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SleepWinter is a busy time of the year with social engagements and house guests from abroad adding to the daily grind. All the rushing around and late nights impinge on your sleep and eventually exhaust you. While your commitments may not allow for more than a few hours of sleep, consider using these age old herbal remedies to ensure that whatever little sleep you manage to get is restful and refreshing.

Chamomile is a mild sedative that has been used to treat anxiety and insomnia for centuries. If the late nights, stiletto heels and over eating during the party season prevent you from having a good night’s rest, try drinking a cup of chamomile tea. Make fresh tea by adding a teaspoon of dried chamomile to a cup of boiling water; even teabags are effective. Alternately, soak yourself in a warm bath and add a few drops of chamomile essential oil to relieve stress and body aches that may be preventing a comfortable sleep. Chamomile is available in ointment form, extract, supplements and tea.

Lavender has been a popular sleep aid since time immemorial. Recent research has confirmed its sedative qualities, proving that lavender not only works quite fast but also increases sleep quality and length. For deep and restful sleep, use lavender filled pillows or place a sachet of dried lavender flowers under your pillow. A sprinkle of lavender oil on your bed and pillow works just as well. Adding a few drops of lavender oil to a bath is also relaxing.

Lettuce makes a great bed of salad, but it also helps put you to bed. It is rich in magnesium, a mineral nutrient which has been proven to calm the nervous system and alleviate sleep disorders. A glass of lettuce juice will do the trick; add some lemon juice to improve palatability or combine with fruit or vegetable juices.

So this year, keep the holiday fatigue at bay by trying these remedies; enjoy the winter and sweet dreams!

– Leila Mahfooz Barry

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 23, 2012.