by Pat Collins

September 2020

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Sleep Problems

This is a problem that many of my clients complain about. They usually tell me numerous problems and then they tell me about their problems with sleep.  Of course without that deep quality sleep each night other problems will manifest so helping with sleep is often first on the list.

Why someone can’t sleep may be due to numerous reasons: stress and anxiety being the most common problem. I never just give a client tea, tablets or tincture to help them sleep without addressing their daily lives. I remember one lady who was adamant all she needed was something to get her to sleep. She was fine during the day.  So, as instructed, she had her Epsom salts bath then took her relaxing mix and sat up in bed waiting for it to work. She was soon back and agreeing that we needed to tackle the problem more holistically.

Many of my clients live very full and busy lives and many of you would understand when I call this “adrenal overload”. I ask them if they get up full of life looking forward to the day (cortisol is high) then slowly their cortisol levels drop until night when melatonin kicks in and they’re ready to sleep. Most will tell me that their cortisol levels go up and down all day and then at night they get a second wind and do ten things before trying to get to sleep.

Image by Amy Treasure
Image by rocknwool

To help these people we talk about lifestyle choices and how important it is to switch off the TV, computer and mobile several hours before going to bed.  Having a nice relaxing bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts and a few drops of Lavender essential oil, then getting a good book to read (nothing too exciting) and perhaps some music, oil burners etc.  I have Stress Less and a Relaxing roll-ons (base oil with an essential oil blend) that they can apply or alternatively advise using a Hops pillow that contains herbs like Hops, Lavender and Chamomile with a few drops of their favourite essential oils. 

We also talk about having some exercise to help unwind, eating a good diet and always eating the evening meal about 3 hours before going to bed.  Carbohydrates may help sleep.  One of my ladies has a big bowl of porridge for her dinner and says it helps her sleep, another loves an apple and yet another a hot milk drink.  Everyone is individual and you need to find what works for them.

I have a Bedtime tea blend that is very popular.  It contains Chamomile, Lavender, Valerian, Lemongrass and Spearmint.  Another stronger tea is my Bush Calming blend tea that contains Lemon Myrtle, Bottle brush, Wilga and Sticky Hop Bush.  However, some people that have trouble sleeping due to digestive issues like my Comforting tea that contains Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Sage and Rosemary.  People worry that by drinking a cup of tea last thing at night they’ll wake up in the night to go to the toilet.  Most people wake and go regardless so it doesn’t make much difference.  

Treating everyone as an individual you need to make up a mix that suits them during the day.  If they have digestive problems then you would give them herbs like Chamomile, Meadowsweet, Ginger, Gentian and Peppermint.  If they have inflammation problems (pain keeps them awake at night) then make up a mix to help them.  I like Boswellia, Turmeric, St John's Wort, Celery seed and Ginger.  If it's anxiety and stress then they will need calming herbs such as capsules we make from St John's Wort and Valerian, and if chronic anxiety, use Kava.  These herbs will also help the person sleep at night by allowing them to let go of their worries.  I tell people to have Kava three times a day with the last dose just before bed and this works very well for so many clients.  Add the St John's Wort and Valerian capsules if they need extra help.  

Many of my “adrenal junkies” as I like to call them need adrenal support herbs during the day such as Licorice, Rehmannia, Rhodiola, Siberian Ginseng and Withania.  Then at night have herbs like Zizyphus and Magnolia.  We make Hops and Passionflower capsules for my shift workers and Hops can also help clients that have menopause night sweats but also for nervous gut problems. (Remember to avoid Hops if the patient is depressed).  Herbs like Jamaican Dogwood and Californian Poppy I only use occasionally for people when nothing else will work.     

Image by Milan Gaziev