Sometimes worries disturb us and don't let us sleep. Here comes insomnia that may even worsen the nervousness. Nature and yoga, also in this case, can give us a hand, so let's see the best herbal remedies, supplements and meditation techniques that, as proven by scientific studies, are able to improve the quality of sleep, counteract insomnia and anxiety.
Herbal tea of ??happiness
The well-known French herbalist Maurice Messegue, in his book My Herbarium, proposes his recipe to drive away anxiety, worries and insomnia. Bring a couple of cups of water to a boil, remove from heat and add a pinch of verbena, a sedative and anxiolytic plant, 1 pinch of mint, which relaxes both the digestive tract and the nervous system, a handful of flowers and leaves of linden, useful in case of anxiety, stress and headache, and 1 teaspoon of chamomile, one of the best remedies for anxiety (Khan et al, Front Pharmacol, 2016 - McKay et al, Phytother Res, 2006 - Hieu et al, Phytother Res, 2019). Let it sit for ten minutes, then filter and drink.
Mindfulness techniques, namely aimed at bringing attention back to the here and now without judging sensations and moods, and meditation have been shown to improve the quality of sleep, even in the case of health problems, to counteract insomnia and to speed up the time taken to fall asleep (Gross et al, Explore, 2012). A very useful yoga exercise to bring the attention of the present time consists of this pranayama, called Ujjayi, or ocean breathing. Sit in a position that is comfortable for you, cross-legged or on your heels. The hands are resting on the knees and the chest is open. Breathe in deeply through your nose. Exhale, again through the nose, at the same time try to squeeze the throat muscles slightly, a sound similar to that of ocean waves should result. Practice this pranayama for a few cycles.
Then you can do alternate nostril breathing. Always breathing through the nose, plug the right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and inhale for 5 seconds, then release the right nostril and plug the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand, exhale for up to 5 seconds. Maintaining the position of the hand, inhale from the right nostril, then with the thumb plug the right nostril and exhale with the left, and so on. It has been shown that performing these two pranayamas just described has led to improvements in sleep quality and anxiety (Jayawardena et al, Int J Yoga, 2020).
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally synthesized by the body. Its production increases in dark conditions and is inhibited by light, helping to regulate the sleep-wake rhythm. In the case of insomnia, taking melatonin supplements has been shown to reduce the time to fall asleep, to increase the duration of sleep and to improve overall sleep quality (Ferracioli Oda et al, PLoS One, 2013). Melatonin is considered safe in both the short and long term. However, some side effects such as headache, sleepiness and nausea may occur, especially if you take melatonin for long periods of time. Since there is a lack of studies regarding safety in pregnancy, breastfeeding and children, it is good to avoid it in these cases (Andersen et al, Clin Drug Investig, 2016).