We’ve been told to count sheep since we were toddlers. We’ve bought the latest mattress, guaranteed to increase sleep quality. And now we’re learning that the sleep medications once touted as safer and less addictive may actually cause us to sleep-drive (like sleepwalking, but behind the wheel) and other potentially serious side effects. But most of us are still not getting our rest. We’re exhausted.
One commercial tells us that most adult Americans report experiencing trouble with sleep at least a few nights each week. But there is good news. There are safe and effective herbs, remedies and lifestyle practices that can help most of us. And there are a number of things that you can do during your day to reduce stress so that a good night’s sleep is more likely to come your way. Please read Seven Steps to A Worry Free Day for tips that you may do during the daytime to assist restful sleep at night.
Reduce caffeine and other stimulants. If you drink coffee, black tea, cola and other stimulant beverages, moderate the amount that you consume and don’t drink them after 1:00 pm (or about ten hours before your desired bedtime). Diet pills, sugary foods and excess alcohol should be avoided if sleep eludes you, as well.
Restore hormonal balance. Did you know that for women of peri-menopausal or menopausal age, loss of sleep is the most common symptom complained about during doctor visits? For women from the mid-thirties to mid-fifties, restful sleep may be more available for us when we restore balance to the naturally shifting hormonal health. There are several factors at play here, with hormonal balance and endocrine system function taking a major role. Please read Women’s Health at Any Age and Women’s Health at Any Age -The Herbs for additional information. Men also have hormone imbalances, and may need help with restoring their hormonal health, too. The herbs that we refer to as ‘women’s herbs’ have been used to help men’s hormonal balance for centuries, and may be considered to help induce restful sleep, as well.
Another helpful factor for this concern is to reduce most soy products (the uncultured soy, that is). Instead, eat one teaspoon of miso, made into miso soup, broth, salad dressing, veggie dip, or any way you may enjoy consuming this health providing, truly nutritious soy food. Please read The Great Soy Debate for a further understanding about the truth about soy.
Express your gratitude just before bedtime. Whether speaking aloud or silently, convey your thankfulness for those around you and all that you have and are. Smile as you feel the gratitude within your heart and body. This helps to prevent worry and quiet your buzzing mind.
Breathe deeply and exhale completely. Lie down and get comfortable. Breathe in; take a long deep breath. Expand your belly while doing so. Exhale completely. Squeeze your tummy muscles in as you release a little more air. Relax a moment. Take another deep breath. Repeat for a few minutes, really keeping your focus on the breath. Let your mind become free of the daily thoughts and worry as you breathe.
Don’t turn on the light. Once the light is off, do your best to keep it off for the entire night. Have nightlights available in appropriate locations for your needs, though it’s best not to keep one on in your bedroom. Many people put the light on to read or watch television when they have trouble sleeping. As soon as the light is on, your inner chemistry shifts and it may take longer to begin to calm down again so you may get your rest.
Sleep in the dark. The darker your room while you sleep, the more naturally produced melatonin you will be able to manufacture. The melatonin produced within the body is a hormone that helps regulate our biologic clock, allowing us to reach our deep REM sleep. Turn lights off at night. If light comes in your window from a street lamp, you may want to get darker shades or drapes to block it out as much as possible.
Do your best to go to bed at the same time each night. This helps to set the internal clock so that you may get into a rhythm of deep sleep at night and awakening feeling refreshed.
Now, many folks will try several of these suggestions and still need additional support. The following herbs and supplements may be of use.
Calms Forté is a homeopathic remedy formulated with four botanicals that have been used by doctors and health practitioners to soothe and quiet irritated nerves and edginess without sedatives or tranquilizers. Calms Forté also contains five biochemic phosphates in 3X potency, to nourish and strengthen the nervous system to help us deal with everyday stress. Calms Forté is safe enough for babies, children and the elder members of our communities. There are no known side effects or contraindications with medications.
Flower essences have been used for decades to support emotional balance and to calm the spirits. According to Flower Essence Services: ‘Flower essences are herbal infusions or decoctions, made from the flowering part of the plant, which uniquely address emotional and mental aspects of wellness. The first 38 flower remedies were formulated by a British physician, Dr. Edward Bach [pronounced ‘batch’], in the 1930’s, although new remedies from other plant species are now available… Flower essences are energetic imprints of the life force of plants which interact with the subtle bodies of the human being, and evoke specific qualities within us. We can say that they work in a similar way to inspirational music or art, which carry meaning through the vehicle of sound or light, while the flower essences work through the medium of water.
Modern physics has known for nearly a century that matter and consciousness are intertwined. However, medical science still generally works with a nineteenth century model of the human being as a mechanism in a world of machines. We expect that in the coming century, medical science will develop ways of studying the impact of consciousness on health, and we will learn more about the ways in which flower essences work.’
- White chestnut is helpful for quieting the endless loop tape in the mind. White chestnut helps with worry and persistent thoughts of what we did, didn’t do, need to do, wish we did, etc.
- Elm, the flower essence for when we’re feeling overwhelmed is helpful for when we feel we can never catch up with our duties and responsibilities.
- Wild Oat helps one find their inner calling and life purpose; and manifest their goals.
- Larch supports self-confidence when we fear we weren’t good enough, didn’t measure up or failed.
Depending on what is out of balance in the emotional state of the individual when losing sleep, it may be any one or combination of the flower essences, but these examples are often the more helpful choices.
Holy basil, with Latin names Ocimum sanctum or Ocimum tenuiflorum, can help with focus and reducing feelings of anxiousness, irritability and excess stress during the day. In the evening, it is helpful for quieting the excessive thoughts of the mind and assist with excess inflammation. And Holy basil is also good for strengthening the immune system and supports adrenal function. To purchase a high quality Holy basil product, please look for Gaia Herbs, the New Chapter product in vegi-caps or an organic tincture such as Herb Pharm’s.
Usha Daytime Stress Formula, from Organix South, is made with organically grown Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb used for strengthening and regulating the entire body, helping the body adapt to stress. Some of its specific traditional uses include detoxification, excess inflammation, insomnia and improved sexual vitality. Use of Ashwagandha in the daytime may well support restful sleep in the nighttime.
Nisha Night Time Stress Formula, also from Organix South, is made primarily from an Ayurvedic herb called Bacopa monnieri. Bacopa’s traditional uses include memory function, clear thinking and improved learning skills. When we are able to improve brain function during our day, we may sleep much more deeply at night.
Sound Sleep from Gaia and Zyflamend PM from New Chapter provide potent extracts to support deep relaxation and rejuvenative sleep. Zyflamend PM is formulated to help the body feel balanced when excess inflammation has its tight grip on our physical body. They both help relax tense muscles.
Apple juice and Kudzu drink is a soothing and relaxing warm drink, ideal before bed, which serves the body with double duty. Besides helping us to fall asleep, it is also an excellent tool for helping the body repair a leaky gut, something that seems to accompany any auto-immune disorder or chronic imbalance.
About one hour before bedtime is an ideal time to prepare the Apple juice and kudzu drink for encouraging a restful night’s sleep.
To make, bring 1 cup of organic apple juice to a slow simmer, preferably in a glass or enamel pan. Put 1 round tablespoon of kudzu root powder (available at most real health food stores) into a mug with 2 tablespoons of cold filtered water; stir together and then pour into the heated apple juice. Stir with a wooden spoon constantly. The apple juice mixture will look cloudy at first; and then it will become translucent. Stir for one minute more; let cool to a palatable temperature and sip until gone.
Essential oils- Aromatherapy is an ancient form of botanical healing used throughout the world. Aromatherapy is the use of scented compounds from the oils found in plants for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health. The highest quality essential oils on the planet come from a wonderful German company named Oshadhi. They may seem slightly more expensive upon first glance, but because less oil is required to produce an effect, they are considerably more economical.
Essential oils may be used in a bath, on our pillow, in massage oil or in a diffuser to fill our senses with the scent to support relaxation.
- Lavender has been used for relaxation for centuries. This essential oil can calm and sooth the nerves, helping the mind relax and unwind, so that sleep may come more easily.
- Ylang ylang is a floral-y scented oil that may be used to lift spirits, calm the mind and console the heart, easing grief and inner pain.
- Clary Sage is a superb essential oil for peri-, post and menopausal women (and men, too). Soothing for the soul, balancing for the emotions and a tool to lift the spirits, clary sage and its musky scent assist us in taking in the deep breaths necessary for restful, rejuvenating sleep.
You’ll notice that I haven’t included melatonin here. Melatonin in supplement form is a synthetic hormone. Since I feel that these types of therapies may not be as safe and healthful for people, and not as good for the Earth when produced, I believe that, like drugs, they should be reserved as a last resort.
And so I now wish you deep rest tonight and a refreshing day tomorrow.Home | Back to top--^