There are times in everyone’s life when sleep doesn't come easily. Anxiety, stress, excitement and anticipation can lead to restless nights and fog-filled days. Rather than spending another night staring at the ceiling for hours, try a relaxing sleep-inducing remedy to help bring on a night of restful, uninterrupted slumber.
While there are a number of herbs that can ease the senses and help you relax, lavender is a long-standing favorite. Place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cotton ball and store it in a tightly-sealed jar, then take a few deep whiffs before lying down to sleep. The soothing scent is said to settle inner turmoil and help bring on feelings of restfulness. Valerian root can also be used to induce drowsiness. A single teaspoon of Valerian extract will provide at least eight hours of sleep, however, it should be used with caution as the effects can linger, making it difficult to wake up in the morning.
One way to loosen tense muscles and help unwind is to soak in a hot bath 30 minutes before bedtime. Light scented candles, dim the lights, put on soothing music and simply sit and enjoy doing nothing. Should feelings of restlessness reappear after you get out of the tub, reset the scene in the bedroom by snuggling up in a cozy blanket while soft music plays in the background.
The proverbial glass of warm milk is an old-fashioned sleep remedy, and while the warmth of the beverage is soothing, it's the calcium that brings on a peaceful night’s sleep. Those who don't drink milk can achieve a similar effect by taking a calcium supplement about an hour before bedtime. Alternatively, melatonin can be used to help win the war against sleepless nights. Taken before bedtime, this naturally-occurring hormone sends a chemical signal to the brain letting the body know it's time to rest. Just keep in mind that melatonin is intended for short-term use and shouldn't be used on a regular basis until its long-term effects are fully understood.
Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.