Approximately 60 million Americans are affected by insomnia (difficulty falling and/or staying asleep). It is important to know that insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. These chronic diseases can be debilitating and fatal adding millions of dollars to our nation’s health cost. In addition, insufficient sleep has been associated with motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing substantial injury and disability each year.
If you suffer from insomnia, beware, there are many sleep aides on the market that include both prescription drugs and over the counter (OTC) proclaimed remedies. Most of these products maintain that they are non-habit forming. Are they? If they work, you take them because you can’t sleep without them…right? Soon they become part of your nightly habit. Remember, drugs can cause many serious side effects. Most over the counter products for sleep aid contain ingredients that can damage your liver and or kidneys. Combine them with alcohol and the risks of damage increases. Always read the label for side effects and warnings! Just because its non-prescription doesn’t mean that its safe.
Prescription drugs are not exempt from harmful effects. Google any drug you are thinking of taking and go to the pharmaceutical web site that produces that drug to read the possible adverse effects. It’s shocking! I am not opposed to prescriptions that may be necessary; I am opposed to quick fixes and treating the symptom while ignoring the cause. Lifestyle, diet, and exercise should be considered and modified first. Remember, your health starts in the kitchen. So let’s take a look at some natural alternatives.
Au Naturale. Here is an natural, scientifically proven, safe and effective way to help you get your zzz’s: A morning and evening shot of Montmorency cherry juice
The history of the Montmorency tart cherry extends back to ancient Rome. It is a variety of sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) and is grown in the United States, Canada and France, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The properties that make this variety effective include:
- Montmorency cherry juice contains melatonin, which can help improve sleep quality immediately.
- Other nutrients in the Montmorency tart cherry juice also improve how your body uses tryptophan, an essential amino acid and a precursor of serotonin.
- This tryptophan is converted into serotonin and melatonin, both important neurotransmitters for healthy sleep. These attributes have shown to have definite effects on human sleep( http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00402635). The result is that it helps people fall asleep and stay asleep.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means that the body needs it but is unable to produce it. We can only obtain essential amino acids from eating foods. Our bodies then use these amino acids to make proteins, vitamins and other important cellular components.
A new study presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting by researchers from Louisiana State University-my Alma Mater by the way- found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia. http://sleepfoundation.org
Home remedy sleep aid: A relaxing soak with Epsom Salts and lavender essential oil . Who wouldn’t want to try this?
There is not enough scientific research on this so I am recommending it based on subjective results and objective feedback from my patients. I have used epsom salt soaks for myself with great success for many years. I also prescribe them for my patients and have always received positive results. The soaks are great for not only relaxation, but to reduce muscle pain and stiffness. Use approximately 2 cups of Epsom salt dissolved in 15 gallons of very warm water — the amount that can fit in a standard-sized bathtub. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil and soak for 12 minutes or longer. No drugs no side effects just pure relaxation…hard to beat that!
Bonne Nuit, Mon Chéri