Natural sleep experts share their secrets for the best night’s rest

Stefan Finnis, 44, owner of Green Onions. Pic: Bertille Duthoit

From taking special herbs found at health food stores, to practicing breathing techniques in yoga, Zoe Ettinger and Bertille Duthoit find that there are lots of simple ways to achieve a better night’s rest

Sleeping pills seem like a quick fix for sleeplessness, but as we’ve previously reported, they can become addictive and have long-lasting effects on sleep cycles. So, to combat this, we went to local shops around our boroughs to see if there are more natural methods for improving your sleep habits – here’s what the people who work there had to say…

Green Onions, New Cross

Stefan Finnis, 44, owner, pictured above

“The first thing I’d recommend is valerian. You can make a tea from it and it tends to help people who have difficulties getting to sleep. We also recommend things that are calming, like peppermint and chamomile tea.

We’ve got salt lamps that are supposed to be helpful if you have them in your room. They help with allergies and generally just clean the air. Certain air cleaning plants, like peace lilies, can also help. I’ve had several people say to me that they’ve found they slept better when they had these plants in their bedrooms.

Relatively recently the laws have changed and we are now able to sell CBD oil without license as a food supplement and a lot of the people who buy it find it has a calming and relaxing effect.”

Green Onions is located at 6 Clifton Rise, SE14 6JP. Click here for their website.

  • Valerian – £1.90 for 150 g
  • Peppermint and chamomile tea – £2.40
  • Salt lamp – £9.50
  • Air cleaning plants – £8
  • CBD oil – £29 for 500 mg

Herbs & Acupuncture, Bethnal Green

Henry Huang, 35, shopkeeper at Herbs & Acupuncture Pic: Bertille Duthoit

Henry Huang, 35, shopkeeper

“The wild jujuba seed helps people with insomnia. Even just cooking it with water, this natural herb from China can be a great help. It tastes a little bit bitter. Acupuncture can help you fall asleep too by putting needles on certain pressure points.”

Herbs & Acupuncture is located at 386 Bethnal Green Road,E2 0AH. Click here for their website.

  • Seeds – £2.50 per packet
  • Acupuncture – starting at £35 per session

Dreams, New Cross

Gina Scott, 50, salesperson at Dreams in Lewisham Pic: Zoe Ettinger

Gina Scott, 50, salesperson

“For a person’s life, mattresses are one of the most important products in the house. Get out of a bad mattress that you haven’t had a proper sleep on and it will completely affect how you feel the next day.

Mattresses are really subjective, so everyone’s taste is different. Some people like quite a firm feel underneath them, some people like a softer bit and it all depends on which side you sleep as well. If you’re a side sleeper, front sleeper or back sleeper, you need a different type of mattress. 80% of the population is side sleepers; they would spend 20% of the time on their back.

We’ve got a machine that takes 200 measurements on the human body and creates a medical mattress and basically uses air bladders underneath to see how the body moulds into the mattress and will fit the person’s body shape. A lot of people think it’s due to weight, but it really comes down to body shape and sleeping position more.”

Dreams is located at New Cross Gate Retail Park, New Cross Road, SE14 5UQ. Click here for their website.

Yoga on the Lane, Dalston

Naomi Annand, 38, yoga instructor at Yoga on the Lane in Dalston Pic: Bertille Duthoit

Naomi Annand, 38, yoga instructor

“Lot’s of people who don’t sleep have a hyper-aroused nervous system and quite short breath, and are just very stressed, very in their head. The breath is the one mechanism in the body that happens automatically, but that you can also control, so it’s kind of like the gateway into the nervous system. Yoga works directly with the breath, in particular, there’s different ways of putting your awareness on your breath and controlling your breath.

You drop into different sort of gears within in the nervous system. There’s the fight/flight part which is working all the time; usually for us in the city, we’re negotiating business and traffic and people and stress, and then there’s a part of the nervous system, the parasympathetic, which is to do with rest and digest and this is what promotes better wellness and sleep.

It’s not just about things that you do just before you go to bed, which I think a lot of people think it is: turn off their laptops, have some kind of bedtime ritual, I think that they forget it’s the small things that you do throughout the day that have a huge impact, mainly through the breath.”

Yoga on the Lane is located at 5 Shacklewell Lane Dalston, E8 2EB. Click here for their website.

  • 60 minute classes – £12

Follow our Sleepless London series this week to find out more about sleep loss and the impact it can have. #SleeplessLondon

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