The frigid, winter months often leave us longing for comfort in the forms of food, clothing, and sleep.
While the shortened days may induce a desire to hibernate in our warm alcoves, the aches and mood changes brought on by the cold can keep us from getting a good night’s rest.
In these times, it can help to be your own sandman, by finding and treating the root causes of insomnia to ensure sleep comes naturally.
Often times, insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety, poor diet and exercise, among other things. Still, if a lack of sleep becomes a major problem it may be a side effect of a serious illness.
Before we start, if you believe you have a serious case of insomnia that inhibits you from functioning in daily activities, you should consult a physicians for help. Assuming your restlessness is due to common disturbances, referring to the following may help to improve your sleeping patterns.
Sleep Inducing Tea – In teapot, combine 1 tablespoon dried lemon balm leaves, 1 teaspoon passion flower, 1 teaspoon dried skullcap leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped valerian root. Fill the pot with 2 cups of boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain the tea into a cup. You may want to sweeten with stevia or another sweetener of your preference. This tea induces sleep and reduces anxiety.
Herbal Pillows – You can make your own sachets or pillows, filled with fragrant herbs and tuck them under your pillows to help you sleep. One type of herb will do, though you could use a bouquet of scents to create layers of scents, with base and top notes. Much like perfume, this allows one fragrant to become more poignant while the other wanes. The best herbs to encourage sleep and relaxation include chamomile, lavender, jasmine, cloves and lemon balm. Other scents work as well. It is all about finding a scent that relaxes you, not just the majority. If you don’t have herbs on hand, you can mist your pillow with essential oils.
Meditation – Because anxiety is a common sleep inhibitor, meditation can do wonders on a frazzled mind. Meditation can include any relaxing activity, from basking quietly in candle light to chanting or even just taking a few minutes to sit outside by yourself. The main goal with meditation is to clear your mind and declutter troubling thoughts by focusing your mind elsewhere. If you can’t stop worrying, create a set amount of time each day and allow yourself to worry within this time. After your “worry session” is over, keep yourself from thinking about these thoughts for the rest of the day.
Exercise – It can be as simple as a brisk walk after diner or a quick bike ride around the neighborhood before the sun has set. Getting enough exercise to tire you physically should tire you mind as well, allowing you to sleep without being interrupted by thought.
Stretching – Sore, restless legs can keep you struggling in your sleep, if not preventing sleep altogether. Gentle stretching keeps muscles from knotting up and making your legs feel jumpy. You should also stretch every time you exercise to prevent muscle damage.
National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs, Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tierona Low Dog, M.D. & David Kiefer, M.D., Copyright 2012
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