Taki MaiTaki Mai

By Zane Yoshida

Stress-Induced Insomnia and Treatment With Kava

Insomnia may be caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors but stress-induced insomnia is a particularly common complaint in many industrialised nations.

There is good evidence that kava on its own or in combination with other natural substances may be of use in the treatment of this type of insomnia.

Stress, anxiety, and insomnia

The Sleep Foundation reports that anxiety-induced insomnia affects ‘most adults’ at some point in their lives. But when this becomes a regular pattern, it is more serious and can affect health, performance at work, and ability to carry out everyday tasks.

The types of psychological factors that can interfere with the regular sleep pattern are:

  • Depression
  • Tension
  • Thinking about past events
  • Worrying about future events
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities

These types of factors can cause either trouble falling asleep or waking up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Both can deprive you of valuable rest and, if they occur regularly, will likely impact your quality of life.

Kava: a proven insomnia treatment

Though not technically a sedative, kava is well-known to decrease anxiety, which would point to it being of use in treating stress-induced insomnia.

This is not news to people in the Pacific islands, who have been using kava for its soothing, soporific effects for many centuries. In the west, it has been widely reported in respected medical journals that kava may be as effective as benzodiazepines like Valium for treating anxiety.

Then there is a study from 2001 that specifically looked at the use of kava and valerian in the treatment of stress-induced insomnia. In this study, 24 patients with this type of insomnia were treated with kava, then valerian, and finally a compound of both. The following results were very encouraging:

“Total stress severity was significantly relieved by both compounds individually (p < 0.01), with no significant differences between them; and there was also improvement with the combination, significant in the case of insomnia (p < 0.05).”

While it was a small study and further research is needed, kava has no risk of dependence or any major side effects, unlike many of the sedatives and sleeping pills on the market. So, if you’re suffering from stress-induced insomnia, it’s safe to try as a natural, alternative treatment.

By Zane Yoshida

Kava For Performance Anxiety

The value of kava in treating anxiety, lowering stress, and helping people feel more relaxed is well established.

But think what this might do not only for your health – but for your performance in other areas of life.

A few weeks ago we covered the topic of kava as a study aid for students. Key to this is that kava, unlike alcohol, does not impair mental clarity; in fact, many users say that it enhances their ability to focus, which is an obvious help for students revising for exams.

This could also help in another area…

Performance anxiety

‘Stage fright’ or ‘performance anxiety’ is usually experienced when standing up in front of a large group of people in public. This could be to make a speech, deliver a presentation, answer questions, or anything else that demands public speaking.

Many of us feel nerves before a ‘performance’ of some kind; in most cases this is healthy adrenalin racing around – and it will help us deliver. However, for some people, it can be a real problem, and impairs their performance, because they become too stressed.

There are three solutions:

  1. Cancel all engagements
  2. Battle on, shaking like a leaf
  3. Do something about it!

Trying kava falls firmly into the third category.

How can kava help?

The key lies in getting more experience on stage in these situations to gain confidence. Kava may help you do that in a natural way, without taking medication.

Nicholas Ross Smith is a lecturer at the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology. He is also one of the founding members of the Kava Society in New Zealand, one of the foremost authorities on kava culture in the country. He has experience of using kava to battle performance anxiety, and says:

“After using kava in a social setting for a few months, I became aware of its anti-anxiety properties. Given that I work in academia and I am required to regularly teach as well as give conference talks and seminars in front of large audiences, all of which tends to leave me rather anxious, I started experimenting with taking kava before these activities.

“The results of this have been remarkable. Not only do I feel taking kava prior to public speaking allows me to perform better, the routine I have developed has allowed me to be anxiety-free the night before an important lecture, something which impeded my sleep greatly and in turn affected my performance.

“Therefore, I recommend to any people that suffer from performance-anxiety in their professional lives to consider the usefulness of small intakes of kava as a way of managing this anxiety.”

(Source: The Kava Society blog)

Interesting that he mentions the ability to get a better night’s sleep before a gig. We wrote about kava’s sedative qualities and its potential for getting better sleep here.

So, it seems that the ability to help with performance anxiety is another ‘tick’ to add to the growing list of kava benefits. Maybe give a kava shot a try before you are next in front of the microphone.

Stress-Induced Insomnia and Treatment With Kava
Kava For Performance Anxiety