Nutrition guru Patrick Holford put it well when he said, “We’re not the naked apes, we have become the knackered apes.” ‘Exhausted’, seems to be the standard reply whenever I ask someone how he or she is feeling. After much research into why we are all so tired it seems as simple as the fact that we are not getting enough sleep. Even if we do, it’s not the quality sleep we need. Frenetic as life is, there are no short cuts, the need to sleep is a biologically persistent characteristic deeply embedded in the brain. If you tend towards insomnia, cultivating good sleep habits - a dark room with no artificial light that is quiet and well ventilated, cotton bed linen and comfortable sleepwear, is a start. More challenging is being able to relax enough to let sleep take place. On any normal day especially if exposed to traffic we are continuously bombarded with messages that need to be processed. Some of these are newspaper headlines. “Woman murdered while sleeping”, “Child raped by gang”, every couple of kilometres feeds our stress meters. Without doubt these cause anxiety, which can affect the body physically causing changes in blood pressure, blood sugar, breathe rate and heart rate. Coming down from the day into sleep mode may require a relaxation aid like meditation, soothing music or an aromatic bath.

Sleep clinics are becoming commonplace around the world, not only to identify the causes of insomnia or to deal with snoring and other disorders but also for sleep therapy where tranquillisers are issued allowing the subject to sleep for days at a time.

Before you get anxious enough to think about that option or to reach for a pill, there are a number of alternative therapies that might help you both to sleep and to restore energy levels.

Alexander technique: looks at your sleeping position and identifies potential postural habits that may be adjusted.
Hypnotherapy: will help with underlying emotional problems and teach you relaxation methods.
Homeopathy: remedies such as Aconitum will help for sleep disturbed by fear or panic. Nux if sleeplessness is from mental strain, overindulgence in food or alcohol or irritability. Pulsatilla is for restless sleep, feeling too hot or too cold. Opium for when feeling sleepy but unable to sleep or if sleep is so heavy the person cannot be woken.
Flower remedies: White chestnut may be good for worry and Rock Water, Elm Beech and Vervain for stress.
Massage: can bring about deep relaxation and can induce sleep.
Herbalism: Valerian, Passionflower and Jamaican Dogwood all help to relieve insomnia although specific remedies should be prescribed according to the nature of the sleeping difficulty.
Nutrition: Vitamin B and Magnesium or Folic acid may be required.
Others, such as Yoga, Naturopathy and Reflexology also offer solutions for deep quality sleep and stress relief.

On a practical level, wear earplugs and a light-blocking mask if necessary. Make sure you exercise; it helps to rid the body of tension and raises energy levels during the day. Drink enough water as dehydration makes one feel drained. Don’t skip meals or use coffee to compensate for low energy or fluctuating blood sugar levels. Avoid high fat meals, respect your biological rhythms and sleep when you feel tired. Naps work very well for some although for others may interfere with sleep patterns. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Have sex, do deep breathing, pray and leave all work and worry out of the bedroom but most importantly have enough sleep.Place copy here...

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