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Sleep Easy

Written By onci on Monday, February 6, 2012 | 6:24 PM

"I can't sleep!" Those three words can spell nights of restless torment for those who suffer from insomnia. For most of us, an occasional night without much sleep is no big deal, but when it persists night after night, a vicious cycle can begin that can be exhausting and extremely frustrating. The desperation for a good night's sleep can be enormous.Sleep is Essential
Sleep is very necessary to the well-being of mind and body. Most people spend close to 30% of their time either sleeping or trying to. Not only does sleep provide needed time for rest and repair of your body, but your mind needs sleep as well, in order to process the events and stresses of the previous day and to dream. If people are deprived of sleep and dreams for too long, they will start to dream while awake or fall into a state where they sleep for a few seconds or minutes in a kind of cat nap. Extreme sleep deprivation can lead to a form of psychosis, with delusions and hallucinations. Fortunately, most people don't ever get to that point.
How Insomnia Occurs
Pain, stress, worry, anxiety and panic, illness, the side effects of drugs, uncomfortable or strange surroundings, noise, travel, and the disruption of your normal rhythms and cycles can all play a part in insomnia. Insomnia may take several forms. Some people have difficulty falling asleep, some wake in the middle of the night and others wake too early, after having had too little of their well-deserved rest. Other people have dreams and nightmares which disturb their sleep. Sleep comes because your brain begins to filter out incoming stimuli and gradually shifts your attention from outer to inner awareness. Your body awareness becomes less and quickly, or gradually, you fall asleep. When your mental activity, pain, emotional state, noise and discomfort keep your attention above the sleep threshold, you don't sleep. The biochemicals and the hormones that the body produces in an aroused, excited or fearful state work directly against the process needed for going to sleep. In going to sleep, the parasympathetic or calming aspect of the nervous system comes into play, while when you are stressed or excited the sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing you to stay awake, ready for fight or flight. In order to go to sleep, you have to shift to the parasympathetic, relax, breathe deeply and let your mind move into feelings and images, rather than verbal thought.
How to Sleep Like a Baby
Is there anything you can do about insomnia? Natural medicine has a lot to offer to the insomniac. Most of the ways to fight insomnia involve helping the brain and body to relax and slow down and to shift your awareness to a more internal focus. Herb that have sedative qualities mimic the brain's own system for going to sleep by altering neuro-transmitters and stimulating the natural opiates produced by the brain. Homeopathic medicines restore the natural sleep rhythms and balance, and heal emotional states which prevent sleep. Here are some of the most effective herbal and homeopathic sleep aids
Herbal Sleeping Potions
The herbal medicines for sleeping calm the nerves and help induce drowsiness and relaxation. The most common of these is chamomile tea, which acts as a mild sedative and a cup before bed can soothe jangled nerves. The most potent of the herbal sedatives is valerian root, which by itself can often induce sleep if given in sufficient doses. Valerian can be given as a boiled decoction of the root, in capsules, tincture or solid extract. Taking too much can make you nauseous. Passion flower is a very good nervine for decreasing the anxiety which interferes with sleep. It is usually combined with skullcap and hops to make an effective anti-insomnia formula. Calms Forte' uses a similar formula in tablet form and has proved effective for mild cases of insomnia.
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