Sleep Tips: Falling asleep and staying asleep

March 3, 2008 11:16:01 AM PST
Some ways for you to get a good night's sleep without medication.Valerian: herb used as remedy for insomnia

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a herb that has been long used as a remedy for insomnia. Today, it is an accepted over-the-counter insomnia remedy in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. Exactly how valerian works in the body is still not well understood. Unlike many other sleep medications, valerian is not believed to be addictive or cause grogginess in the morning. But valerian doesn't work for everyone. Valerian is usually taken between an hour before bedtime. It takes about two to three weeks to work. It shouldn't be used for more than three months at a time. Side effects of valerian may include mild indigestion, headache, palpitations, and dizziness.

Melatonin: remedy to help people fall asleep when sleep/wake cycle disturbed

Melatonin is a popular remedy to help people fall asleep when the sleep/wake cycle has been disturbed. Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. The pineal gland in the brain makes serotonin which is then converted into melatonin at night when exposure to light decreases. Melatonin is typically taken about 30 minutes before the desired bedtime.

Kava: anti-anxiety herb

Kava is an anti-anxiety herb that may be helpful for anxiety-related insomnia


  • Do not eat after 8pm

  • Avoid sugar or large amounts of carbohydrates after 6pm
    Although sugar can give a burst of energy, it's short-lived and can cause uneven blood sugar levels. This can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night as blood sugar levels fall.

  • Sleep in dark, cool room -- 65 degrees ideal temp
    Any light can interrupt with the hormones and brain chemicals necessary for sleep and cellular repair

  • Use pillow to support cervical spine

  • Try to wake up naturally, without an alarm clock whenever possible

  • 4 Square Breathing
    Slowly breathe in through your nose. Breathe from the abdomen, not the shoulders, and count to four. Hold your breath in for a count of four. Slowly exhale to the count of four. Hold your breath out for a count of four.

    Breathing in this manner helps you calm your autonomic nervous system. The input into your brain from controlling the breath aids in getting your physiology out of fight/flight mode and into healing/digestive mode. This has a dramatic effect on how you are able to rest at night and even calm you during the day to adapt to everyday stressors.