- March 31, 2015
Your queries about natural health answered by Jacquie Lane for the College of Naturopathic Medicine
Are there natural alternatives to sleeping tablets?
There are many natural steps that you can take to promote sleep and to enhance sleep quality. Firstly, try to find and eliminate any barriers to sleep, such as stress.
Walk every day in the fresh air, preferably when the sun is out to help get some vitamin D – lunchtime is a good time and taking a break helps reduce stress during the day. Confine strenuous activities to the daytime, and take no vigorous exercise in the evenings. Instead, do something more relaxing such as pilates.
Acupuncture treatments help many people to relax extremely well.
Establish winding down rituals at night, such as no computers or stimulating TV after 8pm. Take an Epsom salts bath half an hour before bed. Herbs can be especially useful when it comes to combating sleep disturbances, so drink a valerian or camomile tea after your bath, then sprinkle some lavender oil on your pillow.
If safe to do so, open a small window in your bedroom, turn off the heating and use a hot water bottle if chilly. Ban TVs and mobile and cordless phones from the bedroom, and to reduce ‘electronic smog’ further, remove phone or laptop chargers emitting a glow light. Wear breathable nightwear and have a comfortable mattress and pillows. Hang heavy curtains to block out the light, if needed, as we sleep better in the dark.
Reduce your alcohol intake as this can disturb sleep, and consume no caffeine after 1pm.
If you’re waking up because you’re hungry, make sure you have an easily digestible snack an hour before your usual sleep time. Try a small carbohydrate snack, e.g. a small banana or two oak cakes with a little smooth nut butter.
You need adequate protein levels in your general diet to create an amino acid called tryptophan, required in the process of making the sleep hormone melatonin. Good sources are fish, turkey, eggs, nuts, lentils, beans, nut butters, and fermented soya such as tempeh. Eat organically to cut down on pesticide residues or genetically modified ingredients.
If you’re still too lively at sleep time, a naturopathically-trained nutritional therapist or herbalist can design a plan just for you.
See your health professional for personal advice.
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