By Rachel Venokur-Clark, Eat.Drink.Better
Most of us have experienced a sleepless night spent tossing and turning, begging sleep to come. A night or two of lost sleep, though not ideal, shouldn’t have any major affect on your health. When one sleepless night turns into several in a row, you may be facing a sleep problem. Several nights of missed sleep can affect your emotional and physical well-being. Insomnia can affect everything from your productivity to your relationships. If you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, without a medical condition to blame, there are many natural ways to begin alleviating this problem without prescription medication
1. In the evening try to eat: bananas, dates, figs, milk, nut butter, turkey, whole grain crackers or yogurt. These are foods high in tryptophan, which can promote sleep.
2. Avoid caffeine from lunchtime on.
3. Have your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. If your body has to work hard to digest your food when it should be sleeping, you may have a difficult time staying asleep.
4. Set a bedtime routine and try to stick with it. Get ready for bed and get into bed at the same time each night. Consistency is the key to success. Finding a routine that works for you and following it will help you reach your sleep goals.
5. Take a hot bath or shower 1-2 hours before bedtime to help your body and mind relax.
6. Do not exercise within 3 hours of wanting to go to sleep.
7. Dim the lights 1 hour before bed
8. Create a sleep atmosphere in your bedroom. Take out all distractions like a computer, television or phone. Make your room as dark a possible to signal your body’s natural daytime/nighttime rhythms. Consider a white noise machine if sounds outside the room distract you.
9. Camomile tea sipped a ½ hour before bedtime can relieve anxiety and promote a restful sleep. Do not take for more than 2 weeks in a row or if you have hay fever or ragweed allergies.
10. Valerian Root Pills: In order to achieve the full effects, Valerian needs to be taken consistently over a period of about a month.
11. Kava Kava Pills or Oral Spray. This is a fast acting, potent anti-anxiety medication that can promote sleep. You can take approximately 150mg, 30 minutes before sleep.
12. Melatonin Pills: 1.5mg daily taken 30-60minutes before bed. Melatonin occurs naturally in our body and helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, our internal 24-hour time keeping system, that can affect our sleeping cycles.
*Always consult a physician before starting an herbal routine.
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Photo Credit: Heather R at Flickr for Creative Commons