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Can You Turn Off Your Brain to Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

When you can't get your brain to quiet down so you fall asleep, there are non-drug approaches that could help you get a good night's sleep.
Can You Turn Off Your Brain to Get a Good Night’s Sleep?
Sleep sleepy insomnia tired bed pillow

Getting a good night’s sleep can be quite a challenge. Some people find it difficult to wind down and relax enough, even though they are tired, that they can finally drift off and get the rest they need. There may be some ways to help address this problem without sleeping pills.

Trouble Getting a Good Night’s Sleep:

Q. My brain will not turn off at night so I can’t get to sleep until 3 am or later. I wake up almost exactly five hours later. That’s almost enough rest to keep me going, but I’m becoming exhausted and now I’m sick. I’ve had trouble sleeping for many years but it has gotten worse in the last month. I have used a variety of natural supplements for sleeping. Some that used to work are no longer helpful. What do you suggest?

I’ve had trouble sleeping for many years but it has gotten worse in the last month. I have used a variety of natural supplements for sleeping. Some that used to work are no longer helpful. What do you suggest?

Ashwagandha to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep:

A. If you prefer a natural approach, you might consider the Indian plant Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). According to Tieraona Low Dog, MD, an expert on botanical and integrative medicine, Ashwagandha is helpful for people who are “wired but tired.” It has an anti-anxiety effect that may help you stop ruminating from bedtime into the wee hours of the morning. Ashwagandha appears to exert this effect through its action on GABA receptors (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Aug. 2, 2015).

Cognitive behavioral therapy is also recognized as an effective treatment for the kind of insomnia you are dealing with. To learn more about Ashwagandha, cognitive behavioral therapy and other natural approaches to insomnia, we offer our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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