Natural Methods to Aid Sleep
Most of us require between 6 to 8 hours sleep a night. For some people this is far from their ‘normal’. Trouble sleeping is no fun!
An inability to sleep or chronic sleeplessness is known as insomnia and can, unfortunately, be quite common.
Sleep is a necessity to maintain a healthy mind and body. Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep can lead to ill-health.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by stress and tension but there are many more causes.
Difficulty breathing perhaps due to a cough, cold, catarrh or asthma can all have an effect on sleep.
Other causes of poor sleep can be digestive problems such as heartburn or even hormonal problems such as hot flushes in menopausal women. Itchy skin conditions or pain may also affect the quality of our sleep.
Some people find drinking warm milk to be a relaxing sedative before bed. Others find a bath helps them unwind. A bath with epsom salts eases pains. In addition an epsom salt bath will soothe itchy skin.
Certainly avoiding stimulating drinks for several hours prior to going to bed is essential. This includes caffeine containing drinks such as coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks. It would also include alcohol.
A regular routine is important. Choose a specific time, and keep to it, for going to bed at night. For an hour before bed avoid watching TV or using any electronic devices which have potential to stimulate the mind. Unwind with a bath or a book or sip herbal tea or hot milk instead.
… Insomnia? What is the cause…
The most effective way to treat insomnia with plant medicine is by ascertaining the cause. There are many causes for insomnia and a wide range of plant medicines to choose from depending on the cause. The following are a few easier to obtain herbs.
Feeling tense …
Many people find the use of lavender to be particularly helpful where the cause of insomnia is stress or tension.
Lavender is useful in many ways. Try aromatic water as a spray on bed linen. A few drops of essential oil on a handkerchief beside the bed or on the pillow helps some people relax.
I love to add aromatic waters or essential oils to bed linens. Lavender is one of my favourites for this. The smell instantly relaxes me when my head hits the pillow.
Try a warm evening herb bath using either a strong infusion of lavender tea, aromatic water or diluted essential oil to ease tension.
Stressed or digestive upset ?
However, lavender is not a favourable smell to everyone. Chamomile is one alternative. Chamomile is available as aromatic water and essential oil too. Both Roman and German chamomile are available. Roman chamomile is usually cheaper in price. The German is slightly more anti-inflammatory. Use as lavender above or take dried herb as an evening cup of tea.
Heartburn or indigestion has a natural habit of intensifying at night! Try drinking regular chamomile tea.
Make a chamomile tea for children with an upset tummy and trouble sleeping.
Dry or itchy skin
Adding epsom salts to the bath helps soothe an itchy, dry skin. Alternatively place oats in a muslin cloth or cotton sock and add to the bath. Gently squeeze the oat filled sock or cloth over the itchy, dry skin to soothe.
Hormonal trouble sleeping
Drink a cooled infusion of sage tea to help reduce night sweats in menopause. Take a cup before retiring to bed. Leave a cup or glassful in the bedroom to sip during the night if needed.
An old traditional remedy?
It is! However, efficacy of fresh sage for the treatment of hot flashes during menopause was proven in clinical trial.
Colds and flu and viruses
Troublesome cold? All you need is a good nights sleep to feel better. But you have trouble sleeping due to a pesky sore throat, cough or sniffles.
If a sore throat is disturbing sleep try gargling cooled sage tea. There are several studies documenting the antibacterial properties of sage.
Sweet violet is a pleasant, soothing tea for an irritating cough.
Lime flower is relaxing. If restlessness is a problem, then try relaxing with a cup of lime flower tea. A comforting tea and helpful in recovery from cold or flu particularly with trouble sleeping.
You can also utilise the healing benefits of essential oils to help you breathe more easily.
Make a herbal blend
Often a combination of some of the above selections will work best. For example for an achy flu with a cough take an epsom salt bath. Sip a herbal tea with sweet violet and lime flower combined. Add some antiseptic lavender to a handkerchief beside the bed.
A restless child with an upset tummy try a relaxing bath. Add two or three drops of mandarin essential oil to a tablespoon of olive oil or full fat milk and pour in a night-time bath. Alternatively add a strong infusion of chamomile and lime flower to the bath water. Make a soothing cup of tea to sip with chamomile and lime flower combined.
Chamomile is anti-inflammatory and a beneficial addition to a bath with oats for itchy, dry skin.
Finally there are many more herbal blends to help aid sleep. I particularly enjoy combining a small amount of lavender flowers with chamomile and lime flower in a tea. I find this blend very comforting and pleasant tasting.
The above are a few simple suggestions you can try out yourself to help aid a natural sleep.