Insomnia – sleep disturbance advice
Insomnia is a term used to describe a variety of sleep disorders – difficulty getting to sleep, frequent waking, and insufficient sleep resulting in feeling unrefreshed in the morning. Most people are affected at some point in their lives, and long-term insomnia can have adverse effects on your general health.
Insomnia is usually a symptom of something else, such as stress, anxiety, grief, menopausal flushes, indigestion or frequent nocturnal trips to the loo due to conditions such as prostate enlargement. Therefore it is very important to address those issues at the same time as treating the insomnia.
There are many things that you can do to help ensure restful sleep:
- Start to wind down at least an hour before bedtime.
- Establish a routine, retiring at the same time every night and rising at the same time each morning.
- Avoid heavy meals and too many drinks, particularly those containing alcohol and caffeine, late in the evening.
- Switch your mobile phone off and dim the lights.
- Techniques such as meditation and yoga before bedtime may be beneficial, or try a warm bath with relaxing essential oils and a few candles.
- Soothing, low-volume background music or deep breathing exercises can help relax an over-active mind.
- Consider earplugs if you live in a noisy environment.
Research has shown that people who are physically active during the day sleep better and more soundly than those who are sedentary. Therefore you should establish a regular exercise routine, choosing an activity you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it.
Examine your bed – is your mattress too soft, too hard, or too old? You spend up to a third of your life there, so try a variety of mattresses and invest in the one that is most comfortable for you. Good-quality pillows that support your head and neck properly should be a priority too. Your bedroom should be a comfortable temperature.
Additional help is available. Herbal remedies have a gentle but powerful action and many will help ensure a restful sleep without causing grogginess or addiction. One such remedy is Bio-Health’s Passiflora capsules.
Passiflora is a North American plant traditionally to treat sleep disorders, irritability and anxiety, aiding the transition into restful sleep. The alkaloids and flavonoids within this herb are reported to have tranquilizing effects. Moreover, it has been shown to help alleviate neuralgic pain and nervous tension. (Buy Passiflora Herb Capsules here).
Valerian has been used medicinally for centuries to reduce tension, anxiety and over-excitability, its sedative effect due to the constituents valepotriates and isovaleric acid. It has an antispasmodic action too, making this an appropriate remedy where pain is associated with tension. (Buy Valdrian® – Valerian Root here).
Verbena helps support the nervous system by relaxing tension and stress. One of the constituents, Verbenalin, helps relax smooth muscle, so may be of benefit where insomnia is caused by indigestion or an irritable bowel. It is also used by herbalists in the treatment of depression and melancholia, particularly following debilitating illnesses.
Hops have been used traditionally in the treatment of restlessness associated with nervous tension and its manifestations as headache and abdominal discomfort. It may also be of benefit in calming irritable coughs. Hop pillows were a popular aid to sleep in the past, the volatile oils and valerenic acid producing a relaxing effect on the central nervous system.
The above information is for guidance only, and is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified practitioner. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking any other medication, you should seek advice from a health professional.