Do you have difficulty sleeping?

Difficulty falling asleep or waking early are extremely common complaints.  There are many causes of insomnia which include anxiety or tension, emotional upset, change in environment, fear of insomnia, sleep phobia, pain, caffeine, alcohol, drug use (recreational, prescription and nonprescription), depression, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and low blood sugar.  Agents known to interfere with sleep include thyroid preparations, oral contraceptives, beta-blockers, marijuana, alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate.
Getting enough sleep is important because growth hormone (the anabolic anti-ageing hormone), is secreted during sleep.  Growth hormone stimulates tissue regeneration, liver regeneration, muscle building, breakdown of fat stores, normalising blood sugar regulation and helps convert fat to muscle.  Free radicals are removed during sleep so sleep is also required to minimise neuronal damage from the free radicals accumulated during waking.  It is known that chronic sleep deprivation accelerates brain ageing.  In a 24-hour cycle, babies need 14 hours of sleep, a 5 year old requires 12 hours and adults 7-9 hours.
If you have difficulty sleeping eliminate stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate and alcohol, and check any medications that may disrupt normal sleep patterns.  Be sure you’re getting enough exercise; 20 minutes daily of moderate intensity aerobic exercise taken in the morning or early evening improves sleep quality.
If this doesn’t improve sleep, passion flower and valerian both have sedative properties without causing morning sleepiness, diminishing concentration or affecting physical performance.  Once a normal sleep pattern is established these botanicals should be decreased slowly.
If you would like to learn more or get help with your difficulty sleeping, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Written by

Claudia Williamson Registered Nutritional Therapist DipION, FdSc, mBANT, mCHNC Tunbridge Wells, Kent