It’s midnight, meaning it’s the start of a new day – and then 1am, and 2am and 3am. You are either still awake or you went to sleep and woke up during the night and can’t get back to sleep. Most people take the occasional ‘bad night’ into their stride and usually have a good idea why it occurred, i.e. too much alcohol, a large heavy meal too late in the day, a disturbing programme on TV, angry arguments with family or friends, overwork… to name a few.
Sleep is vital to life. During sleep our bodies heal, regenerate new cells, make growth hormone and thyroid hormone. Without sleep for many days, one can literally go mad. In order to tackle insomnia successfully one must understand the cause of their sleeplessness. The most common causes of insomnia are due to tension, anxiety or depression, but various foods, drinks and medications can interfere with normal sleep. When we lay down to sleep after a busy day, we need to switch to total relaxation mode. There are many bodily processes involved in this ‘bedtime’ experience. There is muscle relaxation, melatonin production, decrease in cortisol, and finally allowing the mind to let go of the day. All of which culminate in the great moment of falling off to sleep … or not! However, there are natural remedies that can help even when the cause remains a mystery.
Homeopathy for Insomnia
As you will have seen in my previous articles on homeopathy, one needs to match as many of the particular individual’s symptoms of the ailment to the picture of the individual homeopathic remedy.
- Aconite: sleeplessness caused by fear, fright or anxiety. The person needing Aconite tends to be restless and tosses about. Anxious dreams. Dreams caused by fear or fright.
- Arsenicum: great anxiety. Very restless to the point of being agitated. In and out of bed. Sleeplessness from anxiety, nervous exhaustion and restlessness. The sleep is anxious, disturbed and restless, and the dreams may represent their great fear of death.
- Chamomilla: anxious and frightening dreams. Drowsy but cannot sleep. Sleeplessness due to pain – it’s a particularly great remedy for kids who suffer from teething pains, colic and ear infections. Moaning, weeping and wailing during sleep.
- Cocculus: greatly overtired with worry and overwork. Sleepless from mental or physical exhaustion. Complaints from loss of sleep, slightest loss of sleep aggravates. Sleep frequently interrupted by waking and starting. Constant drowsiness after loss of sleep. Cocculus is one of the best remedies for sleep deprivation – the person feels hollow, dizzy and empty from fatigue.
- Coffea cruda: this remedy calms the nerves of oversensitive people suffering from hyperactivity of mind and body and intolerance to pain. The insomnia is characterised by a rush of thoughts and ideas, an over-sensitivity to slight noises. Restless sleep. Sleeplessness from excessive use of coffee. Sleepless with an overactive mind and flow of ideas – can’t switch off.
- Ignatia: insomnia from grief and if they fall asleep, the sleep is so light that they hear everything around them.
- Nux vomica: sleeplessness is caused by stress and overwork. The person needing this remedy is unable to switch off from business concerns. It’s also the remedy to go for when sleeplessness is caused by overeating or drinking too much alcohol. Nux vom taken before bed may help a stressed individual in transition from a ‘flight and fight’ mode to one of ‘rest and recuperation’.
- Pulsatilla: sleeplessness from ideas crowding on mind. The person needing this remedy often can’t fall sleep because a repetitive silly phrase from a story or image from a movie goes round and round in their head. They may be irresistibly sleepy in the afternoon and wide awake in the evening.
- Rhus tox: sleepless before midnight. Restless sleep from tossing about as they can’t get comfortable. Overexertion and muscular fatigue will cause a very restless insomnia with much stretching. They awake tired, stiff and sore.
- Zincum met: useful if one cannot fall asleep because of a constant need to move ‘restless legs’.
Herbal remedies for Insomnia
The herbal approach is to use tranquillising herbs that relax and calm the mind & nervous system without narcotic or addictive properties. Valerian, hops and passionflower have a long tradition of effectiveness and reliability. Avena sativa (oat straw) strengthens the nervous system and promotes restful sleep. Scullcap relieves insomnia due to anxiety, worry, emotional excitement or neuralgic pains. Lemon Balm is great for insomnia due to tension, digestive upset or nervousness.
*Note: Herbs are powerful medicines. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have a longstanding health problem you are advised to seek professional advice by a herbalist as to whether or not it is safe for you to take herbal remedies.
And last but not least… turn off your screens! According to the National Sleep Foundation the blue light that’s emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.
Contact me to book a full consultation if your sleeping problem is persistent so that I can give you a tailored prescription.
Ulrike Holzer LSECH MSCH MARH