Here are some proven cures to help you sleep well. We'll start with my favourite:
Exercise like drinking water, or eating good food, exercise is not an 'option' when it comes to living a healthy life. A recent study by Passos et al 2014 (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/498961/) found that in patients with chronic insomnia (aged 30 -55) moderate aerobic exercise (such as light running or fast paced walking) for fifty minutes three times a week was enough to drastically improve sleep, decrease depression scores and decrease cortisol (a stress hormone). Exercise also helps to build immunity and if we include weights in our regime - weight for it - weeeiiight for it - then we build up our GLUTAMINE stores (an amino acid stored in muscle) that helps us to REPAIR all tissues!!! I LOVE this fact so much! Depending on injury/ability most people can manage some form of exercise such as swimming, cycling or fast paced walking.
Panax notoginseng has been used in China for over a century as a blood tonic. In Western society we use this herb as an anti-depressant and it is showing promising results in current research to help with Insomnia. The reason it helps us to sleep is because it increases serotonin and dopamine levels which are relaxing hormones. Panax notoginseng has also been shown in this study by Xiang et al 2011 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=panax+notoginseng+AND+insomnia) to decrease cell excitability by reducing intracellular Ca(2+) stimulation. It is important to see your Naturopath to have this prescribed to you specifically and to rule out other causes of insomnia.
We've often heard about drinking warm milk to help us sleep and here is why it can work: α-casein hydrosylate has been recognised as a protein in milk that induces a state of relaxation. As a side note - Lactium reduces anxiety and has been shown to reduce seizures in some studies1. As Naturopathic practitioners we have access to practitioner only supplements that combine a number of proven effective natural remedies that you can not buy over the counter. This is because you need to be qualified and knowledgeable about interactions with other medications that 'Dr Google' can not responsibly assess.
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) - the new kid on the block. I use this one clinically with patients and it is really wonderful. Again, this one has anxiolytic and relaxing effects and I find it great for people who are generally very anxious and stressed during the day. Because of its ability to interfere with neural signalling it is amazing to use when you can't sleep because of pain too. Low levels of GABA in the brain have been associated with anxiety, depression and insomnia2 GABA works by inhibiting neurotransmitters that increase excitability that induce anxiety and pain and thus make it an important treatment in insomnia.
As always, it's important to see your Naturopath in cases of chronic insomnia as to assess to cause and treat accordingly.
Yours in health
1. Miclo L, Perrin E, Driou A, Papadopoulos V, Boujrad N, Vanderesse R, Boudier JF, Desor D, Linden G, Gaillard JL. Characterization of alpha-casozepine, a tryptic peptide from bovine alpha(s1)-casein with benzodiazepine-like activity. FASEB J. 2001 Aug;15(10):1780-2.
2. Monograph: Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). Alternative Medicine Review 2007;12(3):274-279