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Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Registered in England No. 2530437

Issue 33

Monthly Health Review, June 2003 href="newsletters_archive.php">(View previous newsletterss)


A good night's sleep is something many people find elusive. For one reason
or another between 10 and 12 million people in the United Kingdom suffer
with poor sleep (1).

Anxiety, money worries, shift-work, physical discomfort, noisy neighbours,
or certain types of medication - taking antihistamines for example, may
lead to poor sleeping patterns (2). Also, the need for sleep decreases
with age. A baby needs about 14 hours of sleep a day, a 5 year old child
about 12 hours, and adults between seven and eight hours. These amounts
can vary, as some people need ten hours, while others can function effectively
on five hours a night. The elderly tend to sleep less at night and snooze
more during the day (3). Sleep encourages the content to manufacture growth
hormone from the brain. This in turn encourages the content to manufacture
proteins for growth and repair (1).


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Sleep Disorders...

The main causes of sleep disorders are:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep - see Insomnia
  • Difficulty in staying awake - see narcolepsy;
  • Disruption in the sleep/wake cycle for example shift-workers or people
    travelling across different time-zones - see jet-lag
  • Other problems, for example bedwetting, nightmares, sleepwalking

Insomnia affects approximately one third of the population during
a year. Anxiety and depression account for about half of the cases. The
remaining half can be brought about by any of the following:

  • Physical problems, allergies, chronic pain, restless legs, withdrawal
    symptoms from drugs (including illicit drugs).
  • Marital problems, job stress, manic tendencies (people so full of
    drive and energy, that they do not need much sleep).
  • Noise, light, misconception of amount of sleep actually needed (3)
    * Being highly strung or having poor self-image (1)
  • Other causes of Insomnia can be divided into circumstances that can
    be changed and medical conditions that may need to be addressed by the
    sufferer with the help of a practitioner.

Drugs are a way of helping to induce sleep, they are meant for short-term
use only, as their role is to re-educate the content (and mind) to allow
natural sleep.

Jet-lag and the effect of working shifts may
have similar effects on the content through interruption of the sleep-wake
cycle. Symptoms include the desire to sleep during the day, mental activity
at night, general fatigue, reduced physical and mental ability and poor
memory. The symptoms can be minimised by drinking plenty of water and
non-alcoholic drinks and eating small meals (3).

Narcolepsy is a disorder characterised by chronic,
recurrent, excessive sleepiness during the day. These phases may last
for seconds, or for longer than an hour and consequently may interfere
with work and daily life. Narcolepsy is diagnosed by the electrical recording
of brain activity. Treatment involves regular naps and drugs to control
drowsy phases. The condition is often inherited (3).

Sleep apnoea is a condition associated with
snoring and extremely irregular breathing throughout the night, where
a person temporarily stops breathing for ten seconds and longer. This
can become a hazard, as it may lead to high blood pressure (3).

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Herbs and Insomnia

Herb teas prepared from infusions of plants such as
camomile, hops, lemon balm, passionflower and scullcap have all met with
some success throughout the centuries.

Of all the herbs that have been traditionally used,
Valerian is considered the most popular and has been extensively researched
during recent years. It exerts a mild hypnotic (soporific or sleep-producing)
action in both normal sleepers and sufferers of Insomnia. In studies carried
out on those with no history of Insomnia, an extract of valerian root
improved sleep quality and the time taken to go to sleep (4). Valerian
maintains healthy sleep without a feeling of tiredness the next day, unlike
some forms of sleep-inducing medication.

Various studies have utilised mixtures of herbs including
St. John's Wort. These herbs have been reported to be more effective
than commonly used drugs in treating symptoms of anxiety, when given to
100 patients for two weeks in a double blind trial. A sedative action
has been described for valerian in combination with hops (5).

Passionflower has been used for sleeplessness due to
mental exertion and restlessness, nervous excitability, over-active brain
and alcoholism. Passionflower exerts a hypnotic, antispasmodic, mild sedative
action without leaving depression (6).

Homoeopathy and Insomnia

In order to determine the correct homoeopathic remedy
for a person suffering sleep problems, it may be necessary for them to
consult a qualified homoeopath if the standard available remedies are
not successful. Some popular remedies include:

Aconite ~ Very restless, tangles in the sheets,
may wake with panic or anxiety (7).

Arnica ~ Overtiredness leads to sleeplessness. Bed feels too hard

Arsenicum ~ if sleepless due to anxiety, racing thoughts or unable
to get back to sleep once woken (1).

Belladonna ~ Hot, jerking limbs as dropping off to sleep. Nightmares

Bryonia ~ Wakes in early hours and worries over finances etc. (7).

Coffea ~ if sleepless due to over excitement or racing thoughts

Kali. Carb ~ if generally can't sleep (1).

Nux vom ~ if due to over work or racing thoughts (1). Wake with
hangover feeling (7).

Silica ~ if can't get back to sleep once woken (1).

Sulphur ~ if sleepless before midnight or after 3am (1). Gets overheated
in bed and has to stick limbs out of covers (7).

Aromatherapy and sleep

Lavender's relaxing properties have been enjoyed since
Roman times by adding 4-6 drops to the bath. Some people find a few drops
of lavender oil on their pillow helpful to aid a good night's sleep (8).

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Nutrition and

Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency include Insomnia,
with some associated problems such as nightmares, talking in the sleep
and movement in the sleep (9).

Foods rich in magnesium include soyabeans, nuts, wholegrains,
seafoods, dried fruits, meat and fresh green vegetables. The plant pigment
chlorophyll being a source of magnesium (10).

Zinc aids the recovery of content tissues during

Additional B Complex Vitamins may be useful
for people where stress contributes to poor sleep patterns; vitamin B5
may help relieve stress. Niacinamide may be particularly helpful for those
who fall asleep readily but cannot return to sleep after waking during
the night. Vitamin C is important in reducing stress, and helps
prevent oxidation of the B vitamins (11).

If the diet appears to lack a certain nutrient, it
would be helpful to take a multinutrient supplement to correct any imbalance
in the diet.

Turkey and milk are good sources of tryptophan, the
natural precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important
role in sleep (11).

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Hints to help
reduce sleep disorders

The flower remedy 'white chestnut' may be particularly
helpful to those who find they can't sleep because of thoughts that keep
going round and round.

Avoid alcohol, especially in excess; the consumption
of alcohol can actually keep people awake. If a person has a habit of
drinking regularly, it may be helpful if the number of alcohol units is
reduced or even cut out for a few days to see whether there is any improvement
in sleep quality.

Carbohydrate-rich foods like fruit, whole-wheat pasta,
and stodgy wholegrain desserts are good sleep inducers if eaten an hour
before retiring. This is because of the slow, steady release of glucose
into the blood which the brain relies on for a constant supply of energy.
A fall in blood glucose levels encourages the state of awakeness via a
release in hormones that regulate blood glucose levels (2).

Avoidance of caffeine would benefit those who find
it difficult to sleep (11). The stimulating effect of caffeine can take
up to 20 hours to wear off. Caffeine is best avoided from lunchtime onwards.
Herb or fruit teas, water or caffeine-free coffee replacement drinks could
be taken instead.

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  1. "The Family Guide to Homoeopathy" Dr Andrew Lockie. Hamish Hamilton
  2. "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine". Murray & Pizzorno. 1998. Optima.
  3. "BMA Complete Family Health Encyclopedia", Ed. Dr. T. Smith. 1996.
  4. "The Healing Power of Herbs" M.T. Murray ND. Prima. 1995.
  5. "Herbal Medicines", C Newall et al. 87:406-409.
  6. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine". Thomas Bartram FIMH.
    Robinson. 1998.
  7. Guide to Homoeopathy, Dr. A Jones.
  8. "The Healing Power of Aromatherapy" H Walji PhD. P105-106. Prima,
  9. Rom J Neural Psychiatry; 1990. Jan-Mar, 28:1, 19-24.
  10. "Nutrition Concepts & Controversies", Sizer & Whitney. West. 1994.
  11. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing", Balch & Balch. Avery, 2000.

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