Sleep problems and stress are often (though not always) related.
Stress is part of many people‘s daily lives and challenges our physical, mental and emotional resources. Short-term stress can be useful in achieving goals and overcoming challenges, but prolonged or repeated stresses can be harmful and may compromise your health.
The hormones your body releases to deal with stress, including adrenalin and cortisol, affect the way your body and brain work, leading to changes in your physical and emotional responses. Stress keeps your muscles in a state of tension leading to neck and shoulder pain and headaches. It affects your brain chemistry making you irritable, depressed or unable to concentrate. It also challenges your immune system, leaving you prone to colds, flu, and allergies.
Prolonged stress is also implicated in serious health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, mental illness, stroke, and adrenal gland exhaustion. But don‘t be alarmed! There are many ways to minimise the negative effects of stress, using a combination of diet, herbal medicine, relaxation, exercise and positive thought.
Many conditions seen regularly in our herbal medicine clinics also result from or are exacerbated by chronic stress. Psoriasis, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, insomnia, eczema and even arthritis can be made worse by stress. Herbal medicine can help by giving gentle support to counter the damaging effects of stress on your body and to help you cope better in stressful situations.
Insomnia and poor sleep can strike at any time and plague our ability to get a proper night’s rest. Some people have chronic insomnia or it can be a temporary problem caused by stress or pain. For others it is difficult to sleep because of shift patterns, young children or working nights. It is vital to get enough sleep as this is when our bodies carry out essential repair and maintenance.
At Napiers, our Medical Herbalists are often asked to help treat insomnia and other sleeping difficulties. Herbalists always look at the patient as a whole and consider all the factors that might be causing a problem including diet, lifestyle, emotional and physical health.
If stress is the culprit then using herbs that help to relax the nervous system and reduce adrenal response can be very helpful.
If pain is a problem then muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory and analgesic herbs can help dramatically. Herbs have the advantage of providing a non-addictive sleep aid that will not leave you feeling groggy in the morning like some pharmaceutical medicines can.