Insomnia affects up to 25 per cent of the population. Symptoms vary from having difficulty getting to sleep or not being able to stay asleep, to waking early or having a restless sleep and not waking refreshed. Here are some natural solutions to help you sleep well.
Unlike prescription sleeping tablets, herbal sedatives are not addictive. Take one dose after dinner, and again before bed. Effective sleeping herbs include one or more of the following: Californian poppy, zizyphus, valerian, hops, lemon balm and passion flower.
A light meal with some carbohydrates will increase serotonin levels and steady blood sugar levels. Both states are very calming for the body. Try an old fashioned cup of hot milk and honey, cheese and plain biscuit, or even half a banana before bed.
The term ‘sleep hygiene’ sounds like you need to be super clean before going to bed. However, it’s a set of commonsense routines that improve sleeping patterns. Such as going to bed at the same time, keeping the bedroom quiet and serene, avoiding afternoon naps or caffeine after midday, and anything too stimulating before bed including extreme exercise or scary movies.
4-No night caps
Although a drink may be relaxing and make you feel sleepy, alcohol interferes with the sleep cycle, particularly REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This means you miss out on the restful and restorative night’s sleep your body desires.
Two types of exercise help improve sleep. One wears you out such as running, cycling and weights. This type of exercise is best taken in the morning. The second helps to calm and soothe body and mind, including yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi.
6-Bath before bed
You have your deepest sleep when the body temperature is at its lowest, usually in the early hours of the morning. By artificially heating the body with a warm bath or shower, the internal thermostat attempts to lower body temperature, persuading the brain to think you are heading towards the land of nod.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It helps regulate the body’s 24 hour circadian rhythm. Shift work, frequent long distance air travel and poor sleep affect melatonin levels. In Australia, melatonin is available on prescription.
Incessant mind chatter is one reason people find it difficult to fall asleep. Take your mind off your mind by practicing progressive muscle relaxation (the new age version of counting sheep). When lying in bed, take your awareness to your toes, allowing them to feel heavy and relaxed. Work your way progressively up the body in this manner. You are likely to drift off along the way.