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The inability to fall asleep readily and difficulty staying asleep are somewhat different issues, but most insomnia is a type of anxiety, mitigated by the flight-or-fight chemical adrenaline.
Many herbal tonics support adrenal health and help balance energy levels, which allow us to work, exercise, and digest during the day, then drop into an alpha state during the night. My favorite herb for insomnia is ashwagandha, which helps to relax the body. Try 500–1,000 mg at bedtime for 6–12 months until you re-establish a healthy sleep pattern. Other effective bedtime herbs include valerian (especially if pain is part of your disturbed sleep quality), passionflower, lemon balm, and California poppy.
The mineral magnesium works wonders (especially if muscle tension is an issue). It is available as a single supplement or in sleep formulas. Follow label instructions for use.
For trouble with sleep onset, melatonin (a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland before sleep) is brilliant. Low doses (1–3 mg) are generally enough.
Did you know…
Skimping on sleep could affect your waistline. One study showed people who didn’t get enough sleep ate an extra 385 calories, on average, the next day.
Is Your Kindle Compromising Your Sleep?
Reading books on electronic devices before bedtime disrupts the body’s natural sleep rhythms, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, 12 people read a book on an electronic device for 4 hours before bed, in a dimly lit room, for 5 consecutive nights. On another 5 nights, they read a real printed book on the same schedule. When using an electronic device, they were less drowsy, took longer to fall asleep, and were less alert in the morning. According to the researchers, use of electronic devices suppressed melatonin levels, making it more difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Key ingredient: magnesium
Key ingredient: lemon balm