reduce stress so they can also reduce teeth grinding.
However, it is wise to invest in a mouthguard as excessive grinding can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. My orthodontist recommended buying a youth sports mouth guard. He said that many of the “professional” ones made for teeth grinders are essentially the same thing at a much higher price. My mouth guard cost me one dollar. As many times as I have lost it, I am thankful for how cheap it is! Those with larger mouths can buy an adult sport mouth guard. It takes a bit to get used to, but now I can hardly sleep without mine.
Whatever your sleep issue you may be, there is a natural solution. I believe quality sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and should be given priority.
Have you ever tried a natural sleep remedy before?
I’d love to hear what you do when you can’t sleep, whether it is a cup of warm milk or counting sheep. Share your stories below in the comments section.
Amanda Box is a Doctor of Naturopathy and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 10 years and currently has a Naturopathic consulting practice in Sioux Falls, SD. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic doctor to turn to for your personal needs, Dr. Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.