In order to fall asleep and stay asleep we must be calm both physically and mentally. Without this balance we will have a hard time falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Anything that overstimulates our brain will negatively impact our sleep cycles. The most common causes of sleep disturbances generally stem from stress, environmental stimuli and in some cases substance abuse. Too much stress or a hectic home environment can preoccupy our brains to the point of insomnia. This is especially true with work or tasks that deal with a great level of responsibility.
Of course there are natural methods to help facilitate sleep. First sleep in a dark environment (light inhibits the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone in our brain). A great way to relax before sleep is by meditation, reading a relatively boring book, taking a hot bath or shower, drinking a warm glass of milk with honey (milk contains tryptophan which stimulates sleep and honey contains simple sugars which also facilitate sleep). If you need something stronger you can opt for melatonin, tryptophan or herbal teas that contain valerian, hops, chamomile or passion flower. All of these are well known sleep herbs.
A word about alcohol: Alcohol is a neural depressant. This means that it acts as a depressant on the brain. It relaxes the nerves and the brain. When you stop drinking there is a rebound effect in the opposite direction. The brain is overstimulated and you will have problems sleeping for a while. This usually lasts a few days up to a couple of weeks (depending on how much and how long you have been drinking for). Drinking more alcohol will temporarily help in this situation. But you don’t want to do this as it will lead to alcoholism. Try the natural options listed above. If you still have major problems sleeping look into the use of medical marijuana for insomnia. You can legally get a prescription and it is an effective method for insomnia (especially the indica strains that are high in CBD content).
Remember also that other deficiencies (other than melatonin) can also lead to sleep problems. The most common type is the deficiency of the B vitamins. Try a B complex vitamin before sleep and you may notice a significant difference. Try not to eat a large meal right before bed and be sure to exercise at least a few hours before bed (right before can cause over-stimulation). Again, hot milk and some simple sugars (in the form of honey for example) induce sleep, while stimulants such as coffee, chocolate, black and green tea can inhibit sleep. Of course, also steer clear of stimulating illicit drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, etc before sleep (and at times if possible).
Finally, try and stay away from over-the-counter sleep aids or prescription sleeping pills if possible, as they can be highly addictive. If you must use something strong try medical marijuana. But remember it may leave you drowsy in the morning. Till next time.