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Simple steps to help you sleep soundly

100 years ago we used to get an average of nine hours sleep per night. According to a 2016 study by the Royal Society for Public Health, the average British adult now sleeps for six hours 48 minutes a night; this is an average sleep deficit of 14hrs per week, 56 hrs per month and 672hrs per year.

Irregular sleeping patterns and disturbed sleep can leave the body and mind feeling exhausted, creating anxiety and stress. Prolonged anxiety and fatigue will eventually drain the adrenal glands and reduce the capacity of the body and mind to function effectively on a daily basis.

What sleeping remedies should I take?

Many conventional sleeping tablets for insomnia such as benzodiazepines and tricyclic anti-depressants actually inhibit REM sleep and should only ever be used short-term.

Natural relaxants such as plant-based supplements like Pukka Herbs’ Night Time capsules will help to relax a restless body and mind as well as encourage undisturbed and refreshing sleep.

The key ingredient in Pukka’s Night Time capsules is valerian. Valerian is a strong nervine and sedative to the central nervous system relaxing tense muscles whilst also encouraging an undisturbed sleep, healthy sleeping pattern and ameliorating stress. It promotes relaxation through enhancement of GABA neurotransmission, relaxes the heart treating palpitations, tightness and high blood pressure, reduces the time to sleep onset (sleep latency) and improves the quality of sleep. It can also help with withdrawal from conventional medications used to treat insomnia.

Valerian is a powerful herb and is viewed in Ayurvedic traditions as being ‘heating’. Pukka specifically blend Valerian alongside cooling Gotu Kola and Brahmi to help balance the action of valerian.

What should I eat?

Nutritionist Cassandra Barns says: “foods rich in a natural chemical known as tryptophan can help support the body’s circadian rhythms. These include foods such as oats and oat flowers, dates, pumpkin and sunflower seeds but also natural proteins. Herbs that help to relax the nervous system or influence a slight sedative action can also help smooth out any residual tension left over from the day.”

Why do these ingredients help people relax?

Melatonin is the key here and melatonin is synthesised from tryptophan. It is melatonin that regulates our circadian rhythms. As darkness creeps in, our pineal gland releases melatonin into the blood where it circulates for approximately 12 hours. It is melatonin that influences you to feel sleepy; its release can be inhibited even by the presence of artificial lights.

What exercise should I do?

Celebrity personal trainer and model, James Stark says: “People having trouble sleeping may need to destress allowing their body to relax. I would advise avoiding too much high volume work and maybe stick to more strength-based training. Applying more “yin” work would be essential so this may mean going to a good yin yoga class, taking a trip to a spa to relax or meditating.”

When should I exercise?

James suggests: “Avoid doing any high intensity work late afternoon or in the evening to avoid cortisol levels increasing to high and keep the adrenals in check. Perform heavier/high volume workouts in first half of day (early morning is best) and leave the relaxation to the end of the day i.e. yin yoga, sauna, working on breathing techniques.”

Meet the author

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Katie Pande, Senior Herbal Advisor

Katie is a qualified Medical Herbalist, and member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH), currently practicing in Shaftesbury. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine and a BSc (Hons) in Plant and Environmental Biology.

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