Alex Steelsmith
Natural Sleep Solutions
An abridged version of a feature article published in Australia's Nature & Health magazine
©2007 Alex and Laurie Steelsmith

"To sleep: perchance to dream..." If Shakespeare were alive today, he might be more apt to simply write, "To sleep: perchance." Modern-day statistics are alarming: insomnia has become such a common problem that, according to the Australia Prescriber website, up to 25 percent of Australians report trouble getting enough sleep.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sleep as "the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored." The American Heritage Dictionary echoes with "a natural, periodic state of rest for the mind and body." It's no coincidence that natural is the very first adjective used by both of these definitions. Sleep is one of your most essential natural healers, your great restorer, and it regenerates every aspect of your body, mind, and spirit.

Your ability to sleep is the result of a choreographed ballet of chemistry that takes place in your body every night. If you aren't sleeping well, for whatever reason, you need to restore your ability to sleep-in other words, restore your great restorer itself. Remember that sleep is your natural restorer; it is best restored through entirely natural means. Unnatural approaches may only compound your problem in the long run, leading you further and further away from the natural balance that you need. Despite the huge amount of money people spend on sleep medications, pharmaceutical drugs seldom address the underlying causes of insomnia. To make matters worse, drugs frequently cause serious side effects that many people find more difficult to live with than the effects of insomnia. It's often a classic case of the so-called "cure" being worse than the problem.

All too often, people wind up on pharmaceutical sleep medications because they experience poor sleep for a few weeks, or perhaps even just a few days. Unfortunately, in many cases no one ever bothered to ask the crucial questions about why they might have been having problems sleeping in the first place. The conditions that can lead to insomnia include poor sleep habits, improper diet, unmanaged stress, hormonal changes (especially in women), and from a Chinese medicine perspective, imbalances in Qi.

The good news, if you have insomnia, is that natural medicine has many solutions that can help you address the underlying causes of your problem and get off of sleep medications. In our new book Natural Choices for Women's Health, we describe many steps you can take to solve insomnia naturally. Here are a few examples of what you can do to get a good night's sleep, ranging from simple lifestyle measures you can take yourself to more involved steps that will require the help of a qualified practitioner:

(Note to readers: Here, this article details 20 step-by-step methods for improving sleep. Since this was a 3,000-word article, these methods have been omitted for purposes of this website. The article concludes as follows.)

With patience and time, these gentle, natural methods can help you re-set your natural sleep-clock and overcome insomnia. Remember to create a plan for sleep every night, manage the stress in your life, and eat a sleep-conducive diet. Whether you've suffered from mild, moderate, or severe insomnia, identify and treat the underlying cause so that you can bring your body back into balance and once again enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a good night's sleep. Restoring your natural capacity for sleep is vital to every facet of your body, mind, and spirit. Sleep, after all, is what gives you the chance to dream.

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