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Wellbeing Features

Beat insomnia the natural way

There's nothing worse than laying in bed tossing and turning, consistently clock watching and worrying about the tasks ahead the next day.

The effects of poor sleep can be massive, from grouchiness to depression.

Indeed, according to Dr Dan Robotham, senior research officer at the Mental Health Foundation, "sleep is as essential to our health as eating, drinking and breathing.

"Far from being a minor concern, poor sleep can have a major impact on our mental wellbeing and day-to-day lives, with sleep playing a vital role in our relationships, our mood and our ability to concentrate," he noted.

There are natural things that individuals can try in order to give themselves the best chance of a good night's sleep.

Get a routine

If you're struggling to sleep, having a nightly routine can help you drift of.

For some people, simply having a hot drink before bed or going to sleep in a cold room can be beneficial, whereas others prefer to read for a while before bed.

It's important to switch off any electrical equipment about half an hour before you aim to sleep.

"Keep the bedroom warm but not hot, go to bed at the same time every night, don’t eat, drink alcohol or smoke for at least four hours before bed, use the bedroom for sleep and sex only – no TVs, radio or any other distractions," Mrs Marianne J Davey, director of the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association explained.

Obvious factors like light and noise should not be ignored.

"If your room is too bright when you go to bed then try using an eye mask, and if you are exposed to excess noise, such as your neighbour’s loud music or traffic outside your bedroom window, then try out ear plugs," Dr Robotham explained.

In addition, Dr Robotham has advised that individuals do not toss and turn. Instead, if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep, try getting up for a while until you feel sleepier, rather than lying in bed and worrying about the fact you aren’t managing to sleep.

Exercise

Getting enough exercise tires out your body, meaning that you can easily switch off your mind and body when you want to get to sleep.

In addition, exercise can help reduce stress - one of the triggers that keeps people awake at night.

"You should try not to exercise too late in the evening as the adrenaline that your body produces when you exercise can make it more difficult to get to sleep," Dr Robotham advised.

Diet

Research has shown that overweight or obese individuals have more difficulty getting to sleep.

According to Mrs Davey, a diet rich in vegetables in fruit is beneficial to a good nights sleep.

"The Mediterranean diet clearly shows that they eat far less red meat and refined cereals - which are high in fat content - but eat more in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables," she explained.

In addition, try to limit your intake of caffeine late in the day and don't eat large meals late in the evening as your body spends a lot of time digesting food before you can sleep.

Natural alternatives

Some natural alternatives have been known to work for certain individuals, such as valerian herb, California poppy tincture and passion flower.

Valerian herb is for those who find it difficult to get to sleep because of anxiety.

Passion flower, or passiflora, is also used as an anxiety relief.

The herb comes in tablet form, or can be stirred into hot water.

The Californian poppy is best known as a mild sedative for children experiencing over-excitability and sleeplessness as it acts as a natural hypnotic to prepare you for a peaceful sleep.

 
 
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