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Ah…. sleep.  Something I think I can safely say we all wish we had more of.  I have tried to always educate my patients on the importance of sleep and how to establish healthy habits around bedtime.  But being the mother of a 3 month old, I have a whole new appreciation of sleep and insights into the effects of sleep deprivation.

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is that they don’t sleep well.  Whether its difficulty falling asleep,  waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep, or just never feeling fully rested in the morning. 

There are several areas I explore with patients to identify the cause of these issues, but relieving the symptoms in the meantime is imperative.  While taking a thorough history of the patient and problem, I can usually identify when the issue began and why.  This becomes the foundation of the treatment plan and hopefully the beginning of the return of satisfying sleep.

Some of the causes of sleep issues are: blood sugar issues, anxiety, Heart Shen disturbance (a Chinese Medicine dx), a lack of sleep routine, inflammation, pain, hydration, adrenal fatigue, sympathetic nervous system overdrive, bladder issues, digestion imbalance and poor sleeping conditions (aka: bad mattress).   While identifying the cause you can treat basic symptoms of insomnia with the following.

I always say, “Start Simple."  Begin by drinking a cup of chamomile tea one hour before bedtime every night.  See if this helps - if it does then great! Trying such simple things  gives us insight into the possible cause.  If the chamomile tea doesn’t work, or only works for a brief time, then we’d move on to a heavier hitter.

The "Knock Out” tincture at The Herb Shoppe, www.theherbshoppe.net, is formulated to help get over the hurdles of sleeplessness.  It is not a curative treatment, but a band-aid for the meantime. 

One of the best things you can do is establish and enjoy a bedtime routine.  Be sure to turn off the TV 1 hour before bed to decrease over stimulation.  Draw a nice relaxing lavender bath and have a cup of chamomile or Dream tea(The Herb Shoppe).  Then off to bed.  Be sure your blankets and sheets are comfortable and appropriate for the weather.  The body loves routine and will quickly adjust (and appreciate!) this new slowing down at the end of the day. 

September 22, 2010 by JJ Pursell

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