Body

The minerals and herbs that can help you to sleep better

A good night's sleep is like therapy - here's what you need to help you sleep easy.

By: Lisa Fitzgibbon

Ideally, we should be getting between seven and nine hours of shut-eye per night, but in the always-on world we're living in, reaching this target often seems impossible.

Research shows that getting fewer than seven hours of sleep a night will not only result in reduced energy levels, it will also start having an impact on mental and emotional well-being.

Increased nervous system activity and adrenalin production, an elevated heart rate and anxiety are all symptoms of poor sleep patterns, which can encourage the mind and body to become even more active at night, creating a vicious cycle. If this sounds like you, it's time to do something about it.

Improving your sleep can drastically lift your quality of life, so rather than hoping things will improve on their own, seek out expert advice. The following vitamins, minerals, herbs and lifestyle changes may also help you towards a healthier slumber.

B-group vitamins

Supplementing your B-group vitamins will not only promote energy and reduce stress throughout the day but also encourage better sleep patterns at night.

Calcium

This mineral is one of my favourite supplements for sleep. Among its many vital functions, calcium regulates the nervous system. It calms us and ensures the release of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone.

Magnesium Powder

This mineral supports the nervous system and reduces tension in skeletal muscles.

Go for a green walk

Green walk your way to a better sleep! Studies have shown that a short walk (just 17 minutes) through a green environment in the afternoon can result in a sleep increase of up to three hours. The theory is that walking in a green space (such as a park, forest or bush) calms the body and acts as a signal to induce sleep at night due to the decline in body temperature that occurs following afternoon exercise.

Consider medicinal herbs

Passionflower, California poppy, zizyphus, kava and Jamaican dogwood help to produce GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter which calms the brain, improving the duration and quality of sleep.

Kava in particular is helpful for calming brain chatter (fretting and worrying), relaxing the body and creating optimum conditions for effective sleep. This plant is also helpful for those suffering from excessive REM-stage sleep who experience nightmares and long dreams. To explore the benefits of kava, visit your local herbal pharmacy or ask a naturopath for advice.