Insomnia refers to a difficulty in achieving and/or maintaining a normal sleeping pattern.
There are many reasons why people suffer with insomnia, either sleep-onset insomnia which means having trouble getting to sleep or sleep-maintenance insomnia which as the name suggests is difficulty staying asleep.
The mind plays a big part in insomnia for some with depression, stress, anxiety and tension playing their part. If psychological factors are the reason why you can not sleep here are some helpful tips to lead you to a restful night:
- Turn off all electrical devises at least 1 hour before bed time, the microwaves from phones can keep your brain active for a long time (equally don’t sleep with these devices near your bed).
- Take a long bath with essential oils such as lavender and patchouli
- Take deep breaths. Deep breathing can alkalise the blood and help you to achieve a state of relaxation. Close your eyes and breath in for a count of 6 and out for 6, making each breath slow and long. If you find that you are holding tension in your muscles on our first inbreathe squeeze the toes tightly, exhale and relax. On your next inbreathe squeeze the toes and the calves, exhale and relax. Continue working up the body squeezing a new part as you work your way from the toes all the way into the shoulders, face and around the eyes so that on your final breath your whole body is squeezed tightly and then the whole body is released.
- Use an air diffuser such as the Made by Zen range (which we completely love) with their sleep or calming blend of oils. Not only will you benefit from the aroma of the beautiful vapours released but these diffusers are also ionisers which basically means that they create negative ions which are small, negatively charged molecules in the air. What they do is provide clarity, clam and serenity, they boost serotonin (the happy chemical in the brain) and just make you feel great. I find that they create that sense of wellbeing like standing on the beach with the waves lapping at your feet as you deeply inhale the sea air!
Not all insomnia issues can be solved this way of course, if there is an underlying stress then addressing this should of course be the first priority. But lets face it sometimes that is easier said than done.
When these relaxing techniques are used its also worth looking at your nutrition as there are foods that can also be the cause of the insomnia, the insomnia in turn can lead to anxiety and depression which can then in turn make the insomnia worse! Its a vicious cycle!
Take out the stimulants!
This might seem obvious but natural stimulants can play havoc on your sleep cycle. In nutritional therapy depending upon the client and their needs I would very often recommend a complete elimination of all caffeine and to most of my clients surprise this also includes decaffeinated varieties! So thats all coffees, teas, soft drinks, chocolate and even some medications like headache tablets!
The next change that I would recommend is to curb the sugar! Sugar when i say sugar I am talking the refined variety, the refined carbohydrates and the processed foods. As a general rule of thumb if its is beige and comes in a package then thats what you want to avoid! Ironically, if you take a look at the so called ‘eatwell plate’ advocated by the government a huge proportion of their recommendation is exactly that! Beige, refined and highly processed!
I mean seriously take a look at it! Coke, high sugar yoghurts, highly refined cereals, chocolate, crisps and cakes! Of course most of us will treat ourselves to this every now and again but when the government presents this as a typical balanced diet then it is no wonder that most of my nutritional clients are confused about their eating habits! Imagine if this were how you ate every day you would be the size of a house! But that is totally not the point of this blog post so lets move on quickly!
Back to my point, foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, along with eating irregularly can cause the body to activate its fight and flight stress response (not to mention insulin resistance and fat gain) but for anyone who struggles to sleep this is a real problem and can exacerbate the situation.
Valerian root is a really effective herb for insomnia, not only has this root been shown in studies to improve the quality of sleep it also helps to improve the length of sleep that subjects had. Whats more, unlike medications that can leave you drowsy the next day valerian root will allow you to wake naturally without the foggy head. You can take valerian root in many forms about 30-45 minutes before you hit the sack. Try A.Vogel sleep drops for a restful night.