Non-Chemical Options for Insomnia

imageInsomnia.

It’s evil.

No lie. 😛

All you wanna do after a stroke is sleep. All you can’t do is sleep. I’m 15 months post stroke and I still struggle with sleep issues off and on. It’s getting much better thankfully, and is only occasional now.

I don’t have all the answers. Even for myself. But wanted to share a few natural, non-chemical things I’ve found that did and do help (not in any particular order).

Valerian
Works great. Tastes and smells like stinky socks though. I was taking this in tea form for a while, but switched to capsules which are much more palatable.

It’s always good to remember that different herbs effect different people in different ways. For me, this one tends to knock me out and not let me wake up if I take too much. So I only take one pill a couple hours before bed and then one again at bedtime.

It’s important for each person to experiment to find the right dosage that works for them.

Scullcap
This is an herb that calms the mind. If you’re one who think, think, thinks like me and has a hard time keeping the mind quiet when you go to bed, this herb will help.

It’s also great for anxiousness and nerves. Very relaxing herb. I take this in pill form.

4-7-8 Breathing
This really works. You don’t think it’s doing anything, and suddenly you’ve drifted off to sleep. It’s super easy too.

Just breathe in deeply thru your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale thru your mouth for 8 seconds.

We have a quartz clock hanging on the wall in our room which I can hear ticking (even above the sound of the fan if I concentrate on it). So I lay there and ‘breathe and count’ maybe 4 times in a row or so.

I didn’t discover this method until my sleeping pattern had shifted for the better, so I don’t know how it would do with wide awake middle-of-the-night insomnia, but it works great for less severe wakefulness. It’d be worth a shot to try it for a week and see what happens. Does take some practice. (See the video in the links below).

Calm Tea and Tincture
This is a tea I came up with and turned into a tincture. It’s made with 1 part  Shavegrass, 1 part Linden, 1 part Lemon Balm, and 1/2 part Plantain.

The tincture is more potent than the tea; a couple droppers-full tangibly relaxes me and makes me drowsy enough to fall asleep. I take this, and/or drink the tea every night. The tea and tincture are both very tasty, btw.

Passionflower
I love this herb. Tasty as a tea. Not so much in tincture form. I use it most often in capsules.

It makes me drowsy without totally knocking me out. If I need it, I can take this at any point in the night, even only a couple hours before I want to get up, and it will still let me wake up.

Again, remember, different herbs effect different people differently, so my experience might not be someone else’s. Very worth trying though. Excellent for anxiousness and the blues too.

Medications
Now I’m not suggesting anyone go off their meds, but DO familiarize yourself with the side effects, including the more rare side effects. As with herbs, different drugs effect different people in different ways.

For instance, my dad and I were on the same blood pressure medication. What caused him to sleep, kept me awake. Many meds do cause insomnia.

I was on a plethora of drugs after the stroke, and a number of them had the potential to cause insomnia. I do believe some of these drugs were the source of my insomnia. Be informed.

If you can’t sleep, talk to your doc, and don’t let him/her just medicate the symptoms with a different drug. Find one that doesn’t cause you to have insomnia.

Sugar Before Bed
Hear me. If you get nothing else from this article, get this. Don’t eat too much sugar before bed. Sugar causes inflammation. Inflammation causes tension. Tension causes sleeplessness.

At one point, I began to realize when I woke up at night that I was feeling so so so tense and anxious. Well, my little special sweets indulgence each day was at night, close to bedtime. Usually a couple squares of dark chocolate or some dark choc chips and some almond butter to dip them in. They say dark chocolate is good for you, and so I felt justified, but I began to wonder if the sugar could be the source of tension I felt during the night.

So I experimented. Sure enough. When I stopped indulging in my chocolate fix at night before bed, the mysterious tension was gone, and my sleepless pattern finally began to shift.

So take the lesson from me… as much as you can, take care to eat an evening meal that’s low carb (lots of veggies, a little meat, and few starches and grains) and nix the dessert altogether. Save the sweets for an afternoon snack, if you must.

It’s been quite a ride since the stroke. I’ve learned much about various herbs through my struggles with insomnia, and so wanted to pass along the info.

My goal is to one day be back to my normal, pre-stroke ability to sleep without needing any of these helps, but for now I’m thankful to have them. Health and healing just can’t happen unless the body gets enough rest. So, this is important.

Just FYI, if you’re interested in obtaining some of these herbs, just email us and we’ll share some sources.

Herbal blessings to you …and sweet dreams!
~mary

For your research:

http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/
http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/
http://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/
http://bodyecology.com/

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The purpose of Jordan’s Crossing Herbal Connections is to promote the sharing of information about healthy, natural products and dietary supplements. JCHC’s views and opinions are INFORMATIONAL ONLY and are not intended to constitute medical advice. If you are sick, injured or pregnant, please consult a licensed health care professional.

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