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Sunday, July 23, 2023

Remedies for Insomnia

Disclaimer. I am not a licensed health practitioner. This is just another post on knowledge and understanding you might wish to acquire in advance of a disaster in case no higher care is available. As long as our society is functioning, you should leave anything more substantial than applying a Band-Aid to the professionals. No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician. Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.

I like to do things as naturally as possible. Living a balanced life, eating good food, and exercising go a long way towards preventing disease. Unfortunately, sometimes that isn't enough, and we all have issues we struggle with. Mine, for at least the last forty years, has been insomnia.

Health care practitioners have advocated developing good "sleep hygiene" habits for dealing with insomnia, which should include the following:

A set time for waking up and going to sleep each day
A clean, comfortable bedroom
Avoiding fatty foods and heavy meals before bed
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
Eliminating light in the bedroom
Avoiding blue light during the last hour or two before going to bed
Exercising regularly
Keeping the mind clear of stressful thoughts.

For many years, if there was absolutely no stress or concern in my personal life or the world, regular exercise was usually all I needed to be able to sleep pretty well. In college, with the stress of wanting to do well, a doctor suggested Benadryl to help with sleeping, but cautioned that I shouldn't use it regularly. Exercise and the occasional Benadryl served me well for about thirty years. But over the past ten years, getting a good night's rest has become increasingly difficult for me. Most of the difficulty is just the way I am. But some of it can be attributed to upheavals in our society. I don't worry about my family so much--we have prepared well. However, I can't help but be concerned about others, and I think that is what keeps me awake.

As society collapses, inflation soars, rioting escalates, food shortages become more widespread, etc., more of us are going to be dealing with insomnia at some point. And while lifestyle and dietary changes can help, if it's midnight and we still can't fall asleep, we just really want to take a pill, especially when insomnia is a new problem for us or someone in our family.

As you consider choices, keep in mind that the efficacy of each remedy will vary from person to person. It's a good idea to have a few different options available.

Conventional medicine options:

Benadryl (diphenhydramine chloride) is the pharmaceutical most people begin with. It's one most people have on hand, it is useful for a wide variety of problems, it's safe for almost everyone, and it's very inexpensive. Tolerance develops quickly, so it is best used only occasionally. If insomnia happens to coincide with allergy season, Benadryl is an especially good choice. If constipation is a problem, you may wish to avoid Benadryl as it is a diuretic also.

Unisom (doxylamine succinate), another sedating antihistamine, is a stronger sleep inducer than Benadryl. It is not my favorite because it makes me feel so hungover the next day. And it can be a little constipating as well.

If you reach for any other OTC sleep remedies, be sure to read the label. Many of them are actually just Benadryl in a new package with a higher price.

Alternative medicine options:

Magnesium supplementation is something to try for long-term help in falling asleep. Magnesium deficiency is associated with trouble sleeping.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body, especially in conditions of low or no light. Supplements are sold in varying strengths.

Catnip, in a tea or syrup, is reported to work well for children. It does nothing for me.

Chamomile tea has been used for centuries to help people fall asleep.

Lavender essential oil helps me fall asleep but doesn't work to keep me asleep. It does smell nice, however. I just put a few drops on my pillowcase.

Lemon balm is an excellent option for children, especially when made into a syrup. It works ok for me.

Passionflower is quite effective for some people.

Valerian--Wow, this works for me. I still feel the effects the next day, not hungover, but very calm. Valerian is also very good for lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety.

Be sure to have at least a few options for your family so that you don't risk developing a tolerance to any of the options presented above. Insomnia can affect the decision-making process, something best avoided in a society in upheaval. Making sure you and everyone in your family is able to get a good night's rest is critical.


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