by Dee Atkinson, Medical Herbalist, MNIMH 20 Dec 2009
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to sleep at night. Most people will have periods in their life when they find sleep difficult, but for others it can turn into a long and stressful nightly battle.
I want to share with you some of my top recommendations for helping break that cycle. Before you start taking remedies for sleep problems I always recommend a few simple, practical steps to check off your list.
It is important to make sure that your bedroom is not too warm at night. Getting too hot in bed may be causing you to wake up in the night. Try turning off the radiators in the bedroom. In the summer months lighter mornings trigger early wakening and it is important to make sure your bedroom is dark enough. Try a black out blind and heavy curtains, or if this is not possible use an eye mask.
If you find that all of this fails and you are still waking early then I recommend taking a nightly dose of passiflora capsules for five consecutive nights to try and re-establish your sleep pattern. The common name passionflower comes from the supposed resemblance in the centre of the blossoms to the Crown of Thorns. As with many plants passionflower has been used medicinally for centuries.
Passionflower is considered to be mildly sedative, helping the body to relax. When people are stressed and tense, they often hold the tension in their shoulders, resulting in neck and shoulder pains, and here passionflower can really help out. I also recommend it to help manage restless leg syndrome.
In my practice I use it wherever there is stress and anxiety. Some problems such as menopause always have an element of stress involved, and menopause patients respond well to passionflower.
Passionflower is the main ingredient of my Passionflower and Chamomile capsules which is our sleep mix formulation.
We also use combinations of Valerian, Passionflower, Chamomile and Hops in liquid form to help with sleep.
I find chamomile also works effectively as a bedtime tea for sleep. a cup of chamomile tea will help promote relaxation and help with sleep that night.
I also recommend using a lavender pillow inside your pillowcase; the lovely, calming scent of lavender has a direct effect on your nervous system, aiding relaxation.