Five tips for supporting energy and sleep
Sleep is essential for feeling and performing well. Along with good nutrition and regular exercise, restful sleep provides a solid foundation for an energetic, happy, healthy life. Whilst we all occasionally have a bad night’s sleep, consistently disturbed sleep can have a negative effect on your wellbeing.
1. Keep an eye on stress:
The ability to have a good sleep at night starts during the day. Excessive stress during waking hours can lead to nervous overload and adrenal exhaustion, which in turn can cause insomnia. Stress can ebb and flow, so when you are feeling particularly anxious try to identify the sources and minimise them. Putting aside time to contemplate, journal or talk with others during difficult times may support more restful sleep at night. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) may help those requiring adrenal and energy support – it can improve resistance to stress, making it useful in times of physical and emotional challenge.
2. Avoid caffeine rich beverages:
Excessive sugar and caffeine, especially in the afternoon, can disrupt sleep. A common trap when trying to remain alert and mitigate tiredness is to ‘boost’ the body with caffeine rich beverages, tablets or sugar treats. While it helps with short-term energy, it can worsen the problem of fatigue over time, especially when this habit continues. Energy boosting and restorative herbs can be an effective alternative to support mental and physical alertness. The most well-known alternative to coffee is Sencha green tea (Camelia sinensis), a refreshing, energising plant that contains naturally occurring theobromine with its vitalizing action, and small amounts of mildly stimulating caffeine.
3. Set a routine:
Establish a bedtime routine and aim to go to bed at the same time, preferably before 10 pm, as this is when levels of sleep-inducing melatonin rise. Before going to sleep, give your mind a chance to unwind by putting your computer and work away, at least one hour before bed. Try a cup of medicinal tea including Valerian (Valeriana officinalis); it can improves the quality and duration of sleep and help combat restlessness. You can also add honey to help counteract insomnia by providing your liver and brain with extra fuel during the night. In addition to the medicinal benefits, the act of sitting down with a hot drink can have a calming effect.
4. Monitor your blood glucose fluctuations:
Blood glucose drops as our glucose stores are used overnight and fluctuations can cause you to wake in the night. Get tested to make sure your levels are well managed. Ensure that your evening meal contains both protein and healthy fats, which keep blood glucose stable.
5. Look at your liver health:
If specific organs are working under par they can interfere with the quality and duration of sleep. In traditional medicine, a specific sign of an under-functioning liver is waking between midnight and 3am. One best option that may improve your liver health is the wonderful plant St. Mary’s Thistle (Silybum marianum), which can help assist the normal process of liver detoxification.
Sandra Clair is the medical herbalist/anthropologist who founded plant health products company Artemis. She holds degrees in health science and medical anthropology and is completing a PhD exploring the relevance of traditional plant medicine today.
This article isn’t intended to substitute for medical advice. Consult your health practitioner for any issues or conditions.