Sleeplessness is a frequent nighttime visitor for many. Did you know that as many as 65 million Americans are bedeviled by it annually, and that women are a bit more prone to it than men? It's a particularly vexing problem for those over 50.
Lost sleep has large effects – from daytime drowsiness and fatigue, to mood disturbances, employment and relationship difficulties, and memory impairment. The benefits of healthy sleep are considerable – as are the effects of deprivation.
Happily – homeopathy, along with other measures, can help those with uncomplicated sleeplessness improve their sleep – safely and without side effects or risk of addiction.
The first area to look if you are struggling with sleep problems is diet, and one of the biggest contributors to simple sleeplessness is caffeine. Avoid it and related substances like chocolate from mid-morning on if possible. Also avoid alcohol and nicotine in the evening.
The sleep environment also deserves attention. Try to eliminate unnecessary light from your sleeping environment and create an environment that is a bit cooler than your daytime environment. Make sure your environment is quiet. Also try to keep cell phones, tablets and laptops out of the bedroom.
Finally – try to get plenty of exercise – but remember to avoid exercise for at least three hours before you retire for the night. Also avoid stressful activities or activities that over-stimulate in the hours before bed.
Having removed obstacles to better sleep – it’ time to consider homeopathic remedies that can help. Here are a few to consider:
Aconite:The patient needing this homeopathic remedy is restless and anxious with an anguished kind of fear. This remedy may help the person who feels a bit panicky on going to bed – in fact they may fear sleep or feel that they might not wake up. It can be particularly helpful for those who have experienced a fright before sleep.
Arsenicum album: The person requiring this homeopathic remedy is often the restless, meticulous type of person who cannot get to sleep because they have to get everything ordered in their mind. They may be so restless that they feel the need to move from place to place during the night. They tend to be chilly by nature and may struggle with sleep after midnight – particularly after 1:00AM. They also tend to be thirsty for small sips of water at regular intervals.
Cocculus: Here is a homeopathic remedy that one may think of for someone who has been deprived of sleep, as is the case for those who are caregivers for others. The person needing this remedy will often feel exhausted to the point of feeling weak – particularly in the muscles of the neck and small of the back. They may also feel mentally foggy and at times a bit dizzy – particularly on rising from bed. Like Natrum muriaticum (see below), the patient may also be sad, absorbed within himself or herself, brooding, moody, and silent.
Coffea cruda: A person needing this homeopathic remedy feels as if they just drank a stiff cup of coffee – they are wakeful and somewhat excited. This state is sometimes caused by joy, pleasurable excitement, or sudden happy surprises as well as by unexpected bad news. A person over-fatigued from long journeys may also require it. Those requiring Coffea cruda often experience smell, taste and touch that is acutely sensitive and report an unusually active mind - full of ideas.
Ignatia: This homeopathic remedy is often helpful to those who experience sleeplessness after a loss of some sort. They may sigh and yawn a lot, yet find sleep difficult to come by, and when they do sleep - find it fitful at best. They may twitch, toss and turn and be subject to nightmares.
Natrum muriaticum: This homeopathic remedy is also frequently indicated for those with sleeplessness after the death of a loved one, a slight, or loss. The pattern of sleeplessness here may be associated with feeling isolated, feeling aggrieved and perhaps crying themselves off to fitful sleep. Those needing this remedy are often sad – but made worse when someone tries to console them. They may also experience palpitations with the grief. Interestingly – Natrum muriaticum patients are very uncomfortable in the heat of the sun. If you find you are a true sun worshipper – chances are very good that this remedy will not work for you.
Nux vomica: A person needing the homeopathic remedy Nux vomica is often one who can fall asleep early, but awakens at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. with great mental activity or worries. After this period of restlessness and worry, the patient finally feels able to sleep and often does, only to wake in a tired, irritable state. Sleeplessness for those needing this remedy is commonly brought on by the overuse of drugs and/or stimulants including alcohol, coffee, and wine, or by overwork or excess studying. Nux vomica patients are typically irritable, easily angered, and impatient – as well as chilly, nervous, and excitable.
How to dose:
Dose with either a 30C or 200C potency to start - placing one pellet under the tongue or one pellet in water, stirring vigorously and taking teaspoon doses as needed. Always cease dosing when relief begins and only redose if symptoms again worsen. As with any medical condition, consult with your physician if you have any concerns about the severity of your condition as it may first require medical diagnosis and/or intervention and monitoring.
Remember - the key to choosing the correct remedy is ALWAYS the same. Match the characteristic symptoms of the patient to the characteristic symptoms produced by our many remedies – choosing the remedy with the most similar characteristics. If you try a few remedies with disappointing results, don’t give up! If you can see a professional homeopath and determine the “general” remedy you need overall, this step can also help immensely.
Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a weekly column on using homeopathy for the family. She's a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.
Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as remotely using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet