If you have persistent insomnia, you’ve probably already tried the more common sleep remedies. But what if you’re not one of the lucky folks who get relief with natural sedatives like chamomile tea or tinctures made from herbs like valerian? If you seek conventional medical treatment, your doctor will probably offer you a sleeping pill. But, unless you have a serious health condition, you might want to try one of these less-known sleep remedies before you get that prescription filled.
Golden Milk (Turmeric Tea) for Insomnia
Turmeric is fast becoming a popular remedy for a variety of ailments, and it’s no surprise. It has been a primary ingredient in the Ayurvedic medicine of India since ancient times. Modern research has proven turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It shows promise in the prevention and treatment of various cancers. A component of turmeric called curcumin has been shown effective in treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
Golden Milk has been used for centuries as a remedy for colds, flu, depression, sleep disorders, and many other ailments. It contains turmeric, ginger, ghee (or butter), milk, and raw honey (recipe follows). These ingredients work synergistically to give the tea its healing properties.
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of things, including adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, and mental stress. Often, an underlying toxicity of the liver is at the root of many of these conditions. We are exposed to toxins every day. We can’t eliminate them completely, but we can minimize them by avoiding exposure to substances lilke aluminum, lead, caffeine, acetaminophen, and alcohol.
Even still, these toxins accumulate over time and damage the free radicals in our bodies. This creates oxidative stress, which is one of the key mechanisms of aging and disease. Antioxidants such as those in ginger and turmeric help neutralize these anti-oxidants. Turmeric, in particular, has agents that support the liver in detoxifying environmental carcinogens. If fresh turmeric and ginger root are unavailable, you can substitute dried turmeric and ginger powders.
Honey is another age-old remedy for insomnia. It has been used by the Chinese since ancient times. Many people find that a teaspoon of honey taken alone before bed helps induce sleep. In the Middle Ages, European folk healers recommended drinking a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey. This combination works because milk and honey are both good natural sources of l-tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. You might have noticed that you get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner; that’s because turkey contains a high amount of tryptophan as compared to other foods.
Raw honey is well known for its therapeutic benefits. It contains a wide range of enzymes, vitamins, and other antioxidant nutrients that help neutralize free radical damage. Commercial honey is usually heavily processed by pasteurization and filtering. Excessive heat destroys honey’s natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals in honey. For these reasons, it’s important to choose organic raw honey.
Manuka honey from New Zealand is especially high in antioxidants. It is used medicinally as dressing for wounds because of its powerful antimicrobial properties. Manuka honey is often touted as the best honey in the world; however, it’s rather expensive and has a slightly medicinal flavor that some folks don’t enjoy. Certainly, any type of organic raw honey can be used in this recipe with excellent results.
The traditional Ayurvedic recipe for Golden Milk contains ghee (clarified butter), but you can substitute regular butter. Butter or ghee from grass-fed cows is especially rich in vitamins and healthy fats. Adding a small amount of fat helps our bodies absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in turmeric and ginger. Some recipes recommend adding a pinch of black pepper because the piperine in the pepper is said to enhance the bioavailability of the curcumin in the turmeric. However, most people do not enjoy the flavor of black pepper in their drink.
Golden Milk is easy to make. Here’s how you do it.
1-inch knob fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder
1-inch knob fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
2 teaspoons ghee or grass-fed butter
2-3 teaspoons honey
2 cups milk or 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk and 1 cup water
A sprinkle of black pepper (optional)
- If using fresh turmeric and ginger, peel the roots and grate them finely using a microplane grater. Then pound to form a paste.
- Pour the milk (or coconut milk and water) into a blender container. Then add the paste, if using. Or, measure and add dried turmeric and ginger powders. If using black pepper, add a sprinkle.
- Blend the mixture on high speed until smooth.
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add butter. Warm on medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remember, extreme heat will destroy the nutrients in the honey.
- Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Strain the milk into cups and stir in honey to taste. Serve warm.
L-Theanine for Insomnia
Sometimes racing thoughts and anxiety keep us from falling asleep or make it difficult to stay asleep. Either way, we wake up feeling unrested. If this is your problem, you might try an l-theanine supplement (available online in in health foods stores). L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that was first discovered in green tea in 1949. It has since become a well-known anti-anxiety supplement with scientifically proven relaxation benefits.
Hyperactive thoughts are caused by stress, which is the number one cause of insomnia. When we lie down to rest, our minds keep going, processing the day’s events. These thoughts are actually neurochemical messages that produce brainwave patterns that interfere with sleep. L-theanine works by stopping stress in its tracks. By alleviating stress during the day, l-theanine makes it easier to sleep at night.
The typical recommended starting dose is 50 mg, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bed. It’s best to take it nightly. After a few nights at this dose, you can increase the dose by 50 mg at a time until you reach your desired level of relaxation. For most people, 200 mg is an optimal dose, but some need as much as 400 mg to be effective.
Have you ever noticed that drinking tea during the day doesn’t give you the jitters like coffee does, even though both contain caffeine? That’s because the tea contains l-theanine, which helps counter the effects of caffeine on the nerves. Drinking tea—especially green tea–during the day is a good way to get your l-theanine naturally. For maximum benefits, make it decaffeinated.
When choosing an l-theanine supplement, be sure to look for capsules that contain Suntheanine. This is the form that has been proven to work as a sleep aid in scientific studies.
Coffee for Insomnia
Given its reputation exciting the nerves, coffee is perhaps the most counterintuitive choice among natural sleep aids. Yet, Homesteader Supply’s owner, Jerri, swears by it. A few sips of decaf coffee before bed help her go off to Dreamland. Indeed, decaf coffee is a lesser known homeopathic remedy for insomnia.
In conventional homeopathy, coffee in the form of Coffea Cruda is considered an excellent homeopathic remedy for those who suffer from overactive minds and racing thoughts. The typical Coffea Cruda personality is one that tends to be nervous and easily excitable. Coffea is helpful for people with an over-stimulated nervous system who react strongly to noise, touch, or any type of sensory overload. Coffea can be effective in neutralizing the jangled nerves caused by drinking too much coffee, too. If this sounds like you, consider trying Coffea Cruda.
If you have unresolved insomnia issues, one of these remedies just might be your ticket to a restful night’s sleep. Let us know if they work for you.
Have you used a different natural sleep remedy successfully? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section below.
Information in this article is meant for educational and informational purposes only. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always check with your doctor for a medical diagnosis and prescribed course of treatment.
Authored by: Anna Paige