After hours of tossing and turning, Melissa Bell sat up in bed, grabbed her phone from her nightstand and began checking her email. May as well get something done, she sighed wearily. An hour later, she lay back down but still couldn’t sleep. Awake when the sun came up, the Chicago native was at her wit’s end. I’m going to be a zombie all day, she fretted.
Melissa, a menopause coach who helps perimenopausal women restore balance to their bodies, minds and spirits had once enjoyed 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly. But four years ago, she suddenly started having trouble falling and staying asleep, and it took a very heavy toll on her quality of life.
She dragged through her workday, had no energy to enjoy her family and was cranky with everyone. The situation caused Melissa tremendous stress, which made it even tougher to fall asleep. She’d lie in bed, with all the things she didn’t accomplish during the day swirling in her mind until she worked herself up into a sleepless frenzy.
Melissa tried a relaxation breathing technique, cut out caffeine past noon, avoided blue lights an hour or two before bed, exercised regularly, limited alcohol consumption and even tried counting sheep. But nothing had helped. And all her doctor offered was prescription medication, which Melissa didn’t want to take for fear of side effects or developing a dependency. But she knew she couldn’t continue this sleepless-stressful cycle.
There has to be something I can do to get off this roller coaster, Melissa told herself.
Desperate, Melissa began researching sleep disruption and learned hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause commonly can cause women in their 40s and 50s to struggle to sleep. That’s got to be it, the 46-year-old thought.
Along with many of the remedies she’d already tried, Melissa read about an herbal supplement called valerian root. Extracted from a tall, flowering grassland plant, valerian root, Melissa learned, helps regulate impulses in the brain and nervous system linked to anxiety and low-quality sleep — both of which Melissa struggled with. It also contains antioxidants that appear to have sedative and sleep-enhancing properties.
Although typically skeptical about the benefits of supplements, Melissa decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. She bought a bottle of 120 capsules (Buy on Amazon, $10.95) and started taking 450 mg. about 30 minutes before going to bed.
The very first night, she was shocked that she slept longer before waking in the early hours of the morning. Each night, she fell asleep faster and slept longer and deeper. By week’s end, Melissa was sleeping all the way through the night for the first time in ages!
Today, a year later, Melissa has made valerian root a permanent part of her bedtime routine. “Valerian root has made all the difference in the world! I’m alert and productive at work, and my husband loves that we can now watch a movie together and I’m still awake when the credits roll,” Melissa says. “I’m sleeping great and feel so much less anxious. Best of all I have endless energy for all the things I love to do!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Save on Healthcare (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).
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