We may not always realise it but food and drink have an enormous impact on our sleeping patterns. Drinks containing caffeine should definitely be avoided late in the day because the energising effects can last for several hours. Remember that there is caffeine in some fizzy drinks as well as chocolate so be careful not to take too much of those either. There is evidence that the chemical tryptophan, found in foods like eggs, peanuts, milk, pumpkin, and sesame seeds can help to improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP in your body and this chemical is needed to produce both serotonin (that improves mood) and melatonin (that is required for you to sleep). So the old tales of a milky drink before bed really can help.
Stress and poor digestion are two key reasons for sleep issues so it is important to address both. Drinking chamomile tea before bed can help because it not only supports the digestion and makes you feel calmer, but it also contains a chemical called apigenin that interacts with the receptors in the brain that promote sleep. Passionflower is most herbalist’s choice in prescriptions for people with mild insomnia. It is calming and gently helps restore beneficial sleep patterns. Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that is very good at reducing anxiety. Its Latin name Withania somnifera gives a clue that it is traditionally used to deepen the quality of sleep. Ashwagandha powder can be added to hot milk and sweetened with a little honey for a comforting nighttime drink and the tryptophan in the milk adds to the effect. All these herbs can be found in herbal tea blends in the supermarket making them easy and inexpensive to try.
Sometimes you might feel like indulging a little bit more than your standard routine – and who doesn’t love a spa? Sometimes there just isn’t time (or money) but a simple and deeply relaxing home spa can also help you relax and sleep well, particularly after a long day of work.
Thalassotherapy is a beautiful word for water therapy originating from Greek. We know that soaking in a hot bath can really help to ease muscle tension. By adding herbal infusions or oils to the water we can make it even more effective. Try adding a strong infusion of chamomile to help relax and reduce skin irritations, lavender oil to help you sleep, or sprigs of rosemary to help you feel invigorated.
Once you’ve included regular massage in your self-care routine you’ll never go without for long, even if you struggle to find time to book in for a professional massage. It is very important, particularly these days with our more sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress, muscles get tense and need physical treatments to release that tension and the toxins they hold. Aromatherapy adds another level of therapy where the blended plant oils penetrate deeply into the skin and help to reduce inflammation, reduce tension and promote relaxation. Simply use olive, sunflower, or coconut oil and gently massage into the skin, always working towards the heart. Starting with the feet and working up the legs can also help with lymphatic drainage and reduce water retention.
Rose and geranium face cream
Turn your bedtime routine into a real luxury treat with this decadent rose and geranium face cream. Simply choose an unperfumed moisturiser as a base – any high street brand will do or buy ready-made base creams which are easily available online. Per 100g base cream add 10 drops rose absolute, 5mls witch hazel (optional), 5mls wheatgerm oil, and 5 drops each of rose geranium and lavender essential oils. Mix together in a bowl and spoon into a jar. This simple-to-make moisturiser now has all it needs to help nourish your skin, tighten your pores, and make you feel, and smell, a million dollars.
Hope these indulgent tips can help you get a goodnight’s sleep. Be well!