Subject: Trouble Getting to Sleep and Staying Asleep
Answered by: Christine Dennis

Question from: Greg
Posted on: February 21, 2008

Is there something natural that can be taken to get to sleep sooner and to help stay asleep with out constantly waking up? Takes about 20 minutes to get to sleep and I wake up periodically during the night.

Trying to unwind and relax at the end of a day is a common complaint. The mind can tend to run around and around. One of my favourite herbs for slowing down the brain at the end of the day is wood betony tea. If the whole body is having a hard time relaxing lavender tea is then my favourite remedy that works very well with many of my patients. However, these remedies are only dealing with the symptom of something greater going on and that is an unregulated stress response and blood sugar swings.

Stress can play havoc on the body and the natural body rhythms. A normal body cycle has the endocrine system kicking out the adrenaline hormones (energy makers) first thing in the morning and gives a slow, low dose, steadily releasing all day and begins to slow down and stop late afternoon and into the evening. This way one has the energy through the day to go about their business and then come evening one can relax and "unwind". When a lot of stress or on going stress occurs, this normal adrenal gland cycle can get interrupted or turned up side down causing wakefulness and interrupted sleep.

The other aspect is that this stress response can play havoc on the blood sugar regulation causing up and down swings all day long and into the night as well. When the body feels that blood sugar levels are dipping too low, the body is woken up by hormonal surges so that the body will seek out food to regulate these blood sugar levels again.

Foods and herbs that help to regulate blood sugar swings and help the body cope with the effects of stress are indicated here. Smaller and more frequent meals composed of good quality protein, fats and complex carbohydrates are key elements for regulating blood sugar levels. Bitter and sour tasting herbs and foods also help do this such as adding lemon juice to your drinking water and drank throughout the day. Blueberries and cinnamon are two foods that help to naturally regulate blood suagr levels as does lots of fibre in the diet - both soluble and insoluble fibres and is quite critical for long term blood sugar regulation.Often a small handful of almond before bed helps to keep the blood suager level even throughout the night.

To help the body cope with stress better herbs such a ginseng (available for sale from Richter’s) , nettles and various mushrooms (reishi and all Ganoderma spp, and shitake) are excellent. Deep breathing and exercise help to reduce the effects of stress on the body as well as is rest and relaxation.

For more information on blood sugar regulation please see:

For more information on dealing with stress please see:

And for more information on dealing with sleep problems please see:

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