Bedtimes with little ones can be challenging. Depending on the age of your child, how they are coping, how much exercise they’ve done or what scary books they’ve read, getting them to sleep can take time and patience, at a point in the day when you might very well be ready for some time to yourself.
Finally, when they quieten down – baths done, stories read, songs sung, goodnight kisses given – it’s time to clear up from the day and schedule for the next day. For us, this means time for a couple of hours’ work or maybe some herb processing, bread making or whatever other tasks need doing, maybe a TV programme or, on rare occasions, a film!
Then you head up to bed, get all sorted, practically collapse into the sheets, only to discover your brain is whirring: Have I done everything? Did I lock all the doors? What’s going on with work projects/children’s schedules/life? Is Grandma going to be ok? What shall we do at the weekend? How can I fit the children’s homework in? Maybe we should all take up rock climbing? And so it goes on, a relentless spinning record of thoughts and worries which inevitably leads to: I cannot sleep; I need to sleep; I’ll be exhausted if I don’t sleep. As you will know, this only exacerbates a tired mind that refuses to calm down.
Insomnia is characterised by an inability to fall asleep, or the continuous waking from sleep through the night. Poor sleep can lead to total exhaustion and other health- and anxiety-related issues. There can be underlying health issues with insomnia, but often there are things you can do to help support the body to calm down, for the relaxation part of the nervous system to work its magic and help you find more peaceful sleep. It is definitely worth being proactive to see if these techniques work for you.
Four Top Tips for Peaceful Sleep
1. Caffeine is a major contributor to unsettled sleep. We often recommend a gradual cessation of caffeine to note any differences in your experience of sleep. You can start by only drinking caffeine from an hour after you wake and stopping before midday, and then slowly stopping altogether for a two-week period. It really can make a big difference.
2. A relaxing herbal tea around 8pm can really set the scene for getting you ready for bed. It’s a little reminder to your nervous system that you are starting to wind down from your day. We opt for our delicious Heart and Soul Tea that we shared in Issue 62 of JUNO (see below). This refreshing but soothing blend is a ‘hug in a mug’. It contains rose, lemon balm, hawthorn and lime blossom… Mmm, so tasty!
3. A relaxing bath, maybe with some bath salts or an oil, again sends a message to your body that you’re getting ready to drop today’s stresses and move into sleep mode.
4. Try a meditation. We have trained in yoga nidra meditation, and it is our absolute go-to for relaxing the body and finding ‘yogic sleep’, the translation of ‘yoga nidra’. The body is calm and relaxed, the mind observant but focused.
Heart and Soul Tea
Preparing the Herbs
After harvesting the herbs – rose, lemon balm, hawthorn, lime blossom – they can be laid on newspaper on a tray and placed in a warm, dry place. An airing cupboard is perfect. When crispy to the touch, they are dry. Snip into small bits, leaving the roses whole if you prefer. Mix equal parts of each herb and store in an airtight storage jar with a beautifully created label on the outside naming the tea and listing the ingredients.
Prepare one teaspoonful per cup in a teapot and add boiling water. Leave to steep for 5–10 minutes and pour through a strainer. We like to serve it in a beautiful teapot with a china cup.
Herbal educators, creative activists and authors of The Sensory Herbal Handbook, Karen Lawton and Fiona Heckels are the Seed Sistas, putting herbal medicine back where it belongs, in your hands. They are the founders of the social enterprise for education, Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution. Keep an eye out for their online courses, especially their new one on supporting sleep.
Seed Sistas are a regular column in JUNO Magazine, Sleep Deep was published in Winter 2020 Issue 70.