Insomnia is a common problem that affects many people. Fortunately it can be helped with many natural remedies that are readily available. First and foremost, however, there are many practices you can incorporate yourself to promote better sleep.
Easy Lifestyle Changes
A ‘winding down’ period for about an hour before you go to bed is essential and that includes avoiding the use of electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones. Make sure you have good curtains that block out the light and try to keep the temperature in the room so that it is neither too warm nor too cold. Avoid heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime to give your body time to digest food properly. Reducing caffeine and other stimulants is also advisable after tea time and these can be replaced with a herbal tea such as valerian, rooibos or chamomile. Practising yoga or meditation just before bedtime may also help you to relax and unwind. Another idea is to have a warm bath just before bedtime with aromatherapy bath oils containing lavender, valerian or hops. A bath with Epsom salts or magnesium sulphate can also help to relax the muscles and promote sleep.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Insomnia and sleep problems can be linked to not having enough magnesium in the diet. Magnesium is a relaxant and can be obtained through eating green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli, as well as being available in supplement form. Vitamin B6 is also useful for helping to promote sleep. 5-HTP is another useful supplement which converts directly into serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which helps with the regulation of sleep. It is a precursor to melatonin which is involved in setting your circadian rhythm (the sleep-wake cycle). Valerian root is a useful herb for helping with insomnia and mild anxiety which can be taken in supplement form or as a herbal tea.
Lavender essential oil can aid relaxation and help people to get a better night’s sleep. Try adding a few drops to your pillow or burning some in an oil burner in the evening (remember to extinguish the candle before you go to bed!). You can also get roller balls containing essential oils which you apply to your pulse points.
Massage treatments are particularly beneficial for reducing tension and anxiety and promoting relaxation. Try a Back Massage with a relaxing oil blend, a Foot Massage or an Indian Head Massage to ease tension in the neck, shoulders and scalp. Reiki healing (a form of hands-on healing) is also a wonderful way to relieve stress and anxiety and restore equilibrium. In my ten years’ experience as a therapist I have found that clients usually report a better night’s sleep after receiving a complementary therapy treatment!
1. All supplements mentioned in this article are available from Little London Herbal Stores, 9 Kings Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2AE or visit website www.all-ages-vitamins.co.uk
2. All complementary therapy treatments mentioned in this article are available with Helen Shortland.
Helen Shortland is a Reiki Master Teacher, Meditation Teacher and Holistic Therapist based at Little London Herbal Stores on Kings Walk in Nottingham city centre. Please ring her on 07748 591690 to book a treatment or visit her website http://helenshortland.com for further information.