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The Link Between Insomnia and Mental Health

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life, leading to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood disturbances. While there are various pharmaceutical options available to treat insomnia, many individuals are turning to naturopathic remedies as a more holistic and natural approach.

We will explore some of the most effective naturopathic remedies for insomnia and how they can help improve sleep quality and mental health.

Understanding Insomnia

Before delving into naturopathic remedies, it is important to understand the nature of insomnia. Insomnia can be classified into two main types: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia is short-term and often occurs due to stress, jet lag, or a sudden change in sleep schedule. It is usually temporary and resolves once the triggering event or situation is resolved. On the other hand, chronic insomnia is long-term and can last for months or even years. It is often associated with underlying medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, menopause or chronic pain. Chronic insomnia can also be a symptom of certain medications or substances, such as caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol.

During menopause, many women experience sleep problems, including insomnia. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of naturopathic remedies can vary from person to person during menopause. If you are experiencing severe or persistent insomnia during menopause, it’s advisable to consult with a Naturopath for personalised advice.

Conventional Treatments for Insomnia

Conventional treatments for insomnia typically involve the use of medications, such as sedatives or hypnotics. These medications can help induce sleep and improve sleep quality. However, they often come with side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and dependency. Some individuals may experience rebound insomnia, which is a worsening of sleep problems when the medication is stopped. Additionally, some individuals may prefer to explore natural alternatives due to concerns about side effects or long-term use.

Naturopathic Remedies for Insomnia

Naturopathic remedies for insomnia focus on addressing the underlying causes of sleep disturbances and promoting overall well-being. These remedies often involve lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, and the use of natural supplements. Here are some popular naturopathic remedies for insomnia:

1. Sleep Hygiene

Improving sleep hygiene is an essential step in managing insomnia. This involves establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimizing the sleep environment. A regular sleep schedule helps regulate the body’s internal clock and can promote better sleep at night. A relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book, or taking a warm bath can signal the body that it’s time to sleep. Optimising the sleep environment, such as keeping the room dark, quiet, and cool, promoting better sleep. Avoiding stimulating activities, such as watching TV or using electronic devices before bed, can also promote better sleep.

2. Herbal Supplements

Certain herbs have been traditionally used to promote sleep and relaxation. Examples include valerian root, chamomile, passionflower, ziziphus and lavender. These herbs can be consumed as teas, tinctures, or in capsule form. Valerian root is often used for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Chamomile is known for its calming properties and is often used to reduce stress and promote sleep. Lavender has been shown to improve sleep quality, especially in people with insomnia or anxiety. However, it is advisable to consult with a Naturopath before starting any herbal supplements, as they may interact with other medications or have contraindications.

3. Mind-Body Techniques

Mind-body techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga, can help calm the mind and relax the body. These practices promote a state of relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common causes of insomnia. Deep breathing exercises can help relax the body and prepare it for sleep. Yoga can help reduce physical tension and promote relaxation. Incorporating these techniques into a daily routine can have long-term benefits for managing insomnia and reducing stress and anxiety.

4. Nutrient supplements

There are several nutrient supplements that are believed to have a positive impact on sleep quality and may help with insomnia. Here are a few examples:

1. Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a key role in promoting relaxation and sleep. It helps regulate neurotransmitters and has been found to improve sleep quality. You can consider taking magnesium supplements or including magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.

2. Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. It is naturally produced by the body in response to darkness and helps signal the body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin supplements can be useful for individuals with insomnia, especially for those who have difficulty falling asleep. However, it’s important to consult with a Naturopath before starting any new supplements.

3. Glycine: Glycine is an amino acid that is known for its calming effects on the brain and body. It has been found to improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia. Glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it can help calm the nervous system and promote relaxation.

In terms of GABA production, glycine indirectly supports GABA production in the brain. GABA is another inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating sleep and reducing anxiety. Glycine helps increase the levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects GABA receptors and allows them to function properly.

Including glycine-rich foods in your diet, such as bone broth, meat, fish, and legumes, can be beneficial for promoting better sleep. Remember, while nutrient supplements like glycine can be helpful, they should not replace a healthy lifestyle and good sleep hygiene practices. If you’re experiencing persistent insomnia, it’s always best to consult with a Naturopath.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

CBT-I is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviours related to sleep. It aims to identify and modify the underlying causes of insomnia, such as anxiety or stress. CBT-I has been shown to be effective in treating chronic insomnia and can provide long-lasting results without the use of medication. It typically involves several components, including sleep restriction, stimulus control, cognitive therapy, and relaxation training.

6. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that utilises the power of aromatic essential oils derived from plants to promote physical and psychological wellbeing. Essential oils have been known to possess calming and relaxing properties, making them an ideal option for those struggling with insomnia or other sleep-related disorders.

There are a plethora of essential oils available that can aid in enhancing sleep. Lavender, for instance, is a popular choice due to its soothing scent, which has been found to induce a state of relaxation and tranquility. The gentle fragrance of chamomile essential oil is another option that promotes deep sleep and can alleviate anxiety and stress. Additionally, oils such as bergamot, ylang ylang, and vetiver have also shown to have positive effects on sleep quality.

Aromatherapy is a fantastic tool for improving sleep, whether you choose to diffuse the oil, add it to your bath, or apply it topically. Incorporating aromatherapy into your bedtime routine can contribute to a more restful and rejuvenating slumber.

The Benefits of Naturopathic Remedies

Naturopathic remedies for insomnia offer several benefits over conventional treatments. They often have fewer side effects and are generally considered safer for long-term use. Additionally, naturopathic remedies focus on addressing the root causes of insomnia, rather than just treating the symptoms. This holistic approach can lead to improved overall well-being and better sleep quality.

However, it is important to note that naturopathic remedies may not work for everyone. The effectiveness of these remedies can vary from person to person, and it may take time to find the right combination of treatments. It is also important to consult with a qualified Naturopath before starting any naturopathic remedies, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Conclusion

Insomnia can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, but there are various naturopathic remedies that can help manage its symptoms. From improving sleep hygiene to incorporating mind-body techniques, there are several natural approaches to consider. By taking a holistic approach to insomnia management, individuals can find relief and improve their overall well-being.

It is important to remember that while these remedies can be effective, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice and should be used in conjunction with conventional treatments when necessary. If you would like help with improving your sleep and menopausal symptoms, book a free consult here.

Facts & Data

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , adults need at least 7–9 hours of sleep in every 24-hour period, depending on their age. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9155

According to 2019 research, up to 75 percent of older adults experience some symptoms of insomnia. https://www.healthline.com/health/insomnia

References

Palagini, L., Hertenstein, E., Riemann, D., & Nissen, C. (2022). Sleep, insomnia and mental health. Journal of Sleep Research, 31(4), e13628. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13628

Sarris, J., & Byrne, G. J. (2011). A systematic review of insomnia and complementary medicine. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 15(2), 99–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2010.04.001

Taavoni, Simin MS1; Ekbatani, Neda BS1; Kashaniyan, Maryam MD2; Haghani, Hamid MS3. Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Menopause 18(9):p 951-955, September 2011. | DOI: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31820e9acf 

Mah, J., Pitre, T. Oral magnesium supplementation for insomnia in older adults: a Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis. BMC Complement Med Ther 21, 125 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03297-z

Parazzini, F., Di Martino, M., & Pellegrino, P. (2017). Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review. Magnesium Research, 30(1), 1–. https://doi.org/10.1684/mrh.2017.0419

Bannai, M., & Kawai, N. (2012). New Therapeutic Strategy for Amino Acid Medicine: Glycine Improves the Quality of Sleep. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 118(2), 145–148. https://doi.org/10.1254/jphs.11R04FM

Cardinali, D. P., Srinivasan, V., Brzezinski, A., & Brown, G. M. (2012). Melatonin and its analogs in insomnia and depression. Journal of Pineal Research, 52(4), 365–375. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-079X.2011.00962.x

Trauer, J. M., Qian, M. Y., Doyle, J. S., Rajaratnam, S. M. W., & Cunnington, D. (2015). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 163(3), 191–204. https://doi.org/10.7326/M14-2841

Koriem, K. M. M. (2021). Lavandulae aetheroleum oil: A review on phytochemical screening, medicinal applications, and pharmacological effects. Biointerface Research in Applied Chemistry, 11(3), 9836-9847.

Borrás, S., Martínez-Solís, I., & Ríos, J. L. (2021). Medicinal Plants for Insomnia Related to Anxiety: An Updated Review. Planta Medica, 87(10-11), 738–753. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1510-9826

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HI, I'M MIRIAM GUSCOTT

Online Naturopath, Nutritionist & Wellness Coach, supporting womens mental wellbeing throughout menopause.

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