Life can be unsettling, we have a lot on our minds. Many of us suffer with anxiety due to the pressures of modern life. Add to that a global pandemic and there’s no wonder people are losing sleep these days. Sleep is one of the utmost pillars of our health. Experts suggest that eight continuous hours of uninterrupted sleep is vital for our overall wellness. Does that sound like something you could achieve? Or completely out of the question?
For me personally, I sleep very well, but if there’s that niggling issue I haven’t dealt with, or something concerning work or the children that is pending and worrying me, for example, then sleep can often avoid me for far longer than I would like of an evening! To remedy this I would opt for reading a book – nothing too taxing or close to my own reality preferably – and perhaps a herbal tea, but for some this just won’t do the trick. I know so many people that settle for a four hour sleep as standard, claiming that they can manage on that little, and that you can get used to it over time. Well, according to the professionals, this is simply not true. You may think you are functioning well, but the reality is that you would be doing a great deal better, plus not potentially causing some underlying health issues, if you got a few more hours decent slumber.
To promote good sleeping patterns we can follow a healthy life pattern: eat healthily, exercise regularly, reduce our stress levels naturally, keep hydrated, and go to bed at a regular time. Even simple rituals at bedtime such as a ‘going to bed routine’ that your mind and body recognise as a ‘wind-down moment’ will help. Some will resort to prescribed sleeping aids, which, as harmless as they claim to be are not always as natural as you would imagine. So, to help those in need of a little help, the following is a list of natural little helpers (used alongside the aforementioned healthy life pattern) to guide you towards the land of nod.
An important mineral, that is often lacking in countless people’s diets, that can have a significant effect on our sleep patterns. Research shows that those who have low magnesium levels may also struggle to sleep deeply and feel rested. When magnesium levels are at the recommended level the body maintains the necessary levels of GABA – the neurotransmitter that naturally encourages healthy sleep.
A well known herb that promotes sleep, Valerian contains natural sedatives which, although very mild, do have an active effect on relaxing the body and mind. When taken in conjunction with hops it seems the effect is more productive in that together they support GABA levels in the brain, helping us to fall asleep more easily, as well as stay asleep.
The non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant can be used for a plethora of health benefits. Namely CBD oil, a cannabinoid compound that helps to calm us and aid in improving sleeping patterns by finding the body’s natural balance.
Used for hundreds of years in medicine as a relaxant, the extract of magnolia bark is another natural supporter of the neurotransmitter GABA, as well as an aid in reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Reducing the symptoms of insomnia and an overactive mind, magnolia can help to promote longer REM sleep as well as minimise the time it takes to get you there.
This nutrient-dense fruit has been used for eons within many natural remedies, many of which promote relaxation and reduction of stress. Extracts of this shrubby plant can be used as a natural sleep aid as it contains flavonoids and saponins, natural bioactive compounds, which both help to increase the length of our sleep.
A naturally occurring amino acid and neurotransmitter that supports healthy bones and muscles which also serves to balance our metabolism as well as aid in brain health. We generally absorb the amino acid through diet, and use it for all of the above, as well as elevating our serotonin levels which helps to promote healthy sleep. It can help us to drop off as well as stay longer in REM sleep.
An important thing to note is that it takes us time to develop a bad sleep pattern, and so it will also take time to work our way out of one. I would personally always promote attempting to find your rhythm – without supplements – prior to opting to add more to your diet than healthy, nutrient-dense fresh foods. If nothing works then the next step would be to find your natural little helper, take only that and see if it has a positive effect. Finding the perfect balance for you as an individual is imperative.
Always seek medical advice before adding any supplements to your daily routine or diet, especially if pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication.
Online Diploma courses in Stress Management and Relaxation Therapy
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences, where we have over 23 years of experience in providing a Holistic education, the topics of Stress and Relaxation are of utmost importance. In the last years these courses have become even more popular as the modern world moves faster and faster.
Professional Relaxation Therapy – In this course you will learn all about stress, how the body responds to it, brain waves and relaxation, the effect of exercise on the mind, meditation, relaxation through visualisation and so much more! A Practitioner/Therapist Level Qualification is awarded on successful completion of this course. View the course page for more information.
Stress Management – This course covers a vast scale of “stress related problems” and their treatments and provides an investigation into the “root causes” of these problems in a methodical, easy to understand way. View the course page for more information.