Natural Ways for A Better Night's Rest
Have you ever had trouble sleeping or getting back into a good night’s rest? I have noticed that as I have become older it can be difficult sleeping more than four hours at a time. I will have a great sleep pattern for weeks and then something will change and I am unable to return to a normal sleep pattern.
I dislike sleeping pills due to the obvious dangers and not to mention whenever I would use them it was difficult to wake up from them. I felt groggy way too long after waking up from using them. There are many natural ways to help you sleep better and we will look at them here.
First, if I have time in the evening, I enjoy a nice long soak with a calming oil such as rose or lavender. You can add the oil into your bathwater or create a room spray. It’s safe enough to spray your sheets or just your room. You can use my recipe below as a guideline. I use a four-ounce spray bottle and a funnel to add the ingredients.
*In a four-ounce spray bottle add the following ingredients:
30 drops of essential oil your choice (lavender, rose, clary sage, neroli, or ylang-ylang) are great options.
1 T witch hazel (aids in combining the oil and water together and helps the scent linger longer.)
Top off with purified or distilled water.
Be sure to shake before each use.
Vodka can be used in place of witch hazel as well. I find it easy to use a small funnel to add the ingredients in the small bottle.
*You can also sip on a warm herbal tea a half-hour before bedtime. Chamomile and lemon balm are my favorites but there are so many choices out there that you can find your favorite.
*We all enjoy a nice massage if you are fortunate enough to have your spouse give you one.
*Another great option that works within twenty minutes for me is valerian root. Valerian is available in teas, extracts, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and even essential oils.
Valerian root is used for insomnia and anxiety. It’s been used as a safe and natural alternative to many prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan that act on GABA receptors. Valerenic acid appears to act on receptors in a way that enhances GABA transmission but without the pronounced sedative effects of drugs like Valium.
Valerian root has been able to treat those with anxiety or other mood disorders. In a 2015 review from Harvard Medical School reveals that out of twelve traditional herbs used to treat anxiety, such as hops, Gotu kola, and ginkgo, valerian was the “most promising candidate” for treating anxiety associated with bipolar disorder.
Most clinical studies have shown that valerian root is safe for short term use and is well-tolerated. While most people don’t have any issues, it is possible to have side effects such as headache, dizziness, itchiness, upset stomach, dry mouth, vivid dreams, and daytime drowsiness.
Overuse of valerian root or “wild-crafted” dried root can cause liver damage. It is not known whether it was the valerian root itself or the contaminants in the product. It is recommended that you inform your doctor if you intend on using valerian root for medical purposes and have your liver enzymes monitored regularly. If you have any signs of liver impairment do not use or stop using. These signs include persistent fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice.
Valerian should not be used if you are using alcohol, sedatives, certain antidepressants, over-the-counter sleeping pills, codeine, diphenhydramine or doxylamine. Nor should it be given to children, or pregnant or nursing women. It should also be taken with caution in those who are heavy drinkers or those with liver disease.
Valerian root is broken down in the liver by an enzyme known as cytochrome P450 (CYP450). Which means theoretically, it could interfere with the effectiveness of medications that are also broken down by CYP45O, such as allergy medications, antifungal drugs, cancer medications and statin drugs.
Therefore, I always remind people that prefer to take natural supplements, herbs, and so forth to always notify their doctor first. Natural ingredients do NOT mean that it won’t interact negatively with other supplements or medications.
Naturopathic doctors are another option if your current medical doctor isn’t familiar with natural approaches to health. For more on this topic check out the references below.