Background

Sleep disorders affect about 70 million Americans. If you have trouble falling asleep, it is often due to too much stress or chronic exhaustion (it takes energy for your sleep center to work) or can also occur from taking coffee/caffeine later in the day. If you have exhaustion and/or widespread achiness along with insomnia lasting over 3 months, and it does not go away with vacation, see Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The average night’s sleep in the U.S. was 9 hours a night until 100 years ago. With light bulbs, TV, computers, etc, we are now a sleep deprived society at an average of about 6.5 hours a night (8 is optimal on average, but the best amount is the amount that feels the best to you). Inadequate sleep causes fatigue, pain, weight gain, premature aging and a host of other ills.

Treatment

Natural remedies and proper sleep hygiene will take care of day to day insomnia. When severe, some medications can be helpful and others harmful.

For those with CFS and fibromyalgia, which represents a severe sleep disorder, it is not uncommon to sometimes need to take even 6-8 different products simultaneously to get 8 hours of sleep at night until the sleep center recovers.

General Advice

  • Do not consume alcohol near bedtime or caffeine after 4:00 pm.
  • Do not use your bed for problem solving or doing work.
  • Take a hot bath before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom cool.
  • If your partner snores, consider a separate bedroom.

Recommended Supplements

Herbal sleep aids

For regular insomnia, herbal sleep supplements are usually enough to get you sleeping. Natural ingredients that can help sleep include theanine, Jamaican Dogwood, wild lettuce, valerian, passionflower, and hops.

Magnesium

Magnesium 200 mg taken at bedtime.

Melatonin

Melatonin 3/10-1 mg taken at bedtime.

Adrenal Balancers

If your mind is wide awake at bedtime, your nighttime adrenal hormone levels may be too high (even if too low during the day). An herbal mix of Ashwagandha and phosphatidyl serine can be very helpful.

Medications

Ambien, Desyrel, Flexeril and Neurontin

Avoid Valium related sleep aids, which are addictive and worsen sleep quality (Klonopin and Xanax are addictive, but are useful in some settings). Ambien (zolpidem 5-10 mg), Desyrel(trazodone 25-50 mg), Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine 5-10 mg), and Neurontin (gabapentin 100-900 mg) are helpful medications for sleep if natural aids don't work.

More Information Online

Sleep and Insomnia

Sleep Apnea and Restless Legs Syndrome

Contributor: 

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes. Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery Penguin), which has sold over half a million copies; Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill); Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press); the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series (Fair Winds Press);  Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press); The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Penguin/Avery); and his latest, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015).