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According to a 2010 poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), about 60 percent of the US population suffers from poor or inadequate sleep. Prior to light bulbs, people slept an average of 10 hours a night. Nowadays, the average American gets less than seven hours of shut-eye during the week, and slightly more on weekends.
While I don’t believe there is a hard-and-fast rule as to how long you must sleep, it is crucial to get enough to feel well-rested—something that can be nearly impossible if you’re suffering from insomnia.
Lack of sleep can have far-reaching ramifications. In fact, you can have an excellent diet and exercise regimen, but if you’re not sleeping well, optimal health will remain elusive. I’ve previously detailed the many health hazards of lack of sleep, so for a refresher, please review the hyperlink provided.
It’s important to understand that while herbs are far less problematic than prescription sleep-aids, ultimately even these natural supplements are just symptomatic band-aids. If you’re suffering from insomnia, you are far better off seeking to correct the problem at its root, which I’ll discuss below. That said, let’s first review a couple of natural remedies that may offer some temporary help.
Can Herbal Remedies Help Insomnia?
Valerian is one of the most commonly used sleep remedies for insomnia. Studies have found that valerian improves:
- Deep sleep
- Speed of falling asleep
- Overall quality of sleep
Bear in mind however, that herbs can affect people differently, and about 10 percent of people who take valerian tend to actually feel energized by it, which may keep them awake.
In the featured study above, 30 percent of the post-menopausal women participating in this randomized, triple-blind, controlled trial showed an improvement in the quality of their sleep after taking 530 mg of valerian twice a day for four weeks. The authors concluded that:
“Valerian improves the quality of sleep in women with menopause who are experiencing insomnia. Findings from this study add support to the reported effectiveness of valerian in the clinical management of insomnia.”