About Me

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Elk & Me, 810 High st, Thornbury, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Nellie specialises in mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, stress, memory, and insomnia and also has experience and personal interest in helping people with skin conditions. Nellie treats a person holistically, looking at the entire person. In comprehensive consult and using tools such as functional pathology, Neuro-questionnaire, Live blood screening (Hemaview) and iridology. As both Medical Herbalist and Naturopath, I love using botanical medicine along side lifestyle and nutritional advice to empower people to feel better.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Good nights sleep zzzzzzzz

A refreshing full nights sleep is essential for health.
We all have had those bad nights tossing and turning, not being able to fall asleep due to non stop mind chatter, and the next day felt the effects, daytime sleepiness, reduced cognitive performance, and poor concentration etc. If this turns into long term more chronic insomnia, this can impact our jobs and lifestyle. Poor sleepers according to studies recieving fewer promotions, higher absenteeism, and can show lower productivity (Leigh JP 1991; Rajput V et al 1999).

Insomnia is not a disorder in its self, it is a symptom. So looking for the underlying cause is key to improving sleep quality and really overall health and happiness.

 Start by trying some of the ideas below. If you do not see improvements, see a natural health professional to help you figure out and address the cause.

Heres a few points to help improve sleep patterns….

  •    Avoid tyramine containing foods at night- bananas, pizza, chocolate, pickled salamis, liver, cavier, beans, avocado, fermented dairy products( dairy), cheese, yeast extracts, including beer, wine, fermented soy beans.
  •          Eat tryptophan foods regularly, spirilina, chicken livers, pumpkin seeds, turkey, tofu, chicken almonds.
  •          Melatonin reducing agents, caffeine, chocolate, prozac, asprin, iboprefen, nicotine and xanax. Don’t have these close to bed time.
  •          Avoid fructose and fatty greasy food as lowers melatonin.
  •          Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. 
  •          Avoid naps during the day as they can interfere with the circadian sleep cycle
  •          Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day – caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and alcohol can cause waking in the night.
  •          Get regular exercise, however try not to exercise close to bedtime as it may be too stimulating. 
  •          Avoid heavy meals late in the day, however having light protein with dinner helps balance blood sugars while sleeping - if sleep maintenance is a problem.
  •          Ensure that the sleeping place is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold.  If there is too much light try a sleeping mask,  and if too much noise try earplugs. 
  •          Establish a routine to help relax and unwind prior to bedtime, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, sipping herbal relaxing teas, meditation, yoga, or taking a bath.
  •          Do not watch TV or do any computer work prior to going to bed.
  •          Avoid using the bed for anything other than sleep or sex.
  •          If having trouble falling asleep then get out of bed and do something that is not overly stimulating until the sleepiness returns.
  •          Try listening to relaxation tapes such as Deepak Chopra’s ‘Restful Sleep” tape. 
  •          If lying awake worrying about things, leave a pen and paper beside the bed and write a to-do list which may help to "let go" of any worries. 
  •          Consider acupuncture - it has been found to have a success rate of 90% in the treatment of Insomnia. 
  •          Consider herbal medicine to support nervous system and reduce stress.
  •          Try muscle relaxation techniques, e.g tense and relax different muscle groups throughout the body whilst going to sleep to help control the mind and the body. 
  •          Meditation

  •       Calcium may help with sleep onset insomnia (due to its ability to sedate the central nervous system). I recommend getting a hair mineral analysis to measure the minerals.
  • Magnesium will help with sleep maintenance insomnia, and it also reduces the next-day fatigue associated with insomnia. 
  • L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).  Serotonin is an important initiator of sleep and the synthesis of serotonin depends on tryptophan availability.  Note that L-tryptophan should not be used with other medications (benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol).  Important co-factors vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium should be administered with L-tryptophan or 5-HTP to ensure its conversion to serotonin.  This supplement should only be prescribed by a Naturopath or doctor, as can have harmful effects if prescribed incorrectly. There are other specific supplements also but should only be given by qualified health professional.
  • There are many herbs that can I have found to really help improve sleep quality. These should be prescribed by a qualified herbalist for best results, as a medical herbalist will be able to build a tincture that really addresses the individuals needs without causing negative side affects. Some of my favourite herbs here are Lavendula, Hypericum, Valerian, Avena, Withania, Passiflora, Scutellaria, and Zizyphus.  


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