No one can function well when they are sleep deprived. This condition compromises the immune system and severely affects one’s day-to-day performance. Research shows that insomnia (sleeplessness) also contributes to weight gain. But if you are popping sleeping pills frequently, then chances are high that you will get addicted to them. And once the pills are stopped, the body will not know how to put itself to rest or get some sleep.
Rather than resorting to sleeping pills, one must use natural remedies that help you sleep better. A long-term intake of sleeping pills can affect memory and upset brain chemistry. If you find that you are waking up regularly between 3 am and 5 am, then know that you are suffering from stress (adrenal exhaustions). If you are waking up between 1 am and 3 am, your liver may need a detox. This means that you need to begin taking vegetable juices daily and cut down on alcohol, caffeine and fried food. Also, you need to eat a light dinner. Avoid non-vegetarian food at night, if you experience sleep disturbances regularly. Eat non-veg food during lunch hours instead.
Food that help you sleep:
Eat dal-rice, pasta, potatoes, and brown rice for diner. Eating carbohydrates before sleeping helps the body make serotonin, which can help you sleep better.
Drink a glass of warm milk. It gives restful sleep.
Eat oatmeal porridge as a late-night snack. It encourages sound sleep.
Drink chamomile tea before sleeping. It has a calming and sedative effect on the body.
Minerals, calcium and magnesium are natural tranquillisers. Take 500 mg of calcium and 400 mg of magnesium at bedtime.
Exercising regularly can dramatically improve sleep patterns. But do not exercise very late in the evening.
Take brahmi (an ayurvedic herb) at bedtime.
Herbs like valerian, chamomile, and kava have been used to correct insomnia due to their soothing properties and calming effect on the mind.
Yoga, meditation, and muscle relaxation are different techniques that help destress one’s body and mind.
Aromatherapy is a valuable technique to improve sleep.
(Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre)