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Three O’Clock and Counting

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Three O’Clock and Counting

By Constance Hale, Natural Solutions

It always begins innocently enough: My sweetie rolls over and starts snoring. Or my neighbor, a concrete cutter, starts up his truck for an early-morning job. Or I have a dream in which my niece is on a hijacked bus, and I can do nothing about it. I look at the clock: 3 a.m.

I have to get back to sleep. I cuddle up to my honey to leach calmness from his body. Then I get too hot. I roll over and place a pillow over my head to blot out the glow of streetlights. Then I can’t breathe. I try to focus my mind by going over dance steps I learned in class last week. Then I start to fret about how I’m losing sleep–how if I don’t get back to sleep now, my workday will be shot. If I’m not careful, I’ll get sick and my whole week will be shot.

I wouldn’t call myself an insomniac. In fact, I’m a sleep hog–I can snooze for luxurious nine-hour stretches at night and take catnaps in the late afternoon. And I wouldn’t call myself an anxious person. But if there’s trouble in my soul, it starts to scream at 3 a.m.

I’ve learned all the tricks for tackling this problem. Hard exercise–an hour walk, a 45-minute turn on an exercise bicycle, a half-hour swim–works best, only I can’t always get to the gym. I’ve tried indulging in warm baths an hour before bed and dimming the lights throughout the house to affect my body’s internal clock. I’ve avoided stimulation late at night (no 10 o’clock news, no New York Times), and I’ve stayed away from tea and coffee after the early afternoon. I’ve sipped chamomile tea and warm milk.

The problem with these standard tricks is that it’s not going to sleep that’s hard for me, it’s staying asleep. It’s that 3 a.m. thing.

During desperate times–like the traumatic period after my father’s death, or on a brutal 23-hour flight from San Francisco to Delhi–I’ve turned to drugs like Ambien. But my family has a history of addiction, so I’m wary of pharmaceuticals. Also, with sleeping pills, sleep always seems to come on like a thick lead curtain. I wake in the morning feeling deprived of my favorite kind of sleep–that restful slumber filled with wonderful, exotic dreams.

Which is why when an acupuncturist recommended Shui De An Capsules I was willing to give them a try. This “good sleeping & worry free powder” of the Tang dynasty, apparently, would enable one “to fall asleep in 30-50 minutes.” When sleeping, it assured, “the user dreams no terrible dreams,” and after waking “he feels full of vigour.”

I couldn’t decide whether I was hopeful or skeptical when I read the list of ‘functions’ the capsules were said to perform: “heart-nourishing, blood & vital energy-enriching, mind-calming, appetite-stimulating, head-clearing, and health-strengthening.” This all sounded too good to be true: a nondrug, non-sedating sleep aid that would clear my head, help me sleep, and boost my health?

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Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

38 comments

+ add your own
11:23AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

Valerian is the single most effective herb to relieve insomnia and induce healthful, relaxing sleep. Melatonin is also an effective supplement for good sleep. Many people also find cannabis useful, but it is unfortunately still not legal in many locations.

7:01AM PST on Feb 10, 2010

this sounds awesome

9:44AM PST on Feb 1, 2010

Thnks for article I will definitely look into it. As myself and my daughter can't sleep at night. until 3Am or so then we sleep but it is broken.
Thanks

3:25PM PST on Jan 12, 2010

something worth looking into!:) thanks

10:42AM PST on Jan 11, 2010

Could someone let me know where I can buy them?

11:38PM PST on Jan 3, 2010

thats cool :) cuz guess who is awake at 2:38 in the morning; but went to sleep perfectly around 10...ugh.

8:47AM PST on Dec 30, 2009

Very interesting

2:02AM PST on Dec 29, 2009

i usually have a troublesom sleeping pattern,i wake up often during the night.so i get up around 3, take my dogs for a walk. it`s the best time to be out.

8:36PM PST on Dec 28, 2009

I never lay in the bed tossing and turing. If I wake up, I get up. Even if its 3 in the morning. I assures a good night sleep the next night.

11:48PM PST on Dec 23, 2009

Even as a baby (so my mom tells me) I've had trouble sleeping. Right now its 2:45 am and I'm afraid to go outside because my fat cat might attack me for food.

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