Whether you struggle with sleep, fatigue or anxiety yourself, know someone who does or simply are interested to learn more about the benefits of a variety of medicinal plants, herbs and spices I can’t recommend the courses enough.
Sleep is an essential part of being healthy and directly affects how well we’re able to learn, grow and behave in life. While we’re asleep, our bodies have that all important time to repair the DNA damage to body cells during the day. This helps us feel well, improve our resilience to disease and maintain an even weight.
Sleeping difficulties, headaches, anxiety and fatigue have many causes. The main systems involved are the brain, spinal cord and nerves (nervous system), the adrenal glands (small hormonal glands above each kidney) and the digestive system (abundant in nerve cells). They are all interconnected, so a change in one system can affect the others.
In the short term, our bodies respond to stimuli, adapt and then return to normal. However, if the stressor is relentless, the harmonious rhythms within our body go into overdrive until it becomes exhausted of energy to adapt and repair. Understanding these rhythms can help us notice when the body needs support. Stress may manifest itself differently in each of us, but the basics of self-care are similar in each case.
If you struggle with sleep, anxiety or fatigue take some time to be mindful of your body and consider what might be the cause. I’ve listed below some general self-care actions:
Raise your heartbeat
Aim for 30 minutes a day of movement eg. fast walking if possible
Avoid excess alcohol before sleep
Alcohol is a depressant, it reduces tryptophan and serotonin. Excess caffeine may also reduce tryptophan and causes a blood sugar spike (even if you don’t add sugar to your coffee).
Respect your hormonal rhythm
The ‘stress’ hormone cortisol rises with light to wake and alert us, then falls with the dark as melatonin rises to induce sleep. Respecting this hormonal rhythm helps our bodies build resilient health and benefit from the deep repair sleep before 2am.
Have a foot bath
A foot bath before bed boosts circulation and lymph flow to relax and invigorate in fatigue, tension and headaches. You can do this by making a strong herbal tea in a bowl big enough for your feet. Check it won’t burn you and then soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. The heat will open the blood vessels to draw blood to your feet and congestion away from your head. Dry your feet and finish by putting a pair of socks on.
Make a hot chocolate
If you struggle with waking up through the night try making a hot chocolate before bed. The milk is warming and helps to keep glucose levels balanced through the night to help keep us asleep.
Use a sleep pillow
A sleep pillow is a simple, cheap and effective way to help sleep. You can use a mixture of dried herbs (hop, chamomile, rose and lavender) and put them inside a clean sock, tie up the opening and place under your pillow. Alternatively, one drop of essential lavender oil on either side of your pillow.