Natural remedies - and a few lifestyle adjustments - can help beat occasional bouts of insomnia. [Photo: Bigstock]

A sleep solutions ‘cheat sheet’

16 March, 2016

How well we sleep is tangled up with so many aspects of our lives: what we are eating, the amount of stress we are under, the demands of balancing life and work and the physical atmosphere of our bedrooms are just some of these.

While the occasional sleepless night is understandable, even to be expected when occasional insomnia turns to chronic insomnia it’s important to take actions to remedy things.

There is now a wealth of information to show that chronic lack of sleep can lead to depression, premature ageing and weight gain.

If you are having trouble sleeping here’s our best ‘cheat sheet’ solutions to help you get back on track.


Lack of sleep can be sue to nutrient imbalances. If stress is keeping you awake at night consider if you are getting enough of the following:

  • B vitamins Stress depletes B vitamins which are necessary to balance moods, improve energy levels and promote the production of serotonin and support restful REM sleep. You may be specifically low in B6 which has a tranquilising effect and can helps balance moods swings related to PMT, which can also keep you awake But because B vitamins are a ‘family’ that works best together, try taking it as part of a B-complex.
  • Vitamin C Stress also robs the body of vitamin C which plays a role in our energy levels and the body’s ability to ward off and recover from illness.
  • Essential minerals A combination of calcium, magnesium and zinc may also be helpful since it will help with energy production, have a calming effect on an overexcited nervous system and help relax the muscles.

Flower remedies          

Flower remedies work through the emotions and the psyche to heal the physical body. They are affordable and portable and great to keep on hand for use in times of stress or transition. For insomnia choose the one that best suits your symptoms:

  • Olive For those who suffer from complete mental and physical exhaustion, has used up all reserves of energy. When you are tired but sleepless.
  • White chestnut Persistent and racing thoughts that make it difficult to switch off and that give rise to insomnia, tension and fatigue.
  • Vervain For those with strong will who often over exert themselves, over-achievers who find it hard to relax or be still.
  • Bach Unwind Brings relief when it’s difficult to relax, to switch off and recharge with a night’s sleep. Use for wakefulness connected to feeling overwrought, impatient, worried, inability to let go of perfectionism and emotional intensity.


For long term problems with sleep your homoeopath will prescribe the remedy that most suits your unique combination of symptoms. For short term- relief most homoeopathic chemists can make up a remedy to bring relief. We recommend:

  • Insomnia combination A combination of Coffea, Passiflora, Valeriana and Kali Brom all in 6c dilution, Take before bedtime.


Herbs can be taken as soothing teas but they can also be infused into a warm bath to help induce restful sleep. Our favourites are:

  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) Has a nervine and sedative action that can help relieve stress. Aids chronic insomnia and leaves you feeling refreshed the next day. Antispasmodic action relieves muscle tension, cramps, twitching and pain.
  • Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) Helpful for insomnia, restlessness and excitability, supports an over-active nervous system. A good anti-spasmodic for digestive problems, period pains, dry coughs and rheumatism.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) A sedative and tonic herb used for weakness, stress, nervous exhaustion and insomnia. Rejuvenates and calms and clears the mind.
  • Limeflower (Tilia vulgaris) Also known as Linden, it relaxes nervous tension, excitability and helps insomnia. An antispasmodic action that can help relieve tension headaches.
  • Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia) Soothes the nerves and quiets the mind. Supports the nervous system when stressed; great for workaholics, nervous exhaustion and headaches.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomila) Excellent, safe sedative herb, great for children where it may be used as herbal baths. Helps anxiety, stress and any conditions associated with it such as insomnia.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Tonic to the nervous system, helping ease exhaustion and promote natural sleep. Can help relive painful tension headaches.


Essential oils have a powerful effect on our mind and emotions. Use them in a variety of different ways, including massage, in bath oils, diffused in the air for instance with a vapouriser or aromastone or simply a drops on a tissue or on your pillowcase.

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Harmonises the nervous system and can have a sedative or stimulant action depending on body’s needs. Use for insomnia due to stress and anxiety.
  • Roman chamomile (Anthemis noblis) Soothing, calming and anti-depressant. Eases the stress and anxiety that can contribute to bouts of insomnia.
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium) An effective sedative and anti-depressant oil. Useful for insomnia because of how it lifts the spirits and calms anxiety. A good choice for those who are easily alarmed.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) Helps relieve anxiety and is rejuvenating to the nervous system. Good for stressed, tired or overwhelmed people and a useful aid to peaceful meditation.
  • Bergamot (Citrus aurantium bergamia) Uplifting, cooling and fruity, this eases anxiety and gives support in times of stress particularly if you feel irritable and over wrought. Used throughout the day it eases tension for a better night’s sleep.


There’s no escaping that we are what we eat. TO help encourage restful sleep think about rebalancing your diet.

  • Take these out Remove chocolate, stimulants, cigarettes and alcohol from your routine as these ‘stimulate’ the body and disrupt sleep. It’s worth noting that some prescription drugs affect sleep patterns too.
  • Add these instead Whole grains, pure water, rainbow fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds. These contain B vitamins, magnesium and other nutrients vital to supporting the nervous system and overall health and vitality of the body, helping you to eliminate stress! Avoid eating heavy meals after early evening, it overloads the digestion and may affect sleep, if it’s necessary to eat late make it light.               


Getting the work/life balance right is something many of us struggle with. Here are some thoughts about how to get the best for your health throughout the day.

When you are at work:

  • Keep remedies on hand Use de-stress remedies throughout the day to use as needed
  • Get organised practice time management, communicate better try to think positively
  • Give yourself a break it’s great to be focused and efficient but remember you are only human. Worry less about mistakes and remember to have a little fun every day

And when you are at home:

  • Turn the noise down Avoid TV and computers before bed and try instead to incorporate deep breathing exercises, meditation or relaxation techniques before sleep.
  • Get out more Make time to exercise or walk in green spaces for 20 minutes a day.
  • Try a warm bath Warm baths before bed with sea salts or Epsom salts added, they’re high in magnesium to relax the body and muscles, follow with a massage of soothing essential oils.


For more on getting a good night’s sleep see our article How to get a good night’s sleep