Even those of us who generally sleep well most nights can often experience occasional insomnia during the holiday season. As we celebrate this festive time of year, there is all the stress, strain and tension surrounding getting it all done. Gifts to buy, extra food preparation, having company, throwing a party, attending family gatherings and that’s on top of all the regular activities of job and family responsibilities. All this hectic activity can add up and often wreaks havoc with our sleep cycle. Natural help is available.
A poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that 74 percent of American adults are experiencing sleep problems a few nights a week or more and over a third of Americans are getting less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight.
Some herbal and nutritional supplements have been found to promote relaxation of mind and body. For the best results, look for a formula that contains Melatonin and some of the following herbs.
Melatonin is a hormone that participates in regulating the sleep/wake biorhythm. It is secreted by the pituitary gland and its release is strongly affected by light, with hormone levels normally dropping during daylight hours and rising at night. Melatonin levels are low in people with insomnia, and supplemental melatonin has been found to be an effective treatment for insomnia in controlled trials. Melatonin appears to help shift the sleep phase in some circumstances, and studies have suggested that it can improve sleep in shift workers and people with jet lag.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a flowering perennial plant that is well known for its ability to ease nervousness and promote sleep. The long-used combination of valerian and hops has also been studied and results suggest its effectiveness in relieving insomnia.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) most common medicinal use is a treatment for insomnia and anxiety. Results from several studies suggest that hops extract quiets the central nervous system by increasing GABA activity and by activating melatonin receptors.
L-Theanine is an amino acid naturally present in green tea. In animal research, L-Theanine was found to increase the release of serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and glycine to cause relaxation. In humans, L-Theanine supplementation increased alpha brainwave activity, indicating movement toward a calmer mind. L-Theanine is thought to promote sleep by reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a medicinal plant in the mint family with mild sedative properties. Lemon balm has traditionally been used for its calming effects. In other research, lemon balm improved self-rated mood, increased calmness, and improved cognitive functioning in healthy people under ordinary circumstances and while performing stress-inducing tasks.
Excerpt of article written by: Maureen Williams, ND