Wouldn't you love to get 8-9 hours of solid sleep a night? When I ask that question to people with fibromyalgia, most answer "But that's impossible!"
Having successfully treated thousands of people with fibromyalgia, I can tell you for a fact that it IS possible to regularly get eight hours of solid sleep a night. And it's amazing how much better you'll feel when you do.
I spent the last six months traveling over 100,000 miles for speaking engagements (getting information out about fibromyalgia is a lot of work! :-). I appreciate your understanding while I've taken some time off from writing. Happily, I am now getting back to continuing my newsletter series on "Recovering from Fibromyalgia." In my next several newsletters I'll delve more deeply into optimizing sleep. This week I'll focus on new treatments for optimizing sleep — naturally.
BTW, I invite you to join me in a free online webinar on sleep I'm giving this Thursday, March 23. After speaking, I'm going to open the lines to take questions from listeners. Learn more and register here.
Essential Oils for Better Sleep
Essential oils add a whole new dimension to natural therapies. A particularly outstanding combination of oils that work well with other treatments I've recommended in the past is a mix that includes ravensara, lemon balm, lavender and mandarin. You can find this combination in a product called Terrific Zzzz™. And, as is the case with most natural remedies, it's not only highly effective, but also offers side benefits rather than side effects — including reduced pain, improved calming, and sharper mental clarity.
Let's take a look at this mix, and other natural remedies that work well in combination with it.
When it comes to sleep, these oils have the benefits of decreasing brain fog and pain while improving energy and immune function. Let's take a look at four outstanding essential oils that can now be found in combination in Terrific Zzzz™.
- Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), a lemon-scented herb, is both an effective calming agent and mild sedative. Recent research suggests that it optimizes function of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, which helps our nervous system calm down. These receptors also have the benefit of decreasing pain. Another benefit? In a placebo-controlled study done in England, lemon balm significantly improved both cognitive function and calmness. It also helps the immune system keep viral infections in check.
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Long recognized in France for improving people's sense of well-being, lavender flowers were commonly placed in pillows to help promote sleep. Even the smell of lavender is calming. Research suggests that lavender oil is sedating, relieving anxiety and improving deep sleep. The effect? People who use lavender also experience more energy and alertness in the morning. Research also suggests that lavender supports your body's own endorphin molecules. These are the same neurotransmitters that your body stimulates to decrease pain, and which triggers the "runner's high" in athletes. It's no wonder this herb is so prized!
- Mandarin (Citrus reticulata). In traditional Chinese medicine, this herb has been used to calm the nervous system and induce sleep. In fact, Mandarin oranges get their name from the Chinese Mandarins, who traditionally received this fruit as a gift.
- Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica) is a rainforest tree. Its fragrant leaves, bark and nuts have a long history of being used by the indigenous population of Madagascar for their powerful effects in supporting sleep, improving mood, and calming anxiety.
These oils are synergistic with the natural aids below, as well as with the prescription sleep medications that I discuss in my writings. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!
Other Helpful Natural Sleep Aids
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Revitalizing Sleep Formula. This mix of six herbs is excellent for sleep, and it's what I usually start people with.
- Sleep Tonight™. This herbal mix helps settle down adrenal function, allowing your body to transition to sleep mode. It's especially helpful for those of you with adrenal fatigue who are exhausted all day, and then find that your mind is wide awake and racing at bedtime. If this sounds like you, try taking it an hour before you go to bed.
- AnxioCalm®. Amazing herb for anxiety (take 2 twice a day and give it six weeks to see the full effect). Also very helpful for sleep.
- Melatonin. Although minimally effective for most people, we're seeing good results using a special form called Dual Spectrum 5 mg Melatonin (available from Walgreens). This combines an immediate and sustained release mix. It works very well when other forms of melatonin have not. Clinically, we have also seen that this higher dose helps decrease nighttime acid reflux.
- Magnesium. Take 200 mg at bedtime as a natural calming agent and muscle relaxant.
- 5-HTP (200-400 mg at bedtime). Give this 6-12 weeks to see the full effect. It also helps decrease pain while improving mood. If you are taking antidepressants or other serotonin-raising medications, restrict the dose to 200-300 mg (and get your holistic health practitioner's okay).
In my next newsletter I'll discuss sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome (associated with a stuffy nose while sleeping), and restless leg syndrome.
It's time for you to get a good night sleep!
Love and blessings,
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.