Natural help for insomnia
Q. My brother suffers from insomnia and I was wondering if you can recommend a product that would help him. Unfortunately, he has some unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, lack of exercise, and using the computer late into the night. He is not likely to change these, so is there anything he could take that would help?
A. Insomnia can be worsened by working on a computer late into the night. As long as he has these habits he is most likely to suffer from insomnia because his mind is active when he is working on a computer and the brain and eyes needs time to relax, and produce melatonin (sleep hormone) so that sleep can occur. Getting exercise during the day will also help insomnia, as long as he doesn’t do exercise late in the evening.
Sleep aids affect people in different ways depending on their own brain chemical make up. Taking a small amount of melatonin (0.3 – 3mg) can be helpful for nights when sleep is not coming. Though long-term research is lacking for its safety for long-term use. Melatonin is a hormone synthesized endogenously in the pineal gland, there are concerns that long-term supplemental use could affect the pineal gland, this remains unknown. Whether chronic administration of melatonin suppresses endogenous production of melatonin by the pineal gland is unknown. There is some evidence melatonin can be used safely for up to nine months in some patients.
For primary insomnia, short-term melatonin treatment appears to modestly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency). This reduction in sleep latency appears to amount to only about 12 minutes and might not be considered clinically relevant. Melatonin does not appear to significantly improve sleep efficiency.
Melatonin production is influenced by day/night cycles. Light inhibits melatonin secretion and darkness stimulates secretion. For example, people who suffer from an insufficient amount of environmental light often have decreased endogenous melatonin secretion.
Now that I’ve given you the evidence based stuff, I share with you that I have personally suffered from insomnia for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been able to manage it without going on medication. I used melatonin for many years, and found it to be very helpful on most nights. Last year I decided I should stop taking it to see if I could go without it because I was afraid my use of it would affect my own production of melatonin and I’ve also read that there is some concern that it could interfere with ovulation in females. I’ve had to use other sleep remedies that are helpful, but do not seem to be as affective as melatonin was for me.
When starting with melatonin, it is best to start with the lowest dose possible (0.3-0.5 mg), then dose up to find the best dose that works for the individual. This is an excellent product to use:
- Lipopure Melatonin by BioGenesis. It is a liquid, and absorbs very well, and is easy to dose small and work up. Each dropper is 1.5 mg of melatonin, so starting with 1/3 of the dropper would be the best.
Another product with 1mg of melatonin + other relaxing herbs and nutrients is a product called:
- Bed Rest Formula by Pure Encapsulations. These combination remedies can have a synergistic affect to help one get to sleep, but some of the ingredients can have different affects on different individuals depending on their brain chemistry an may or may not be so affective to help you get to sleep.
I’ve had pretty good success with MyoSedate by DFH. This herbal combination works well for me quite often, and it does not contain melatonin. I will take 2 capsules and 1 capsule of Inositol by DFH at bedtime when I’m not able to fall asleep and this usually works quite well without a sleep hangover in the morning. These products are safe for long-term use. Inositol is also helpful for improving mood because it helps with serotonin regulation, and a recent study has found that taking 1 gram of inositol daily for smokers (& former smokers) has helped reduce the tumor size in lung cancer patients. They are theorizing taking it daily might lower their risk of developing lung cancer later in life.
On a side note, since you say your brother smokes: Melatonin is also helpful for nicotine withdrawal: A single oral dose of melatonin 0.3 mg 3.5 hours after nicotine withdrawal in smokers seems to reduce subjective symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, depression, and cigarette craving over the next 10 hours.
We also offer a smoking cessation kit (Stop Smoking Program). It is homeopathic and I’ve heard good reviews from some clients who have tried it, so maybe your brother would want to give it a try?