Insomnia & Sleep Problems

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        <p>Ever find yourself watching the clock as it races towards the
dreaded morning alarm? spend the nights tossing and turning? counting
flocks of sheep to no avail? Everyone suffers from the odd sleepless
night during their lifetime. Stress, overwork, not enough physical
activity, jumpy legs, digestion problems, poor diet, pollution, an
uncomfortable bed, seasonal changes, even the moon phase can all
contribute to sleep problems and prevent us from drifting off to the land
of zzz's...<br><br>In today's hectic society the majority of people find
little time to relax. I mean really relax - not just slumped on a couch
in front of the TV, but actually switching off and relaxing. Letting your
mind wind down, turning off the TV or computer, resting your ears, eyes
and brain from the constant barrage of [mostly useless] information.
Research shows that taking an hour out to yourself before retiring to bed
prepares the body and mind for sleep, thus enhancing your chances of a
peaceful, restful night.<br>A warm evening bath is a wonderful way to
relax. Make the experience as indulgent as possible - lanterns / candles
instead of electric lights, a warm environment, warm towels to climb into
afterwards, maybe even some peaceful music in the background, and try to
ensure that you won't be disturbed. Enjoy this moment - create a space
you can relax in and allow yourself that time!<br><br><strong>Herbal
Baths</strong><br>The two most well known herbs / oils which would
enhance the bathing experience are Lavender and Chamomile, and both are
gentle enough for children and adults alike. If you're using the
essential oils in the bath dilute them first in carrier oil [almond,
olive, jojoba etc..] or milk, this helps the oils disperse in the water,
and avoids a film of essential oils forming on the surface. Generally
speaking, for an adult, up to 6 drops of essential oil/s should be
sufficient for a full bath. For children between 5-12 use no more than 3
to 4 drops essential oil mixed with a carrier.<br>The dried or fresh
herbs can also be added to the bath, either directly or brewed up as a
strong infusion which can be added to the bath water.<br>Other herbs you
might like to try in the bath include Hops, Lemon Balm and Marjoram.
Other essential oils include Neroli, Benzoin, Marjoram, Pathchouli and
Ylang-Ylang.<br>A Herbal foot or hand bath can be just as effective - a
hot footbath, in particular, helps to draw blood away from the
head.<br><br><strong>Herbal Infusions</strong><br>Caffeine can play a
large part in causing restless nights - if this is the case for you try
to avoid that extra cup of tea or coffee late at night and try a herbal
cuppa instead :<br>Lemon Balm has an excellent reputation as a bedtime
herb - soothing to the stomach and a gentle sedative with a lovely zesty
flavour.<br>Chamomile is another successful favourite for a bedtime cuppa
- try blending it with Lemon Balm.<br>Valerian Root makes a rather foul
smelling and tasting infusion, but an extremely effective sedative.
Valerian should not be taken with any other sleep inducing drugs, and I
would recommend it for only very occasional use. [Try blending it with
other more pleasant tasting relaxants mentioned in this list].<br>Catnip
[as long as you can keep the cats off it] is a gentle sedative and like
Chamomile and Lemon Balm is suitable for restless children. Catnip
contains sedative chemicals similar to those found in Valerian, but is
certainly a more pleasant tasting alternative!<br>Passionflower has been
used for centuries as a remedy for insomnia, particularly sleeplessness
caused by anxiety or nervous tension. If you suffer from anxiety,
emotional worries or nervous tension try blending Passionflower with
Lemon Balm.<br>Hops produces a slightly bitter tasting tea, and is well
known for its sedative qualities on the whole nervous system. I tend to
stick with Hops as a bath or sleep pillow addition, but it does work very
well as a sleepy cuppa - although it is best not to take Hops internally
if you suffer from depression.<br>Elderflower makes a delicious,
delicately fragranced infusion which helps relax the
nerves.<br>Limeflower is another one to mention for a delicately
flavoured relaxing herbal cuppa, and is also valuable as an antispasmodic
and sedative to the nerves and digestive system.<br><br><strong>Oil
Burners</strong><br>Creating a relaxing environment to sit and unwind in
before you retire to bed is one of the most important steps you can do to
ensure a decent sleep. An oil burner can be used to great effect - as
long as you remember to blow out the candle before falling asleep!
Relaxing oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Rose, Neroli, Jasmine, Ylang-
Ylang, Benzoin, Frankincense, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Patchouli and Violet
can all help create a soothing environment. Choose one or two oils which
you find most comforting and relaxing and add a few drops to water in a
suitable oil burner.<br><br><strong>In The Bedroom</strong><br>One of the
most effective, easy to use and well-known sleep remedies is Lavender
essential oil sprinkled on the pillow or bedding, or dap a little
Lavender on to the wrist pulse points and forehead / temple. Another way
to include Lavender in the bedroom is in a sleep pillow - make a sachet
or small pillow and stuff with Lavender herb and add a few drops of
Lavender essential oils. Pop the sachet under your pillow or hang it on
your bedstead and breath in the relaxing fragrance. Other relaxing herbs
you could include in a sleep pillow include Hops, Lemon Balm
[particularly useful for menopausal women suffering from nightly hot
flushes] Chamomile and Marjoram. If nightmares are causing the restless
sleep you might like to try including Rosemary in your sleep pillow
mix.</p> <p>Ready made sleep pillows, organic herbs and essential oils
are available from Gaia's Garden: <a rel="nofollow"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/909365']);" href="http://www.gaias-
garden.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://www.gaias-garden.co.uk/</a>
<br><br><strong>In The Kitchen</strong><br>Eating a healthy, well
balanced diet is not only essential to your general health and well-
being, but will also improve your chances of a restful sleep. Junk food
and processed foods stuffed full of additives, preservatives and
artificial colourings is one sure-fire way to send your digestive system
into chaos. Over-indulging or eating rich foods in the evenings can also
cause problems. Many a sleepless night is caused by poor diet or
digestion problems. Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your
diet [organic where possible], Smoothies are easy to make [a blender is
useful of course] and the combinations of fruit and veg are endless -
have fun experimenting with different blends. Include natural yoghurt, or
ice-cream if you fancy treating yourself [try and find a natural, organic
ice-cream],<br>Lettuce has a long-standing reputation as a soporific
food. The Romans were particularly keen on it, and modern research has
discovered that it does contain sleep-inducing compounds. Eat the leaves
raw, make Lettuce soup or drink as an infusion in the evenings.<br>Oats
are an excellent food for ensuring a peaceful sleep - try muesli, granola
or porridge, and instead of a chocolate bar in your break, try a
flapjack. Oats also make a tasty topping for stewed fruit or fruit
crumbles.<br>For a bedtime drink try adding a little honey to mug of warm
milk [sprinkle a little cinnamon or cocoa on to add a bit of luxury], or
try one of the herbal infusions mentioned above.<br><br><strong>Non-
Herbal Remedies</strong><br>Suitable relaxing music can be invaluable in
creating an atmosphere of calm and programming the body to prepare for
sleep. Keep the volume low, and choose natural sounds such as evening
birdsong, gentle rain or waves, or gentle blues, relaxed jazz, lilting
folk music, or music composed specifically for meditation / relaxation.
As scientists are beginning to realise just how effective [and affective]
music can be I read more and more reports on 'listen to classical music
before bedtime' - great if you've chosen Debussy's "Arabesque no.1" but
not so beneficial if you have chosen Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring". There
are hundreds of suitably soothing classical music choices, and research
has proven some of Mozart's music to be extremely beneficial at soothing
brain waves. The trick is to find the appropriate piece - trial and error
and a simple love of exploring the many faces of Classical music will
help you assemble a relaxing evening collection. [Aim for unhurried
tempos, 50-60 beats-per-minute as opposed to the 120 + bpm of clubbing
music]!<br><br>There is growing research to suggest that sunlight plays
an important role on our body clocks - sometimes it can be a case of not
enough natural light causing a lack of energy and a desire to hibernate
[as can be seen most drastically during our winter months], in others a
lack of natural light appears to cause restless sleep. Research has shown
that babies who are exposed to a few hours of natural daylight during
their waking hours sleep more peacefully than those exposed to little or
no sunlight.<br>Far too many people spend their days locked in dingy
offices in front of computer monitors with little or no natural light,
and we are constantly bombarded with artificial light day and night, from
lightbulbs to TV screens - it's hardly a surprise that our natural body
clocks are so confused!<br><br>Sleep is an important and vital part of
living - allow yourself time to relax and re-energise. Creating your own
evening ritual will teach your brain and body to slow down and prepare
for sleep. Relying purely on sedatives whilst continuing to rush about
like a mad-march-hare-on-speed during your waking hours is not the
answer! Fresh air, plenty of exercise, a well balanced diet, meditation
and time to yourself will all help in improving your chances of a
peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. So take care of yourself, listen to your
body, and sleep well. Sweet dreams....<br><br>• For further herbal
information, or to purchase organic herbs, quality oils, natural sleep
products and much more, please visit Gaia's Garden : <a rel="nofollow"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/909365']);" href="http://www.gaias-
garden.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://www.gaias-
garden.co.uk/</a><br><br>________________________________________________
_________________________________<br><em><br> The herbal remedies
mentioned in this article are not intended to replace professional
advice. Any medication you are on should also be taken into consideration
- always check with your healthcare professional if you are on
prescription drugs before taking herbal remedies. Seek professional
medical advice before taking herbal remedies if you are pregnant,
epileptic, have a serious health issue, or are taking prescription
medication.
<br></em>________________________________________________________________
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