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Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, is the inability to sleep at all, or the inability to sleep satisfactorily during normal sleeping hours. This condition should only be considered a problem if it impairs daily functioning.

Basic forms of insomnia are: difficulty falling asleep (initial insomnia), difficulty staying asleep, or early morning waking. There may be restless or disturbed sleep, reduction of sleep time (regardless of when the person falls asleep or wakens), and complete wakefulness.

Requirements for sleep vary among individuals and with respect to one individual. For example, children need more sleep than adults. The exact role of sleep and the precise sleep-inducing mechanisms are unknown.

There are many ways to treat insomnia. Some treatments include: exercising during the day, going for a walk about an hour before bedtime, reading before bedtime, taking a warm bath, drinking warm milk which contains tryptophan before bed, sexual intercourse, muscle relaxation exercises, meditation, and/or in severe cases deliberately staying awake for one night to force the resumption of a normal sleep pattern.


The majority of insomnia cases are caused by psychological and emotional problems, such as:

Watching exciting television programs before bedtime
Depression (especially in the case of early morning waking)
Unexpressed anger
Arguing with family members
Fear of dying while sleeping

Other causes include:

Consuming caffeinated beverages, such as coffee before bedtime
Paradoxical insomnia, i.e., use of medications prescribed to reduce insomnia
Consuming large quantities of alcohol before bedtime
Need to urinate frequently and other urinary problems
Consuming a large meal before bedtime
Napping, especially late in the day
Bright lights
Sleeping in an over or underheated room
Lack of ventilation
Sleeping with too few or too many sheets
Restless legs syndrome
Hypoventilation syndrome
Sleep apnea
Parkinson's disease
Heart disorders
Hardening of the arteries
Irritable bowel syndrome
Any other painful or discomforting disorder

Signs & Symptoms

The primary symptom of insomnia is sleeping less than normal such that daily function is impaired or still being tired after sleeping.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function:
        Single Nutrients &
        Multi Vitamin/Multi Mineral Formulas

General Supplements

Choline 200 - 500 mg 100 - 300 mg
Inositol 200 - 500 mg 100 - 300 mg
Magnesium 400 - 800 mg 200 - 400 mg
Vitamin B-6 25 - 100 mg 10 - 50 mg
Zinc 20 - 30 mg 10 - 20 mg

* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.


Chlorella has also been recommended for sleep disorders.

In the place of the now unavailable supplement: tryptophan, natural sources such as pumpkin seeds are used.

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

Tryptophan is a chemical in the brain which induces sleep. To maximize the amount of dietary tryptophan entering the brain, it should be consumed in a high carbohydrate, low protein bedtime snack, such as warm milk and cookies. Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, salad, fruit and rich desserts, are good sleep-inducers if eaten one hour before retiring. Intake of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, should be restricted to promote sleep. A Carbohydrate Intolerance Diet is recommended.

Insomnia can be due to chronic manganese toxicity when doses are greater than one gram per day. A diet low in vitamin B-6 has been shown to produce insomnia in adults.

Homeopathic Remedy

1. Coffea cruda - 30C
2. Valeriana - 15X
3. Passiflora incarnata tinct. - mother tincture to 6C

Advanced, by symptom:

1. Restless mind - Coffea cruda

2. Apprehension - Arsenicum Album

3. Emotional stress, depressed, "sigh" - Ignatia amara.

Treatment Schedule

Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.


X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency

Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.


Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.

Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.

Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.

Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.

Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.

Tissue Salts

Kali Phos.

Herbal Approaches


Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Kava kava
Oat straw
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)
St. John's wort
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)

"Sleep disturbances" (German Commission E)

Lemon Balm
Valerian Root

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


Each year some 10 million Americans receive prescriptions for sleeping pills. Care must be exercised in combining, or overlapping herbs and drugs e.g. Shepherd's Purse and Sweet Flag have been noted to potentiate barbiturate sleeping time.

Valerian (sometimes in combination with Melissa) has proven equal to benzodiazepine on some measures, superior in others, particularly with regard to concentration and daytime sedation.

Newall has compiled an extensive list of herbs with sedative action (the most popular are featured above):

Calamus (Sweet Flag)Potentiates barbiturate sleeping time
Celery SeedIn vivo
Chamomile, GermanHuman
CouchgrassIn vivo
ElecampaneIn vivo
GinsengCNS depressant and stimulant
GoldensealIn vivo
HopsIn vivo
Hydrocotyle (Gotu Kola)In vivo
Jamaica DogwoodIn vivo
NettleCNS depression, in vivo
Passion FlowerIn vivo
SageIn vivo
SkullcapReputed action
Shepherd's PursePotentiates barbiturate sleeping time
St. John's WortTraditional use, bioflavonoids
ValerianHuman, in vivo
Wild Carrot SeedIn vivo
Wild Lettuce In vivo, related species


Dressing, H et al., Are Valeriana/Melissa combinations of equal value to benzodiazepine? Therapiewoche. 1992, 42:726-736.

Hoffmann, D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element, 1983. Third edition 1990.

Leathwood, P et al., Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 1982, 17:65-71.

Leathwood, PD & Chauffard, F: Aqueous extract of valerian reduces latency to fall asleep in man. Planta Med. 1985, 32(4):1,065-1,066.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Basil Essence,Chamomile Essence,
Lavender Essence,Lemon Essence,
Mandarin Essence,Marjoram Essence,
Melissa Essence,Orange Essence,
Petitgrain Essence,Rose Essence,
Sandalwood Essence,Ylang-Ylang Essence.

In the old days people would keep sprigs of lavender in their drawers, where pillowcases (and other clothes) were stored, or directly crush lavender in the pillowcase.

Today, if you don't grow lavender in your garden, place some drops on your pillow, or even rub a little lavender oil under your nose and breathe deeply as you lie in bed.

Related Health Conditions

ArteriosclerosisBreathing disorders
DepressionHeart disorders
Irritable bowel syndromeParkinson's disease
PregnancySleep apnea
Urinary disorders



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