Difficulty dropping off or staying asleep is one of the most commonly reported health problems in the UK, and cases have increased due to the stresses of the past 12 months. Many patients resort to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping tablets to solve the matter, but these can lead to addiction, and produce very poor quality sleep.
There are some basic steps that can be taken to improve sleep before resorting to medication, which should in any case only be temporary. Following a regular exercise routine, and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, can help. Ensuring the bedroom is dark, silent, and of an ambient temperature is also important.
However, these techniques don’t work for everybody. That is why some people use natural products to help them sleep, as they are non-addictive and have few side effects. Here are a few you might be interested in trying.
Camomile is a herb with long-established calming and soothing properties. It has additional suggested benefits, such as aiding digestion, relaxing muscles, and healing the skin. It can be taken in capsule form, or used in dried form to make tea. Diluted camomile oil can also be applied directly to the skin.
Valerian is a traditional herbal medicine made from the plant root. It may be useful as a sedative and improving sleep quality. It has been known to interact with other medications, so seek medical advice if you take any. It can be drunk as a tea, or in capsule form. It may also help with headaches, joint pain, anxiety and depression.
Passionflower contains chemicals which have been noted to induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. It is often combined with other plants in blended products. It can be added to a hot drink at bedtime, or taken in capsule form. Other possible benefits of passionflower include easing of inflammation and pain, and reduction of anxiety levels.
Ginseng has been used for centuries by herbal medicine practitioners, and among its many reported benefits are the promotion of sleep and stress reduction. It is available in powdered form, and can be added to water, juice, or smoothies. It is also believed to boost energy and male libido, so bear this in mind before taking it!
Lavender has a naturally pleasant fragrance which means it is widely used in cosmetics and air fresheners. It is also thought to have health and wellbeing properties, and promotes a sense of calm. It can be taken in a variety of ways. Some people prefer to simply rub a few drops of lavender oil on their pillow, or add them to a diffuser placed near the bed.
Lavender oil can also be diluted and rubbed directly onto the skin, or used in dried form to make tea. Other beneficial side effects which the use of lavender may produce include pain relief, the alleviation of respiratory problems, the treatment of dandruff, and improved blood circulation.
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