Old remedies for sleep issues

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Long before there were prescriptions and pharmacies there were mothers and grannies who had in their kitchens all sorts of traditional sleep remedies passed down through the ages. Some were herbs, others roots or foods known for their calming effects. Today we ignore these 'old wives tales' and opt rather to buy strong prescription drugs. Some of these remedies may not be as convenient as popping a pill but the results are often worth the labour. Good sleep with very few side effects? Here they are!

1. Drink a glass of warm milk before bed - This remedy is said to promote sleep as it works on multiple levels. Firstly, milk is rich in minerals such as calcium, phophorus, potassium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium are renowned to help with falling and staying asleep. Secondly, milk contains trytophan (a pre-cursor to the production of seretonin) that is necessary for quality sleep. Lastly, milk is rich in carbohydrates which are also known to trigger drowsiness. Add a spoon of honey for extra sleep power.

2. Take a warm bath and jump into bed- This works well as the warmth works to ease joint pain and relax tense muscles. Lying down in the bath slows respiration as well as opening any congested airways. Use soft candle light to trigger melatonin release and drowsiness. Add some bath salts or bath crystals and you have the benefit of a detox too. Many bath salts also contain aromatherapy oils such as chamomile, lavender and marjoram known for their sleep promoting effects.

3. Eat your greens - It turns out there are many green herbs and roots which help treat common sleep disorders. Valerian is the herb most commonly used to treat insomnia. It contains valepotriates which are strong muscle relaxants as well as sedatives. It is suspected that is has a cumulative effect and should therefore be taken for 4-6 weeks to promote a better sleep cycle. it should not be used for longer than this period as it can become toxic in high doses. Other greens include wild lettuce which is said to decrease Restless Leg Syndrome and hops (found in beer) which is used as a mild sedative to relieve anxiety.

The difficulty is that research is contradictory in terms of dose and possible side effects. It is highly recommended that you consult your health practitioner before starting any herbal supplementation. Until then, play it safe and have a nice glass of milk in the bath.


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