As day turns to night, we begin to shift towards the rest and stillness of sleep.  Some people have a  particular ‘ritual’ that they engage in like reading or listening to music. One student, Caterina relates her approach to bedtime.  It is something she tries to incorporate at least a few nights a week. I think you’ll find it sounds like something worth trying!

“I begin with some light stretching and a few yoga poses while my epsom salts bath is running. Then I soak for about 20 mins in the warmth of the bath with either low lighting or a candle.  I usually sip a Mayan hot chocolate by Soma throughout all of this!  After my bath I climb into bed and do some breathing. I do the 4-4-4-4 breath – breathe in 4 counts, hold 4, exhale 4, hold out 4.  I sleep so well after this.”

If you have a particular before sleep ritual to share, please leave a comment.

Below, you’ll find a fabulous article by friend and colleague Beth Halpern Landau.





Sleep is essential for our psychological and physiological well–being, but many people suffer with sleep deprivation, insufficient sleep, and even chronic insomnia. There are few conditions that are more frustrating. We all crave a good night sleep, and the inability to achieve one can feel like torture, impacting mood, relationships, and the ability to function at work/school.


The range of potential sleep problems is enormous. Insomnia can mean difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking too early, and unrefreshing, or poor quality sleep. Most people can cope with one or two nights of sleeplessness, but continued sleep problems can compromise productivity, create stress at work and home, impact immune function, and contribute to other health problems.


Chronic insomnia must be treated by a health professional. However, for most people, insomnia is either intermittent, or a temporary disruption of normal sleep patterns. In such cases, there are a number of safe, natural approaches to addressing sleep problems.



Best Practices for Good Sleep (aka Sleep Hygiene )


  1. Establish a routine time for going to sleep and waking up and adhere to this every day, not just on the days that your schedule demands. A consistent sleep-wake cycle is perhaps the most important things you can do for good sleep.
  2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and chocolate 4-6 hours before going to bed. Do not eat a heavy meal within 3 hours of going to bed.
  3. Do not engage in heavy exercise for at least 3 hours before going to bed. Adequate exercise during the day is important for quality sleep, but try to get your exercise early.
  4. Sleep in a room that is fully darkened – use an eye mask if there are light leaks into your bedroom
  5. Keep your bedroom at a good temperature – rooms that are too cold or too warm can interfere with sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F or 18° C) with adequate ventilation.
  6. Have a cup of warm chamomile tea before bed (although too much chamomile can cause sleep disturbances and anxiety). There are other herbs that are mildly sedative and a combination of herbs in a tea can be a delightful way to slip into sleep. Try a combination that is 30% Lemon Balm, 30%Passionfruit flower, 30%Lavender flower, and 10% St John’s Wort.
  7. If you should wake up and have trouble falling back asleep, get out of bed, go to another room and do something quiet and relaxing until you feel sleepy. Do not turn on electronic gadgets if possible.
  8. Remember that relaxation is your goal, not sleep – relaxing rest is restorative.  So to that end learn relaxation techniques such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation. Use these techniques before bed, and if you wake up at night.
  9. Try to reduce busy-brain activity. Keep a pen and paper by the bed if you are likely to wake with brainstorms, solutions to the crossword puzzle, or lists of groceries to buy. Write them down, get them out of your head, and go back to sleep.
  10. Too much light before bed can interfere with your natural melatonin production. Keep lights low in your bedroom starting ½ hour before you want to go to sleep. Do not watch television or work on the computer right until you go to sleep. Back-lit readers can be problematic in this regard, but probably slightly less so than bright reading lights.
  11. A warm bath with Epsom salts (a form of magnesium) before bed is soothing and relaxing. Likewise, a foot massage before bed can help with falling asleep.



Related, but not quite-the-same:

Do not keep your cell-phone by your bed – the radiation it emits is dangerous!  Keep your cell-phone in a different room, or at least 10 feet from your head!!


Supplements and Nutrition for Healthy Sleep

  1. Eat foods high in tryptophan before bed – these include bananas, figs, dates, nuts, turkey, milk, yogurt
  2. Melatonin is an excellent supplement for occasional sleeplessness, especially when caused by jet lag or illness. Take 3-5 mg one hour before bedtime. Use a time-released version for difficulties with staying asleep. Do not use melatonin on an on-going basis as it can stop the body’s production of this very important regulatory (and cancer preventing) hormone.
  3. 5HTP is a substance created from the amino acid tryptophan, and in turn, helps in the production of serotonin. It is a useful supplement for depression and insomnia for some people. 5HTP should not be used by people taking anti-depressant medications. Start with 100 mg before bed and increase gradually to 500 mg if needed. As it is a precursor, 5HTP is less likely to cause issues of dependency than melatonin.
  4. GABA is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter for the central nervous system. It works like a mild anti-stress tranquilizer. Take 500-2000 mg before bed on an empty stomach – start low and work up to optimal dosage. There is a chewable low dose form (100 mg each) that is useful for those with anxieties about falling asleep. Make sure you are also taking supplemental Magnesium with GABA
  5. Magnesium – the wonder mineral! This calming mineral is necessary for all sorts of functions, including restful sleep. It is essential for those who have leg cramps at night, and helps with restless leg syndrome. Magnesium is best taken to bowel tolerance, but an initial starting dose of 200 mg before bed can improve sleep dramatically.



Reasons Why You Should Avoid Sleeping Pills

The desperate need for sleep drives many people who would otherwise never take pharmaceutical medications to the resort to taking sleeping pills. There are many reasons why this is a bad practice.

  1. Taking sleeping pills on a regular basis disrupts deeper levels of sleep, causing a dramatic worsening of insomnia over time.
  2. Taking sleeping pills leads to psychological and physiological dependency.
  3. People who take sleeping pills suffer with drowsiness during the day – statistically those who take these drugs are 50% more likely to die in accidents due to their drowsiness, especially in the early morning hours.
  4. Sleeping pills have a long list of side effects including depression, anxiety, confusion, prostate enlargement, and as mentioned above, worsening of insomnia.
  5. Sleeping pills, if used at all, should be used only as temporary solutions in acute, short-lived situations


Homeopathic Remedies for Insomnia

There are hundreds of homeopathic remedies that can be used for insomnia. Remember that homeopathic medicine is holistic medicine, so that every person suffering with insomnia will be treated individually, with consideration of all physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Due to the complexity of this sort of prescribing, chronic insomnia must be treated by a professional. However, occasional, intermittent, situational insomnia can be treated as an acute symptom. Some remedies that may be useful are listed below.



  • Good for people who are excitable and over-sensitive
  • Made from coffee, the person needing this remedy looks like someone who has had too much coffee to drink – tense, exhilarated, lively, on high-speed
  • Insomnia from over-active minds, over-excitement
  • Sleeplessness from excitement, good news – literally over-joyed
  • For example, highly wired children the night before Christmas!
  • Waking with thoughts, ideas, from the slightest noise
  • Sleepless at night, sleepy during the day




  • Good remedy for people who are completely worn out, exhausted – insomnia from exhaustion
  • Exhaustion from lack of sleep, disturbance of sleep schedule, excessive stress
  • Excellent for mothers of sick children, or nursing babies who are up all night long taking care of their little ones
  • Also good for workers on night shifts or with irregular schedules
  • When sleep comes it tends to be restless with anxious dreams and nightmares



  • Indicated for driven, high-strung people, self-indulgent A-type personalities
  • Losing sleep effects this remedy type severely
  • Loss of sleep may be from excessive eating, drinking, partying
  • Can generally fall asleep (which may look more like passing out), but wake in the early hours, unable to fall back asleep, often with anxious thoughts
  • Often fall into deep sleep close to waking time, then have terrible time waking up
  • Insomnia from overwork, over-active mental activity



  • Indicated for reserved, closed people
  • Excellent remedy for insomnia due to grief
  • Difficulty getting to sleep after a loss, disappointment, or from reflecting on past disagreeable occurrences
  • Waking at night with thoughts of their grief and inability to get back to sleep
  • Dreams tend to be vivid, anxious



  • People needing this remedy tend to be gentle, yielding and mild mannered
  • Insomnia with over-active minds, repetition of same thoughts – with frequent wakings
  • When sleeping, the sleep is restless with anxious dreams and nightmares
  • Sleep is better in a cool room with open windows
  • Good insomnia remedy for children when indicated




  • Indicated for very controlled, proper, duty-conscious individuals who can be rather touchy and irritable.
  • This remedy is good for people who are sleepy in the evening, but have trouble falling asleep, and more commonly, staying asleep
  • They tend to have anxious dreams that awaken them
  • They are ‘active’ sleepers – talking, jerking, starting in their sleep
  • They often wake between 2 and 4 in the morning and are then unable to fall back asleep


If one of these remedies seems to be a good match for your sleep issues, try taking a single pellet of a 30 potency about an hour before bed. If you find there is an improvement, do not repeat until the symptoms return. Do not repeat the remedy more than 3 times without a result. You probably need a different remedy.

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