A sleep disorder can take the form of repeated waking throughout the night; waking in the night and having difficulty getting back to sleep; or finding it difficult to drop off to sleep at the beginning of the night. Quality sleep is vital for physical and mental health, and insufficient quantity and/or quality of sleep leads to irritability and tiredness, and lack of concentration the next day.
Recommended nutrients and herbs:
• 5HTP increases melatonin levels in the body, which regulates our sleep-wake cycles. If you are a very light sleeper and wake during the night, finding it difficult to fall back asleep, melatonin levels are most likely deficient. Cherry Juice is another great source of melatonin, and is also high in anti-oxidants.
• Magnesium is useful if you have trouble getting to sleep at night, as it relaxes the nervous system, and eases any muscle tension.
• Herbs such as valerian, chamomile, tulsi, and passionflower help to calm and relax and induce sleep. They can be taken in liquid or tablet form, or drank as teas before bedtime to get you into a calm space.
Other tips and ideas:
• Avoid television or computer screens for at least a couple of hours before bedtime as bright lights such as these tell the pineal gland in the brain that it is daytime, and so reduces the amount of melatonin that it secretes.
• Exposure to sunlight during day time helps to increase melatonin levels for night time. Leave your sunglasses off, and go for a stroll during your lunch break at work.
• Daily exercise is recommended in order to get a good nights sleep, however strenuous exercise is not advised within three hours of going to bed, as it increases cortisol levels in the body which is stimulating.
• Eat foods which are rich in Tryptophan, such as turkey, cottage cheese, and bananas for increased serotonin levels which helps to induce sleep.