Treatment of Insomnia

Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease and therefore the treatment must address the underlying cause. Some of the non-drug strategies to treat insomnia include:

  • Going to bed and arising at the same time daily
  • Avoiding large meals and excessive fluids before bedtime
  • Reducing caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime
  • Exercising regularly but not in the late evening
  • Controlling the sleep environment as light, noise, and elevated room temperature can disrupt sleep (especially important for shift workers)
  • Engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime
  • Limiting time in bed to regular sleep hours and eliminating daytime naps

If the above measures are not successful, medications to treat insomnia are considered. They do not cure insomnia, but they may relieve symptoms.

Herbal remedies based on traditional use are frequently used for insomnia. Valerian is the most popular and was first recommended for insomnia in the second century AD. From the sixteenth century onward, it became popular as a sedative in Europe and was widely used for sleep disorders and nervousness until the introduction of prescription sedatives in the 1960s and 1970s. Recently, valerian use has been regaining favour with increasing interest in the use of herbal medications.

There have been numerous clinical studies conducted on valerian. Broad clinical experience and clinical trials have shown that valerian is effective at a dosage of 2 to 3 grams per day. 

Zizyphus is a herbal remedy that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Zizyphus has a mild sedative action to calm the nerves and mind and induce an undisturbed, quality sleep. Due to its gentle nature, zizyphus allows you to wake up feeling refreshed. 

While a single dose may be helpful, evidence suggests that continued use over 1 or 2 weeks will produce better results. The recommended dosage of valerian has been shown to improve sleep quality and to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. There is also some evidence that valerian helps improve mild anxiety and aids relaxation.

Valerian and zizyphus are usually well tolerated. Side effects sometimes reported with valerian include gastrointestinal symptoms. Valerian is not likely to cause grogginess in the morning.


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