Insomnia is a condition when one has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or often wakes up too early. You awaken feeling feel tired and irritable the whole day. For some people, insomnia lasts a night or two. For others, it tortures them for months or even years. While a brief case of insomnia can arise due to temporary stress, excitement or other emotion, more than 20 million Americans report having a chronic form of insomnia that keeps them from sleeping well nearly every night. Inadequate or dissatisfying sleep is the most common sleep disturbance in America. As many as 40% of adult Americans report at least occasional insomnia, and of those, nearly 20% have severe insomnia. Severe insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep at least three times a week for 1 month or more, with the problem being bad enough to cause fatigue during the day. Insomnia is so bothersome because it impairs the proper functioning of one’s thought and body processes.
Doctors can prescribe medication to help, but these medications have undesirable side effects. Stomach problems, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, difficulty awakening, accidents, and poor coordination are all common. Not only do prescription sleep medications have negative side effects, they also don’t cause healthy sleep. They cause sedation or unconsciousness, not the restful, healing sleep we need.
But a person suffering from insomnia does not have to choose between sleep deprivation and unwanted medication, nature has provided us with many natural remedies for sleeplessness. Within the United States, the use of alternative medicine and complementary medicines is rising dramatically.
Natural sleep aides such as Chamomile, Melatonin, Tryptophan, and Kava are just some of the popular choices for those people who want to get some relief from sleeplessness. However, several studies in adults suggest that another natural sleep aide improves the quality of sleep and reduces the time to fall asleep for up to four to six weeks.
Another popular sleeping aid called Valerian is an herb native to Europe and Asia. The herb is now being grown in many parts of the world. The name is believed to come from the Latin word “valere” meaning to be healthy or strong. The root of the plant is believed to contain its active constituents. Use of valerian as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment has been reported for more than 2,000 years.
During the 2nd Century A.D., the ancient Greek physician Galen recommended valerian as a natural sleep aide for insomnia. It also been used to treat sores and acne. It was also been given for other conditions such as digestive problems, flatulence (gas), congestive heart failure, urinary tract disorders, and angina.
Valerian extracts became popular in the United States and Europe in the mid-1800s, and continued to be used by both physicians and the lay public until it was widely replaced by prescription sedative drugs. Valerian remains popular in North America, Europe, and Japan and is widely used as a natural sleep aide to treat insomnia. Although the active ingredients in valerian are not known, preparations are often standardized to the content of valerenic acid.
In the United States, the natural sleep aide Valerian is sold as a dietary supplement, and dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not drugs. Because dietary supplements are not always tested for manufacturing consistency, the composition may vary considerably between manufacturing lots.