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Complementary medicine.

Byline: Dr Yvonne Majury

YOU know the scene well. You have a big day ahead and you need a good night's sleep so you are well prepared.

Then it happens. You can't get to sleep. No matter what you do, you just can't drop off.

You are doomed to lie there for hours on end because the worries and tensions of life simply won't go away.

Instead, they seem to become impossible to overcome. Thinking about unpleasant experiences, in particular, often prevent sleep.

It can make you feel really low, but at the same time your brain seems to be working faster and faster, rather than slowing down and relaxing.

If only we could just switch ourselves off like a TV or computer. Unfortunately, the next best thing is often a sleeping pill that will turn you out like a light.

There's no doubt that this approach will have the desired effect.

This is understandable when you feel there is no other way out of this predicament - it seems the most logical decision at the time.

After all, the same chores are awaiting you the next day, whether you've had a great night's sleep or not, so why not?

Well, the main reason that puts a lot of people off sleeping pills is their side effects. It's one thing feeling tired the next day after a bad night, but tranquillisers can leave you feeling permanently zonked.

And this hangover feeling is not the only downside. There is the risk of addiction with some medication, destroying the body's ability to react normally. None of us like to feel we are out of control, especially when it comes to our own bodies.

So if you don't want to take conventional medication, where do you go from here?

When you can't sleep, the first thing you need to ask is why? If something is worrying you, the simplest thing is to deal with that first and the sleep problem will take care of itself.

Unfortunately, for most people, it's not just as easy as that. Something like money worries, for example, won't go away overnight - unless you win the lottery.

There could be other reasons why you can't sleep. One could be related to when you are having your last meal at night. Eating very late in the evening means your digestion stays wide awake, making it difficult to settle down.

Try to eat your main meal at least four hours before bedtime. And don't drink any coffee, tea or high-caffeine soft drinks such as Coke or Irn-Bru after that time, either.

In fact, avoid stimulants altogether, if you can. If you find caffeine drinks hard to give up try an alternative, such as Bambu or Dandelion coffee, herbal tea or sparkling water.

A cup of camomile tea just before bed can actually help you sleep.

As well as making changes to your lifestyle, the herbal remedy, Valeriana-Hops Complex is highly recommended. It combines the sedative properties of valeriana and hops in a handy remedy to help with sleep disorders.

The gentle action of the herbs on the nervous system will ease any restlessness, anxiety, over-excitability and tension - the main reasons for insomnia.

Adults are advised to take 20-30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime. Do not replace prescribed tranquillisers with this remedy without medical supervision.

But you can use it as well as your usual sleeping pill.
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 24, 2002
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