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Tossing and turning in bed at night is a familiar complaint in the UK. One in three Brits suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home often blamed. However, there are simple solutions you can try to remedy the problem.

According to research published in the International Clinical Psychopharmacy, drinking passionflower tea before bed can improve several sleep markers.

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a climbing vine with white and purple flowers. Growing evidence suggests the chemicals in passion flower have calming effects.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of Passionflower on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder.

Polysomnography, also called a sleep study, is a comprehensive test used to diagnose sleep disorders.

A total number 110 adult participants met the inclusion criteria of insomnia disorder.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.

For the study, patients received either the Passionflower extract or the placebo for two weeks.

Patients underwent an overnight sleep study and completed sleep diaries, Insomnia Severity Index, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

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The Insomnia Severity Index is composed of seven questions that evaluate the severity of sleep disturbance during the past two weeks,

The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index is a self-report questionnaire that assesses sleep quality over a one-month time interval.

What did the researchers learn?

“Total sleep time (TST) was significantly increased in the Passionflower group compared with placebo,” they wrote.

What’s more, sleep efficiency and wake after sleep onset “significantly” improved after two weeks in the Passionflower group but there was no difference compared with the placebo group.

The researchers concluded that “the current study demonstrated the positive effects of Passionflower on objective sleep parameters”.

“Further study is needed to investigate the clinical efficacy of Passionflower on insomnia.”

General tips to aid sleep loss

The NHS says: “If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed.”

As the health body explains, few people manage to stick to strict bedtime routines.

“This is not much of a problem for most people, but for people with insomnia, irregular sleeping hours are unhelpful.”

According to the health body, your routine depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it.

“This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.”

Additional ways to relax include:

  • A warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest
  • Writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions
  • relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect
  • Relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you
  • Reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it
  • Avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep.

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