Many theorists have characterized the purpose of sleep as the period of time when we get an opportunity to physically rest, repair and rejuvenate. However brain and sleep-measuring studies reveal that when sleeping naturally the brain is far from dormant as it is reviewing and processing the knowledge that we encountered during the day some of which we discard and some we store in our memory.
After falling asleep the brain alternates between a serious of stages, which include slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep (REM). It is during the period of REM that you dream, file away data, as well as renew and restore your body’s energy batteries. The REM cycle is at the heart of a restorative and full night’s sleep.
Although there is no hard and fast rule about how much sleep you should have, indicators are that for most adults 7 to 8 hours is optimal, whilst teenagers need about 9 hours on average. Some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day; the important factor is not how much sleep you have, it is the quality that matters.
Failure to regularly get your full quota of natural and restorative sleep means that you quickly feel less energized, your memory becomes less sharp and over all health and well being begins to suffer. Almost everyone occasionally suffers from short-term insomnia. This can be for a diverse set of reasons, such as a the result of sleeping in a strange bed, jet lag, worry, excitement or even a change in diet.
However a night of insomnia almost always affects job performance and well being the next day. When under excessive pressure and stress one of the early symptoms to manifest is that of a disruptive or broken sleep pattern. Insomnia can be transient (a few days linked to something specific), acute (where your body has developed a poor sleep pattern due to a change in circumstance) and chronic (lasting for more than 6 months). The underlying reason of your inability to sleep peacefully be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, needs to be identified and addressed as the effects of insomnia can quickly become accumulative and become a stressor and worry in its own right.
There exist a range of natural sleep strategies that are particularly effective for stress-induced insomnia. These include the use of supplementing your diet and nightly sleep routine with an infusion of sleep herbs. The following herbs have been shown to help reduce and in some case clear anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. Although they can be widely found in health food stores as supplements and tinctures, please be advised it is wise to consult a herbal medicine professional, doctor, pharmacist or nutritionist provider if you have any doubts. Also do your homework before trying any herbal remedy and do not give to a child without professional supervision. Sleep herbs:Chamomile
Chamomile is one of the worlds most known medicinal herbs. Widely used as an ingredient in herbal teas as well as health and beauty products. The ancient Egyptians and Romans would use chamomile as a remedy for the fever and chills that accompanied malaria. In modern herbal medicine chamomile is a soothing remedy known for its ability to calm nervous tension, dispel restlessness or sleeplessness and for relaxing tense muscles.Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has been cultivated around the Mediterranean coast for more than 2000 years. It is a member of the mint family and considered a calming herb. It was used as a popular drink in mediaeval times in England, plus native and colonial America to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion. Several studies show that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs such as valerian and chamomile helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep.Passionflower
Passionflower was used traditionally by Native Americans and later in Europe as a calming herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures and hysteria. In modern herbal medicine professional herbalists still use passionflower as a gentle sedative to treat anxiety and insomnia. It is often combined with valerian and lemon balm.Valerian
Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb as early as the fourth century B.C. Both the Greeks and Romans used valerian medicinally as a remedy for insomnia and nervous conditions. Valerian root taken as a supplement, in capsules, teas and tinctures continues to be used today to treat insomnia, stress, nervous anxiety, hyper activity and muscle spasm. Valerian is a popular alternative to prescription medication for sleep problems with some studies showing that it helps people to fall asleep faster and to feel that they have a better quality of sleep.
Herbs and their usage is a time honoured approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, they can trigger side effects and can interact with medications, other supplementary herbs and supplements. It is for this reason that you should do always do your homework and take herbal supplements under the guidance of a trained health practitioner.
Stress induced insomnia can be resolved naturally without having to resort to drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills, simply by implementing a handful of effective and natural sleep remedies.