Two natural sleep aids

By Jackie Rainford Corcoran Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

Sleep is critical to our mental and physical well-being. Most health institutions recommend an average of eight hours per night, but everyone is different and our sleep requirements change with age. Discovering what is optimal for you is important.

Why do we need to sleep? Well, science hasn’t entirely figured it out yet.

“We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down,” according to the National Sleep Foundation website. “But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Exactly how this happens and why our bodies are programmed for such a long period of slumber is still somewhat of a mystery.”

Health experts agree, however, that getting enough quality sleep helps protect our health.

Besides the commonly known techniques for getting a good night’s sleep, including limiting caffeine and alcohol after a certain time and a completely dark and comfortably cool bedroom, I have two powerful aids that help me fall asleep and not wake up in the middle of the night:

A powerful question: Ever find yourself unable to shut your brain off when it’s time for shut-eye? If so, ask yourself, “Is the problem I’m thinking about out of my control?” If the answer is “Yes,” happily acknowledge that and give yourself permission to let it go and gently ask your mind to allow for sleep. If the answer is “No,” choose your next action to solve the problem, congratulate yourself for being pro-active and invite your subconscious mind to assist you while you’re sleeping.

Tea: Ever wake up abruptly at 3 a.m. with cortisol coursing through your body? You might be hungry. When our blood sugar gets too low, the body will release cortisol to send an emergency wake up call, “Time to eat!” Did you drink too much alcohol before sleep? Alcohol can help us fall asleep but according to a study published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research,” alcohol disrupts REM – or rapid eye movement – when our bodies are at a sleep level close to being awake. Children and pets can also affect our sleep along with stress and illness. There are many things to consider if you find yourself waking up at 3 a.m. but here is a suggestion worth trying: Pukka Night Time Tea.

Find it at Rosauers grocery store in Bozeman or ask your local grocer to stock it. The blend of natural ingredients includes oat flowering tops, licorice root, chamomile, lavender, limeflower, valerian root and green Rama tulsi leaf.

These days when our crazy cat George St. Pierre bolts off our bed at 3 a.m. to get his automatically dispensed food, I either don’t wake up, or if I do, am able to fall back asleep immediately.

Sleep is a natural way to restore your mind and body. Guard it. Cherish it. Plan for it.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@thetahealth.com, or find more at thetahealth.org.