Natural Remedies

Natural Remedies for Insomnia, Tried and True


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Posted by Kate (Atlanta, GA) on 06/27/2009
5 out of 5 stars

Basil has been by far the best remedy for my insomnia. I bring about 2 cups of water to a simmer, add 1/2 of a tablespoon of dried basil, turn the stove off, and let it sit, covered, for about twenty minutes. I've substituted a bruised sprig of fresh basil on occasion with the same wonderful effects. I start sipping on this tea about two hours before bed, and it knocks me out every time. I've upped the ammount of basil in the tea or the ammount of the tea I drink on occasion but the above measurements are the average ammounts that work best for me.

Bentonite Clay  

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Posted by GT (Vero Beach, Florida) on 08/24/2007
5 out of 5 stars

Used Medicinal grade Bentonite clay for acid reflux,works within a few sips. Get a small bottle of water put in a teaspoon of bentonite clay (PH is 9.1) shake hard so it disolves in the water and take some sips. You will notice within the second sip the acid starts to calm down. A note; People with bad acid reflux have trouble sleeping, magnesium gets depleted when acid is on overload, a few sips of bentonite clay before bed you sleep like a baby. Magnesium' has a 'calming' effect for the mind and the physical muscles. There is magnesium in bentonite clay.

Blackstrap Molasses  

Posted by Audrey (London, UK) on 01/04/2015

Is black strap molasses any good for insomnia?

Block Blue Light  

Posted by Rachel (Newark, New Jersey) on 10/13/2012

Hi all you unwilling Night-Owls: I came across some life-saving information on the benefits of blocking the blue part of the light spectrum before bedtime. Please look at the 3 links below, since they explain this better than I can. Note that blue light is emitted from all light bulbs, and most especially florescent and energy-saver bulbs, as well as from computer monitors and TV screens. You can wear special glasses that block these blue waves for a few hours before bed time. The first link is an inexpensive book, and you can read portions of it on the Amazon site. The author claims that blocking blue-spectrum light waves before sleep also slashes cancer risk by half, since blue light waves diminish melatonin, and melatonin is cancer-protective. Keep in mind that if you suffer from Seasonal-Affective disorder, you WANT the blue light waves. However, confine the blue light waves to your DAY hours, since getting them in the night hours can ruin your sleep, and thus contribute to depression.

Also keep in mind that taking melatonin as a SUPPLEMENT, I mean in pill or capsule form, can bring on depression. So if you have a depression issue, I recommend getting your melatonin (and good sleep) by blocking blue light waves at night, instead of by taking melatonin supplements. You can find online a lot more information about all this. Pleasant dreams!

Replied by Rachel
Newark, NJ
Replied by Rachel
Newark, New Jersey

The book I mentioned is by Richard L. Hansler, titled Great Sleep! Reducd Cancer! : A Scientific Approach to Great Sleep. It's an inexpensive book, but you can read parts of it anyway on the Amazon site. Here is a press release from 2006:

Reducing the Risk of Cancer by 50 Percent Appears Possible by Blocking Blue Light in the Evening

Blind people have half the incidence of cancer, most likely because they make melatonin 9 or 10 hours a night according to a recent study at Harvard University. The body can only make melatonin when in the dark. For most people this is 6 or 7 hours a night. It's the blue component of light that causes melatonin suppression. Glasses that block blue light worn a few hours before bedtime allow melatonin to flow for 9 or 10 hours.
University Heights, OH (PRWEB) March 8, 2006

Blind people have about half the risk of cancer as people with normal vision according to a large study by the National Health Service. The most likely reason is that they produce melatonin and other secretions from the pineal gland for 9 or 10 hours a night while the rest of us only make them for 6 or 7 hours a night. Melatonin is a powerful cancer fighter, but the body only make it when in the dark. Exposing the eyes to light shuts down the pineal gland.

But there is good news. Not all colors of light cause melatonin suppression. It's only the blue rays that cause the problem. This means that blocking the blue light from entering the eye the pineal gland can continue making melatonin.

The fact that blind people only have half the rate of cancer was first discovered in the 90s and has been confirmed by more recent studies. A related study of women who consistently sleep unusually long found that the incidence of breast cancer for women who slept nine hours or more a night was only about one fourth that of women who slept 6 or 7 hours a night. A subsequent study found that women who slept unusually long made melatonin for a similarly unusually long time.

Concern about the use of light at night began when it was found that nurses who worked night shift from time to time had a higher incidence of breast cancer. Something about disrupting the circadian rhythm of the body was causing a higher risk of cancer. Studies in animals show that continuous exposure to light accelerates the rate of growth of cancerous tumors. The mechanism is thought to be the lack of melatonin.

Last fall the results of a milestone study were published. The response of human breast cancers to blood with and without pineal secretions was studied. Breast cancers grew rapidly when exposed to blood without melatonin but only very slowly when the blood contained melatonin. Dr. Blask who led the study said that "Melatonin puts the cancer to sleep at night". Unfortunately exposing the eyes to light at night wakes up the cancer and lets it grow rapidly.

Wearing glasses that block the blue light for a few hours before going to bed lets people regain the long hours of melatonin flow that is experienced by blind people. The glasses allow the yellow, orange and red light to pass through so one can read, watch television or work on a computer with no problem. Users of the glasses also report a marked improvement in sleep, which supports the idea that more melatonin is being produced. This minor change in life style could cut cancer risk in half.

Replied by Gillian
Andalusa Spain

Hi, will any sunglasses work or is it only a certain kind? If so where can I buy them. Thanks


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Posted by Leelannee (Sussex, Nj) on 09/08/2009
5 out of 5 stars

I read about using 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of borax in water for various health issues, although not insomnia specifically. I decided to try it, and right away noticed that I was able to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night better. I've had insomnia & nightmares for years & have tried many natural supplements & remedies. I'm often tired but don't feel sleepy...after so many years of insomnia, I LOVE that delicious sleepy feeling! Magnesium has worked ok for me but gets expensive & sometimes I'd be awake for an hour or more after sleeping for just a few minutes. Perhaps the borax is detoxifying flouride or something from my body, or killing off a fungus that was affecting my health. However, I've skipped the borax twice in the last few weeks and had a horrible time that same night. I've read that boron helps you absorb calcium better, and calcium helps you relax and sleep, so maybe that's why it's helping me. In the morning I prepare a liter bottle with 1/4 teaspoon borax and sip it throughout the day. Even if I finish it in the early afternoon or drink the whole bottle an hour before bed, it seems to work.

EC: More about borax here.

Replied by Linda
York County, Maine

Leelannee-any idea if this could by employed for a toddler? My granddaughter is 17 months old and is waking up during the night; since her crib rail has been removed, she crawls out of bed and sometimes is awake for an hour or more....this has been happening since the rail was removed and she started sleeping in her 'big girl bed'....part of it could be simply because she knows she CAN get out of bed - it's been happening for a month, or more, and her parents are pretty sleepy much of the time!!

Replied by Roy
Ocala, Florida

We solved the problem of baby falling over the top crib rail by taking (sawing) one slat out of one side at the end of the crib. The baby found his way out, but it was a little bit tight, so he stayed in at night.

Replied by Leelannee
Sussex, Nj

Linda: Sorry, I don't know about recommending this for a small child. I use such a small amount, and I imagine a child would need only a fraction of that; but her sleeplessness could be caused by something totally different than mine, or something in her diet. When my son was little, I used homeopathic remedies (rather than herbs or supplements) because they are usually very safe.

Replied by Janice
Coloma, Mi

Leelannee, were you having problems sleeping and having nightmares due to anxiety? I just wondered if this relaxed you overall.

Replied by Leelannee
Sussex, Nj

I really have no idea what causes the nightmares--I guess it's stress or a nutritional deficiency, but these probably vary over time. The nightmares became worse for a couple of years after my boyfriend died in 2006, but I've had them and/or the sleeplessness for at least a decade...then sometimes I'll sleep better for a while, but I have no idea why. I also have bi-polar disorder, and sometimes would barely sleep for 3 days during a manic episode; however, I haven't had a severe episode in almost 3 years, since being on medication.

Replied by Quixote
Las Vegas, NV

maybe you need some vitamin B-1-it helps with nightmares but you should also take a balanced Vitamin B complex so you dont cause an imbalance-usually about 20 miligrams handles it for me.

Replied by Lucinda
London, On, Canada

Re: Nightmares, sleeplessness. In the book, FOOD AND THE GUT REACTION, page 11 tells us that milk/dairy products can cause terrible nightmares or night terrors. This was the case with our son, as a teenager. A chance conversation alerted us to this information, and his nightmares stopped immediately. Good luck.

Replied by Leelannee
Sussex, Nj

Ugh, I feel like such a dummy for forgetting why I was taking borax! I go through phases of trying new supplements & remedies, and eventually either run out or can't remember why I was taking them, and stop... Good thing I tend to share my experiences on the internet, because every now and then I look up remedies and end up stumbling across MY OWN advice that I posted a few years ago!!! Lol!!!

I actually came to EC to post about a new remedy I've discovered for nightmares (**below if you just want to skip to that), but I'm still having trouble falling asleep. My commute + workday is often 10-13 hours, and it's very stressful when I can only get about 4 hours of sleep! I will start taking borax again TODAY!

I have diabetes (possibly for years before I found out 2 years ago, because my labs were mis-filed at my doctor's office), and have been doing quite a bit of reading on nutrition & hormones. One day various bits of information just sort of clicked together and I came up with an idea that maybe you don't wake up just because you've had a nightmare, but that your brain manufactures the nightmare IN ORDER to wake you up--when your blood sugar gets low, or if you're having muscle cramps, or maybe even just to go to the bathroom!

When you haven't eaten for several hours and your blood sugar starts to get low, your liver will "dump" stored glycogen. In order to do that, cortisol must be released. Cortisol is supposed to be low at night and rise slowly around dawn until it wakes you up. Cortisol is also released when you feel threatened or frightened, and nightmares usually make you feel that way. So my hypothesis was: your body needs cortisol in order to wake you up (so you can eat) and/or to force the liver to release glycogen. The best way to do that is to make you have a nightmare.

I started looking up information and was led to some forums that discuss childhood diabetes and glycogen storage disease. Some of these children will fall into a coma or die if their blood sugar gets too low, and their parents have to wake them several times a night to test their blood sugar and feed them. Corn starch is widely used to help these children make it through the night because it is digested very, very slowly and releases glucose steadily for 5-8 hours. Many parents also reported that their children had nightmares caused by low blood sugar, and that the nightmares ceased when blood sugar was stabilized.

So that same night I started taking:

**Raw cornstarch.
I take 2-3tbsp mixed into cold water right before bed, and don't have nightmares at all!

But it won't work if you cook it; the starch molecules change, and it will cause a blood sugar spike. You can tell if it has "changed" because it will thicken. So don't mix it into warm drinks (such as cocoa) or anything with lemon--lemon also makes it thicken.

If you don't like the cornstarch in water, you could try mixing it into something else cold, like milk, yogurt, or a protein shake. There is also a product that you can find if you do an internet search for "blood sugar crisps" if you need something more convenient, or easier for a kid to eat.

Replied by Timh
Ky, Usa
2115 posts

@Leelannee: Thanx for the remedy post. Your logic seems accurate, but you didn't inform us as to type 1 or 2 diabetes and anything else that might be helping. Let us know how the Borax goes.

Replied by Leelannee
Sussex, Nj

Timh--In my post yesterday, I mentioned diabetes only because that's how I came across some of this information, but I hope I didn't imply that this remedy could only be used by diabetics. Even non-diabetics can experience low blood sugar at some point during the sleep cycle, and may have nightmares as a result.

I have Type 2 diabetes, but I learned the "raw cornstarch trick" from people with Type 1.

Also, I double-checked my internet search suggestion and it doesn't bring up what I intended; "blood sugar nutrition crisps" works better!

Breathing Exercises  

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Posted by Mary Lee (Coaldale, Colorado) on 08/31/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I've been doing deep breathing exercises with Dr. Andrew Weil and they have given me the rest I need. They have also helped with my blood pressure, my atrial fibulation, and my moods. You can get his tape just about anywhere. He's amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And so are his instructions for breathing.

Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium  

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Posted by Clatterbuck (Beltsville, Md) on 09/12/2018
5 out of 5 stars

I had been having trouble getting to and staying asleep for over a year. I tried melatonin, meditation, magnesium, castor oil, etc... Nothing really seemed to work consistently. For other health reasons, I started upping my intake of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. After this change to my diet, I noticed my sleep improved dramatically. I try to get 1,200 mg of calcium through my diet each day, but if I fall short, once in a while I will take one 500 mg chocolate supplement. Every night before I go to bed I take a half of a magnesium supplement with a glass of watermelon water (for potassium). This combination of minerals knocks me out. I still get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but when I get back in bed I fall right back to sleep. I also wake up feeling refreshed. I never would've thought that a nutritional deficiency could cause insomnia.

Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc  

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Posted by Margaret (Tallahassee, FL) on 09/14/2007
5 out of 5 stars

Insomnia -- This really works. Combo Vitamin of Calcium 1000 mg, magnesium 400mg, & zinc 25 mg. 1 hour before bedtime. Also take Valerian Root 530mg 1 hour before bedtime. I guarantee in 1 weeks time, you won't need sleeping pills anymore.

Replied by Sasha
Sav, Jamaica
5 out of 5 stars

This really works. I took it one evening and i was trying to remember what i ate or drank why i slept so calm and peaceful. Now that i saw this post, i realized that it was the calcium, magnesium and zinc combo. Thanks for sharing!

Carbohydrate Snack Before Bed  

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Posted by Gina (Alberta) on 08/31/2018
5 out of 5 stars

I recently read an article by a physician who suggested a carbohydrate snack at bedtime to cure insomnia. After years and years of believing that one should have a protein snack for sound sleep and never being able to fall asleep, I thought I would give it a try. So simple, right? It works. Every single time. Just an apple or some grapes, juice, whatever you like. Cherry juice even is a source of melatonin, so that might work really well. I can now fall asleep quickly and effortlessly and sleep soundly. It's beautiful.

Castor Oil  

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Posted by Ve (Dayton, Ohio) on 02/17/2018 3 posts
5 out of 5 stars

I developed insomnia after menopause. I tried lots of remedies. One remedy was melatonin which gave me strange dreams and made me groggy during the day. Then Magnesium which also made me groggy during the day. The third remedy I tried was Castor Oil. Since I am a big fan of castor oil I noticed that when I used it for other ailments I would sleep thru the night. So I experimented after reading an article that in the 70's there was a clinic in California that would have great success in curing all sorts of ailments when they gave people full body castor oil packs. I started rubbing castor oil all over my skin and I slept wonderfully thru the night. I don't use a pack at night just rub the oil on every night. Sometimes I cover most of my body and other nights a 1/2 a teaspoon anywhere and it still works! I use an oversized cotton pj with long arms or cotton pajama type leggings if I do my legs.

Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee) on 11/21/2016
5 out of 5 stars

Has anyone tried a castor oil pack for insomnia? I have seen that some use a drop in the eyes or on the eyelids for sleep.

I find that when I use one overnight I seem to sleep better and longer. I find them cozy and relaxing and that effect seems to last into the next day.

I put castor oil onto a piece of flannel (folded over a couple of times – maybe the end result is 6 inches by 6 inches – not too scientific.) I cover that with some plastic wrap. If I wear a long stretchy camisole under my night clothes, it seems to hold it in place pretty well. (But use old pajamas and sheets anyway, just in case! ) Then I apply a heating pad. I confess I do leave the heating pad on all night. This is not recommended for diabetics, the elderly or children. (Maybe for anyone. A warm rice sock would be an alternative.)

You are supposed to wash off the castor oil with a baking soda rinse in the morning, but I don't actually do that.

Castor oil packs are commonly used to detox the liver. I have heard that the liver detoxes overnight. Maybe the castor oil pack helps this process? Maybe sleep troubles is in part caused by a sluggish liver? Just wild guesses here.

Anyway, castor oil packs do help me to sleep well (even when I am using them over an ovary or my gall bladder.) I would be interested to hear if anyone else experiences this.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Michael
New Zealand

Hello there Mama to Many!

Been reading your postings often. Good work there. I can relate to your use of a Castor Oil pack! I commenced a couple of weeks ago and have done it for one hour in the afternoon, six days each week, on my lower back. I largely follow your regime. I have cut a piece of flannel and folded it four times to make a six inch by six inch pad. Left in a container in the 'fridge in a little bit of good quality, Castor Oil (enough to lightly saturate but NO more), I drag it out when the billy has boiled and nearly fill the hot water bottle. Lying face down on a protective cloth over a piece of foam in my "sleep out" ( the smell is best kept to one's self ), I proceed to place the pad directly on the lumbar region, cover with a second layer of dry, double-folded flannel cloth, a double layer of plastic sheeting and then the HWB. Time passes O.K. I sometimes nod off until my clockwork timer shrills, when I promptly arise and use the discarded hot water from the HWB, plus a little Bicarb. and a dedicated sponge, to wipe down the nether regions. Already in my working gear, I am then good to garden. Good as gold: job done.

Does it warrant such dedication you may well ponder? Well I AM sleeping much better, not going to "you no where" during the night, and feeling more mobile with a bit less pain. So it is worth all that lot for starters. Kidneys and liver yes but ovaries no I suspect. Mind you, I have gone and done the Raised Bed Trick, about four inches so far, at the same time I started on the Oil. Also, now taking Alfalfa and more MSM so that may have helped. Again, I have re-commenced my "Brew" of Molasses, Lime juice, Honey and ACV once per day which I am always a complete fan of anyway.

So yes, my sleeping HAS improved for sure and I think the Hot Oil Pad may be the secret and it only took a couple of weeks to kick in so all's good. I hope this helps others. Worth a try for sure and there may be other benefits too.

I love this Site as much as you do!

Cheers, Michael

Posted by Sheila (San Diego, Ca, USA) on 04/15/2011
5 out of 5 stars

Castor oil has given me the best nights' (plural) sleep in a very long time!


Replied by L

You say that the Castor Oil is helping you to sleep, how are you using it, are you taking it by mouth, or just applying it to your eyes? Its would be nice to know of something else natural to help people sleep.

Replied by Alvina
Damascus, Oregon

I put castor oil on my upper eyelids before I go to bed and it helps me to go to sleep and sleep deep (except for nature calls)

Replied by Merryanne
Orange City, Florida, Usa
120 posts

If you need help to sleep take Melatonin, it is marvalous, read up on it, it does a lot of good for the body, it is given to children also to help sleep, and it is not a narcotic.

Replied by Sheila
San Diego, Ca, Usa

Hi L, I either put a drop of Castor Oil straight in each eye, or take a drop on the tip of my finger and apply it onto each lid. I don't do this every night now since my body seems to have adjusted to a certain time to sleep. It does do the trick though.

I've used melatonin, as Merryanne has suggested, but I don't like to use animal hormones unless it was a dire situation. Instead of melatonin, I use the herb Valerian. It doesn't taste the best, but I got used to it. Buy the tincture and most instructions say to use 30-60 drops in a glass of water. When I take it, I usually do so before dinner at home.

Replied by Jean H.

Be careful giving melatonin to children as my research indicates it can cause seizures in children. I researched it for an article for my blog which is how I came across this. Plus, taking it can cause your body to stop producing it.

Posted by Mel (Katy, Tx) on 01/16/2010
5 out of 5 stars

Castor Oil cured my insomnia and a Pterygium on my left eye. A pterigium is fatty deposit from wind/dust that affects one or both eyes. There is no pain, but it looks gross. I first got this while living in West Texas and was diagnosed by an Ophthalmologist. My doctor told me that it is not serious unless it starts growing towards the pupil and therefore, should be removed because it will affect my eye sight. My pterigium over the years was getting closer and closer to my pupil as the years have gone by. I knew that very soon I would have to have surgery to have it removed. I started the castor oil therapy about 2 weeks ago for my insomnia and just about 2 days ago I was looking in the mirror and look at my eyes and had to do a double take. The pterygium is almost gone! It is very thin and is not noticeable at all. I am so happy! I started using castor oil for insomnia and that was successful and at the same time cured my pterygium. Thank you so much. :D

Replied by Kay
In The Valley, Ca

Mel, could you tell us exactly how you used the castor oil? Thanks

Replied by Mel
Katy, Tx

Kay, I just use a q-tip and dip in the Castor oil bottle and have just a drop fall on the tip of my finger and quickly apply to my eyelid. Do the same for the other eye. Rub it in very well and get in bed. It works very fast. I am more excited about my pterygium diminishing and maybe possibly going away for good. Keeping my fingers crossed. So, for me it has helped in two ways and I hope that it helps someone else with insomnia and a pterygium.

Replied by Jennifer
Buffalo, Ny

How is eye now? My mom has one.

Posted by Parag (Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA) on 10/29/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Castor oil is great to get that deep, restful sleep. Apply about a drop of castor oil to your eye lids only. It is okay if it enters your eye. This is the normal, regular castor oil you get at the stores. Initially you will fall to sleep the moment you hit the bed. So make sure you are ready to sleep when you use it. If you plan to sleep only 3 to 4 hours, i.e. not you full normal sleep, do not use castor oil as it will make getting up very difficult indeed! I use it when I have anxieties or when I find it difficult to sleep. I and my wife have been using it for decades now.

Hope it helps you too. Wish you sweet dreams!

Replied by Robin
Rural, VA
5 out of 5 stars

This is amazing. I have been on a quest for a good nights sleep, which didn't include medications, for several months. I fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, but wake up several times, sometimes for a few hours at a time. I have tried everything posted on this site, but the Castor Oil works! My boyfriend laughs at me and my crazy remedies. Well he has insomnia too, and I'm sleeping through the night. Does anyone have any ideas about why this works?

Replied by Mark
Phoenix, Az
5 out of 5 stars

A drop of Castor Oil on each eyelid makes you reach REM sleep and stay asleep. It's the best cure I've found for waking up often in the night.


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Posted by Greg (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada) on 04/10/2009

Insomnia: This may sound a bit nutty but I'd try making a tea out of food grade catnip, it is a VERY old tea, and formerly the Major tea in all of the European continent, before black teas were introduced from trade with China and India.

EC: A store like Whole Foods might sell Catnip Teabags. It's easy to find online.

Replied by One2die4
Oxon Hill, Washington DC

so do you drink the catnip tea or what? thanks

EC: Yes!!

Replied by Peacepasstethallunderstanding
5 out of 5 stars

For those searching for insomnia helps I like to try tinctures. Catnip has helped along with skullcap. If I wake middle of night tincture of catnip and the 4-7-8 breathing has helped. I got a Saliva hormone level test that verified my need for help.