Melatonin and Valerian for Good Sleep

Insomnia, which is characterized by lack of sleep on a regular basis, is a disorder which affects everybody at least once in their lifetimes. The causes of insomnia range from stress, lack of physical exercise, depression due to life changes, noise pollution and neuro chemical disorders. Insomnia affects our physical and mental wellbeing. An insomniac is perpetually fatigued, short on memory and concentration and is at increased risk of eating disorders.

Nature offers a range of remedies for insomnia and for ensuring restful sleep. Meditation and prayer increase the alpha waves produced by the brain and reduce anxiety levels. Healthy eating habits and moderate exercise induce regular sleep. Where all else fails, there are herbs and oils which are used to induce sleep. Melatonin and Valerian are the two supplements that are scientifically proven to be effective in inducing sound sleep. Melatonin is recommended to people above the age of 55 only on prescription. 

Melatonin for sound sleep:

  • Melatonin is a common prescription drug to regulate the sleep cycle in shift workers and those suffering from jet lag.
  • Melatonin is a neuro-chemical produced by the brain under conditions of low light. There is a school of thought which says that the neuro chemical serotonin produced during periods of wakefulness is converted into melatonin during the sleep cycle. It is thought that insomniacs suffer from lack of melatonin.  Doctors prescribe melatonin drug to increase the level in the body and to induce sleep.
  • Melatonin should be taken under medical advice about half an hour before the desired bed time. It should be taken on a SOS basis only as it is habit forming.

Valerian for inducing sound sleep:

Of the over the counter remedies available to cure insomnia, Valerian is probably the most popular. Valerian is available in its extract form to be brewed into tea .It has a peculiar aroma which most people dislike, hence valerian is taken in capsule form.. When taken an hour before the desired bed time, valerian succeeds in curing insomnia within a week to ten days. Research into the properties of valerian is incomplete, so the data as to how valerian works is inconclusive. 

  • It is not advisable to continue valerian dosage beyond 12 weeks as it is thought to be addictive. 
  • Valerian should not be taken in combination with antihistamines and sedatives.
  • Valerian is a mild sedative and it is not advisable to drive or operate heavy machinery while under treatment with valerian
  • Some patients have complained of side effects like drowsiness, stomach irritability and palpitations on continuous use of valerian.
  • Melatonin should not be taken by patients suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Pregnant and lactating mothers and those suffering from liver disease should avoid this drug.

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