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Natural Sleep Aids for Treating of Insomnia

Dr. Matthew Marturano By Dr. Matthew Marturano, Naturopathic Physician
Friday, January 18, 2013
1.Solaray Eleuthero

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from a sleep disorder or wakefulness disorder. Increasingly recognized as a hazard to public health, sleep deficiency is linked to automobile and industrial accidents as well as medical and occupational errors. People suffering from sleep deficiency are also more like to develop chronic diseases like hypertension, depression, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Those battling insomnia have begun seeking out a variety of available natural sleep aids to cope with this condition. However, it's important to realize natural sleep aids aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for quality, formulation and dosing. One should always choose a trusted manufacturer and research a product thoroughly before using it.

Here are some of the most discussed natural sleep aids and what research has shown thus far:

1. Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain's pineal gland which regulates the circadian rhythms of the body, such as the sleep-wake cycle. Levels of melatonin are naturally highest just before bedtime. Research shows melatonin reduces the time needed to fall asleep as well as increasing feelings of sleepiness and possibly increasing sleep duration. Melatonin has successfully been used to enhance sleep in healthy individuals and to reduce jet lag during global travels.  Melatonin is best used at a low dose for up to two weeks to reset the sleep cycle.

2. Valerian Root
One of the leading natural supplements on the market to manage anxiety and insomnia, valerian is a natural herbal extract. Limited findings indicate taking valerian may somewhat reduce the amount of time required to fall asleep and also improve quality of sleep. Unlike benzodiazepines, a commonly prescribed type of medication used to calm anxiety (Valium and Xanax, for example) most individuals experience no grogginess the morning after they take valerian. However, other studies found valerian didn't perform any better than a placebo.

There's some evidence that using valerian over an extended period of time may be more effective than using it for just one night. Also, poor sleepers may find more benefit than normally good sleepers. Valerian is generally well-tolerated for one month to six weeks. Some may experience a headache, impaired thinking or a feeling of having a hangover after using valerian.

3. Chamomile
A popular herbal sleep remedy for centuries, chamomile also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There are two main types of chamomile commonly available -- German and Roman. German chamomile is best brewed as a bedtime tea while Roman chamomile possesses a bitter taste and should be taken as a tincture. Both types exude a calming effect on the body for most people, which may help them feel relaxed and ready for sleep.

4. Kava
Kava is a natural herbal supplement used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia. Kava induces relaxation without affecting memory or impairing motor function. However, there have been some complications associated with kava, making it crucial to seek the opinion and continued monitoring of a physician.

Additional Options
Although it's a popular stimulant for felines, some people claim catnip performs as a sedative similar to the effect of valerian on humans. Similarly, passionflower -- also called maypop -- is still another natural sedative and sleep remedy popularly used to address insomnia and nervous digestive disorders. Some studies indicate that passionflower produces a calming effect similar to that of benzodiazepines. Hops is yet another herb which may promote sleep but has no scientific validation at this time.

Any sleep remedy used should be carefully researched and used only at the manufacturer's recommended dosing. Speak with your doctor to determine the best option for your needs. Have a great weekend!

Products you may like:

Nature's Plus Valerian Root 300mg  Nature's Plus Valerian Root 300mg 
Why you may like this product? The active compounds in valerian root help calm and promote relaxation as well, with a mild sedative effect. For these reasons, valerian has been trusted for years as a natural sleep aid. This supplement provides 300 mg per serving to help you reset your sleep cycle.
Now Foods Passion Flower Extract  Now Foods Passion Flower Extract 
Why you may like this product? Passionflower has sedative and analgesic properties so it can help you relax while relieving pain that can keep you from sleeping. This supplement can be taken daily as needed and provides 700 mg of extract per two capsules.
Now Foods Melatonin  Now Foods Melatonin 
Why you may like this product? These lozenges from Now dissolve quickly, helping the melatonin get into your bloodstream more quickly. You will fall asleep fast and sleep more soundly throughout the night.
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