Insomnia And Other Sleep Problems

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Insomnia… the dreaded deprivation of, or lack of ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The ramifications of this condition can have far reaching effects on so many areas of your health and wellbeing, it’s important to be armed, informed and ready, if it does come knocking!

In this blog post I hope to give you some vital information, some solutions, some (of my favourite) remedies, and hopefully some relaxation techniques to help you, if you are struggling with sleep problems. It’s quite a long article, but obviously you can scroll through the titles to see which you think may help you.

There are herbal and natural remedies, exercises, yoga and teas all in here to help you master the illusive sleep when Insomnia strikes. Please feel free to share any of the information I have researched.

As you know, sleep is something that many of us take for granted. However, for the rest who suffer with lack of sleep; it is a constant battle and causes much more than just a grouchy grot bag in the morning. It can actually be the cause of many more serious problems than you realise. 

The Science Bit : What Is Sleep?

Sleep is a complex biological process. In fact, whilst you are sleeping, you are unconscious, but your brain and body functions are still active. They are doing a number of important jobs which help you stay healthy and function at your best. So, when you don’t get enough quality sleep, it does more than just make you feel tired. It can affect your physical and mental health, your thought processes, and your ability to function on a daily basis. Lack of sleep can contribute to issues such as anxiety and mild depression.

Sleep Disorders

There are more than 80 different sleep disorders. These disorders are conditions that disturb your normal sleep patterns. Some of them include:-


Being unable to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is the most common. Observational studies have suggested that Insomnia might be associated with an increased risk of depression, although the results of these studies were inconsistent.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. If you have it, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, you may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. You may not feel refreshed when you wake up.

Types Of Insomnia

Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common. Common causes include stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event. It usually lasts for days or weeks.

Chronic Insomnia

Lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary. This means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem, such as certain medical conditions, medicines, and other sleep disorders. Causes of this can be excessive amounts of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol.

Sometimes chronic insomnia is the primary problem. This means that it is not caused by something else. Its cause is not well understood, but long-lasting stress, emotional upset, travel and shift work can be factors. Primary insomnia usually lasts more than one month.

Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common. Common causes include stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event. It usually lasts for days or weeks.

Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary. This means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem, such as certain medical conditions, medicines, and other sleep disorders. Substances such as caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can also be a cause.

Sometimes chronic insomnia is the primary problem. This means that it is not caused by something else. Its cause is not well understood, but long-lasting stress, emotional upset, travel and shift work can be factors. Primary insomnia usually lasts more than one month.

Sleep Apnea

A breathing disorder in which you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

A tingling or prickly sensation in your legs, along with a powerful urge to move them.

Increased magnesium supplements can help with this, but always check with your GP or Naturalpath.


Being unable to stay awake during the day. This includes narcolepsy, which causes extreme daytime sleepiness.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Problems with the sleep-wake cycle. They make you unable to sleep and wake at the right times.


Acting in unusual ways while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking from sleep, such as walking, talking, or eating.

Herbal Remedies


Melatonin supplements are widely recommended for various sleep conditions, but the best evidence is for help with sleep problems caused by shift work or jet lag. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the brain. It is produced from serotonin when exposure to light decreases at night. You can not get Melatonin supplements in the UK now, so I recommend shopping online to find them – they are available in most drugstores across the US, but as always I do not condone taking supplements without checking if they are compatible with any drugs you may be currently prescribed or without speaking to a qualified Naturapath, such as Vicky Godfrey first.

It is used in conditions where sleep is disordered due to low levels of melatonin at night such as aging, affective disorders (e.g. depression), delayed sleep-phase disorder, or jet lag. Melatonin supplements may improve sleep quality and morning alertness in older adults with insomnia.

My favourite product, containing naturally occurring melatonin, is CherryActive. CherryActive is the leading brand of products made from the tart Montmorency cherries, which have been reported to contain high levels of phytochemicals including melatonin, a molecule critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. I drink the juice and it comes in useful sachets (which are available at Holland and Barratt) and or capsules so you can take it anywhere if you need to and they now do a sleep formula with lavender and chamomile.

Vitex Agnus Castus

The herb Vitex Agnus Castus (chaste tree) may help insomnia and sleep disturbances associated with menstrual periods and menopause. In one study, women were treated with a combination of vitex agnus castus and magnolia extracts combined with soy isoflavones and lactobacilli and followed for one year. This treatment was found to be safe and effective.

However, chaste-berry should not be used by anyone on birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or dopamine-related medications, according to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health.


Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis) is an herbal home remedy, brewed as a tea or taken as a supplement, that is commonly used to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and act as a sedative. Clinical trials of valerian have had inconsistent results for insomnia.

Valerian is thought to affect levels of one of the calming neurotransmitters in the body, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It also relieves muscle spasms and is thought to help alleviate menstrual period pain.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a tea and herbal supplement said to relieve anxiety and calm the nerves. It may be seen in supplements which also include valerian.

Passion Flower

Passion Flower is a gentle anti-anxiety and mildly sedative herb that can even be used to induce a good night’s sleep in children. One particular study asked volunteers with trouble sleeping to drink a cup of Passion Flower tea at bedtime for a period of time, all reported significant sleep improvement.

The increased GABA in the brain that Passion Flower can induce will also reduce the anxiety so often associated with insomnia. In addition, Passion Flower is known to be a muscle relaxant, easing away the tension that can make it more difficult to drift off to sleep.

Essential Oils, Pillow Sprays And Diffusers

I use a Lavender, Camomile and Vetivert sleep spray from This works with essential oils to help calm me sometimes before bed, (plus it makes the room smell lovely). Other essential oils used for calming and relaxing are Frankincense, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver and Marjoram and are all great to use in a diffuser before bed time. You can read more about these here.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, insomnia often stems from kidney energy weakness. This syndrome is not necessarily related to kidney disease in Western medicine. Women in menopause often experience this type of insomnia.

People who are taking anti-estrogenic drugs such as tamoxifen also experience this type of insomnia, however, they should not take herbal combinations such as the herbal formula liu wei di huang that may increase estrogen levels.

Ayurvedic Solutions

In Ayurvedic medicine, insomnia is often associated with a Vata imbalance. Vata regulates breathing and circulation. People with a Vata imbalance often notice irritability, anxiety, and fear with insomnia. You can read about the three Ayurvedic body types here.

One Ayurvedic treatment is the application of oil on the head and feet. For the Pitta type, room temperature coconut oil is used, for the Vata type, warm sesame oil is applied, and for the Kapha type, warm mustard oil is often applied.

Camomile Tea

Clinical trials have not proven Camomile to be helpful for insomnia, however, it does have a calming soothing effect and is an herb traditionally used to reduce muscle tension, soothe digestion, and reduce anxiety, which may help induce sleep.

Sip a cup of hot Camomile tea after dinner. But don’t drink it too close to the bed or you may have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Other Natural Remedies

For hot flashes, a thin, flat foam pillow insert, called a Chillow, can help to cool the head throughout the night. For other remedies for menopause see my blog post here.

Gentle, slow music is another remedy that can help to improve sleep. Music therapy has been found to improve sleep quality, decrease nightly awakenings, lengthen sleep time, and increase satisfaction with sleep. I listen to guided meditations before bed, such as this one. 

Lack of exercise can also contribute to poor sleep. Muscle tension and stress build in the body. Exercise can promote deep sleep that night. However, intense exercise too close to bed can increase adrenaline levels, leading to insomnia.

Being An Empath

There is another issue for all you lovely light workers out there too, if you are an Empath, this too can cause you sleep problems.

Relaxation And Meditation

You can also try to do some breathwork, deep breathing exercises before bed can help slow you down and begin the relaxation process. Meditation is a wonderful way to clear your mind and gently begin the sleep process, I listen to a number of these and you can find some on you tube such as this one.

Yoga For Insomniacs

This picture here is from, to help show you as it’s harder to explain the poses unless you’re an instructor.

Yoga is a wonderful all round exercise regime, not just for your whole body, but also for your mind and your spirit too. There are a number of yoga poses which can help calm you and slow your body and your mind to ease you into restful sleep. The one I know and often practise if I’m restless is child’s pose. There is a whole website dedicated to yoga and various conditions, especially insomnia and you can find it here.


CBD is a recent solution. Over the last few years, CBD oil has emerged as an increasingly popular natural treatment for insomnia. Although studies are still in their early stages, there are promising signs that CBD is an effective treatment for improving and enhancing your sleep, together with many other amazing benefits, including pain relief and stress reduction. Cannabanoids and CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. CBD doesn’t get you high (or it shouldn’t) but it should calm you, at the very least.  You can read more about that here.


Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep. Magnesium can also help insomnia that’s linked to the sleep disorder restless-leg syndrome. Stress reduction and mood stabilization. Magnesiumincreases GABA, which encourages relaxation as well as sleep.


I have been taking 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) for a while. It’s a supplement and I take it before bed every night. 5-HTP is an amino acid which your body naturally produces. Your body uses it to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells. Low serotonin levels are associated with sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, weight gain and other health problems. Therefore, increasing your body’s production of serotonin may have various benefits.

The one I use is from Cytoplan and contains three different ingredients:-

5-HTP Plus contains 5-HTP from the shrub Griffonia. 5-HTP is the safe precursor to serotonin – this supplement also contains the other nutrients necessary for the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.

Magnesium is involved in many essential metabolic processes and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, normal psychological function, normal energy-yielding metabolism and the normal functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system, psychological function, the regulation of hormonal activity and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

I really hope this is helpful and informative. Sleep well my friends. x