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Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Happy dreams are only possible if you are sleeping. Here are some ways to make those dreams possible, without any chemicals.

With all the thoughts going on in one's head, it is easy to suffer from insomnia. How could you possibly fall asleep when you are writing a mental grocery list, trying to figure out why your latest date didn't call back and what is that new humming noise coming from the refrigerator? There will always be things to worry about, but the time to do that, is not when you are tucked into bed. You need sleep to stay healthy, for old wounds to heal and to be ready for what the new day brings. Without the recommended amount of sleep, anywhere from 7 to 14 hours a day, depending upon your age, you will be tired and cranky; not a good combination. Before you hit up your doctor for a prescription for Ambien, here are the best natural remedies for insomnia. 

Tea

Chamomile, peppermint, green..most teas have natural properties that help calm and soothe you. All good things to happen to your body to help you fall asleep. You can also make your own sleep-remedy tea by using Valerian root. Valerian is one of the few herbs that contains actual sedative properties. If you don't have any of that growing in your backyard, head on over to your local market to pick up a box of Sleepytime tea. The results are guaranteed to give you a good night's sleep. 

Melatonin

For all of you scientists out there,  you should know that melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland. This gland is located just above the middle of the brain and when it gets dark outside, it produces melatonin and it is released into the blood; a natural sleep aide. But sometimes, you need a little bit more to help you fall asleep. Available over the counter, melatonin just might be the natural way to go to help get your zzzz's. Lower doses are advised and always consult your doctor before taking any medication, prescription or otherwise.

Meditation

Some folks might feel that meditation is akin to an old wives tale and it just doesn't work. Well, they are wrong. Meditation can play a pivotal role in getting into the proper frame of mind for falling asleep. Put on some comfy pajamas, get into bed and set your mind free. One method of meditation is tensing and relaxing your muscles. Start with your forehead and work your way down to your toes. It is a very mindful activity and focuses on your entire body, while being able to single out each part of your body...elbows, wrists, stomach, thighs. Tighten and release and relax. Before you know it, you have drifted off to sleep. Another method of meditation is called "guided meditation," this involves listening to someone tell you how to relax. You can buy these online, download them to your ipod and have someone with a relaxing, hypnotic voice guide you to sleep.

Massage

What could be better than a good, old-fashioned massage to relax you and get you to bed? This natural remedy is very effective, the only problem might be finding the perfect person to give you the massage. The giver of the massage has to know exactly what the receiver of the massage is looking for, so communication is key for this sleep remedy to be effective. No one likes a massage that causes pain, unless, of course, you are into that. But when it comes to falling asleep, a gentle, rhythmic touch is best advised. Which leads us to the next natural remedy, can you guess what that might be after a really good massage?

Sex

"Not tonight dear, I have a headache," might not be the thing to say if you are having trouble sleeping. Sex is the natural remedy for so many things and sleep is one of them. A woman's body produces oxytocin, also known as the "cuddle hormone", during intercourse and decreases the production of cortisol. Cortisol induces stress, which is bad for trying to sleep, so sex, naturally, helps your body relax. Another fun fact is that, according to a study done in the Journal of Women's Health, a woman's estrogen levels increase which may enhance a woman's REM cycle for a deeper sleep.  So the next time you aren't in the mood, think about what a great night's sleep you will have ahead of you, relax, enjoy and happy dreams!

Good Bedding

Sometimes, all you need to fall asleep is some really good bedding. Pampering yourself is a big part of getting a good night's rest. Invest in some really good pillows-if you are allergic to feathers, the fake stuff is just as effective for giving your head a comfortable place to rest on. And there is nothing like a night enveloped in sheets of a high thread count. Is your mattress lumpy and bumpy? Are you tossing and turning all night and waking up with a sore back in the morning? These are all extremely bad signs. What you sleep on goes hand in hand with the quality of sleep you are getting. No one is telling you to spend thousands of dollars on a new mattress, but if your mattress is older than you are, perhaps it is time to start shopping around. There are also ways to keep your mattress in tip top shape. Once a month, it is important to flip your mattress around so it is used evenly.  

Wild Lettuce

The fancy name for wild lettuce is Lactuca Virosa. According to Wikipedia, in the 19th century, it was used by doctors when opium wasn't available. It was also ingested because of its mild psychotropic effects. The sedative-like properties that wild lettuce contains, are what has attracted it to those folks that have trouble sleeping. It is available over-the-counter and some people swear by its effectiveness. If you have access to the actual plant, you can make it into a tea or put it in your salad. Lactuca Virosa is found in many parts of the world. In North America, it can be found in California, Washington DC and other random locations, perhaps in your own backyard! 

Reading

A good man might be a hard to find, but a good book is not. Keep a good book by your bed and read a chapter or two a night to help you unwind from a busy day. When you let the stress and anxiety of everyday life take over your mind, it is understandable why you might have a hard time falling asleep. Get a good does of fiction-whether it be romance, mystery or science, and escape from reality is a sure-fire way to help calm you down and get your body ready for rest and relaxation.

Unplug

Too much technology is not good for the soul, or for your ability to sleep. Little kids need limits and so do grown-ups. Give yourself a bed time, and when that time comes, phone is off, television is off, computer is off. No, not one more thing to look up, not one more commercial-everything off. When you unplug your devices, you unplug your mind and give it the ability to get the much needed rest it needs. Everything will still be there tomorrow, the only difference being that you will be well rested and ready to handle it. Once everything is shut off, lie down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. 

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