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Sleep is just as important to our health as nutritious food and water. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seem to get enough of it, with up to 25% of Australians reporting they don’t get sufficient sleep. It is recommended that adults get around 8 hours sleep a night.
Poor sleeping habits and insomnia can have a direct and damaging effect on your physical and mental health. It is while we sleep that our body rests and revitalizes, and our immune system is replenished and strengthened. Chronic insomnia can accelerate the aging process and progression of chronic disease. Not getting enough sleep can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Thankfully there are some very effective natural measures you can take to help you get a better night sleep.
Calming herbal teas: Chamomile, valerian, lavender, passionflower and lemon balm are all beautiful calming herbal teas that are beneficial for calming the nervous system, allowing the body and mind to relax, to help you get a better night’s sleep. You will find these lovely sleep promoting herbs in our Bodhi Organic SereniTEA and TranquiliTEA.
Boost melatonin: Melatonin is an important hormone that is produced at night to promote a deep and restful sleep. There are several natural ways you can increase your melatonin production including increase your sunlight exposure (especially in the morning), meditate, and reduce alcohol intake and stress levels. There are also certain foods that can help boost your melatonin such as oats, walnuts, bananas, and almonds. Tart cherry juice has been found to significantly increase melatonin levels in the body.
Magnesium: Magnesium helps calm and support the nervous system. Taking 500-600mg of elemental magnesium daily can help ease anxiety and improve sleep. The best dietary sources of magnesium are legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, wheat bran and green leafy veggies.
Cut down on coffee: If you’re having trouble sleeping you should cut down on coffee and other caffeine-containing foods and drinks. Having too much caffeine can over-stimulate the nervous system and affect your ability to fall asleep. Caffeine is found in coffee, black tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. It is wise not to consume any caffeine after 2pm.
Limit your alcohol intake: You may think that having a few glasses of wine at night helps you relax and get off to sleep easier, when actually it can cause sleep problems. Drinking too much alcohol at night can interrupt your REM sleep cycle, which is your deepest most restful stage of sleep. Regular alcohol consumption can also lower your natural melatonin levels, which will cause sleeping problems.
By Lisa Guy, ND.