Perfect night’s sleep is essential to health and well-being, but with our fast-paced technology-driven lifestyles it can be difficult to switch off, with research telling us that a third of us sleep for just five-to-six hours a night.
This month is ‘Sleeptember’ a national campaign run by The Sleep Charity to highlight and raise awareness of the importance of sleep. Critical to health and well-being, sleep is vitally important for good physical, mental and emotional health as well as crucial for memory, learning and growth.
As we hit a new season now is a good time to reset and refocus on getting our sleep back on track. We caught up with North East-based Chinese medicine specialist Laura Bicker, founder of the popular ‘Return to You’ Essential Oil (EO) range, which includes the indulgent ‘Pillow’ sleep spray, to catch her tips on creating a calming sleep ritual and routine.
Laura’s expertise and methods are powered by Chinese medicine, within the field there are a number of methods that can be used to help aid sleep, including a range of practical options you can explore or try at home.
Acupuncture or Acupressure
Visiting a fully qualified acupuncturist registered with the Association of Acupuncture Clinicians ACC, or other recognised governing bodies can offer time to relax and reset the energy in your body.
Acupuncture helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part responsible for helping you relax. It also stimulates the flow of Qi (energy) in the body, which helps release tension, helping contribute to a good night’s sleep. At home, you can try pressing the following acupressure points with your index finger. Apply a firm pressure for 10-30 seconds at each point.
There are numerous Chinese Herbal formulas that can be tailored to each individual’s needs and constitutional issues that are affecting sleep. Some common and simple remedies you can try at home include drinking chamomile tea.
To make chamomile tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of dried flowers or 1 tea bag in a flask for a teapot, stand for 10-15 mins, strain and drink. Try to inhale the steam as you slowly sip the tea. Valerian root and jujube seeds are often used to calm the mind and promote better sleep.
Chinese Dietary Therapy
Certain foods are believed to help with sleep. For example, warm milk with honey.
Lotus seed and egg soup to help nourish the heart to improve sleep.
Wash 20 dried lotus seed halves. Boil in 2 cups of water with 1 thin slice of fresh ginger added. Boil until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Add a pinch of sea salt, then quickly break an egg into the boiling water and stir for 1-2 mins until the egg is cooked.
Garnish with finely chopped spring onion.
Also, try and reduce or eliminate stimulating foods such as coffee and spice.
Qi Gong, Tai Qi or Yoga
Using a combination of gentle movements, deep breathing, and meditation to balance the body’s energy and reduce stress, can improve sleep and provide you with a perfect night’s sleep.
The use of essential oils like lavender, which is believed to have calming effects, can be incorporated into massage, diffused in the bedroom or sprayed directly onto a pillow, like their popular ‘pillow’ spray, which is blended for a more restful you, and packed with precious oils like patchouli, traditionally known to aid in relaxation and lift the mood.
Proper arrangement of your bedroom, including the placement of the bed and the use of soothing colours, can create a perfect night’s sleep.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Practices like meditation and mindfulness can help calm the mind and reduce stress, making it easier to fall asleep. Try journaling on an evening, allow all the thoughts to flow through the pen and onto the page. This simple exercise can help clear the mind. Any important information or reminders can also be noted down to help unburden the mind before sleep.
This involves creating suction on the skin to increase blood flow and promote relaxation, which may indirectly aid sleep by reducing tension.
Balancing Yin and Yang
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasises a balance between opposing forces, such as yin and yang. An imbalance can lead to sleep disturbances, so TCM practitioners aim to restore harmony. You can aid in balancing your yin and yang energies by aiming to have a healthy work-life balance. Following the mantra of ‘everything in moderation’ helps maintain balance in all aspects of life.
It’s important to note that individual responses to these methods may vary, and consulting with a trained TCM practitioner is advisable to personalise treatment for your specific needs. Additionally, combining these practices with good sleep hygiene habits, like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment and removing blue light sources can further enhance their effectiveness.
To find out more visit here