My mother drank salt water (table salt - added to warm water) to get to sleep over a period of many years. She would also get up during the night if she couldn't sleep and drink more salt water. She did have sleeping problems.
She had some low blood pressure but not low enough to worry about and no other physical issues. Long story short - she died at age 76 of a series of minor strokes that took place over about three years. Her mother, father and all her siblings lived well into their 80's - in fact one of her sisters lived to be 100. Mom didn't drink alcohol, coffee or tea or carbonated beverages, just the salt water and sometimes milk. I'm of the opinion that saltwater was a major contributor to her death.
I'm a long time martini drinker, coffee drinker, and lots of plain water and I'm now in my 81st year of life. In fact, I think it was the beer pitchers full of martinis that we used to drink at Happy Hour in the Marine Corps that got me here. Or was it the olives? George Burns drank martinis on a daily basis, didn't exercise, and played poker most every day too and he lived to be 100 like my aunt.
"....If only home blood pressure meters were available back then. I wonder if the salt caused your mother's insomnia, rather than insomnia caused by loss of salt. I heard that salt could be stimulating if used incorrectly. One night I think I took in too much salt and felt like I had too much energy to sleep."
I don't ever remember home blood pressure testing in those days for anyone but in fact my mother "suffered" from low blood pressure, not high - per her doctor visits. One thing I do know is that she did not over salt the food she prepared (in those days all food was prepared at home - there were no frozen meals and no fast foods) and there was never a salt shaker on the table at meal time so outside of her drinking salt water she had low salt intake. Also I have recently read that there is little difference between ingesting sea salt or plain salt, they are identical except for some possible iodine differences and most all table salt you buy today is iodized salt - as it was in my childhood as well.
I think that anyone who drinks salt water or in fact uses an excess of table salt in their diet is asking for nothing but problems.
Here's a pretty well presented article on salt from eHow:
Drinking salt water
is never a good idea--it can lead to sickness, dehydration, brain damage and
death. Although some claim there are cleansing benefits to drinking salt water,
the negative side effects and health risks can be far too great. However, there
are rarely occasions when the bulk of your diet would consist of salt water and,
in moderation or when paired with fresh water, it is harmless.
Consider the difference between sea salt and table salt, the important role salt plays within the body, and how easily dehydration can be avoided.
Your body needs salt and water for basic function, growth and development--just not together. Water is essential to support human life and most of the processes within our bodies. Salt is critical to maintain water levels, to support the fluid surrounding our cells and to promote healthy blood flow. Salt preserves and expands blood cells to help them reach all parts of your body, to fight infection and disease, and to stabilize blood pressure. You know your blood contains salt because if you were to cut your finger and stick it in your mouth to stop the bleeding, it would taste salty.
However, consuming salt and drinking water is very different from drinking saltwater. A little saltwater is harmless, especially when you also drink fresh water--but a lot of saltwater will overwhelm the body and shut down the kidneys. Saltwater dehydrates your body, but as long as you stay hydrated you can still flush out excess sodium chloride.
There are claims that drinking salt water has healthy benefits for the body: easing body pains, cleansing the blood and digestive tract, and serving as a detox for major organs. This may be true in moderation, but only when paired with the appropriate amount of fresh water and only with a home-made table salt mix. Saline solutions have healing benefits, cleansing and treating minor burns and wounds. Salt water may also fight infections so many people gargle with salt water to relieve sore throats, treat sores and prevent colds. In these cases, where you are not ONLY drinking salt water, your body can process the salt and won't become dehydrated. The effects should be beneficial without being harmful.
You hear about ship-wrecked sailors dying from drinking too much saltwater. This is true--your body cannot process and pass seawater very well and drinking it should be avoided at all costs. Even a small amount will cause diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and make you delirious. According to Mayo Clinic nutritionists in Arizona, ocean water is approximately three times saltier than your blood, which makes it physically impossible for your body to process it safely. The major problem with drinking salt water is the dehydration effect, which can lead to seizures, brain damage, unconsciousness, comas and even death.
Sea salt and table salt have the same general makeup--both consist mostly of the minerals sodium and chloride and share the same nutritional value. But they are very different in taste, texture and processing. In the same effect, drinking sea salt water versus drinking homemade table salt water is different for your body. Although less natural, sea salt water contains much more sodium chloride than the home-made version. So which is better for you?
According to Mayo Clinic nutritionists, sea salt is healthier on its own since it is produced naturally through evaporated seawater with little processing and handling. Sea salt tends to be less refined and naturally contains other essential minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, iodine and magnesium. Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is usually processed into pure sodium chloride or an iodized form. Both forms of salt are available in coarse, fine and extra fine grain size and again, both will offer nutritional benefits in moderation.
As with anything you consume, the more organic the product the better for your body, so stick with sea salt when seasoning foods. When drinking salt water as a home remedy, table salt water will have fewer negative side effects because it will be a less potent mixture.
The unhealthy habit of abusing and overeating salt without drinking enough fresh water has led to heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity in many people. It is recommended that you eat about 5g of salt each day (depending on your age, health, size, etc.) for natural upkeep of the necessary salt levels within the body. However, most Americans eat about 12 to 15g each day and their health shows the unnatural effects this can cause. People over 50, African Americans, people with hypertension and heart disease or kidney problems should avoid salt in their daily diets and focus instead on hydration. Drinking even just 6 oz. of fresh water every day will prevent the effects of dehydration.