According to the National Sleep Foundation, “insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, maintenance, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for rest,” and it affects approximately 30-35% of adults. If you’re one of the millions of people struggling to get a good night’s sleep, know that you’re not alone—and there are naturopathic treatments that can help!
One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes habits like avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, avoiding alcohol before bed, Establishing a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding screens in the bedroom. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can also be helpful; consider taking a bath or reading a book before climbing into bed.
There are also a number of nutraceuticals—or nutrients that have medicinal properties—that can help improve sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, and supplements can be effective in treating insomnia. 5-HTP is another nutrient that can be helpful in treating sleeplessness; it works by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating sleep. Other nutrients that have been shown to be effective in treating insomnia include gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), valerian root, and passionflower.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers another treatment option for those struggling with insomnia. Acupuncture is one of the most well-known TCM treatments; research has shown that it can be effective in treating insomnia by promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality. Herbal medicine is another TCM modality that can be helpful in treating sleeplessness. Traditional Chinese herbs that have been used to treat insomnia include jujube seed, ziziphus seed, longan fruit, tianma root, ginseng root, and magnolia bark.
Cannabis is another treatment option that is gaining popularity for its ability to effectively treat insomnia. THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, has been shown to increase slow-wave sleep—the deepest stage of sleep—while CBD has been shown to reduce REM sleep density, which may lead to more restful sleep. For those who are interested in trying cannabis for their insomnia but are worried about the potential for addiction or abuse, CBD-only products may be a good option as they do not have any psychoactive effects.
If you’re one of the millions of people affected by insomnia, know that you’re not alone—and there are treatments out there that can help! Sleep hygiene practices like avoiding caffeine and screens before bed can make a big difference, and nutraceuticals like melatonin and 5-HTP can also be effective in treating sleeplessness. Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities like acupuncture and herbal medicine can also offer relief from insomnia; cannabis is another treatment option gaining popularity for its ability to improve sleep quality. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about which treatment option may be right for you!