Herbfacts

Sleep Disturbance: how to combat night time annoyances

Cramp, restless legs and snoring are just some of the things that can keep you awake at night, but they don’t have to. Here are some natural remedies to help you get the better of them.

NIGHT CRAMPS

You’re dropping off when suddenly you leap out of bed in agony! Your leg has been gripped by a painful cramp.

Muscles contract when you turn or stretch during sleep and if they stay contracted you experience cramp usually in your legs and calves. The cause is not known, although imbalances of minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium are possible triggers as is a vitamin E deficiency.

Natural helpers:

  • Try supplementing your diet with magnesium and vitamin E supplements
  • Pile your plate up high with magnesium-rich green vegetables. Other foods containing magnesium include seafood, nuts, seeds and legumes

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME

You want to go to sleep but your legs want to go dancing. You have restless leg syndrome.

Typical symptoms include an unpleasant, creepy crawly itching or tugging sensation in your legs with an irresistible urge to keep moving them around. It tends to get worse in the evening and movement is the only thing that brings relief.

In most cases there is no known cause although restless leg syndrome is sometimes linked to an iron deficiency. Drinking too much tea or coffee, which hinders iron absorption, are other possible culprits as well as low levels of calcium and poor circulation.

Natural helpers

  • Limit those cups of tea and coffee. Have a cup of herbal tea instead. Camomile and Passion Flower are two good options
  • Try taking a mineral supplement containing calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc
  • The herbal supplement ginkgo biloba, which helps to boost circulation, may also help to bring relief

SNORING

You wake up with a jolt, coughing and spluttering. Your own snoring has woken you up!

Snoring is caused by slack muscles inside the throat which vibrate against the soft palate as we breathe. As we get older our throat muscles get weaker making snoring more likely. Being overweight is also a trigger, as fat affects the smooth functioning of all muscles including those in the throat.

Natural helpers

  • Snoring herbal sprays may help clear the nasal passages
  • Adding eucalyptus oil in the bath will help you to breathe more easily
  • A few drops of either lavender or peppermint essential oil on your pillow can help as they have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce inflammation in your nasal passages which will help ease breathing

OVERHEATING

If you a woman of a certain age and you are starting to wake up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night, chances are you are approaching the menopause. The hormonal fluctations that occur at this time of life can confuse your body’s warming up and cooling down systems and as a result you break out in a sweat whatever the temperature.

Natural helpers

  • Sage is probably the best remedy for hot flushes and can take effect within as little as a couple of days. It has an anti-diaphoretic action, which means it stops sweating and helps to cool the body. Traditionally used to treat fevers, it is available as a tablet, tincture or tea.
  • Other herbal remedies worth a try include black cohosh, St John’s wort, red clover and agnus castus