According to statistics published by the NHS, approximately one-third of the British population suffers from regular instances of insomnia, defined as ‘difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you’ve had enough opportunity to sleep’. In an increasingly hectic society that is moving unstoppably towards a 24/7 culture, in which people try to juggle long work hours with busy social lives and family demands, it is perhaps unsurprising that sleep is regarded as a luxury, rather than a necessity.
Natural remedies for insomnia
While various drug therapies are available to treat insomnia, most experts are in agreement that modifying environmental and social factors should be the first step towards a healthier sleep routine.
The hormone melatonin acts like an internal clock, regulating the cycle of wakefulness and sleep. Higher levels of melatonin instil drowsiness, preparing the body for rest. The centuries-old cure for insomnia – a drink of warm milk or almond milk before bedtime – may hold some truth, as high levels of calcium stimulate melatonin production, putting your brain and body into sleep mode.
Studies suggest that a deficiency in magnesium can be an obstacle to the brain relaxing at night, but restoring levels through a healthy diet is fairly easy. Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and bananas are all excellent sources of magnesium and will also offer other health benefits.
Known for its calming properties, lavender oil has been recognised for its benefits for patients suffering from insomnia. A warm bath, infused with a few drops of the scent, can help to relax your mind before bedtime.
With work-related stress recognised for its role in preventing restful sleep, promoting a more relaxed approach to home life is essential in aiding better sleep. Green tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which reduces anxiety and the body’s immune response to stress, as well as creating brain waves associated with relaxation. A cup before bedtime could be just the thing you need.
The benefits of a good quality mattress
While increasing your consumption of these natural compounds may improve the quality of your sleep, a good quality mattress is also essential. A comfortable mattress reduces stress and anxiety, promotes a healthy posture and instigates a sense of wellbeing and calm, making a peaceful, undisturbed night a regular occurrence.