St. John's Wort and Insomnia
If you are treating depression with St. John's wort, insomnia is a possible side effect. However, it is often difficult to determine whether insomnia is due to the supplement or from the depression. If you are taking St. John's wort and insomnia becomes a problem, try improving your sleep habits by keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle and avoiding caffeine before bedtime.
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herbal supplement commonly used to treat depression. Insomnia is a possible side effect of St. John's wort, although it may also be a symptom of depression itself.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Having trouble falling asleep
- Waking up frequently throughout the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Getting non-refreshing sleep (not all sleep is refreshing).
Many times, simply taking St. John's wort earlier in the day may help alleviate insomnia. If you take St. John's wort once daily, try taking it in the morning. If you take it more than once daily, talk with your healthcare provider about taking it just once a day in the morning. Or try taking your doses a few hours earlier in the day.
In some cases, simply improving sleep habits may relieve insomnia. Tips for better sleep include the following:
- Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the four to six hours before bedtime.
- Refrain from exercise within two hours of bedtime. Exercising five or six hours before bedtime, however, may help you sleep more soundly.
- Avoid large meals within two hours of bedtime.
- Refrain from taking a nap later than 3 p.m.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room at a comfortable temperature.
- Do a quiet activity somewhere else if you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, and return to bed when you're sleepy.
- Wind down in the 30 minutes before bedtime with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, such as a warm bath, soft music, or reading.
(Click Good Sleep Habits for more suggestions.)