Making Time for Restful Sleep
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
the following supplements daily: a high quality multivitamin and
mineral, Vitamin C 1000mg, Vitamin B6 100mg, Zinc 10mg, Calcium
600mg, Magnesium 400mg.
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.
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.
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.
some deep-breathing, muscle stretches or some gentle yoga for 20
minutes or so before bedtime.
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.
some candles and play some soft music to soothe you to sleep.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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