Kava For Sleep and Insomnia

Posted by on Sep 5, 2011 in The Mind of Makaira | 9 comments

Kava For Sleep and InsomniaAloha everyone!

Fall is on its way, and even here in Hawaii we are starting to feel just a little bit of a refreshing crispness in the air. The intense amount of harvesting work that has to be done in the summer here at Kona Kava Farm is starting to calm down, and I’m looking forward to having a little bit more time to research and write and, of course, to curl up and read a good book with a hot (!) cup of kava cocoa!

Recently, I have been asked several times about the efficacy of kava for helping to improve sleep, particularly for those individuals who are suffering from insomnia. I have also seen several articles in the news that have mentioned kava as a sleep aid (and which have then gone on to discuss the terrible dangers of kava for the liver. I discussed the fallacy of these particular statements in an earlier blog article, if you’re curious).

Insomnia is a disorder characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep that can be caused by many things, from muscle pain to anxiety to stress. It is thought that in the United States alone, over 64 million Americans suffer from insomnia, with more women than men struggling with the disorder. Insomnia not only affects one’s ability to sleep, it also affects the person’s abilities while awake due to a lack of proper rest. Insomnia sufferers may experience lower cognitive performance, slowed reaction times, weakened immune system function, high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies have shown that severe insomnia, characterized by sleeping less than 4.5 hours a night in men and 3.5 hours a night in women, led to a 15% increase in mortality! (Information from Kava.com)

So, it’s clear that insomnia can be a very serious problem indeed. Many people – 6-13% of the population, in fact, according to an article in USA TODAY use alcohol as a sleep aid, and 15-28% of individuals suffering from acute insomnia use alcohol to help them get to sleep.  Obviously, this can lead to very serious health risks and is not an ideal solution for insomnia. And the potential liver damage that can come about as a result of daily alcohol use is MUCH higher than the risk of liver damage that may or may not be associated with kava.

Doctors will sometimes prescribe dangerous and very addictive medications such as Xanax and Ambien to individuals suffering from insomnia. These medications come with quite a few side effects, which include memory loss, seizures, and even death. People can easily become dependent on medications like this, as well, meaning that they never deal with the underlying issues that were causing the insomnia in the first place. So, in the long run, medications like this usually cause much more harm than good!

Fortunately, more and more people are starting to realize that insomnia can be treated using natural, gentle plant remedies such as kava kava! Recently, a study by the Psychopharmacology Research Group tested kava kava, valerian root, and a combination of both to see if they decreased stress and relieved insomnia. The study found that total stress was significantly relieved by both compounds on their own, and there was also an improvement with the combination of both! There was not a significant difference between the effectiveness of the two. Furthermore, insomnia was significantly reduced by both compounds alone and in combination! Even better, very few of the study participants reported side effects, and the most common side effect that was reported was vivid dreams. That’s a far cry from the seizures and memory loss that come along with pharmaceutical sleep aids!

Kava kava does not necessarily make one sleepy, but it does create a great sense of relaxation and relief from stress. Furthermore, it allows for muscle relaxation, which can be very helpful for individuals suffering from insomnia caused by muscle pain. I have never experienced insomnia, but I do find that on the few days I have not gotten around to having my customary cup of kava tea, I don’t sleep quite as well and it is a bit harder to fall asleep. Of course, if you are suffering from insomnia it is important to consult your doctor to make sure that there are no serious conditions being overlooked. However, if you feel that relieving stress and muscle tension will help you to overcome your insomnia, kava may be just what you’re looking for! If you have had any experience using kava to help with insomnia, leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Aloha no,

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  1. I have used Valerian for years as a sleep aid, and it was far superior to pharmaceutical OTC sleep aids. It was is effective, but more importantly, it did not leave me feeling groggy or grumpy the next day.

    I recently added Kava to my toolkit, and not only does it help relieve stress, it also creates a very relaxed feeling throughout my body. Combined with Valerian, it has made bedtime a trouble-free pleasure.

    I have had prescription sleep aids, and I experienced the memory issues and withdrawal symptoms that come with them. I am very thankful that I no longer have to deal with anything like that.

  2. Aloha Mary!

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you discovered kava, and that it is benefiting you. There’s a whole world beyond capsules as well – enjoy!

    Aloha no,

  3. Someone left a bottle of kava kava capsules at my house, and I took one as I settled down with a book at bedtime. it helped me to stay asleep all night, feeling ready to start the day in the morning, without drowsiness or fogginess -as with melatonin. Often the reason I can’t asleep is that I wait till my body goes into overdrive, but with kava kava I have found a way to gear down again and get the rest I need.

  4. Dear Andy,

    Thank you for your comment! 🙂 It makes me so happy to hear about people’s positive experiences with using kava to assist with anxiety. May you continue to enjoy your relaxing kava experiences for years to come!

    Aloha no,

  5. I have been using Kava for almost a year now. After experiencing my first anxiety attack 7 years ago which resulted in 2 trips to the ER, I took Xanax on and off for a few months. The attacks went away for almost 7 years, then started back last year. It is always at night when I lay down to go to sleep that it happens. I have a very high stress job and issues at home like most normal people do. I have found a cup of Kava an hour before bedtime works great. I have only had to resort to the Xanax on rare occasion since trying Kava. I probably drink Kava 4 nights out of the week on average. I have found your powered Kava root to work well. Thank you and looking forward to retirement in 2 years so I can enjoy my newly purchased condo in Kona!

  6. Aloha Mitch!

    Thank you for your comment! It’s always great to hear from people who have had positive experiences with kava! Melatonin is definitely a little bit suspicious to me…I’ve talked to people who feel that they’ve developed a tolerance to it, and that it can make insomnia worse in the long run. It sounds like you should stick with kava. If you can’t find the capsules in stores, you might want to try ordering our 30% kavalactone capsules! 🙂

    Aloha no,

  7. In the past I used a standardized Kava capsule to help me settle down after hockey games which often began around 10 PM. I wouldn’t get to bed until near midnight and the adrenaline and excitement kept me from sleeping. The relaxation (and probably the muscle relaxation) helped immensely. I no longer play but now find myself wakinf around 4 AM and can’t get back to sleep – my mind races. I can’t find a standardized capsule at stores anymore. They all sell melatonin. I want my Kava! PS I never noticed any sort of side effect.

  8. Aloha Ron!

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m very happy to hear that kava is helping you to reduce stress and to sleep well! I always find that kava helps me to relax, to enjoy deep and restful sleep, and to connect more fully with others. I imagine all of these things would be very helpful for a Pastor! 🙂 Exercise will help too, of course – kava and exercise are a great combination for good physical and mental health! And if you are careful not to brew your kava too hot or for too long, I think you will find that it is even more effective!

    Of course, I’m a little bit biased, but I only ever drink kava from our farm, Kona Kava Farm. We have many different types of kava products, so you can try out many different styles and see which ones work best for you! I really recommend that you sign up for our newsletter as well! I send this out every few months with coupon codes for great deals on kava!

    Aloha no,

  9. Fascinating! I found your site looking for information on Kava and decided to read a couple of your articles. Well written! I pastor a church in Indiana and having drinking Kava tea for about a month. I had no idea about the benefits. I was just looking for something to calm me down a bit. Pastoring can at times be a little stressful. Especially these days! So, anyway since I have been drinking a cup (or three) a day, I have noticed an improvement in my sleep. I used to wake up in the middle of the night and lay there for an hour or so before dozing off again. I haven’t noticed that happening nearly as much. I also have begun to do more exercise and could attribute it to that, but I really think that the hot Kava tea is benefiting me greatly! I read the other article about the being more conscious of the brewing time and will incorporate that as well. I am looking for a good source of Kava and would appreciate any/all input. Thanks for your site! rh

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