Summoning the sandman

Ah sleep! Sometimes such an illusive state. Lying awake, peering at the illuminated red of our alarm clock, wondering, how could I be so, so tired yet not sleep!

We all go through periods in our lives where our sleep patterns are disrupted. The emotional stress of new jobs, new relationships, the loss of a loved one can severely interrupt our sleep leaving us feeling sad, flat, and drained of energy.

Insomnia, truly the ''equal opportunity nuisance.'' It doesn't seem to discriminate against age or sex. Corporate America will tell you keeping America wake doesn't come cheap in terms of lost productivity, job error and increased illness related to the loss of sleep.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that an annual 200,000 auto accidents with 1,500 deaths are fatigue related. And, according to the National Institutes of Health, and the Sleep Foundation's l999 Omnibus Sleep in America Poll (OSAP) at least one third to one half of all Americans suffer insomnia.

Each year an estimated 9 million Americans turn to pharmaceutical sleep aids in an effort to cope. What else can we do? Here are some of the more popular natural sleep aids.

Magnesium 400mg taken an hour before sleep helps calm the mind, relax the muscles and can induce drowsiness. Magnesium keeps calcium in solution which is an absolute must for a good night's rest.

Melatonin, although not for everyone, is very popular. The best thing to come along in years for those suffering insomnia. Melatonin, a naturally-occurring hormone excreted by the pineal gland helps regulate our circadian rhythms, so we achieve sleep more naturally.

Valerian, the plant forerunner of Valium, has been used for thousands of years safely as a sleep aid and sedative in European countries. It has wonderful sedative properties that give you a gentle feeling of relaxation allowing sleep to come naturally.

Chamomile has a reputation for soothing both nerves and stomach. Its wonderfully calming effect can bring restful sleep. Chamomile tea is considered by experts to be gentle enough for use in children.

Passion flower acts as a minor tranquilizer that produces sleep for those who just can't seem to close down the mind.

Some surprising sleeper robbers, alcohol, high carbohydrate foods, eating late and eating heavy meals late, naps, evening exercise programs and medications. The biggest robbers of all besides an overly active mind is discomfort in the body, aches pains, or illness and a bed and pillow that doesn't work for you.

Been there, done all that, still can't sleep? Seek professional help. Start with your family doctor or consult a sleep specialist regarding a sleep study.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online March 7, 2000

Back to The Zephyr