Natural remedies to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is so important for our health and wellbeing, it’s vital for many of our body’s processes and it supports healthy brain function. In children and teenagers it is even more essential as it helps support their growth and development.
“The reason why a good night’s sleep is so important is because it is while we are sleeping that we repair our physical body,” explains Katie Pande, Pukka Herbs’ medical herbalist. “There are four stages to the sleep cycle, with stages three and four being the most important for body and mind maintenance and repair mechanisms. It is during these stages that our blood pressure drops, tissue growth and repair occurs, growth hormones are released, muscles relax and the brain and adrenal glands are restored.”
Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to our health and continuous sleep deprivation can raise your risk of a number of chronic health conditions. Common symptoms that occur from inadequate levels of sleep include poor concentration, memory lapses, irritability, fatigue, sore muscles, painful joints, dull skin and lacklustre eyes. Long-term, it can also cause weight imbalance, high cholesterol and blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels and poor immune function.
“Issues with sleep can take many forms; such as difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty in staying asleep, restlessness at night, excessive dreaming and irregular sleeping patterns,” comments Pande. “The key is to try and get into a regular routine every evening.”
She recommends regular exercise each day, followed by a massage: “Try to exercise for 30 minutes each day where possible, even if this is a brisk walk at lunch or some yoga when you get home from work. Try to massage the muscles to relieve built up tension from the day. If you take a shower in the evening, try this before you hop in. A classic Ayurvedic ‘help-you-get-to-sleep’ fix is to have a warm foot bath before bed and/or a warm sesame oil foot massage.”
It’s best to avoid caffeine and not to eat late at night. Alison Cullen, nutritionist at A.Vogel, explains: “Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and puts it on red alert. It’s not just coffee or tea; remember that chocolate and fizzy drinks also contain caffeine. Eating late at night forces your body to be digesting when you should be sleeping.”
It’s also a good idea to clear your mind before going to bed: “Make a list of things to do the next day or issues that you need to consider, and then put them aside for the night,” comments Cullen.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can also be useful. In terms of diet, Pande recommends choosing foods that boost serotonin levels: “Choose foods that convert tryptophan to serotonin which makes melatonin, the ‘sleep’ hormone. These include foods such as oats and oat flowers, dates, pumpkin and sunflower seeds but also natural proteins.”
Help Herbs & Essential Nutrients
There are numerous herbs and nutrients that can support a healthy night’s sleep. “Magnesium and a good B complex will calm a jangled nervous system, as will herbs such as avena sativa, passiflora and valerian,” suggests Cullen.
“Valerian and ashwagandha reduce and relax hyperactive symptoms of the nervous system alongside agitation,” comments Pande. “Valerian is specific for improving our ability to stay asleep during phases three and four, making sure we have a restorative and healthy night’s sleep.
“Ashwagandha is a prime example of a herb that restores our adrenal glands, and is an excellent choice for anyone who is feeling a little frayed at the edges.”
She also recommends try lavender: “Lavender is a popular choice for supporting sleep. The essential oils in this plant are specific for reducing difficulty in falling asleep, promoting a more restful sleep and preventing night-time wakening. The aromatic qualities also benefit a high blood pressure, nervous exhaustion and nervous headaches.”
Pukka Herbs – Night Time Tea
Pukka Herbs – Night Time Capsules
A.Vogel – Dormeasan Sleep