Friday

Herbs That Help You Sleep

Watching the clock
Don't underestimate the value of a good night's sleep. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has just released a pretty alarming article that suggests that over a third of adults get less sleep than they should. Lack of sleep makes people . . . well, stupid. It affects cognitive skills and physical response times. If you don't want to go through life groggy, slow witted and stumble-footed, there are some herbs and common foods that can help.

Develop Good Sleep Habits

Before we get into the list of aids that can help you get some shut eye, let's inject some mood music -- well mood silence, actually, into the proceedings. You're more likely to drift off and stay asleep if you cultivate these habits:
  • Quit eating a few hours before bedtime.
  • Exercise a few hours before bedtime.
  • Restrict your caffeine intake to before noon.
  • Prepare for bed with a relaxing ritual. This can be a few minutes of reading or listening to music. You can also take a relaxing bath.
  • Turn off the electronics and sleep in a darkened, quiet room. It may take some getting used to, but the dark and quiet encourages sleep -- really.

Snack on Sleep Inducing Foods

If you've tried the measures above, snack on one of these common foods a few hours before bed:

  • Bananas - They contain magnesium and potassium that will relax your tight muscles.
  • Cherries or cherry juice - A melatonin booster that will help you drift off, cherries are a sweet treat too.
  • Milk or other dairy - The calcium will help you sleep. I always keep a stock of low fat yogurt in the fridge.
  • Almonds - Another source of magnesium and high in protein, almonds will help you sleep and can help reduce your cholesterol level. A small handful should do it.
Rely on Herbs That Help You Sleep

Herbs contain powerful chemical compounds that can work wonders, including helping you to get a good night's sleep. The herbs below can be added to your evening meal, sipped as a tea or sometimes added to a relaxing evening bath. Some sleep inducing herb scents like lavender are available in aromatherapy candles too (or you could always make your own). Aromatherapy isn't just hype. It's an effective way to use an aerosol delivery system to introduce herbal preparations into your body.

These herbs can be used alone or in combination to encourage sleep. Experiment a little. It may make take a few tries to find an herb that tastes good, smells pleasant and has a sedative effect on your system. Everyone is different.

Lavender - Multiple

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Chamomile -- German (Matricaria recutita)

Special Note: Sleeplessness can be a symptom of a larger problem, so visit doctor for help if your trouble sleeping persists longer than a few days. Make him aware of any over the counter drugs or herbal preparations you plan to take, or are taking, to treat sleeplessness.

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References:

CBS News. "Sleep Loss Gets Scary in CDC Report." 3/4/11. (3/4/11).
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/04/earlyshow/health/main20039275.shtml

CDC. "Sleep and Sleep Disorders." (3/4/11).
http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/

Cooper, Deborah. "Herbs to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep." 9/10/2000. (3/4/11)
http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=7711

Jio, Sarah. "10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep." 12/16/10 (3/4/11)http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Health/10-Foods-That-Can-Help-You-Sleep.html

The information provided here is intended for entertainment purpose only.

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