Sleep is perhaps the most vital component of a healthy body and mind. However, why is it that something as natural as sleep can sometimes be so hard to come by? Babies and animals have no trouble falling and staying asleep, but why does it seem to be so hard for some adults? If you have ever experienced insomnia, you would probably know how infuriating it can be. It is almost like a vicious cycle — the longer you lie awake, the more frustrated you become and the harder it is to fall asleep.

According to Nielsen, Singapore, along with the United States of America, rank highly in its list of “sleep-sick” society. In fact, many of the global population sacrifice sleep to meet endless demands of their day. sleep deprivation and poor sleeping habits are a result of our hectic, high-tech lifestyle. It is estimated that 30% of the global population battle with insomnia within the course of a year, with one out of every three individuals across the globe have trouble falling asleep from time to time. While everyone experiences an occasional sleepless night, transient or chronic insomnia is distinctly different and can wreak havoc on your health, causing daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, headaches, acne breakouts, depression, irritability and increased susceptibility to cold and the flu, just to name a few.

In one study, a group of Finnish researchers confirmed the common belief that good sleep and good health go hand in hand. The researchers compared 1,600 total good and bad sleepers between ages 36 and 50. They found that, compared to good sleepers, male poor sleepers were 6.5 times more likely to have health problems, while the female poor sleepers were 3.5 times more likely to run into future health problems.

Defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep, insomnia is not a condition per se, but a symptom of something else. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits, illness, grief, time zone and schedule changes, as well as noisy sleep environments are the most common culprits. Additionally, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia and gastroesophageal reflux are among the top physical causes. In some cases, insomnia is caused by biological-clock problems.

So, what are some of the best ways to beat insomnia?


Fall Asleep with Natural Remedies

Natural remedies are an ideal alternative to prescription and over-the-counter drugs or sleeping pills, which can cause daytime drowsiness and lethargy. The following nutrients work well alone or when combined. If you are taking a prescription medication, consult your physician before trying anything new. Never combine prescription drugs for insomnia, anxiety or depression with the following supplements because of possible adverse interactions.

1. Melatonin

This hormone is naturally manufactured by the body in the pineal gland. While scientists are unsure of its exact function, they do know for a fact that the hormone plays a critical role in the body’s circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep and wake cycle. Several studies have shown that melatonin supplements are an effective treatment for insomniacs with low melatonin secretion. People whose insomnia is caused by something other than low melatonin levels, however, are not likely to benefit from supplementation. In addition, melatonin is a great remedy to keep on hand when travelling. Studies show that this natural hormone is the perfect antidote for jet lag. The ideal dosage for melatonin is between 3 and 5 mg to be taken half-hour before you hit the sack. Do not expect to sleep like a baby the first time you consume this supplement as it normally takes around three weeks for it to kick in fully. You can also choose to take melatonin sublingually, which works well for people who have trouble with early morning awakening as it is absorbed faster than some other forms.

2. Valerian

This popular herb has been used since the Roman times as a sedative and stress reliever. Today, it is still valued for its tranquiliser-like effect. Originally named “phu” because of its unpleasant smell, valerian works by relaxing the central nervous system and intestinal muscles while, at the same time, lowering blood pressure. Numerous clinical studies support valerian’s use as a natural sleeping aid. It not only relieves insomnia but also improves sleep quality without causing morning drowsiness. Furthermore, it does not appear to be habit-forming. Take 150 to 300 mg half-hour before bedtime. Find a product that contains at least 0.8% valerenic acid, the active constituent of valerian.

3. Passionflower

This beautiful plant with intricate white-purple threadlike flowers has been used in Central and North America for years as a treatment for insomnia, epilepsy and mental illness. In Europe, passionflower is labelled as a phytomedicine for conditions of nervous anxiety. Several studies have supported passionflower’s value as a sedative, anti-spasmodic and anti-anxiety herb. While passionflower can be taken alone, it is commonly combined with other sedative herbs like valerian, hops and skullcap. Passionflower also has no known toxicities or contraindications.