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SLEEP Sleep deprivation is extremely common and can weaken your immune system, accelerate tumour growth, accelerate obesity and diabetes and impair all aspects of your cognition, sometimes causing you to feel muzzy-headed or even slightly hung-over. Exercising good sleep hygiene is the way to start improving your sleep pattern and this may require you to modify some of your lifestyle choices. Tips for good sleep hygiene

The Sleep Council strongly recommend that sleep hygiene plays a very important role in the quality and quantity of good restful sleep that will provide the optimal functioning of the body.

HERBAL THOUGHTS The herbs which may be helpful to aid a restful sleep are known as mild sedatives (non-addictive), relaxants and nervines, the latter of which help to calm nervous system excitability.

Valerian (Valerian Officinalis) this is one of the most well-known herbs which have a mild sedative effect. It should be chosen with care as it has known interactions with anti-depressants and anxetyI medication. But when used appropriately it can be extremely effective at relaxing the body and aid a restful sleep.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) also has a gentle sedative effect. Hops (the female flowers) are commonly used in the making of ales and was noted to cause ‘brewers droop’ (erectile dysfunction) particularly in hop pickers. Hops were also taken by Christian monks in medieval times to suppress sexual urges. Therefore it may be a herb that is used for a limited time period.

Wild lettuce (lactuca virosa) a pleasant nerve relaxant, with mild sedative effects. This plant is a common weed which grows on banks and waste ground. Passionflower (passiflora incarnate) this gentle sedative herb is very useful is a hyper-excitable state such as anxiety, it helps to relax the mind and aids in nerve related pain. It is also thought to promote vasodilation and thus aid in gently lowering blood pressure, particularly in those where blood pressure spikes are associated with anxiety.

There are several further herbs with a positive effect on the nervous system to calm and soothe the mind and general discomfort. This include chamomile, lavender, skullcap, wood betony, californian poppy to name just a few. OTHER THOUGHTS PILLOWS-people commonly ask which the best pillow to get good sleep is. This is always difficult to answer and you can spend an extortionate amount of money trying to find the ONE! Well in truth there is no real answer. I recommend getting a pillow that is comfortable, not too hard and dense. Ensure the pillow is the right height for you, don’t feel like your head is being elevated too high, so the neck is flexed, or too low so the neck is extended. Ensure you relax with only your head on the pillow, I can’t tell you how often in clinic I see people resting with their shoulders perched on the edge of the pillow, which causes the neck to be extended. BEDS- again it’s a bit of a search to find the one. And again we are all individual so it’s very much up to personal choice. But for me personally, I like a bed that is heavily sprung preferably with a sprung base. If you are a bed with a slatted base this causes intermittent areas of pressure to the body. My advice is try the mattress out in the shop, or sometimes with the on-line bought mattresses you have a trial period. Remember you will be spending approximately 8 hours a night, up to 365 days of the year equating to 2920 hours so it’s only right you should take your time to choose the right one.

Contact details: for more information and advice Catherine Wasik BSc Hons Ost; BSc Hons MNIMHRegistered Osteopath and Medical Herbalist With acupuncture training and rehabilitation pilates instructor training At George Morris Physiotherapy Clinics in Hindley, Ashton and Leigh Direct line: 07828261152 email: Website: Herbal Osteopathic Life

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