Vail Natural Path: Ins and outs of insomnia |

Vail Natural Path: Ins and outs of insomnia

Eliza Klearman
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-Not sleeping is perhaps one of the most frustrating things to deal with. You are tired, perhaps even exhausted, yet you can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, and/or wake up early in the morning. This is insomnia, and it can make you feel pretty lousy.

An estimated 64 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year and many seek help from physicians in order to get a restful night of sleep. Those that choose not to medicate themselves to sleep, and even those that do, often rely upon stimulants ” most often caffeine in the form of coffee and soda ” to keep them running on high all day. Artificially supplementing your energy carries its own set of health problems. The fact is that adults need a full eight hours of sleep in order to properly regenerate and function the next day. Studies show that only about 35 percent of Americans actually get that much sleep.

Sleep problems can happen for many reasons. Perhaps your sleep is interrupted from noise pollution (remedied quite easily with ear plugs or white noise) or from a new baby (not so easily remedied). But true insomnia occurs when one tries to sleep but simply cannot fall asleep or stay asleep for some “unknown” reason. Depression and anxiety, pain, stress, sleep apnea and hormonal imbalances such as those caused by PMS and menopause all can cause insomnia.

Before resorting to often habit-forming pharmaceuticals that can interfere with deep restorative sleep, the causes of insomnia should be addressed. If you can correct the underlying cause of your insomnia you are more likely to completely resolve this annoying and unhealthy problem.

Often simple things can have the most profound effects. Here are some tips for good sleep hygiene:

– Clean your room ” Your mom was right about this! Your bedroom should be for sleeping and romance ONLY. Clear out newspapers, work papers, computers and the TV. These items distract people and increase stress, both of which can keep you up at night. Watching or reading stressful things (YES! CSI and the news IS stressful) before bed is not sleep-inducing behavior. Reading a “fluff” book is much better at lulling you to sleep.

– Sleep in the dark ” Exposure to light, and I mean any light (even that from your clock) suppresses Melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythm and determines when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Melatonin is often used as a supplement for helping you sleep, but it is much better to help your body make more on its own. Simply cover your windows with black-out shades and remove any sources of light from your immediate sleeping area.

– Journal ” This is my favorite way to clear the mind of stressful things that may be keeping you from sleep. If you can’t stop thinking about everything you have to do the next day, make a list. This works well if you wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing. Get up and write it down! Now it is off your mind and onto paper and you can be sure you won’t forget to do it. To help alleviate general stress and anxiety, I recommend a Gratitude Journal. In this journal, you write down 5 to 10 things you are grateful for to help improve your outlook and hopefully make you see that you have some pretty important things to be happy about.

– Relax ” Use relaxation techniques such as soothing music, meditation, prayer, yoga, or whatever works for you to center yourself and calm your heart and mind for the night.

Getting to the bottom of your insomnia may require some tenacity. There are, thankfully, many vitamins, herbs and acupuncture protocols to treat the underlying cause of your insomnia and help you sleep better overall. Take the time to address your insomnia issue with your healthcare provider, search for the reason you are having insomnia, and find appropriate and effective natural treatments to sleep well once again.

Dr. Eliza Klearman is a Naturopathic Doctor and acupuncturist practicing in Eagle. For more information, call 970-328-5678, e-mail or visit

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