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Insomnia 

Insomnia, Can't get to sleep, fall asleep, or sleep and arise early, With Insomnia, Find the cause, find the cure. We offer class, and give suggestions.

Defined as prolonged or frequent inability to obtain adequate, restful sleep during normal desired sleeping hours despite the available opportunity to sleep.

Either because you can't fall to sleep, can't get into a restful level of sleep or because you can't stay asleep.

 An estimated 16,100,000 people are unable to achieve the amount or level of sleep they want.

Desireable Hours of Sleep 
Newborns – 16 hours
6 Months – 14 hours
Children  -- 8 to 10 hours
Adults -- 7 to 8 hours
Poor sleep is a symptom... a healthy body falls to sleep and sleeps the whole night through easily. 

If your body is not at peak health it is reflected in the way you sleep.

Rather than chemically induce sleep, it is better to work with the root cause and correct it. There are 4 major causes of poor sleeping:

There are several causes of insomnia which can basically be categorized under the heading of "Can't get to sleep" and "Can't stay asleep".

  • Can't get to sleep is usually caused by
  1. Stress/Nervous system  - Can't shut mind off at night
  2. Adrenals - Can't get to sleep early and/or awaken early
  3. Pineal Gland - Lacking melatonin, can't fall to sleep unless room is totally dark 
  • Can't keep asleep is usually caused by
  1. Liver detoxing - Go to sleep fine but wake up between 1 and 5 AM
  2. Due to pain
  3. Prostate - Men who wake up shortly after laying down because they need to urinate.

For mothers of young babies:   Saying goodbye to the 2 o'clock feeding.

Click on the links above to try to find the root of your insomnia.

Stress/Nervous System - Can't shut mind off at night

If you have a hard time shutting your mind off when you lay down, have invasive thoughts, obsess about something you should have done or saying your prayers, then I would supsect your nervous system is involved. Even if you do not feel like a nervous person.

The acid test of whether your nervous system is involved is if you dream (keeping in mind nightmares are not dreams).   If your nervous system has enough nutrients to replenish and heal itself, you will get into the 4th level of sleep called REM, where you dream.

I would first set up a solid foundation of Fatty Acids such as Flaxseed Oil, Super Omega 3 Oil or Evening Primrose Oil, and add to it a nervine combination.

 Herbal Suggestion 

 Indicators for choosing this combination

Herbal Sleep  For mild or short-lived bouts of insomnia
Nerve Control  If you catch yourself double checking things
Chinese Stress Relief  If you see things out of the peripheral vision, such as movement or something scampering across the floor that isn't there or if you think you hear someone call out your name or music that is not there.
Stress J  For Children who have yet to hit puberty.

Start out taking the recommended amount on the back of the bottle, and if you dream less then 6 days a week vividly and/or can't remember the dream for about 20 minutes after you awaken, I suggest increasing the nervine herb by one a day per week.   So the first week I might take 6 Nerve Control a day and, if I am not dreaming, the next week I would take 7 Nerve Control a day.  The following week, if I do not dream nightly, I would take 8 a day.... I would continue increasing until dreaming every single night and remembering the dream for 20 minutes after awakening. 

Adrenals - Can't get to sleep and/or awaken early

Some people can sleep a straight 8 hours but not during the night.   They aren't sleepy at night and early in the morning they have a hard time dragging their butt out of bed.  This is usually an adrenal symptom.

One adrenal gland sits on top of each of your kidneys.  Adrenals produce fight or flight hormones, antihistamines, cortisol and adrenaline for energy.

Things that are detrimental to the health of the Adrenals include:  coffee; tea; caffeine and stress.

Herbal Suggestions:   Indicators for choosing this combination
Pantothenic Acid (B-5), best if taken with complete B-Complex in the morning  Hard time going to sleep at night and hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Also wanting to nap at 2 - 3 in the afternoon.
Parsley (Potassium)  Retaining water, blood pressure problems, charlie horses and/or craving potato chips.  I suggest if you have any of these symptoms to take Parsley in aggressive amounts.
Mood Elevator  Depression (indicates Adrenal Exhaustion and can include fatigue)
Chromium (GTF Chromium) Craving milk, sweets, alcohol, sugars or simple carbs
Cortisol Weight gain in stomach or buttocks

To test adrenal exhaustion at home,  lay down for 10 min and then take your blood pressure while continuing to lay there.  Then stand for 10 minutes and then take your blood pressure while remaining standing.   Blood pressure that is lower while standing strongly indicates hypoactivity of the adrenal glands.

Symptoms of  an underactive adrenal function can include weakness, fatigue, digestive disturbances, rapid obesity, osteoporosis, dryness of the skin, weight gain--usually in neck, upper arms, upper legs and trunk of the body and discoloration of skin pigmentation where skin is rubbed, such as: bra; belt;  top of arms and legs; or in skin folds 

 Pineal Gland - Lacking melatonin... can't fall to sleep unless room is totally dark 

At night or when you close your eyes, the Pineal Gland should release a hormone called Melatonin.  Melatonin induces sleep.  The Pineal gland is dependant on minerals and Ultra Violet (UV) stimulation (Sun light).  I do not believe in taking the supplement melatonin long term unless the person is over 80 years old.

Herbal Suggestions:   Indicators for choosing this combination
Noni  Hard time going to sleep right a way.
Exposure to UV light & Mastergland If depression accompanies inability to fall to sleep quickly or when it is light out 
Melatonin For occasional problems falling asleep

Liver detoxing - Go to sleep fine but wake up between 1 - 5 AM

The liver detoxifies between 1 - 5 AM.  When the liver is weak or overly toxic during the hours it detoxes, a little sugar will also be released.  The excess sugar can wake a person up.  Often in response to the sugar,  the kidneys filter it out and cause urine to be produced (kidneys should rest during those hours).  If you wake up for any reason such as:  to fluff the pillows; urinate; or look at the clock, I would work with the liver.   Some people even stay up for a time before they can go back to sleep.

Accompanying symptoms of liver that is under par can be found here-->   Liver Symptoms.

Herbal Suggestions:   Indicators for choosing this combination
Liver Cleanse Formula If you wake up during the night to urinate or look at the clock or any other reason, the liver is probably releasing a little bit of sugar when it detoxifies.

One of the best guides to dosages is waking up at night.  If your liver has all that it needs and is working efficiently, you will sleep all night without waking up.

I usually suggest taking Liver Cleanse (formally LIV-A) as directed on the bottle and increasing 1 capsule a day per week until the I sleep the whole night through.   I would start out with 3 a day and if I wake up at night the next week I would take 4 a day.  If I still wake up the following week I would take 5 a day.  I would suggest increasing until I sleep the whole night through.

When the liver has enough nutrients it should be able to cleanse without waking you up or releasing sugar, causing the kidneys to produce urine.

After you are sleeping the whole night through for about 1 week you can try backing off the amount by decreasing 1 capsule a day per week, using sleeping the whole night as your guide.  If you start to awake again, increase the Liver Cleanse. 

NOTE:  When my liver was really weak I was up to 45 Liver Cleanse a day.  Now I do not need any and I still sleep the whole night through!

 Due to pain

For intense pain, you would have to work with the source.   Often if there isn't an injury,  pH imbalances are the main cause of inflammation and pain.   To learn more about this please read this acidosis/alkalinity article. ---> pH imbalance.

Mild pain and discomfort often respond to 500 mg of Calcium/Magnesium in a 1:1 balance--just like the old folk remedy of warm milk at night, without the mucus.

Prostate - Men who wake up shortly after laying down to urinate.

If a man has to urinate shortly after he lays down, it may be due to an enlarged prostate (which is associated with a zinc deficiency and a toxic/weak liver).   I would suggest Liver Cleanse Formula, Saw Palmetto concentrate and Zinc.

 For mothers of young babies:   Saying goodbye to the 2 o'clock feeding

Often a baby's blood sugar dips during the night and they wake up to eat.  If you are breastfeeding, adding Marshmallow Root herb helps enrich the breast milk, usually keeping a baby satisfied through most of the night.

Calcium-enriched breast milk also acts as a sedative.

If a baby sleeps long periods during the day but stays up during the night, the breastfeeding mother, taking pantothenic acid, often helps reset the baby's internal clock.

For older children, a natural calcium supplement  helps ensure a restful night's sleep.  This can also help combat whining in children.

Other Suggestions

  • Magnetics  - I personally do not see the difference when I tried them, but many people say they work wonders.  Others make sure their head is aligned north to take advantage of the earth's magnetic field.
  • White Noise - Constant sounds like an ocean or rain to drown out occasional pings and bangs often helps foster a more resfful sleep.
  • Caffeine consumption, of course, can affect the inability to sleep.... but many people do not associate it with racing heart rate or higher blood pressure during the night.  This is due to overstimulating the adrenals.
  • Side effects of meds - Can not only make the liver toxic (working with the liver may be helpful), but some medications are particularly notorious for distrupting sleep.  I would suggest you contact your Pharmacist if you are on any medications and ask if sleep disturbances are a known side effect.

Sleep is important.  Not only does it help with feeling refreshed in the morning and increase more stanima, it is also during sleep that the body heals efficiently.   Without rest you put undo stress on the organs, glands and nervous system.

If are still unable to sleep well after following the above suggestions, please feel free to contact Dr Mary.

Copyright © 2010 Dr. Mary Reed Gates, CNHP, MH, ND, Lancaster, PA
MarysHerbs
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