Friday, April 20, 2012

Sleepy Time

I love the scent of lavender.  At the farmer's market near my office, a lavender farmer is one of the vendors and it is heavenly to smell the soaps, creams and oils he sells.  I knew you could cook with  lavender but I didn't know that it had secret sleeping powers.  Browsing around in one of my health books, I came upon some information that might help those of you who are struggling with getting a good night's sleep.

Grief can put your sleeping patterns into a netherworld of having an exhausted body but a restless mind that just won't slow down.  During this time, rest is elusive and you just want to sleep, sleep sleep.   Just when you need a restful sleep, you can't seem to get it.  Unfortunately, sleep deprivation produces a sharp decrease in seratonin levels, a key buffer against depression.

Maybe lavender can help.  Lavender is amazing because it is an herb with natural calming properties.  Some of you may already know this but I am just discovering that besides lavender's wonderful scent, it has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep  Researchers have found that lavender lengthens total sleep time, increases deep sleep and helps people feel refreshed. 

According to Dr. Alan Hirsch, neurological director at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, lavender oil is a safe and effective remedy for insomnia sufferers.  Dr. Hirsch suggests the following:

               --place several drops of essential oil of lavender on a cloth and leave it on your nighstand, or fill an electric diffuser with oil to disperse fragrance throughout the room;

               --grow your own lavender and keep a basket of flowers at your bedside;

               --make an herbal pillow filled with fresh lavender leaves and refresh the leaves every three weeks;

               --massage lavender drops on your temples to soothe headaches or migraines.

Relaxation is the key to sleeping well all the way through the night, not just an hour ot two.  Perhaps the scent of lavender can help you close your eyes and take you there.

In this fast-paced, 24/7, non-stop world that we live in, we all deserve a restful night of sleep.