Ah, ze sleep troubles. So many people have them. (sad face) Peaceful and restful sleep is one of the best things you can give your body. Sleep is your body’s time to repair and renew itself, so if you are looking for ways to make it happen…here are some tips:
1. Create a peaceful, stress relieving nigh-time routine. Routines are a great way to help start signaling to your body that is time for bed. Good ways to wind down include: meditation (free podcasts and audios are available on-line and through iTunes), gentle stretching and yoga, reading a book, making yourself a cup of herbal tea, taking a bath, etc. Experiment with different ideas and create a simple routine that works for you.
2. Explore the possibilities of Lavender. This wonderful plant has relaxing and sedative qualities that can help you get a better nights rest. Diffuse a few drops of lavender oil in water when going to bed or apply to the bottom of your feet or on your temples and neck for a calming and relaxing sensation. A few drops of lavender in the palms of your hands and cupped over the nose can quickly and easily eliminate stress and anxiety as well.
3. Avoid caffeine and other sleep inhibitors, especially in large amounts and in the afternoon/evening. For those of us who have problems sleeping, caffeine is normally a culprit. Too much coffee or black tea stimulates the system and should be used very little if at all if you have trouble sleeping. Other foods that have the capability of hindering a restful night are chocolate & soda (also caffeinated), sugar, excessive alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. Try switching to herbal tea (i.e. mint, rooibos) and sticking to a whole foods diet.
4. Tryptophan helps! Tryptophan is an amino acid found in certain foods that has natural sleep inducing compounds. Turkey, milk, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, and nuts (especially almonds) have substantial amounts of tryptophan.
5. Try Valerian Root. If you are looking to go down the supplement path to help with your sleep, know that valerian root has been used historically for insomnia relief. Unlike drugs, valerian root actually helps improve sleep quality and latency (the time required to go to sleep) and leaves no “hangover” feeling in the morning. Suggested uses:
dried root (or as a tea): 2-3 grams
Tincture (1:5, root to water ratio) 5-7 milligrams
fluid extract (1:1) ½ – 1 teaspoon
6. Stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. The night is your body’s time to rest and repair and the less food your stomach & digestive tract has to work through during these hours, the better. Let your body focus on repairing itself for the next day, rather than breaking down a heavy dinner.
7. Make your bedroom a retreat. A clean and uncluttered bedroom promotes a relaxing and calming atmosphere that will create the space for you to unwind and peacefully fall asleep.
8. Eat a nutritious, whole foods diet. Your body is designed to function on nutritious whole foods, and the better and more active you are during the day, the more likely you are to get a restful nights sleep.
Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005. Print.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2002. Print.
Carper, Jean. Miracle Cures. Boston: Wheeler Pub., 1998. Print.