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FAQ - Difficulty sleeping

By Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons)

Expert nutritionists share their frequently asked questions…

Q - "I am going through a particularly stressful period at the moment and am having difficulty sleeping. This is made worse by my legs feeling restless. What would you suggest?"

A - Stress and anxiety can make you very tense affecting the quality of your sleep. A deficiency in magnesium, often brought about by stress, can include symptoms such as restless legs, irritability and insomnia. 

Relaxing in a hot bath in the evening with some Dead Sea salts added may help to relax the muscles, as these salts contain many minerals including magnesium, which the body can utilise where needed. You might also consider taking a magnesium supplement one to two hours before bedtime to help relax the muscles and aid sleep. Most importantly, you could try the herb valerian. This has been known for its calming effect since Hippocratic times and is now used to promote a good night’s sleep naturally. It may also provide relief from the symptoms of mild anxiety, which might help you through your stressful period. 

As well as these wonderful natural remedies, it is also important that you maintain a good routine. This includes only using your bedroom to sleep; not to read or watch television, as this may stimulate the brain, promoting wakefulness. Ensure your curtains or blinds are dark enough to cut out the light completely. Try to exercise for 30 minutes every day, which will help to reduce stress and improve mental health. However, do not exercise too close to bedtime as this may also keep you awake. Breathing exercises, such as deep belly breathing, can also help to encourage sleep. Breathe in through your nose for a count of three and out through your mouth for another count of three, then try to increase it to four in and out, then five and finally six. 

Finally, avoid late night stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks and sugary foods, to ensure some peaceful sleep.


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