you'd think in the dead of win-ter, sliding into dreamland would be no sweat. But for members of the insomnia tribe, anything from a little stress to the waxing and waning of the moon or the rising and lowering of cloud cover is enough to leave one wide-eyed in the wee hours. If you've ever had a string of such nights, you know that all the usual advice -- cut back on caffeine, exercise, cup of hot milk, yoga poses -- is to laugh.DOZING DELICACIESIt's time to ingest some more specialized tranquilizers. Camomile and lemon balm teas are gentle snooze-inducers -- too gentle, in fact, for anything but lightweight angst. You could try passion flower -- 15 to 60 drops of tincture depending on how wired you are. Skullcap -- 3 to 8 drops in a cup of water before bed (repeat if necessary, and it probably will be) -- works once in a while. Yogi Tea's bedtime mixture of licorice root, spearmint leaf, camomile and skullcap is the best of the commercial blends. If it doesn't put you out, at least you'll get drowsy and agreeable.Lavender oil in the bath is often advised -- beware Spanish lavender, it's an energy booster. If you are truly sleep-deprived it will be a pleasant soak, but you won't catch any zee's. Naturopaths often recommend calcium and magnesium (1,000 milligrams of each), but don't assume its going to send you off.
Then there's the potent valerian, available in hundreds of products and considered much safer than pharmaceuticals (150 to 300 mg). One of the best valerian products is Baldriana. It does work if you make sure to take it an hour before bed, but it curiously wimps out when you suddenly need it at 4 am. And don't expect grand insights the next day -- you'll get forgetful and hazy of mind if you keep popping it.
SNOOZE CYCLEMelatonin works to reset the sleep cycle (3.5 milligrams before bed). The joy of it is that you avoid morning space-out, but it will probably wake you up earlier than you want to and no one really knows the long-term effects. Check for drug interactions, and those with autoimmune diseases should stay away from it. Unfortunately, you can't buy the stuff in Canada (though there are underground sources), but you can order it online or head down Buffalo way.EXPERTS"(Chinese herb) Suan Zao Ren Tang is very effective. It nourishes the heart yin and relieves nervousness."
Doctor of Chinese medicine
"There are three energy elements: air (vata), fire and water. Insomnia is caused by a vata imbalance. Citrus, carbohydrates and high protein foods should be avoided because they increase air. You can also drink two cups of ginger tea at night."
"If the person's a mental wreck, Kali phos. (6c potency) calms the mind."
"Passiflora (passion flower), colubrina and coffea each work differently on the system to help with nervousness and restlessness."
Research by Greg Konstantinidis