How to get a good nights sleep

Sleep is often a much talked about subject when my clients first come to see me. If we are dropping off to sleep easily, staying asleep and waking refreshed then we don’t give it a second thought! However any disruption can cause havoc to our lives, throwing us off our day, affecting our mood, relationships, productivity, health and have us dreading bedtime for fear of laying awake frustrated. For some it can drive us into a slight obsession asking ‘why can’t I sleep?!’  ‘If I could just sleep then…’, ’how can I feel less tired?’ it becomes a real bugbear at minimum. With 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. reporting getting less than 7 hours sleep (the necessary amount of sleep for optimal health and wellbeing) and 48% of the UK adults stated that lack of proper sleep was affecting their mental health, then the issue is widespread. 

So what’s the big deal about sleep? 

With good quality sleep, we are better able to manage emotions and cope with stress, have increased energy, improved health and be clearer in our thinking. This certainly sounds a lot more attractive than the opposite…being over tired, which can come with a deregulation of our emotions so you might experience grouchiness, impatience, snappiness, a loss of energy and a lack of motivation or will to get things done. A bad nights sleep makes it harder to ‘sleep off’ the problems or emotions of the previous day, and if sleep issues are a regular thing then these problems can mount up and be more difficult to overcome. Quality of sleep is important to support healthy brain, hormone, nerve function, physical and emotional health in adults and children. During good quality sleep, the rest and repair function of our nervous system (the parasympathetic) becomes active, giving our mind and body a chance to switch off, relax and recuperate from our busy day, while our clever bodies are working to improve memory, restore the immune, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. So who wouldn’t want to get good quality zzzz in the sleep bank?!

What is good quality sleep? 

Falling asleep easily, not waking frequently, having enough time asleep and waking rested and refreshed the next morning. The hours of sleep required to be fully rested differs per person – adults typically need 6-9 but some function well on 4-5, whereas children and babies range from 9-20 hours. 

Why do we struggle with sleep? 

There can be several reasons contributing to a bad nights sleep and chronic poor sleep patterns such as Hormone imbalances or changes, stress, anxiety and mental disorders, medications, nutrient issues, gut flora, and a huge range of lifestyle choices. The great news is that there is something that you can do to impact each of these, as detailed below… 

Stress/emotions/mental health disorders

Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, loss of purpose, strong emotions, trauma, mood disorders, or other psychological illnesses can be getting in the way of you getting a good night sleep. Not only can these issues cause sleep problems but poor quality sleep can bring about or worsen some of these issues, e.g. 35% of individuals in the UK said lack of proper sleep made them anxious, and 4 in 10 adults said that poor sleep has made them feel more stressed. 43% of UK citizens stated that poor sleep made them irritable or angry. Even if we pride ourselves on being a good sleeper then we would have at some point experienced some sleepiness due to the mind racing with ideas, worry, anxiety, an upcoming event, stress whether day to day or for big life challenges, job stress, finances, health, family, relationships, children, school, policy changes, climate change etc! And the research says if we are experiencing more stress this equals less sleep, meaning our health and wellbeing takes a hit. When this becomes a pattern, it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful as we know all too well that it will effect the functioning of our daily lives, and can throw us completely off track until we sleep well again! Insomnia can make us feel trapped in the vicious cycle causing more stress and anxiety.  

Tip: As a start, having a relaxation routine before going to bed to unwind can help, for example Epsom salt baths for relaxation (and extra absorption of magnesium through the skin to help calm the nervous system!), using relaxing essential oils in your bath or diffuser (lavender, chamomile, Bergamot are great for sleep), using a pillow spray with lavender, sipping a night time decaffeinated herbal tea, guided meditation, yoga nidra sleep meditation, lighting a candle, reading, listening to relaxing music. For longer term impacts, learning to address emotional concerns and resolve struggles through Talk therapy, Journaling, Homeopathy, EFT, or any other therapy that helps you process your emotions or changes your perspective will help. Exercise and time in nature can reduce the impact that stress can have on us. How we cope and respond to our stressors and emotions is key and subtle changes in this can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Homeopathy and other natural health therapies can help hugely with symptoms of anxiety, fear, trauma, depression, please explore with a qualified professional to see if it can help you. *If you do suspect or have been diagnosed with a psychological illness then please seek help from a qualified health professional. 

Too many stimulants

Caffeine, alcohol, sugar recreational/prescription drugs etc. The liver is still working to detox these stimulants overnight so if its overworked then it can cause disturbances in sleep, also the stimulatory affect of some substances on our nervous system will stop us from reaching the land of nod. For example, Caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns by over activating our adrenals, giving us too much energy and keeping us up at night, the research shows that even at low levels Caffeine can have a stimulatory effect on the nervous system and can decrease melatonin production. Coffee isn’t the only culprit though, black tea and herbal teas can have small amounts of caffeine in, as well as chocolate! 

Tip: Limiting caffeine products and cutting off their consumption at midday will help clear enough caffeine from your system before bedtime. If you really can’t cut down on that coffee, supplementing with 100 mg of L-theanine can help counteract its stimulatory effects. Reducing or eliminating sugars and alcohol will stop the stimulatory effect and will be less burden on the liver to detoxify. You can also use Homeopathic remedy Coffea 30c, made from Coffee to counteract the stimulatory effects of Coffee and other stimulants to help you sleep. 

Light/darkness/noise/electronics

Increasing your amount of natural light in the morning sets off our circadian rhythm by showing us we should be alert and awake, and complete darkness at night lets us know we should be preparing for sleep – this has a great impact on sleep quality and emotional wellbeing as it allows our pineal gland to produce melatonin which is the sleep hormone to help us sleep. Use of Electronics and Artificial light too close to bedtime can disrupt the production of melatonin as the body see’s light and thinks it’s still daytime, and scrolling social media or binging out on Netflix can trigger the release of dopamine which promotes wakefulness! A noisy household or noisy neighbours can also affect us drifting off or staying asleep. 

Tip: Get outside in nature after you’ve woken up, it doesn’t need to be for long, listen to or feed the birds, have a hot drink outside or take a brisk walk around the block, the importance of this is to have natural light as close as possible to your waking time to send a signal to the brain that its wake time. In contrast, dim the lights 2 hours before going to bed to signify to the body that its night time and therefore to start producing melatonin ready to help you sleep. If the room you sleep in isn’t completely dark, wear an eye mask or invest in blackout blinds/curtains. Limiting screen time before bed or have a cut off time an hour or more before bedtime will help. If you do need to use your device, wear blue light blocking glasses and turn on the blue light settings on your device so the effect on your sleep quality is minimised. Wearing ear plugs can help drown out any unwanted noise in your surroundings. Homeopathy is very versatile and can help with stimulating melatonin production where the body has lost it’s way, these types of Endocrine specific prescriptions would need to be under the care of a qualified Practitioner. 

Late night eating

If the digestive system is too active when it’s tired and wants to rest then it won’t do its best work, and you will have too much going on in your system to doze off. Meals and snacks are best consumed in the day and early evening so your whole system can drift off to the land of nod at the appropriate time. 

Tip: If you do consume heavy dinners at night then you can help improve your digestion by taking a digestive enzyme like: https://therapyorganics.co.uk/shop/viridian/high-potency-digestive-aid-90-caps or take Homeopathic remedies to help with bloating, heartburn, acid, gas, flatulence such as Nux Vomica, Carbo Veg, Lycopodium, Arsenicum. For longer term digestive issues such as IBS not related to one off late meals, then please contact me to discover how Homeopathy can help.  

Exercising

It’s impossible to argue against the benefits of exercise! Physical exertion of any kind, a gentle walk, yoga, a rigourous gym session, (whatever feels good to you!) helps you have more restful sleep, reduce your response to stress which helps sleep, and can reduce time taken to get to sleep. However, exercising too late in the evening can raise your heart rate making it harder to switch off and sleep so ideally do your exercise a few hours or more before bedtime. 

Tip: If you are so tired that exercising feels counter intuitive, trust that benefits will be reaped from starting very slowly, for example walking up and down the stairs a few times more than usual each day, walking to the end of your road – gradually increasing these steps as you feel comfortable to do so, or doing a 5 minute body weight session in your kitchen – Dr Chatterjee has some great tips on this here: https://drchatterjee.com/5min-kitchen-workout/

Sleep schedule

Jet lag disruptions, shift work, waking up and going to bed at widely different times each day makes it hard for you to get into a natural sleep rhythm. 

Tip: Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day helps your body and mind recognise when the time to sleep is. If this is impossible then having a good routine before your bedtime e.g. darkening the room, turning off screens, relaxation practices will help get yourself into sleep mode regardless of the time of day. We have some great Homeopathic jet lag remedies that can help you bounce back after travel such as Cocculus, Arnica, Gelsemium, Kali-phos. 

Temperature

Being cold or overheating can cause you to wake up and can be due to room temperature/blankets or hormone fluctuations.  

Tip: Experimenting with the thermostat and blankets will help you find the right balance to sleep soundly through the night. Homeopathic remedies can help stimulate your body to regulate/balance hormones whether due to menopause or puberty and everything in between, or help balance your body to regulate temperature so excessive coldness or perspiration is a thing of the past. 

Mouth breathing

Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose can cause snoring, fatigue, asthma, oral dysbiosis, dry mouth, gingivitis, and cavities. Nose breathing filters out any dust or allergens to prevent them from entering your lungs, keeps moisture in your nostrils and mouth, and increases vasodilation and blood flow.  

Tip: Try Mouth taping to train yourself to breath through your nose.  https://dhrupurohit.com/try-this-mouth-taping-101/ for more information.

Liver

Your liver works hard at night processing all of the toxins you have been exposed to. Waking around 1am-3am is the time associated with the Liver in Chinese medicine and can give a clue that your liver needs extra support.

Tip: Doing a gentle Homeopathic liver cleanse to eliminate toxins and restore liver efficiency, and limiting alcohol, carbohydrates and sugar intake particularly late at night can all help the liver to do its job more effectively and therefore not wake you up in the process! More details on what is Homeopathy is here https://remedyhub.co/what-is-homeopathy/

Physical illness

Chronic pain, coughs, heart disease, Sleep apnea, GERD (heartburn), diabetes, restless leg syndrome, itching (eczema etc), UTI, liver dysfunction and many more can cause symptoms that effect you drifting off, staying asleep or having good quality sleep.

Tip: Homeopathy treatment can stimulate your body to correct symptoms, pain and illnesses that get in the way of sleep and daily life. And of course ensuring that you are getting quality tests to identify imbalances and disease with a qualified Health practitioner. 

Medications

A huge range of medications are implicated in poor quality of sleep e.g. Medicines for hormones, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, heart diseases, thyroid, bronchodilators, depression, corticosteroids, anticonvulsant. Even overuse of healthy supplements and herbs can disrupt sleeping patterns. 

Tip: Take a look at the potential side effects of all medications and supplements you take to see if they could be affecting you. You can work with a Homeopath or other Natural Health practitioner to help you manage symptoms and uproot dis-ease in the mind and body so there is less or no reliance on medications for your symptoms. *We don’t advocate stopping or reducing medication unless advised to do so by your Doctor.

Hormonal changes

Menopause, pregnancy, puberty and certain times of women’s monthly cycle may cause sleeplessness due to hormonal changes occurring, increase waking in the night due to hot sweats and needing to visit the toilet more frequently. As men age testosterone reduces which can result in more waking in the night for a wee. 

Tip: Improving relaxation practices, exercise and a range of lifestyle habits can positively affect our hormones. Homeopathy is excellent in helping the wide range of hormonal disruptions we can encounter for teenagers and adults, for both men and women. For example, here are just a few of our Homeopathic Menopause remedies that help to bring about balance in mood, physical symptoms and improve sleep; Lach, Puls, Sepia, Lilium Tig, Graphites, Cimicifuga, Sulph, Nat Mur, Staph, Ignatia. 

Nutrients/Gut

These can play a big part in sleep. Taking enough nutrients in via foods and high quality supplements is one factor, but actually absorbing them and your body putting them to good use is another factor. *Enquire about the Homeobotanical range that can improve the ability to absorb nutrients without having to take tablets or shakes How Homeobotanicals can impact your health. More below on some of the important factors in nutrients, hormones and gut to consider… 

Melatonin

The sleep hormone Melatonin plays a large factor in good quality sleep! The body needs to make its own melatonin as there are few food sources that are rich in it. There are a myriad of ways detailed on this page that can help you produce melatonin, and below is a more specific tip.

Tip: To make melatonin, we need a precursor to help, a building block of protein called Tryptophan which we can get via eating foods rich in this like turkey, nuts, dates, oats, sees, bananas, eggs, lentils and spirulina. We can also get it from supplementing with an activated form of Tryptophan called 5-HTP. 5-HTP is changed into Serotonin (known as the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness) which is then used by the pineal gland to produce melatonin! And hey presto, we have sleep hormones allowing us to sleep. Start with 50-100 mg daily and increase to 100-200 mg over 2-weeks. If you are taking SSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors used in anti-depressants). then avoid 5-HTP because it can cause insomnia. As always it’s best to work with a Health Practitioner. 

Magnesium

Magnesium helps us relax and calms our nervous system thus supporting sleep! Unfortunately so many of us have low levels of Magnesium (which is linked to Insomnia) as it’s easily depleted by many of the things that our modern day life style is full off e.g. Stress, Tea, coffee, alcohol, smoking, sugar all zap our magnesium reserves. Magnesium can regulate the sleep hormone Melatonin, and increases GABA (a neurotransmitter) which encourages relaxation as well as sleep, therefore low levels of either of these make it difficult to relax.

Tips: Homeopathic remedy Magnesium-mur can be useful for people who experience anxiety, colic/digestive issues and feel unrefreshed when waking. Look into improving your magnesium intake via a good quality magnesium supplement, eating more dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils. and as Magnesium is most efficiently absorbed through the skin then taking Epsom salt baths and having magnesium body spray/cream like the Better You Magnesium spray will help increase your levels. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is required at adequate levels as its involved in the pathways of production of Melatonin. Feeling tired in the day has a strong correlation to deficiency of the ‘sun vitamin’. 

Tip: It’s not so easy to find sun in the winter months in the northern hemisphere but it easy to supplement with vitamin D and you can also eat more D via swordfish, salmon, tuna, and fortified dairy products. 

A healthy gut microbiome

A healthy microbiome means that we can better absorb our nutrients from our food, here we are particularly interested in Magnesium and B vitamins that can help us get a restful sleep. Also, with a healthy microbiome the tryptophan from our diet can be better converted into serotonin which then helps produce melatonin. Digestive upsets, poor nutrient uptake or leaky gut can contribute to disrupted sleep patterns. 

Tip: Homeopathic drainage, detox and gut support can help leaky gut, digestive issues and eliminate toxins in the cells meaning they can perform more efficiently and absorb more nutrients. This doesn’t mean restricted eating or deprivation! Increasing fibre such as psyllium husk, taking a good probiotic and feeding and nourishing the good bacteria with sauerkraut (or other fermented foods), and starving the bad bacteria by avoiding sugar, alcohol, and focusing on fresh nutrient rich foods can support digestive health and therefore aid sleep.

B vitamins

B vitamins supports melatonin production (the sleep hormone!) and helps with stress management by supporting the adrenals, and coping with stress better often means better sleep. B6 particularly plays an integral role in the synthesis of Trytophan, which then goes on to help produce Serotonin that leads to producing melatonin, our sleep hormone! 

Tip:Good quality wholegrains, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products can all contain B vitamins. Supplementation can be a great way to ensure adequate B levels. 

Potassium (called Kali in Homeopathy)

Potassium can be useful for people who suffer from not being able to stay asleep once sleeping. 

Tip; Good food sources are beans, leafy greens, avocados, baked potatoes, and bananas. Kali-phos is a great Homeopathic remedy made from potassium and phosphorus, it’s for waking in the night with overactive thoughts yet being physically exhausted. In a low potency 6x tissue salt this can help support sleep. 

Some remedies to help sleep

If you would like to help yourself at home you can try one of the below remedies, take 1 pill before bed and then another pill in the night if when you wake;

*Kali-Phos 30c – tired but wired, exhausted physically/mentally but cannot sleep or wakes in the night and not able to go back to sleep. Headaches through tiredness. 

*Nux Vom 30c – Sleeplessness from over-working, studying, and over indulgence…this is a great remedy to support the liver processes! May wake at 3am-4am. 

*Coffea Cruda 30c – Insomnia from restless anxiety, too many thoughts whizzing around, the mind won’t switch off. 

*Ignatia 30c – Sleep issues from emotional upset – grief, worry, shock. Disturbing dreams, jerks or twitches during sleep. 

“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” — E. Joseph Cossman, Entrepreneur and Author

Hopefully the above guidance has highlighted the profound affect that sleep has on our ability to function optimally and that there are so many things that can get in the way of good sleep. With increasing environment and other stressors to contend with these days, getting good quality sleep has never been more important. Taking the first steps to make lifestyle changes is often the most challenging, but once the initial change is made then things tend to become easier, especially as you reap the benefits of better sleep. If making a change seems overwhelming then start by picking one tip in the above to focus on and as that gets established in your routine then gradually add in the other tips. Or if you are frustrated with sleep problems and would like some guidance along the way then please seek help and support from a professional.

There are thousands of Homeopathic remedies that can help with a range of symptoms and individualised treatment will help find the one that is right for you to address your struggles. If you would like to discuss if and how Homeopathy can help you then please contact me for a free 15 minute Discovery call https://theremedyhub.com/discovery-call/. For more information on Consultations please see here https://remedyhub.co/consultations/.

Wishing you lots of deep sleeps and boundless energy at the appropriate time!

Cheryl x