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Beating insomnia the natural way December 10, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in exercise.
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Staring at the alarm clock again? Join the club: As many as 40 percent of women over age 40 battle insomnia at least a few nights a week, says the National Sleep Foundation. Sleeping pills may bring short-term relief, but these all-natural remedies that work with your body rhythms can help you drift into dreamland.

1. Restrict time in bed.

“Studies show that spending less time in bed than you actually want can help,” said Thomas Roth, director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“You’ll fatigue your body and start to associate your bed with sleep instead of tossing and turning; then you can work up to dozing longer.”

Behavioral Rx: Track your nightly sleep. If it’s five hours a night, set your alarm for that. Once you’re sleeping most of that time, go to bed 15 minutes earlier until you reach the recommended 8 hours a night.

2. Try magnesium.

“This mineral helps the body make serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin, the brain chemical that sets your body ‘clock’ and helps the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitters — the ones that help us relax — work more efficiently,” said naturopath Nicole Egenberger, clinic director at Remede Naturopathics in New York City.

Natural Rx: Take 200 to 300 milligrams of magnesium citrate daily with dinner. It works best when balanced with calcium, which aids absorption; take 400 milligrams of calcium daily with lunch.

3. Exercise in the early evening.

“A few hours after you work out, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, which slows heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep,” said Dr. Monica Myklebust, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland.

Exercise Rx: Four hours before bed, take a brisk walk, swim, or do yoga for at least 30 minutes. To maximize the tiring effect of the workout, turn off the TV and computer two hours before you hit the sack.

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