The fragrant way to a good night’s sleep

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health

I am not a fan of sleeping pills, except in extreme need and for short term use as their side effects can outweigh the benefits.

There are many natural ways to help sleep from herbal concoctions to specially designed light systems, but now there is an entirely fragrant way that apparently can soothe, relieve anxiety and promote sleep with the same mechanism of action and strength as the commonly prescribed barbiturates.

Just what is this miracle worker? It is the aroma of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides and has been researched by Düsseldorf  University where they have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular structure as barbiturates.

Who said you can’t make money out of nature? Well it appears that these researchers will as they have been granted a patent for their discovery, as they reported in the current online issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants are the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs and strange as it may seem the difference between calming and hypnotic effect depends solely on the dosage, not on the drug itself. Benzodiazepines, which are now among the world’s most widely prescribed drugs, are given to help relax the body so that it can drift naturally of sleep. Unfortunately, they are not only potentially addictive, but can also cause serious side effects including depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.

The researchers carried out a large screening study in which they tested hundreds of fragrances but it was just the two mentioned that proved to be effective. Of course this is something that serious aromatherapy student have known for many years but it is good to see science catching up and acknowledging that fragrances have a definite, measurable effect on the body. We absorb fragrance throughout skin and through the air breathed in, and the scent molecules go from the lungs into the blood and then transmitted from there to the brain.

The researchers concluded that their results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy, so all you fans of aromatherapy massage have been vindicated — as if you needed it. So rather than the traditional lavender or camomile that you may have been using to ease yourself into sleep you could now try adding the rather more exotic fragrance of jasmine.

How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

November 17, 2009 by  
Filed under At Home, Health


Everyone occasionally has trouble sleeping, but if it becomes a habit then it a very damaging one for your health. You need a certain level of deep, uninterrupted sleep to help your body do its essential maintenance during the night and if you don’t get it then you definitely will suffer – ask any new mother!

New research has shown that an amazing 64% of us have a bad night’s sleep at least once a wee

k, with nearly one in five of us having sleep problems every night of the week and one in three of us is getting a minimal three to six hours a night. The main reason for sleep difficulties is usually down anxiety and stress and sadly most people put up with it, just lying there hoping to eventually fall asleep.

There are some six simple tips that can help, so let’s see if any of these work for you:

1 Pretend you are a child again and have a regular, enforced, bedtime.

2 Establish another routine in helping you unwind and relax before bed – not watching an adrenalin fuelled movie on tv, but maybe a relaxing bath or quietly meditating to or thinking of what you have to be grateful for that day. It will all help you let go of the stress of the day and be able to relax into sleep.

3 Keep the last hour of the day totally non tech and don’t watch TV, use the computer, mobile phone or iPod. However pleasurable, these will all over stimulate your brain and that’s the last thing you need when you are trying to get to sleep.

4 Make your bedroom a relaxing place that is just where you sleep and not where you keep books or TV or computers.

5 If your worries are keeping you awake, try writing them down before you go to sleep and tell yourself they are taken care of until the morning. Just doing this will help you put anxiety to one side during the night.

6 Spend some time and thought in making your bedroom a really calm, comforting sanctuary. It is your retreat from the world so make it a real pleasure to be in there.

Extra Help

If you still have trouble, before you resort to sleeping pills, do try these natural ways to encourage a good night’s sleep. I use them to combat the effects of the wind and rain which are making me anxious at the moment!

Lavender is very soothing so try having a lavender oil bath, or spray lavender in your bedroom to help you unwind.

Valerian and Hops are two herbs traditionally used to help sleep and there are two herbal remedies from Lane’s you might try. One is called Quiet Life which is particularly helpful if your sleeplessness is due to anxiety and worry and another called Kalms, especially for night time use.

Honey is used in India, just add two teaspoons to a cup of hot water and drink before bedtime.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps regulate the body’s biological clock. When your sleep pattern is disturbed then this rhythm is thrown off and supplementing with melatonin may help.

LightSleeper is a new product from a student who used to have terrible sleep problems. It uses the fact that the way the eyes track a book when reading can be soothing and she has mimicked that movement by using a light source instead. LightSleeper projects a light onto the ceiling and it moves in a controlled, circular motion, and it is claimed that following it encourages the mind to relax into a good night’s sleep. I am trying it myself so I will let you know how I get on, but if you want more information go to the website at and you can also find it online at

The 5 Cs’ that stop you sleeping

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under At Home, Lifestyle, Natural Medicine

Everyone experiences occasional bouts of sleep disturbance, though if it is prolonged it can really impact your health. I have come across an excellent natural way to help you sleep, but I thought it might help you know the five main reasons why we can’t sleep. Knowing by itself doesn’t help, but identifying the problem is the first place to start. They are:

1. Change
2. Conflict
3. Criticisms
4. Concerns
5. Crises

Mostly during the day we manage to deal with them, or put them out of our minds, but at night they come back with a vengeance. Unfortunately they are almost automatic, your mind returns to them in order to solve the ‘problem’ so just telling yourself not to think about them doesn’t do the trick.

There are a couple of suggestions that I have tried, that might help you. First do not beat yourself up about not sleeping – it only makes it worse. Next, from that list of 5, what is the main thing that you focus on as being the root cause for you? If you can identify it then spend ten minutes or so before bed in just writing out everything in your head about that particular topic. Don’t make it neat, don’t make it orderly – just dump it all out on the page, thoughts, feelings, anger, pain, sadness. Whatever is in there, get it out. When you have finished, take the paper and put it in the bin. Say to yourself, that’s done with, anything on there can wait until tomorrow. Repeat this every night and you will find the list getting shorter, and you have made a commitment to yourself that it doesn’t matter until tomorrow.

Stage two, is to prepare yourself for bed by pausing for a few minutes and visualizing your day and all the good things in it that you are grateful for. Allow at least two hours after eating before going to bed, and don’t have any coffee or tea during that time either.

Finally, I have just come across a new item from the Bach Flower company called Night Rescue (they make Rescue Remedy) and it is a different combination of flower essences that I have found very effective in stopping the brain racing away. Five drops on your tongue before going to bed is recommended, and it is available from health shops, and Boots the Chemist. Worth a try.