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Making Time for Restful Sleep
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing

Good quality sleep is essential because it forces us to rest from physical activity so that both the body and mind can undertake important ‘maintenance’ work and renewal.  Working in a similar way to a battery and generator in a car, the human battery automatically 'recharges' itself throughout the night.  Amazingly enough, when you’re asleep your body continues to work and so during this time, the body continues to burn up almost as many calories as it does whilst you’re sitting still during the day. 


There are no rules about how much sleep we need – as individuals we each have differing requirements.  On average, we sleep between 6 and 9 hours every night, during which we go through 4 or 5 separate cycles, each lasting approximately 90 minutes.  Each cycle is important and will include periods of drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.  Psychologists believe that periods of ‘dreaming’ sleep is essential for our emotional and mental wellbeing.  If however, it takes a long time for you to fall asleep, or perhaps you wake up throughout the night or you don’t wake up feeling bright and alert - then you’re probably not getting the right quality or amount of sleep to allow your body to complete its maintenance tasks.


If you don’t sleep well over a prolonged period, the body’s natural processes for renewal become blocked and this in turn will affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being.  An in-depth US study suggests that we can in fact become ill because we’re not sleeping properly; the study showed a direct correlation between the diagnosis of medical conditions and the quality of sleep people had experienced.  Our body clock literally becomes imbalanced and disturbed whenever our sleep becomes disrupted.


As we get older, we produce less of the sleep hormone ‘melatonin’ which is stimulated by darkness.  Therefore exposure to bright light at night-time can drastically reduce melatonin production just when we need it most.  So, to encourage a good night’s sleep, it’s important to get exposure to bright ‘natural’ light during the daytime.


In England alone, over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills are written every year.  Side-effects of sleeping pills can include light-headedness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, memory or concentration problems and even Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS).  The typical sleeping pill is not designed to be used for long periods; if used continuously, the sleeping pill is not only ineffective but it often leads to dependency and addiction.


There are many causes of sleeping problems or ‘insomnia’ which more often than not include stress, body toxicity, emotional problems and an unbalanced lifestyle and diet.  Luckily, there are many ways of ‘naturally’ dealing with sleep disorders without having to resort to drugs.  


So, what can you do to improve the quality of your sleep?  Here are a list of suggestions for you to try:


·      Avoid any stimulants during the day if you can, including coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and ideally alcohol too.  More importantly, avoid these stimulants along with sugar in the evening.

·       Try not to eat any later than 7.30pm in the evening.

·       Eat plenty of nuts, seeds, root and green leafy vegetables which are high in calcium and magnesium which have a tranquilising effect, along with Vitamin B6.

·       Avoid processed and ready-made foods whenever possible, as these contain many chemicals, preservatives and additives that further add to the toxic load in your body and will create extra 'processing' work for your body's organs.  Whole foods in their 'natural' state are ALWAYS so much healthier for you.

·        Take the following supplements daily: a high quality multivitamin and mineral, Vitamin C 1000mg, Vitamin B6 100mg, Zinc 10mg, Calcium 600mg, Magnesium 400mg.

·        Try to reduce the levels of stress in your life by getting more of a work/family life balance and try increasing the levels of physical exercise you get throughout the week, to encourage feelings of tiredness and relaxation by bedtime.  However, make sure you don’t undertake vigorous exercise within the 2 hours before going to bed.

·       Eat an apple, some celery or lettuce or perhaps drink a glass of warm milk or camomile tea about 1-2 hours before you go to bed, as part of your ‘winding down’ routine, to help calm and relax the body.

·        Try to go to bed at the same time each night - have a regular schedule and base it on the usual time your body feels sleepy.

·      Write down any actions for the next day or possible solutions for any outstanding issues well before bedtime. 

·        Take a warm bath about an hour before you go to bed - or if you don’t have enough time, soak your feet for about 20 minutes in warm 'salty' water to encourage blood away from the head.

·        Do some deep-breathing, muscle stretches or some gentle yoga for 20 minutes or so before bedtime.

·        Avoid using your computer at least an hour before bedtime and certainly don’t watch television in bed, as this will stimulate your brain activity and reduce your levels of melatonin.  Try reading a book using a low voltage lamp only.

·        Light some candles and play some soft music to soothe you to sleep.

·        Hops, Valerian and Passion Flower are all traditional sleep remedies that have been validated by modern research.  Valerian helps people get to sleep and sleep better, without the ‘morning-after’ fogginess.  Each of these ingredients work similarly to tranquillisers but with none of the side-effects.

·        Take 1 or 2 of these calming herbs: kava-kava; lemon balm; catmint; skullcap; california poppy - either as teas, or in tinctures just before you go to bed.

·        Give yourself a little massage using some relaxing EMF Protection : nerolis (orange blossom); marjoram; spikenard; camomile; lavender or ylang ylang and mix a total of 15 drops with 2 tablespoons of almond/vegetable oil and rub it onto your temples, forehead and the back of your neck.  Alternatively, put 1-2 neat drops in total on your pillow, or add a total of 10-15 drops into your warm bath.

·        Natural crystals are very powerful precious stones that can help restore balance, stability and harmony within the body.  Try using a 'cleansed' Amethyst, Chrysoprase, Rose Quartz, Citrine or Moonstone crystal under your pillow at night or you can hold the crystal near to you.

·        Avoid thinking negatively about bedtime – try not to dread going to bed!  If you have positive feelings about being in a warm, safe, comfortable bed, then you’ll have more chance of dropping off and having a sound sleep.

·        Acupuncture or acupressure can help clear blocked meridian channels and stimulate the body’s natural energy flow (known as ‘chi’), which enables the body to rebalance and heal itself.

·        You may also wish to consider other alternative therapies such as Aqua Detox, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, osteopathy, reflexology, counselling and psychotherapy.

As you can see, your diet and lifestyle play a major part, so do be prepared to make some long-term changes if you want to get back into a regular restful sleeping pattern.  It's important to sleep well in order to stay well!

The nutritional supplement product links stated in this article can only be purchased from this website in UK and in Europe; however all other health product links stated on this page are available worldwide from Natural Body Healing.  


The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.







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