Your Plan Of Action – The Natural Approach
- Make changes to your diet to help you sleep better
- Have a good sleep routine so that your body knows you are winding down at the end of the day.
- Take specific nutrients and herbs that improve the quality and quantity
Best Test Option: Adrenal Stress Test
Why You Sleep?
As a society we are sleeping less; the time we sleep each night has reduced from 9 hours to 7.5 hours since the 1900s. Sleep is important for your health because it gives your body time to recharge its batteries and repair cells and tissue.
1 in 3 people are affected by insomnia which can include finding it hard to get to sleep and waking up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Nowadays is almost seen as a luxury because it means you can pack more into the day if you sleep less.
This might seem logical because you will have more hours awake but by depriving yourself of sleep you may find that you are not as productive the next day and that lack of sleep will have long term consequences on your health.
What Symptoms Could You Experience?
When you don’t get enough or good quality sleep you can feel irritable, with poor concentration and, of course, feeling tired.
Research has now shown how important it is not only to how well you feel the next day in terms of mood and energy but we now know that not having enough increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Can Nutrition Help Your Sleep?
Nutrition can have a big impact on how well you sleep, both in terms of being able to get off to sleep easily, staying asleep and having a good quantity as well as quality,
Anything that has a stimulant effect can keep you awake including caffeine and chocolate (especially dark chocolate) and of course the closer to bedtime, the worse the effect. For some of you, it may be better not to have any caffeine after midday as some people are very sensitive to it causing problems.
Alcohol can also change your sleep pattern as you don’t get such deep sleep and can wake easily and also it acts as a diuretic so you will need to get up to pass urine.
There are some very good traditional herbs that have been used for centuries to help. These include valerian, chamomile, hops, lemon balm and passionflower. Valerian has been shown to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 15-20 minutes and improve quality. Chamomile has calming effects which decrease anxiety and help initiate sleep.
Lemon balm has been used with volunteers who are stressed, have anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. It not only helped them sleep better but also reduced anxiety. Passionflower is helpful and when combined with valerian and hops was as effective as a mediation for insomnia at improving quality.
The amino acid l-theanine is really helpful if you feel ‘tired but wired’ where you are exhausted but as soon as your head hits the pillow your brain is very active and doesn’t allow you to fall asleep. There has also been good research on tart cherries which has shown that these have helped people with insomnia increase sleep time by up to 84 minutes.
Test Options For Sleep Problems
The Adrenal Stress Test is the best test to see why you may not be sleeping well.
This test checks your levels of cortisol using saliva. Cortisol fluctuates during the day, ideally being highest in the morning, as you start the day and lowest at night when you are ready to wind down and go to bed. It is most useful to look at this pattern of cortisol over a day and see whether it stays within the normal range throughout the whole day and especially whether it reduces towards the end of the day when your body should be preparing for you to go to bed.
The Melatonin Test can also be added to the Adrenal Stress test to give a more comprehensive picture of the daily circadian rhythm.
Where to Start?
Make sure you are eating well to support your symptoms. If you would like personalised advice on what to do next then request a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists.