Naturopathy specifically, the focus of my practice, is based on living in accordance with the laws of nature. The most important principles include the healing power of nature, identifying and treating the cause, first do no harm, the physician is teacher, and prevention. Early naturopaths utilized cleansing and alkalizing diets and natural elements to support the organs and systems of the body. The more modern naturopath has access to many more prepared nutrients, herbs, and homeopathic products. One of the nature laws that the early naturopaths utilized included something known as the “rest cure”. Often, when a person was challenged by a health issue or a period of stress the cure was to rest until the illness passed. Today, given as more than 70 million people have sleep disorders, this cure is not easily employable.
Many of my clients experience sleep issues related to stress, hormonal imbalance, chronic fatigue, toxic overload, compromised immunity, or even digestive issues. In this blog, I will include a natural tool kit for sleep support. While all of my suggestions below employ the naturopathic model, most important is to remove the issue which causes you to have sleep issues. This is different for everyone. Here is my naturopathic tool-kit.
- Engage in healthy sleep hygiene; exercise regularly, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, green tea/green tea supplements. Studies show that 7- 8 hours ideal, others range from 6-9 hours. The key is getting to bed without sleep aides and waking without an alarm, dream recall and feeling restored when you awake. Understanding your own circadian rhythm or biological clock is important, so you know ideal times for your body to sleep and awake. (Light therapy such as full spectrum lighting can help regulate the circadian rhythm) As can melatonin(see below)
- Understand causes of sleep disturbance; hormonal imbalances, anxiety, traveling, partner snoring, lack of sleep, etc. This is essential.
- Understand Sleep Cycles; There are 3-6 sleep cycles, each lasting 1-2 hours, the first few are light , the next few deeper, and the last is the stage we dream and R.E.M (rapid eye movements), the brain picks up energy and dreams, and restores the mind and body. This deepest phase of sleep is essential for health and healing. R.E.M sleep is most important for preventive health. Sleep medications can prevent achieving deep restorative cycles.
- Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin C can have a relaxing and calming effect on the body. Generally these supplements are taken throughout the day. Each person’s requirements can be different depending upon age, medical conditions, and health issues.
- Melatonin naturally occurs in the body, produced by pineal gland and can be referred to as a ”hormone of darkness”, more occurs during darkness. Melatonin helps induce and regulate sleep, numerous studies suggest its benefits and safety, even for children, and lack of side effects. Melatonin helps re-set biological clock, and helpful for irregular sleep-wake patterns.
7. B vitamins- can be used, especially B3, B6, B12 to help improve dream recall and wake rhythm cycle. Especially useful with depression anxiety.
d. herbs-chamomile, passion flower, valerian, milky oat seed, and skullcap-very tolerable nice combination for nourishing the nervous system-or passion valerian and skullcap You can buy herbal tinctures or homeopathic products with these ingredients. These herbs can also be found in tea form and are considered nervines. And can gently nourish the body back to balance. (Nervous system support).
8. Mind-Body Practices- Invoking the relaxation response
- Breathing techniques-specially the complete yogic breath, and alternate nostril breathing.
- Guided and Progressive Relaxation- practicing sleep and rests poses, napping is good!
- Sleep Positions and Practicing restful poses (shavasana)
- Yin/Restorative Yoga-especially the kidney meridian poses
- Lavender essential oil can be calming and relaxing. Oil can be out on pillow or in a bath
Join me for a personal naturopathic plan to restore sleep!