"Do you have anything that can help me sleep?", - this is one of the most popular questions from my customers and friends.
Truth is I have never paid much thought to the sleep subject, because I have never had problem falling asleep, or staying asleep, until I had a baby. First two weeks since the birth of my baby boy I though: "Well it is not going that bad, what were they on about?",- until sleepless nights caught up with me. And for the next 6 months it was mostly survival mode: it was like living in a fog and not being very capable of doing simplest tasks (and yes I had lots of help from my partner and family).
Since then I started to appreciate how important sleep is. But did you know that two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep, not counting those who struggle with sleep disorders? The consequences of routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer and determining whether you will develop Alzheimer's disease. After reading astonishing book by Matthew Walker "Why We Sleep" I have learned that sleeping pills do not work and do more harm than good. So where am I going with all that?
Firstly I highly recommend reading this book (it's seriously compelling), and secondly I want to share with you 12 tips for healthy sleep from this book:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule - create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, including the weekends (its important).
2. Do not exercise too late in the day: 2-3h before bed.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed: it may relax you but alcohol will rob you of REM sleep, keeping you in lighter stages of sleep.
5. Avoid large meals late at night.
6. If possible avoid medicines that delay or disturb your sleep.
7. Do not take naps after 3 pm, will make it harder to fall asleep at night.
8. Relax before bed. Read instead of TV, or listen to relaxing music. Drink a cup of herbal tea. Look for teas that have lavender, chamomile, hops, valerian.
9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax. Additionally you can massage lavender oil onto your body and face after the bath - lavender is a known soothing herbal remedy.
10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom is a key to a good night sleep.
11. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 mins each day, it will help regulating sleep patterns.
12. Do not lie in the bed awake. If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 mins, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
You can also try natural remedies
a. 4h before bedtime take valerian-skullcap tincture, 1/4 teaspoon every hour and take a calcium-magnesium supplement.
b. Right before bedtime drink a cup of milk (or almond, soy, rice milk, etc) with honey (or substitution) and cinnamon; or a herbal tea from herbs listed below.
Herbs that enhance sleep: hops, passion flower, skullcap, valerian, chamomile, lavender, oats.