Naturopathic solutions for better Sleep

We all suffer from the occasional bout of insomnia or those nights when we find ourselves staring at the clock as it slowly ticks down to dawn. Our quality of sleep is negatively impacted by many factors – caffeine, stimulating media, stress, anxiety, depression, grief and a busy digestion are some of the main offenders. There are many small changes you can make to help you to relax and wind down naturally before bed so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

• Firstly, try to set yourself a regular routine by going to bed at the same time every night.

• Try not to drink caffeine from late afternoon onwards especially if you are easily stimulated by it. As an alternative try herbal teas or water.

• Try not to eat too close to bedtime, as your digestion will still be on full speed breaking down that late supper. This makes it difficult for you to fall asleep.

• Going to bed too hungry can also make it difficult to drop off so if you do need to eat have a light snack.

Tip – Cherries have a small amount of melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate sleep.

• If it’s feasible leave a window open so that fresh air can circulate throughout the room. Also make sure the temperature in the room is ambient, not too warm or too cold. Make sure that your curtains are adequate to keep out any streetlights etc. that may be keeping you awake.

• Try to wind down naturally towards sleep; this means no stimulating media such as TV, laptops, phones or tablets. Reading a book is a nice way to drift off to sleep but do try to ensure the material is not too violent or disturbing!

• Listening to some relaxing and soothing music is also another way of helping you relax and decompress gently.

• A bath before bed is a nice way to de-stress, oats are a good relaxing (and moisturising) herb or pop in a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Oat bath – place a heaped tablespoon or two of wholegrain oats on a piece of muslin and then tie up with an elastic band. Place this in the bath as you are filling it.

• Teas that help you unwind are – Chamomile, Vervain and Melissa. Chamomile and Peppermint make a lovely combination - soothing the digestion and relaxing the nerves.

• Activities such as yoga or meditation are also fantastic to do before bed and can hugely improve the quality of sleep that is achieved.

• Also remember every hour you sleep before 11pm is worth two hours after.

What about trying some easy to do Aromatherapy; lavender essential oil on your pillow or you can diffuse some relaxing oils such as Lavender and Clary Sage mixed with Eucalyptus if congestion keeps you awake, or some Sandalwood or Ylang Ylang.

Herbs – Passiflora, Lemon balm, Vervain, lavender, Chamomile and California poppy are all good herbs for promoting sleep. Valeriana is also widely known and loved as a sleep tonic but for some people it may have a stimulating effect so you should just be aware of this.

Try Acupressure points – applying gentle pressure to your third eye point and mid sternum point at the same time. Alternatively, where your wrist meets your hand on the side of your little finger press down gently but firmly for 1 or 2 minutes. These points help to quiet the mind.

Supplements – calcium/magnesium – lack of these two minerals can cause you to wake up after a few hours sleep, so make sure you are sourcing plenty in your food such as seeds, nuts and root and dark, leafy vegetables. If these tips don’t work and you are suffering from a continuous bout of insomnia then it is worth going to have a chat with your health care practitioner to get some further advice.