The Rural Storey: Natural Insomnia Remedies
As we usher in our new website, we are pleased to introduce a brand new feature for RI readers' pleasure and edification. We've partnered with Storey Publishing, that North Adams, Mass. powerhouse creator of some of the most informative, intriguing and just plain gorgeous books that help, advise and inspire.
At any given time during the night or early hours of the morning, one-third of Americans are pacing the floors or turning restlessly in bed, unable to sleep. Not only does insomnia leave you worn out, but it can aggravate stress and anxiety. Though the body needs only a couple of hours of rest to recharge its battery, the brain and nervous system suffer without 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Luckily, there are safe and effective natural remedies that are especially successful when combined with a few simple lifestyle choices. The trick is finding the right remedy or combination of remedies for your particular type of insomnia. Here are a few to try.
- Chamomile is one of the most widely recognized herbs for mild insomnia and is especially valuable for small children and the elderly. It has a long history of use for calming and relaxing the nervous system and helps those who feel anxious and restless before bedtime.
- A strong tonic for the nervous system, hops is especially useful for insomnia due to hypertension. It’s also a powerful bitter and can help relieve gastrointestinal stress.
- When insomnia is due to chronic stress and anxiety, and/or the muscles of the body are tight, kava is an effective tonic.
- Skullcap is particularly effective for those with “busy minds” who lie awake thinking of all the things they need to do the next day. It’s also helpful for those whose work involves a tremendous amount of mental activity.
- Valerian is relaxing to both the central and peripheral nervous systems, so both mind and muscles respond to its gentle, calming effects. If you wake up in the middle of the night, take a healthy tablespoon or two of a valerian tincture.
- Ashwagandha helps rebuild the nervous system and adrenal glands. It can be taken in the evening before bedtime, but it should also be taken throughout the day to help restore adrenal health. (See recipe below.)
- Other herbs that have proven helpful for insomnia include passionflower, lemon balm, oats, and catnip. Teas are warming, soothing and relaxing to drink in the evening, but as you get closer to bedtime, keep your consumption to a minimum so that you’re not wakened at night by a full bladder. Instead, use tinctures closer to bedtime.
Cow’s milk is preferable for this tea, since it contains tryptophan, which promotes sleepiness, but soy, almond or rice milk can be substituted.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ½ teaspoon honey
Warm the milk, then add the ashwaghanda, cinnamon and honey, and stir to blend. Sip slowly.
Source: Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men: Remedies & Recipes. Published by Storey Publishing, North Adams, Mass.
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