Insomnia and sleep challenges are a common side effect of a stressful life, but adaptogens can help you get a better night’s sleep, says Katrine Van Wyk, author of new book Super Powders
If you’ve never heard of adaptogens, get ready to be hearing a lot about them in the next 12 months. These are botanical herbs and foods that, when taken as foods, powders, pills and potions in concentrated doses have the power to adapt to our bodies’ needs, during times of stress.
I have used adaptogens in my practice for years with incredible results, and I am delighted to have collaborated with Healthista TV on a series of educational videos on how adaptogens can help with different common conditions.
When trying to get a better night’s sleep, you need to calm your nervous system and there are some plants that may help you with that called adaptogens that encourage your body to better adapt to and deal with stress that can lead to insomnia.
Adaptogens for sleep
It’s important to understand that a good night’s sleep actually starts during the day. Plus, dealing with your stress levels overall throughout the day will also help you sleep better at night.
Insomnia and sleep challenges are a common side effect of a stressful life. Calming adaptogens like ashwagandha can improve your quality and quantity of sleep because they help calm the nervous system and decrease cortisol, making sleep more likely.
Ashwagadha, an ancient Indian Ayurvedic herb is a personal favourite of mine. In fact, ashwagandha’s botanical name is somnifera, which translates to restful sleep.
Both calming and energising, it helps stimulate the thyroid gland, which is essential for mood while also supporting the adrenal glands which release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, making you less reactive and jumpy. Try Pukka Organic Ashwaghanda £16.95 from Boots.
So put simply, the root ashwagadha has the ability to help your body secrete less cortisol which is the stress hormone, which will lead to a much better night’s sleep.
#2 Schisandra Berry
Schisandra is a deciduous woody vine native to forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East. It is the berries that are used in traditional medicine as they are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C.
The benefits go way beyond just sleep as it has been said to help people who suffer with insomnia. Try Hybrid Herbs Schizandra Berry Extract Powder, £15.99, from Planet Organic.
Eleuthero is an Asian herb. It’s been used for thousands of years as a healing remedy in folk medicine. It is mainly used to help relieve stress and to calm down the nervous system to achieve both quantity and quality of sleep. Try Swanson Eleuthero Root, £7.99.
Eleuthero can also increase mental clarity and this helps for when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep and you are running on low battery – it can really help you get through the day.
More in Healthista’s Adaptogens Uncovered series:
Video #1: Adaptogens for stress
Video #2: Adaptogens for glowing skin
Tomorrow’s video will cover adaptogens for the immune system.
Katrine Van Wyck is the author of new book Super Powders, as well as Best Green Drinks Ever and Best Green Eats Ever. A certified health coach, wellness consultant and yoga teacher, she has been featured in Vogue, MindBodyGreen, Refinery 29, Well + Good, Be Well, Forbes and PureWow. She moved to New York from Norway as a model and later received her nutrition training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Katrine has trained with Dr. Frank Lipman at his practice in Manhattan, The Eleven Wellness Center. As a part of Dr. Lipman’s team of health coaches, Katrine has helped to guide his high–profile patients through dietary changes that also fit their demanding and busy lives. Katrine lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.
Super Powders by Katrine Van Wyk is out now (Countryman Press, £14.99)