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Published on April 20th, 2009 | by Rachel Venokur-Clark

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Sleep Naturally: 12 Steps to a Restful Nights Sleep

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Most of us have experienced a sleepless night, spent tossing and turning, begging sleep to come. A night or two of lost sleep, though not ideal, shouldn’t have any major affect on your health. When one sleepless night turns into several in a row, you may be facing a sleep problem. Several nights of missed sleep can affect your emotional and physical wellbeing. Insomnia can affect everything from your productivity to your relationships. If you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, without a medical condition causing this, there are many natural ways to begin to alleviate this problem without prescription medication.

FOOD:

1) In the evening try to eat: Bananas, dates, figs, milk, nut butter, turkey, whole grain crackers or yogurt. These are foods high in tryptophan, which can promote sleep.

2) Avoid caffeine from lunchtime on.

3) Have your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. If your body has to work hard to digest your food when it should be sleeping, you may have a difficult time staying asleep.

LIFESTYLE:

1) Set a bedtime routine and try to stick with it. Get ready for bed and get into bed at the same time each night. Consistency is the key to success. Finding a routine that works for you and following it will help you reach your sleep goals.

2) Take a hot bath or shower 1-2 hours before bedtime to help your body and mind relax.

3) Do not exercise within 3 hours of wanting to go to sleep.

4) Dim the lights 1 hour before bed

5) Create a Sleep atmosphere in your bedroom. Take out all distractions like a computer, television or phone. Make your room as dark a possible to signal your body’s natural daytime/nighttime rhythms. Consider a white noise machine if sounds outside the room distract you.

HERBAL:

1) Camomile tea sipped a ½ hour before bedtime can relieve anxiety and promote a restful sleep.  Do not take for more than 2 weeks in a row or if you have Hay fever or ragweed allergies.

2) Valerian Root Pills: In order to achieve the full effects, Valerian needs to be taken consistently over a period of about a month.

3) Kava Kava Pills or Oral Spray. This is a fast acting, potent anti-anxiety medication that can promote sleep. You can take approximately 150mg, 30 minutes before sleep.

4) Melatonin Pills: 1.5mg daily taken 30-60minutes before bed. Melatonin occurs naturally in our body and helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, our internal 24-hour time keeping system, that can affect our sleeping cycles.

*Always consult a physician before starting an herbal routine.

Photo Credit: Heather R at Flickr for Creative Commons



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About the Author

Rachel Venokur-Clark is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Rachel is trained in all the different dietary theories, eastern and western nutrition, modern health issues, personal growth and development, and health counseling. Rachel specializes in helping clients transition away from the standard American diet (SAD) to a more plant-based way of eating for optimum sexual health and overall vitality. Whether you are looking to clean up your diet, lose weight, control your symptoms, increase your quality of life or make a full transition, her coaching will empower you to make long lasting choices that work specifically for you. Her career has given her the opportunity to help others not only improve their health, but improve their lives and go on to live the lives they have always wanted. Rachel is currently practicing in NYC. The program can either be done in person or over the phone. Visit www.renewforanewyou.com to begin you journey towards a healthier you today.



  • http://www.arenafitness.com Jonathan Aluzas

    Great, useful suggestions. As a guy who has sleep issues (generally no problem falling asleep; lots of problems staying asleep) I also think stress management is key to restful sleep. I’ve been to sleep clinics, tried pharmaceuticals (hated them, refuse to use them), live a fairly healthy lifestyle with regard to nutrition and exercise, and am convinced that stress is the number one killer of sleep.

    I think we could all use more relaxation and recreation. To that end, I’m taking more vacation time this year (tripling my vacation, actually) and slowly immersing myself in meditative activities (Yoga, meditation, etc.). But it’s the tip of the iceberg. As a guy who doesn’t unwind very well, I have a lot to learn….

  • http://wisdomofthemoon.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    I have to add the herb Ashwaganda to your list. It is sometimes touted as an energy giving herb, but it works because sometimes we’re actually too tired to sleep. We’ve all seen an over-tired kid lose it, right? Same concept.

    Anyway, it works really well for me and my family.

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