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Better Night's Sleep... a few good tips!
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG) & Kimberly Balas, ND

The causes of insomnia vary from person to person, so you may need to experiment a little to determine what will help you get the sleep you need. To get you started, here are a dozen tips for getting a better night's sleep. Pick one or two to work on at a time and see if they make a positive difference in your sleep patterns.

Sleep Tip #1 : Schedule Sleep
Your body has an internal "clock" that helps engage periods if sleep and wakefulness. If you can get on a schedule that allows you to get to bed at roughly the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, it will ease both falling asleep and waking up. When your sleep schedule is thrown off (such as during international travel), you can help to "reset" this biological clock by taking Melatonin Extra at bedtime to help you get a new sleeping rhythm.

Sleep Tip #2: Get to Bed Early
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that certain meridians (or energy flows) are active at certain times of the day. According to this theory, the gall bladder and liver meridians are active from around 11 PM to 1 AM and 1 AM to 3 AM respectively. This is the peak time for your body to detoxify if you are asleep by 11 PM. If you are not asleep when the gallbladder meridian becomes active, you may get a surge of nervous energy that inhibits sleep. This will be followed by feeling sluggish and tired the next morning.

Generally speaking, If you can get to bed by about 10:30 you will sleep more soundly and wake up more refreshed. If you regularly stay up late and have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, consider taking Liver Balance or Blood Stimulator to support the health of your liver.

Sleep Tip #3: Avoid Late Night Stimulation
In the evening, avoid activities that get your adrenaline pumping. This includes watching exciting TV or movies, video games, listening to loud stimulating music or even reading thrilling novels. It is also not a good idea to exercise before bedtime. Instead, pick evening activities that help you wind down, such as listening to relaxing music, reading uplifting books or sharing a massage with your partner.

Sleep Tip #4: Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
Seek to make your bedroom a place that is conducive to rest, not work or recreation. Remove TVs, computers, cell phones and other distractions from your sleep area and keep your bedroom uncluttered. Most importantly. don't work or keep work materials in your sleep area. Also, keep electrical equipment, including digital clocks at least three feet away from your bed to minimize electromagnetic influences while you sleep.

If you have a hard time relaxing at night, try taking some nervine herbs in the evening. A good choice is Herbal Sleep which contains three soporific (sleep-inducing) herbs: hops, valerian and passion flower. Try taking avo to four capsules about one hour before bed.
Another relaxing remedy is kava kava. If you have a lot of muscle tension, this is a good remedy to help your muscles to relax so you get a better night's sleep. Take one to two capsules about one hour prior to bed, either by itself or with the Herbal Sleep suggested above.

For people who tend to drink in the evening, kava kava is an excellent alternative to alcohol. It has a similar relaxing effect to alcohol, but doesn't act as a diuretic, which can make you wake up at night needing to urinate. You also don't risk destroying your brain cells or numbing your thought processes.

Sleep Tip #5: Don't Eat Late
It is hard for your body to fall asleep when it is digesting a heavy meal, so try to eat dinner at least two hours and preferably four hours before bedtime. Do not eat sugary snacks before sleeping as this creates blood sugar problems that can wake you up at night. Also, avoid all stimulants, including spicy foods in the evening. They interfere with quality of sleep. It is okay to eat a small snack of nut butter, cheese or some other high protein food before bed if you suffer from hypoglycemia (See tip #10 below).

Sleep Tip #6: Make Your Sleep Area Dark
The natural way to fall asleep is for your body to convert a neurotransmitter called serotonin into melatonin. Melatonin puts you to sleep. Your pineal gland starts converting melatonin to serotonin when it gets dark. Even a 100 watt light bulb will inhibit this process and help contribute to keeping you awake.

Unfortunately, with the advent of electric lights, we extend our "day" into the evening hours. This prevents us from falling asleep naturally. Watching TV, staring at a computer screen and playing video games all artificial light all inhibit sleep. So, make your bedroom as dark as possible and as the time for sleep approaches, turn off the TV and computer and get into a darkened room. You may even want to try wearing a sleep mask.

If darkening the room doesn't work, try taking 5-HTP Power about one hour before bedtime. 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, which will increase the production of melatonin when you turn out all the lights and make your bedroom as dark as possible.

Sleep Tip #7: Breathe Deeply
Oxygen is very important to sound sleep. Many people find that cracking a window open to let in a little fresh air results in a better night's sleep. Of course, this isn't going to work if you live in an area with heavy air pollution. In that case, you may need some kind of air filtration or purification system.

If you snore at night, it a sign that you have constricted airways that are inhibiting the amount of oxygen you are getting while you are sleeping. So, not only does snoring contribute to insomnia in anyone who sleeps with you, it also interferes with the quality of your own sleep.

If you snore really loudly, you may have a problem with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the throat closes down completely making it impossible to breathe while sleeping. This starves your tissues for oxygen, which can cause you to wake up after about a minute of not breathing, shift positions and go back to sleep. The problem is that you are not aware that you are waking up numerous times a night starved for oxygen.

Sleep apnea doesn't just interfere with your sleep; it is dangerous. Not only does it stress your heart and increase your risk of heart disease, you risk dying in your sleep from oxygen starvation. If you snore very loudly, get checked for sleep apnea. If you do have sleep apnea, medical help may be necessary to ensure you get enough oxygen for a sound night's sleep. To protect your heart, trying taking one Co-Q10 and four hawthorn capsules at bedtime.

Factors that can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea include excess weight, swollen lymph nodes, sinus congestion or any inflammation of the mucus membranes. SnorEase or Seasonal Defense may help shrink swelling of inflamed mucus membranes, reduce sinus congestion and swollen lymph nodes and otherwise help to open respiratory passages. Food and respiratory allergies may be a factor, so screen yourself for allergy-causing foods. High doses of Citrus Biofalvonoids With Vitamin C (2,000-3,000 milligrams per day) can help to counteract histamine reactions if allergies are a factor. Weight loss and colon cleansing are also helpful.

Sleep Tip #8: Quiet Your Mind
If you are one of those people who lie awake at night unable to get your mind to "shut-up" so you can go to sleep, here are some suggestions for quieting your mind for a better night's sleep. First, before going to bed, get a pad of paper and write down your to-do list for the next day. This helps you "get it off your mind" so you can relax. It may also help to have a journal that you write in each evening, allowing you to express things on paper so you can let go of them.

A second technique to quiet your mind is to breathe deeply as you lie in bed and focus on relaxing your body. Starting with your toes and working your way up to your head, tense your muscles and then let them relax. Imagine them sinking into the bed. Focus your mind on your breathing or mentally reciting a positive statement such as "l am relaxed" or "All is well."

If you are still having trouble getting your mind to quiet down, GABA Plus or Passion flower may be helpful. Take these supplements about one hour before bedtime. If you are easily distracted by small things (such as a dripping faucet or other small noises), try taking wo capsules of Magnesium Complex, emptying the contents under your tongue about one hour before bedtime. Let the magnesium sit in your mouth for ten to fifteen seconds before washing it down with some water.

Sleep Tip #9: Reduce Your Stress Level
Since stress is a major factor in sleep problems, reducing your stress level during the day can help you sleep better at night. If you are tired during the day, but have poor quality of sleep at night, you may be suffering from adrenal exhaustion. Symptoms of tired adrenals include fatigue, mental confusion and emotional sensitivity during the day, followed by restless sleep with disturbing dreams. You may also need to wake up frequently to urinate.

One of the best remedies for is Nervous Fatigue Formula. Taking four capsules of the regular Nervous Fatigue Formula or one capsule of the concentrated formula two to three times per day (including at bedtime) will often have people sleeping more soundly within three to four nights.

For more serious adrenal exhaustion, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Adrenal Support may be helpful. A typical dose is one capsule two to three times daily, including one at bedtime.

In addition, it is very important for people suffering from too much stress to avoid sugar and caffeine as these make the problem worse. You may need to reduce your workload, or at least make more time for R&R (rest and relaxation).

A good therapy for people who are under a lot of stress is an Epsom salt bath. In the evening, draw a warm bath and add two cups of Epsom salt and 10-20 drops of your favorite relaxing essential oils. Lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang and patchouli are good options. Light a few candles, put on some relaxing music and turn out the lights, then soak in the warm bath for 15-20 minutes. This can really reduce nervous stress and prepare you for a better night's sleep.

Sleep Tip #10: Balance Your Blood Sugar
If you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your problems and unable to get back to sleep, this can be a sign of blood sugar problems. What is happening is that your blood sugar is dropping too low in the middle of the night and your adrenal glands are firing off stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to elevate your blood sugar. Avoiding sugar, white flour products, alcohol and caffeine will help. Take two Licorice root and two Super Algae with breakfast and lunch to stabilize your blood Sugar. Also eat a small protein-rich snack at bedtime, such as a couple of tablespoons of almond butter, peanut butter or cottage cheese or a few raw walnuts.

By theway, bed-wetting in children can often be a sign of blood sugar problems or dehydration. If you have a child with bedl-wetting problems, try keeping your child away from refined carbohydrates and giving him/her licorice root to stabilize his/her blood sugar levels. Magnesium Complex and cornsilk may also be helpful for bed-wetting.

Sleep Tip #11 : Stay Hydrated
Not drinking enough water can make you feel anxious and tense. Proper hydration calms the brain and promotes better sleep.
Try drinking at least 1/2 ounce of pure water per pound of body weight per day. In other words, two quarts (64 ounces) is the right amount of water for a 128 pound person.

If you have a problem with waking up to urinate, drink more water during the day, but not a lot of water in the evening. You may also need to take something to strengthen your kidneys, such as KB-C or work on your adrenals and blood sugar.

Sleep Tip #12: Be Physically Active
A sedentary lifestyle will also cause problems with sleep. We need physical activity and rest, so if you work at a desk job and then watch TV when you get home, you may need to become physically active in order to sleep better. Take a walk, dance, swim, ride a bike, lift weights or otherwise engage your muscles 15-20 minutes per day to improve your sleep.

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Disclaimer: We do not directly dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of herbs or supplements as a form of treatment for illness. The information found on this Web Site is for educational purposes only and to empower people with knowledge to take care of their own health. We disclaim any liability if the reader uses or prescribes any remedies, natural or otherwise, for him/herself or another. Always consult a licensed health professional should a need be indicated.