Insomnia – natural ways to help prevent it happening, and to help you sleep
So many of us have difficulty sleeping. Falling asleep, staying asleep, night terrors/stressful dreams, or waking during the night, unable to return to that oh so wonderful land of nod.
A lot of things can have an impact on our sleep. Some common causes include little children and babies, a snoring or restless partner and emotional reasons such as stress, anxiety or worry. Other reasons include overstimulation before bed from music, television, computer or or phone screens or eating certain or too much food close to bedtime.
For those who are having trouble sleeping, one of the best places to start is creating a ritual around sleep time, to slowly prepare yourself for a calm and restful sleep. This is called sleep hygiene.
This starts with listening to your body, noticing the patterns where you naturally feel tired – it is easy to push on into the night, but research shows that sleep before midnight is more rejeuvenating for your body and mind than sleep after midnight. Your body naturally goes through cycles of fatigue and alertness, a complete cycle is usually around one and a half hours. If you ‘push through’ this tired patch then it will be another ninety minutes before your body is in its optimal condition for sleeping again. Listening to this is the best tool to start with when it comes to developing healthy sleeping patterns.
Consider your sleeping environment – is your pillow comfortable? Is your mattress comfortable? Is the room dark? Is the temperature of the room right for you? Is it quiet in your house? Are there things physically that you can change to give yourself a better chance of sweet dreams.
Avoid overstimulating foods and beverages before bed. This includes tea, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate but also foods such as garlic, onions, chilli and soft cheeses for some people.
Consider how your energy is used throughout the day. If you spend the majority of your day in an office or a seated position, then some evening exercise might be the answer for you. However if you spend the day racing around then perhaps quiet and still time before bed will allow you to relax and unwind physically and mentally.
Outside of sleep hygiene there are herbs that can help to calm your body and mind, helping to bring that oh so sweet resorative sleep.
Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.