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. 1-Sleeping herbs
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. 2-Supper
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. 3-Sleep hygiene
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. 7-Sleep hormone
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. 8-Stop thinking
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.
Super foods are packed with nutrients that have health-enhancing properties ranging from prevention of heart disease and cancer to improving skin tone and boosting memory and brain function. Their health benefits may be overstated but they do provide the recommended nutrients when included as part of balanced diet. Here are 5 super foods that help boost brain function and improve memory. 1-Milk is rich in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium and potassium – all of which are necessary for improving memory and cognitive functions. But what is especially beneficial to brain health is the milk protein, especially cow milk protein. The cow milk protein is made up of 20 percent whey protein and 80 percent casein protein. The whey protein is a mixture of alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin and serum albumin. A research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that dietary protein rich in alpha-lactalbumin (cow milk protein in this case) improves cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable people by increasing brain serotonin activity levels. 2-Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable from the cabbage family, is a super food because scientists have found that it can protect the brain following injury. Broccoli contains a chemical called sulforaphane that helps strengthen the protective network of capillaries called the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is a semi-permeable lining made of tiny capillaries; it protects the brain from ‘foreign substances’ which may injure the brain. The BBB also maintains a constant environment for the brain. 3-Potato may seem to be the least likely food for improving memory or brain function, but in fact the baked potato with flesh and skin and without salt is a very healthy, low calorie, high fiber food. It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese – all of which are beneficial to brain health. 4-Mango is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamins K, A and E. Fruits like mangoes and banana are high in vitamin B6 content and are therefore good for brain health. 5-Honey is the oldest natural sweetener known to man. Honey is made up of equal parts of glucose and fructose and it contains a variety of B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and anti-oxidants – all of which are good for brain health.