Storms and sleep.
It is the end of July and I have just watched a storm move in from the South, hail now and I hope snow to come.
I love the mystery of metamorphic transformation, of how a fall of snow transforms the inscape (the world in which I am a part of) into another world. I love the extremes of winter, that I can be in a light ‘T’ shirt inside and need to put layers on to go out. I love it that I have to be mindful to get enough restful sleep and nourishing, warming food. I love it that I notice the buds swelling on each tree – that I know transformations are occurring as I look. I love it that the plants and fungi grow frost flowers, that I find surprises in the woodland/stream area such as this ‘Earth Star’. Geastrum saccatum
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So if such transformations are occurring moment by moment how do we become aware of that? Is it even relevant in a life that really is about the daily 9-5pm for many/most, home for a bit in the morning and evening, weekends spent watching the panacea of sport or?? Now I am not being critical of this but I am saying that that to take 10minutes out of your day to connect with the natural world around you will change how you see the world even change aspects of your health.
Sleep for example
An astonishing number of adults are awake during the night at some stage. This is complex and for each person it is different.
You may be a woman going through Menopause (too hot at night, too warm a room).
You maybe a Professional person who finds her/his responsibilities ‘play’ on their mind in the wee hours.
You may have drunk a weeny bit much alcohol that has you waking feeling somewhat anxious.
You may be on mainstream medication that interferes with sleep maintenance.
You just might be a sensitive being who overly concerns themselves with other family member’s lives.
There are likely many other scenarios.
Now while every person is unique, there are some ways in which each person could help themselves.
There are many relaxing infusions or ‘Sleep easy’ teas on the market. From a holistic practitioners Herbal Medicine perspective none of these gives an appropriate amount of any one herb to be effective. Traditional infusions (which is what a ‘tea’ is ) were 30g per litre of boiling water.
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So what do you do?
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ‘T’ bags can be useful especially if someone has muscular cramping. Use 2 ‘T’ bags per cup and a 5-10 minute infusion. The fresher the ‘T’ bag the better. Chamomile is easy to grow and freshly dried makes a much more delicious drink.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) does have an ability to reduce the busy mind in the wee hours. You do need a lot of it though. It doesn’t dry well – so best used fresh or dried to perfection.
You would need 4 ‘T’ bags or loosely pack a cup with roughly chopped fresh herb (best), pour near boiling water over this, cover and infuse for 5 mins
If Menopausal then Sage (Salvia officinalis) can help with night sweats. Along with keeping the bedroom cool, reducing spicy foods and alcohol consumption and no hot baths last thing at night.
An easy way to prepare this is to soak 6 leaves in the juice of ½ lemon for a few hours, strain, add a little water and drink.
In all the years of working with folks I truly believe that an ever changing, conscious commitment approach works well.
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What about Melatonin?
Some do find it helpful to re-adjust bodyclocks (after travelling) but I have found taking Ginseng (Panax ssp) more effective as this plant also assists with reducing the impact of stress on the body more holistically.
Panax ginseng however can increase Blood Pressure so not for those if it is elevated. You likely need to consult with a Herbal Medicine Practitioner to access a quality product.
Re.Melatonin, the amount you need is like a grain of sand on a beach and we do get it from foods such as Oranges, Oats, Walnuts, Tomatoes, Barley, Rice and Bananas and there are precursors to making this sleep enhancing hormone such as foods containing L-tryptophan (eg.Walnuts and Bananas, warm milk).
Walnuts are looking like a great food.
I found a study on the effects of tart Cherries but it appears that all Cherries have a similar effect.
“There’s a phytonutrient in cherries with anti-inflammatory effects on par with drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, so the researchers were trying to see whether tart cherry juice could reduce muscle soreness after exercise. During the study, some of the participants anecdotally noted that they were sleeping better on the cherries. That was unexpected, but the researchers realized that cherries were a source of melatonin so they put them to the test.”
What about Kava?
Kava (Piper methysticum) is a remarkable plant to reduce anxiety. Traditionally in a Ceremonial occasion it is respected for its ability to encourage group discussion in a laid-back way. Perhaps the human beings on the planet need this right now.
What about Sleeping Tablets?
I read WEB MD and will not list all the side effects here – if you are considering Sleeping Tabs then read them for yourself. Questions to ask?
Is this ‘Trade off’ worth it? And it might be. The occasional night is likely OK but long term ? You maybe should consider some Professional advice.
As a Herbal Medicine Practitioner, I don’t pretend I have all the answers but if we work together to find out what works for you then it can only be positive.
What can you do for yourself?
♣ What is the nature of your sleep pattern?
♣ Sleep onset? Preparing for sleep can be hugely helpful. It is not the best idea to have a TV in your bedroom. It is also not ideal for the bedroom to be too warm.
Would a walk outside in the night air help?
Have you eaten late?
Too spicy foods? Too much alcohol?
A hot shower or bath before bed?
Is your mind too active?
Are there unresolved issues from the day?
♣Early morning waking
As a practitioner I always see this as the impact of stress on both the nervous system and adrenal function in some way. This can be nutritional, environmental (including work related, emotional) in fact anything. It does appear that it makes itself felt in the young and older beings. Menopause – definitely. This time for many women is a time of being super – sensitive to the world.
I am not saying here that men don’t go through the same process but from a clinical perspective I see this in many women.
“There is not much happening energetically in the air in the early morning, I personally found it an inspiring time, more clarity and more ease with being awake”.
I know, not easy if you have to get up to work the next day or have a family to attend to.
♣ Sleep is at the end of the day and we tend to not think that what happens during the day isn’t a contributory factor.
♣ Coffee – 1 a day before midday
♣ Have a nourishing breakfast
♣ 30mins daily exercise at least, preferably in a natural environment
♣ Lighter evening meal mostly vegetables with some quality protein
♣ Preparation for sleep
- sending all those emails that need to be sent
- write a list of what you need to do tomorrow
- a walk outside
- no TV for at least 30mins before bed (not in the bedroom)
- using music that calms
- drink infusions
- know that you have to change your lifestyle with your age
Plus the suggestions above.
The Plants that we co-exist with offer an amazing support for whatever Health scenario we experience. Knowing the plants that grow around you is what the Viriditas Workshops NZ offer.
TASHM – The Traditions, Art and Science of Herbal Medicine, a 6 month, one weekend a month course held in Wanaka. ‘The Plant Immersion, Incubation and Inspiration’ is also included as the first weekend of this. Begins October
A ‘Plant Immersion, Incubation and Inspiration’ workshop is also being held in Tauranga, NZ also in October.
Please contact me on isla@HerbCollege.com for details.
Next post. Back to Plants – well likely fungi.