It might seem somewhat strange, but sales of sleep products are always higher in the summer months than the winter. With the clocks moving forward at the end of March and the resulting lighter evenings and mornings, many people will be struggling with sleep. In this month’s regular column, three practitioners from Napiers the Herbalists give some advice on how to get the sleep you need.

Dee Atkinson MNIHM
Medical Herbalist

Before you start taking remedies for Insomnia, try darkening your bedroom. Use a black out blind and heavy curtains, or if this is not possible use an eye mask. Make sure that your bedroom is not too warm and that you are not getting too hot in bed. When you start waking early every morning it becomes a habit and you need to break this pattern. As well as darkening your room, use a lavender essential oil directly onto your pillow case, the smell of Lavender has a direct effect on your nervous system, aiding relaxation.

Sleep is about establishing a pattern, so a few nights of poor sleep, or waking early can easily become habit. There are many herbs that have sedative and tranquillising properties, herbs that can be used in bedtime teas, added to warm baths, or made into liquid mixes or capsules.

Start with a tea made with Lime flowers, Chamomile and Hops in equal parts (use loose herbs as these are much stronger) and add two teaspoons per cup to a tea pot. Drink warm with a teaspoon of honey. If you have occasional insomnia, this can just take the edge off the problem and allow you to sleep.

If your mind keeps churning over and over and you feel stress is part of the problem, if you simply cannot fall asleep, then Passiflora capsules could be the answer. This has a sedative effect and helps to calm the mind. Take two capsules before bed.

For problems with early waking, where you easily fall asleep but are wide awake a few hours later , look for a liquid remedy that contains Valerian. This is both a sedative and mildly tranquilising helping sleep to return.

Remember to avoid coffee in the afternoon and too much alcohol, watching television or playing on your computer in the hours before bedtime as all these can be too stimulating.

Fiona Wolfenden MRCHM, Dip.Ac., MBAcC

Having myself suffered from two bouts of insomnia lasting over a few months related to stress and a strong family predisposition, I found acupuncture played a very important role in helping me relieve and reduce this condition. It helped reduce the levels of anxiety I felt before going to bed, facing possibly yet another night of being awake with the next day feeling like a living death. It also helped me cope emotionally in a more balanced way with the stressful life events that were happening. As well as having weekly acupuncture sessions for about a month, I also had  ear seeds stuck to the calming reflex points within the ear, which maintained the effect from the acupuncture sessions. Having experienced this condition for myself, I have a special interest in seeing patients with this as either their main condition or as a secondary symptom. In my experience many cases of insomnia can be greatly helped by a course of acupuncture treatments.

Lisa Beveridge BSc

Lisa Beveridge BSc


Reflexology, because it seeks to bring the body into balance may help conditions such as insomnia.  The relaxation effect that reflexology induces often makes people feel sleepy. I have had many clients who claim that reflexology has helped their sleep patterns to improve. This in turn can help individuals deal with problems they may be facing more effectively.

When treating insomnia with reflexology the best results are obtained when a good bed time routine is established and alcohol and caffeine avoided a few hours before bed time. Other factors, such as events in an individuals life, should be taken into account. Are they on any medication with insomnia resulting as a side effect? Is anxiety, stress or depression a factor? Could the person be eating too late at night?

Hand reflexology is particularly useful and something that people can do to help them-selves.  Rubbing the hands with a soothing lotion perhaps containing an essential oil such as lavender can be very relaxing, admittedly, it feels much nicer when someone else does this for you.  Include the wrists as there is a meridian acu-point called Heart 6 which is good for helping insomnia located on the pinky side above the palm on the wrist.  Rubbing the ears may also be beneficial.

A full holistic treatment is recommended by a qualified reflexologist, for more information about reflexology visit

For a consultation with Dee, Fiona or Lisa call Napiers the Herbalists on 0131 315 2130. For a full list of treatments offered by Napiers go to


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