Can’t Sleep? These Natural Remedies May Help You Get Some Shut Eye.

You’ve tried warm milk. You’ve tried medications. You even bought a new mattress; but you’re still not getting enough sleep. What’s going on? 

Insomnia is a common problem in the United States. Almost one-third of American adults complain that they can’t fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early in the morning, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Besides exhaustion, long term sleeplessness raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and substance abuse, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sleep deprivation is also linked to dementia, and it contributes to car crashes, worksite injuries and medical errors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although natural remedies such as melatonin, tryptophan and exercise have been helping people sleep for years, researchers continue to study homeopathic sleep aids and have found that aromatherapy, music therapy and L-theanine can be effective in helping you get some shut eye.   

Aromatherapy
Although Americans began using aromatherapy a few decades ago, people from other nations have been relying on it for much longer. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oil from flowers, plants and trees to improve the quality of life or complement a traditional therapy. For instance, lavender is commonly used to alleviate joint and muscle pain, headaches and skin conditions like eczema, acne and wounds. Lavender has also been studied as a sleep aid:

  • 12 Weeks of lavender therapy improved the sleep quality of middle aged women with insomnia (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine).
  • Four weeks of lavender therapy improved sleep patterns of men and women with insomnia (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine).
  • Lavender has safely promoted sleep without daytime lethargy in elderly patients (Complementary Therapies in Medicine).
Lavender comes in various forms including bath gels, extracts, teas, soaps and lotions. However, talk to your doctor before using it—active ingredients in essential oils may interact with medications. For more on lavender, continue reading » 

Music Therapy
Over the last decade, a handful of studies have suggested that listening to music while you dose off can be effective for promoting sleep. For example, 
  • Musical tones can help balance brain activity, reducing sleeplessness (Brain and Behavior).
  • Music eased symptoms participants experienced in association with fibromyalgia, including insomnia (Pain Management Nursing).
  • Science Daily – which found that music therapy can fight depression and associated symptoms such as sleeplessness.
  • Mental Illness – which found that music therapy can relax people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); thereby, improving their sleep efficiency, i.e., the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.  
What kind of music works? When selecting music, Martin Reed, creator of Insomnia Land, a website dedicated to helping over insomnia, suggests chosing music that has a slow rhythm between 50 and 60 beats per minute (BPM). You can figure out the BPM of a song simply by listening to the song and counting the number beats for 60 seconds. Music that imitates the sound of ocean or has a lullaby-like quality also works well, Reed says. Listening to music with a positive association also helps. To learn more about music therapy, click here.

Theanine
Theanine is another natural remedy recommended by sleep experts. It's made up of an amino acid (protein building block) and a nootropic (cognitive enhancing substance) and is able to increase alpha waves in the brain. The Cleveland Clinic reports that it can help relieve anxiety, enhance mood and foster relaxation, which promotes sleep. Studies show it can reduce psychological and physiological stress responses (Biological Psychology) and contributes to relaxatio (Trends in Food Science & Technology).

The easiest way to consume theanine is by drinking green tea. However, if you consider green tea to be an acquired taste,  discuss taking a theanine supplement – L-theanine or suntheanine – with your doctor.

For more on the health benefits of green tea, continue reading » 

If you struggle getting enough sleep, work with your MDVIP-affiliated doctor. He/she has the time and the tools that can identify the root cause(s) of the problem and create a customized action plan to help you sleep better. If you or a loved one needs an MDVIP-affiliated doctor, click here to locate one. 

16 Comments
sally
Jun 28th, 2016
With respect for the ability to heal , I would like to comment that Christian Science treatment has helped me a lot, for many things.Incluidng leg cramps.

A student of CS
Sheri
May 31st, 2016
I have found that camomile tea or sleepy time tea will help me relax and get to sleep. I will have to try the green tea. Thank you.
I have also used tonic water with quinine in it for my restless legs, before I got put on a medication.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jun 3rd, 2016
Greetings Sheri,

Thank you very much for sharing what works for you. Hopefully, your suggestions will help someone else.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Amy Falls
May 22nd, 2016
I have used a small drink of deal pickle juice it works every time a few min. I am back to sleep.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 23rd, 2016
Greetings Amy,

Pickle juice is most often associated with controlling muscle cramps. Although we have not read a connection between pickle juice and sleep, there are some people who credit it with being a magic remedy for various conditions including heartburn, hangovers and restless leg syndrome. However, at this point, the evidence supporting the use of pickle juice is anecdotal, not scientific. Furthermore, the sodium content of pickle juice is quite high and possibly not recommended for people who are watching their sodium intake.

In Good Health,
MDVIP
Don Lewis
May 21st, 2016
5mg. Diazapam (sp) is a quick fix for my restless legs.
Toni
May 20th, 2016
I heard tonic water was good for leg and feet cramps. Is there any truth to that?
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 23rd, 2016
Greetings Toni,

Tonic water contains quinine, which is used to treat malaria. Over time, quinine became associated with easing nocturnal leg cramps; however, studies are inconclusive regarding its effectiveness. Since quinine, whether prescribed or consumed via a commercial beverage, has health risks, it’s best to consult your doctor before using.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Sherahl
May 20th, 2016
My husband suffers from debilitating thigh cramps and even had a vein rupture in his upper thigh a few years ago after having repeat episodes of upper thigh cramping and torqueing. His cramping began after taking a round of the antibiotic, Levaquin, for a bacterial infection. There is some documentation regarding this medication causing muscles to rupture, mostly the Achilles tendon or the carpal (?) muscles in the hand sometimes months or years later. He continues to get severe cramping in his upper thigh we believe as a result of this medication.
Lawrence Schalk
May 19th, 2016
Leg cramps can be stopped by placing a bar of soap in bed near your feet. I learned this tip from my senior softball playing friends...they have been using soap from years. Also be sure and stay hydrated.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 20th, 2016
Greetings Lawrence,

Thank you for providing this interesting tip. Although there isn't any scientific evidence or support from the medical community, many people swear by placing a bar of soap in bed to alleviate nocturnal leg cramps. What’s great about this remedy is that it doesn’t involve taking a medication or supplement and it’s simple and affordable.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Ed Abel
May 19th, 2016
Does using a sweetener in the green tea make any difference in the benefits derived from it's use.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 20th, 2016
Greetings Ed,

Adding a sweetener to tea does not affect the healthy compounds in the tea. However, before you add a sweetener, you may want to read these articles. The first covers adding sugar and cream to tea and the second article explains artificial sweeteners. http://www.livestrong.com/article/470648-does-adding-cream-sugar-cancel-the-health-benefits-of-tea/; http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030.

In Good Health
MDVIP
Sally Ringe
May 19th, 2016
Good information, but any of these things help with leg cramps? That is what is the main contributor of sleeplessness in this household.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 19th, 2016
Greetings Sally,

The remedies discussed in this blog promote relaxation, which many people need in order to fall asleep. However, if nocturnal leg cramps are the culprit of your sleeplessness, you probably need different remedies. Nocturnal leg cramps are a common problem; in fact, statistics suggest that nearly 50% of people over age 50 report them to their doctors. Because there are so many possible causes of nocturnal leg cramps, you should work with your physician to determine the best course of treatment. However, there are a few lifestyle behaviors you could adopt that may help regardless of the root cause of your cramps. For instance, wear properly fitting shoes, drink six to eight glasses of water each day and keep your blanket and sheets loose fitting while you sleep. You can learn more about nocturnal leg cramps by reading this article from one of our Medical Centers of Excellence, Cleveland Clinic -- http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Nocturnal_Leg_Cramps.

In Good Health,
MDVIP


Joan Berger
May 18th, 2016
Regular supermarket carries Decaffeinated Green Tea. You can also try Chamomile tea. Very soothing to the stomach. I
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Joan,

Thank you very much for sharing your tip. Studies have suggested that chamomile tea can be a safe and mild sleep aid.

In Good Health,
MDVIP



Joan Goldstein
May 18th, 2016
Important to address - so many people I know have sleep problems. Though I do not, I use a warm shower each evening to relax muscles and that allows the body to relax - easier to fall asleep. The few times I skipped the late shower, I felt aches I didn't know I had and then harder to drop off.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Joan,

Thank you very much for sharing your tip. Many people rely on a warm/hot shower or bath before bed. It is relaxing and many people report that it improves the quality of their sleep.

In Good Health,
MDVIP


MaryLou Troutman
May 18th, 2016
You can buy decaffeinated green tea. It doesn't contain as many antioxidants as the regular green tea.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings MaryLou,

You are correct – decaffeinated tea is available and usually has less polyphenols. However, read the labels of decaffeinated green tea to try figuring out the decaffeination method the brand used. If you see the solvent ethyl acetate, you may want to look for another brand that used effervescence (water and carbon dioxide), as this method is able to retain as much as 95% of the tea’s polyphenols.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Mary Lussier
May 18th, 2016
I drink Salada Decaffeinated Green Tea. An aside: I try to use food most efficiently to save money and reduce food waste, so I've experimented and found that one tea bag in a 4-cup measure makes a few mugs of tea with one bag with no discernible difference in taste (and presumably, health impact?), so long as the water is hot and I allow the bag to steep.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Mary,

Thank you very much for sharing your tips!

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Jeanette
May 18th, 2016
I enjoy drinking Green Tea, but avoid drinking it in the evening because it has caffeine. Do they make green teas without caffein?
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Jeanette,

Decaffeinated green tea is available in supermarkets and health food stores. To retain most of the polyphenols in the tea, look for brands that use the effervescence method of removing caffeine, as opposed to the solvent ethyl acetate.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Anne Tomasso
May 17th, 2016
Theanine from green tea to promote sleep? Green tea has caffeine.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Anne,

Decaffeinated green tea is available in supermarkets and health food stores. Generally speaking, decaffeinated green tea has less polyphenols. Of course, how much less depends on the decaffeinated process used by a brand. For instance, brands that use the solvent ethyl acetate to remove caffeine will have less polyphenols than a brand that uses the effervescence method, which simply involves water and carbon dioxide to remove caffeine, retaining as much as 95% of the tea’s polyphenols.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Marjorie Antonio-Yorrick
May 17th, 2016
Very good information I will definitely make use of it.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2016
Greetings Marjorie,

We’re glad to read that you’ll be able to use this information.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

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