How to Improve Your Sleep Naturally

It's my belief that there are many health concerns that conventional medicine doesn’t help.

We need to start turning towards natural remedies and other earth-based medical traditions that have long and established histories for solutions and support. I created my Wellness Wednesday video series to help you take your health into your own hands.

In today's video, I discuss sleep! In my private practice, I see so many people who have issues with sleep. Stats show that this is a very common problem, some studies even say that at least 50% of people are not getting the sleep they need on a regular basis. Of course, we all occasionally have a night where we can’t sleep very well. But when a lack of sleep becomes a more regular occurrence it can create all kinds of issues with your mood, immunity and hormonal system. 

Natural Remedies to Improve Sleep

When we sleep we give the body the opportunity to address deeper functions and healing. There are many reasons to address sleep patterns, but in particular, if you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or emotional difficulty re-establishing healthy sleep is so important.

Before I talk about herbal remedies it's really important to mention that lifestyle is a huge contributor. Herbs may help, but the underlying cause of stress, anxiety or pain must be addressed as well. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, there are a few basic principles that I consider absolute musts to look at and address.

First, you need to cut out or reduce caffeine and stimulants. If you enjoy your morning coffee and are not ready to give it up, that's fine, but be sure to only have a small cup and be finished drinking it early in the morning. If you’re consuming stimulants later in the day, this is most likely a large contributor to your sleep problems.

Alcohol (while at first is sedative) will cause restlessness and limit you from getting the deep sleep you need.

In addition, you’ll want to look at the supplements and medications that you take, especially those you consume later in the day. B vitamins, certain types of anti-histamines, blood pressure meds, some anti-depressants and other stimulating herbs could all be contributing. Of course, you’ll want to check with your prescribing physician before altering or changing when or what you take, but its always good to do your own research so you can be your own advocate if you think some of the meds you’re taking are causing your sleeplessness.

It's super important to eat dinner earlier in the evening and avoid late night snacking. This may be a hard habit to start, but try it for a while and note how you feel in the morning. I can almost guarantee, that after a while you’ll feel less groggy in the morning and it will be easier to get out of bed. Ideally, you want to finish dinner early enough to have a number of hours before bedtime. This gives your digestion and your liver a chance to process the food you ate. I’d also like to encourage you to slowly go to bed a little earlier every night. The quality of your sleep is much better in the hours before midnight vs the hours after. The more hours you can get before midnight the better.

We can think of the class of herbs for sleep as sitting in two categories. There are nerviness that are nutritive and nerviness that are sedative. Today, I’m going to talk mostly about a few herbs that are on the gently sedative side. But look out for other videos where I discuss the nutritives.

Skullcap and Passionflower

Skullcap and Passionflower help to gently calm the nervous system and help with insomnia.

There are actually 2 plants called skullcap within herbal medicine. The one I’m referring to in this video is “American skullcap” not the skullcap used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. That plant is called Huang Qin and has a different set of benefits.

Both of these herbs could be taken at lower does during the day to combat anxiety, agitation, and sensory overload. You’ll want to experiment to find the right dosage for your needs. I love these herbs because they have a very broad effect. Skullcap could be used for children at lower doses and passionflower is generally very well tolerated by most people.

The sedative herbs as a whole are the most likely to interact with pain and psych meds so even though these two are very gentle at low dosages you’ll want to confirm with your family doctor that its ok to combine them with the meds you’re taking. And always check with your doctor if you’re pregnant.

If you’re using these herbs to sleep you can take them up to about 30min before you lay down. They both come as teas, tinctures or capsules. I would recommend taking the herb and then turning all the screens off and doing a few restorative yoga postures, having a bath, or doing some light reading. Ultimately we want to create a sense of sanctuary around sleep time and start to get away from the light of our computer and phone screen as early as possible. 

And remember to reduce stress, and incorporate the other lifestyle changes. While these herbs can be used in the longer term, they may start to lose their effect and if the other aspects of your lifestyle go unchanged you’ll be back where you started.

Well, I hope that helps you to get a deep restful sleep! Let me know in the comments below which suggestion you’re going to adopt and if you found this video helpful. Thanks for watching and reading and see you again very soon.

Want to learn more about sleep? Check out tips to help insomnia here.

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