Try these tips to calm the mind and get a quality night's sleep.
(Q) I feel run down and am also a terrible sleeper. It feels like I could get on top of things if only I could sleep well. Any suggestions?
(A) A good night's sleep is powerful medicine. Insomnia impacts on all aspects of health.
Poor sleeping patterns can exacerbate depression, anxiety, bowel problems and lowered immunity.
A busy mind is the enemy of sleep and disciplining wayward thoughts is easier said than done. This is where distraction comes to the fore. If you are rurally inclined, sheep counting is still in vogue. You can also try listening to a guided meditation CD or app in bed.
Our deepest sleep, in the early hours of the morning, is also when the body reaches its lowest temperature. Having a warm bath or shower before bed not only relaxes tense muscles, it heats the body. This results in our internal thermostat trying to lower our basal temperature and lulling the body into believing it should be deeply asleep.
You can also try belly breathing as it switches on the parasympathetic (or calming) nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. Place hands palms down on your lower belly.
Breathe in and out through your nose, counting slowly to three or four. Feel your stomach rise with the breath. Breathe out just as slowly, allowing the belly to drop.
Herbal remedies are good for sleep. Valerian, hops, passionflower, Californian poppy, or a combination of the above, are all effective. If you have difficulties getting to sleep, take one dose at dinner and another as you go to bed. If staying asleep is an issue, take a double dose at bedtime. Kava is another quick-acting herb. Keep a tablet by the bed and take it if you wake during the night.
Insomnia and restless sleep tends to be a pattern. Something might initiate this pattern, such as a newborn baby or a stressful job. However, even when these issues are resolved, poor sleep can continue. This is why, when you find the right remedy, keep taking (or doing) it, night after night.