Women are more prone to insomnia than men – and are more likely to suffer from insomnia during certain periods of their lives. Insomnia leaves you feeling exhausted, forgetful, irritable, anxious and foggy – and can seriously impact your daily life. Some over-the-counter remedies for insomnia can give you several unwanted side effects.
Women and insomnia
Women suffer from insomnia during the menstrual cycle and menopause due to fluctuations in hormonal levels. Pregnancy may also cause insomnia for some women due to pressure on the bladder and the need to urinate more frequently during the night – and general discomfort as baby grows. In addition, the peri-menopause and the menopause may disturb a woman's sleep pattern through hot flashes, sweating and anxiety attacks. Other conditions which cause insomnia in women include:
- depression and anxiety
- emotional problems.
Using lavender for insomnia
Lavender filled pillows and sachets are also ideal to help babies and children in sleeping. You can use lavender filled sachets by slipping the sachet inside of baby's pillow or leaving it on the nightstand. For women, heat up a lavender filled pillow and place it over the eyes to relax before going to sleep.
To use the essential oil, mix a distilled water spray with lavender essential oil and spray lightly on your pillow before going to sleep. Use 8 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of water.
Using chamomile for insomnia
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is another well known herb that is often used as a sleep aid. Available in herbal format from health food stores, you can also take it as a tea or use it in essential oil format. If you are using it as an essential oil, blend it in a water based spray as instructed above.
Using melatonin for insomnia
Melatonin is naturally produced by your body and helps to regulate your body clock; however, sometime a supplement of melatonin is required to help your body re-adjust to its natural rhythms and to help you get a better night's sleep.
Melatonin produced by the body decreases with age. Melatonin production is also affected by light and requires darkness to produce more effectively; a disruption to the body's natural cycle, such as jet lag or night shift work, will affect melatonin production too.
You can take melatonin in capsule or tablet form to help with insomnia.
Using valerian for insomnia
Valerian is a herb that is often referred to as the “natural alternative” to the prescription drug valium. There is in fact no relation between the valerian and valiums but it is believed that they both work in similar ways and are used for similar conditions.
Valerian (Valeriana fauriei) is commonly used to treat anxiety, stress and insomnia. Some people may actually fall asleep faster with the use of valerian and have a better night's sleep too. You can take it as a herbal supplement in capsule form, as a tea or in an alcohol (free) base as a tincture.
Cautions for using aids for insomnia
Be aware that some of the above suggestions might interact with other medications that you are taking. Consult your health practitioner before taking any of the suggestions in this article. In addition, some conditions, such as pregnancy and high blood pressure, might be contra-indicated for use. The use of melatonin and other herbal supplements are not endorsed by the FDA, so use your own judgment, and do your own research, on the suitability of a particular product as a natural sleep aid for insomnia.
- Lawless, Julia, 2001, The Aromatherapy Garden, UK: Kyle Cathie Ltd
- Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK:Thorsons
- University of Maryland Medical Center website, Valerian, accessed December 3, 2013
- University of Maryland Medical Center website, Melatonin, accessed December 3, 2013
- Women's Health.gov website, Insomnia Fact Sheet, accessed December 3, 2013
- Author's training and experience