I'm often puzzled by issues that folks suffer from that are easily solved with herbs or supplements. Sleeplessness is one of them.
As a single chick with no kids, my amount of sleep isn't impacted by much (except for kitties using my belly as a trampoline, and you kitty wranglers know zackly what I'm talkin bout.) But other than this, only two things really interfere with my sleep: caffeine and thinky thoughts. I'm working on the latter, as you kind readers have been privy to in Great Detail, and depending on the day's festivities, my go-to-bed mindstate can be either a wind turbine, an oasis of balmy breezes, or a sewer. The former is just because I love coffee, really love it, not as much as I love Baby Wallace, but almost as much. I know I'm an addict, and that I should quit, but I don't want to, and you can't make me.
Which means that because of these two things I'd be losing a lot of sleep if I weren't such an Herbal Genius, which is kind of like being an Evil Genius, but more Green. But since I am, a full night's sleep is never even a skotch of an issue, not even a tiny deal. Which is awesome.
The savior? Melatonin. (Clicking on the link will take you to the wikipedia page for lots of eggheady details, so maybe wait til after you've read this post to click over)
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in response to the body's circadian rhythms. Essentially, it's presence tells the brain: we're asleep now. And when you take it in supplement form, in about an hour or so, you get very, very, very sleepy, and as you walk to the bathroom to brush your teeth and then to the bedroom it occurs to you that you might not make to your bed, but will instead curl up right here on the kitchen floor, beside the kitty food, the stuff that smells like the great atlantic ocean, but slightly older. At least this is what happens to me.
And this isn't something like am*bien or val*ium or even ben*dryll which puts you to sleep but leaves you feeling groggy, hungover the next day. This stuff burns off during the night, what's not needed gets flushed out of the system, and come alarm time, you're good to go. (actually, i don't even use an alarm anymore - just wake up naturally after a full night's sleep)
Melatonin supplements can also boost the immune system, acts as an anti-oxidant, and may give you spicy dreams. And supposedly, only take it after the sun goes down, or it'll make things a bit wacky with your circadian rhythms due to the pineal gland's interaction with light.
Of course, there can be lots of different physical issues at play for why we don't fall asleep, something is awry with your melatonin receptors, etc. You may need to play around with different melatonin "cocktails" which are melatonin plus herbs or other supplements. I started out with samples of different mixtures, then tried different ones, and now only take 1mg. of melatonin, straight up, no chaser. And some semblence of that is what I'd recommend.
You can try one of the combos below and take the full dose recommended on the bottle, or just try melatonin by itself, starting with 3mg about an hour before you want to be asleep.
Melatonin - chewable tablets, plain melatonin, with some added B-6 to help with absorption. ($6 for 180 doses)
Natural Factors Stress-Relax - chewable, also contains 5-HTP & Suntheanine, tastes delicious like a tropical sweettart, though of course that means it contains fructose. I tried this one first and it was MAGIC like candy and a blankie for naptime. But ultimately, I only need the melatonin, so I buy what's less expensive. ($23 for 30 doses)
Source Naturals - sublingual (which helps with absorption) with GABA and other supportive stuffs ($13 for 100 doses)
Nature's Plus - minty spray with all sort of Metabolic Factor Whatnot (i may buy this just to try it because it's a spray) ($12 for 30 doses)
General List of sleep formulas. This list contains lots of different formulas - some have tryptophan, or valerian/camomile/hops, or other different combos. Some things work better for folks, some give crazy dreams, but you won't know til you try. Like I said above, start out with melatonin, or things that contain melatonin with other things as this will be the least intrusive on your system.
(PS - I use iherb for all these links because I'm familiar with their setup, often order from them because they are inexpensive and shipping is free for orders over $40 plus they offer free samples of stuff (click on their "free" button). But I mostly use my coop so by all means support your local coops and health food stores! :)
And feel free to ask questions in the comments, and in support of other folks, I'll answer them in the comments.
Happy snoozing :)
And go here for more entries for Essential Stuffs I've posted in the past few months. More to come!)