Insomnia is a medical condition that has been the subject of extensive media coverage in the past several years because it is very common in Western society. The significance of insomnia is demonstrated by the fact that according to recent studies, 1 in 25 American adults have taken sleep medication in the last month (Time 2017). As reported by the Sleep Foundation, Insomnia is characterized by an inability to fall asleep, “Onset Insomnia”; or difficulty staying asleep during the night, “Maintenance Insomnia.”
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by numerous factors including stress, anxiety, diet and other daily habits, or even a chemical imbalance. It is difficult to ignore the correlation between the fast-paced society that we live in and the rising cases of insomnia. Many of us spend all day looking at our electronic devices, constantly sending and receiving information without much of a break. Furthermore, with the financial and political issues that many Americans face, it is understandable that the general population would suffer from higher levels of stress. Given the prevalence of insomnia in society, many people are looking to the natural products industry to find treatments and solutions.
Natural Treatments for Insomnia
Insomnia is a condition that has been present in nearly every society for as long as humans have been around, so ancient Chinese herbs and treatments have been used to treat insomnia for over 2000 years (NCBI 2017). Since people are searching for natural solutions to their insomnia, the use of melatonin doubled in the US between 2007-2012 (Time 2017). Additionally, many websites, blogs, and articles have been written in the past several years about natural and herbal remedies for insomnia. When researching insomnia treatments, the most common response is to first try to deduce the cause of the insomnia. Often, insomnia is caused by an external factor in one’s life such as stress, anxiety, and depression; or it can be caused by behavior such as drinking too much caffeine or taking medication that disrupts sleep. Therefore, if an individual can figure out the root cause of his or her insomnia, then it is much easier to decide the best course of treatment.
Common herbs that are used to treat insomnia (Natural Living Ideas 2015):
- Valerian root – can be ingested, but may react with other medications (Time 2017).
- Chamomile – ingested as a tea, promotes relaxation
- Passionflower – ingested as a tea, promotes relaxation
- Lavender – inhaling lavender oil
- California Poppy – ingested, is known to be an effective sedative
- Ashwaganda – ingested, used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, promotes relaxation and a calm mind
- Magnolia bark – ingested, used in Chinese medicine to treat anxiety
- Additionally, Traditional Chinese Medicine encourages incorporating other practices such as acupuncture and meditation in the treatment of insomnia (Pacific College 2015).
There are various ways that people can choose to approach the treatment of their insomnia, such as taking medications that make them feel drowsy so they fall asleep, or using herbal methods such as making passionflower or chamomile tea, which have both been proven to promote relaxation and calm the body and brain (Reader’s Digest 2018). Many people are opting for natural solutions to their insomnia because of the danger of taking prescription sleeping medication. For example, sleeping pills can become addictive and cause the patient to be unable to fall asleep on their own. Nevertheless, it is extremely important for people to treat their insomnia because there are significant long-term effects such as muscle stiffness, impaired cognitive function, and fibromyalgia (Pacific College 2018).
With a condition like insomnia that is very common and has many different causes, it is important to note that there is no single treatment plan that will work for everyone. The treatment of insomnia should be holistic by focusing on each individual person’s lifestyle and finding the root cause of the condition, as well as creating a treatment method that can be easily incorporated into their unique lifestyle. As members of the natural products industry, it is imperative to look at what conditions people use natural remedies to cure. This helps us to know what herbs to research more and to find out the best way to create products that will help as many people as possible.