If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, chances are it’s stressing you out. You might feel overweight and can’t figure out where it’s coming from, you might be missing periods, or you might have difficulty in getting pregnant. Whatever way PCOS is affecting you, it’s most likely affecting your work life, your relationships and even your sleep, too.
You might find yourself tossing and turning at night, with a million thoughts in your mind, unable to sleep. And because you can’t sleep, you get even more anxious; it’s a vicious, and relentless, circle that can be further damaging to your health.
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest sicknesses that’s currently afflicting our society. We’ve never worked harder, lived longer, pushed ourselves more…and yet, we’ve never slept worse. What this means is that we’re more prone to mental conditions like anxiety and depression, while opening ourselves up to physical conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. We can develop sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia, while wreaking havoc on our immune systems and hormones – not great news for those with PCOS!
Research shows that high blood sugar levels can lead to poor sleep, and vice versa. So our reaction to sleep loss causes us to reject our body’s insulin, which normally converts glucose into energy. With this rejection comes high blood sugar and sleepless nights. Sleep loss also messes with the leptin and ghrelin in our bodies, also known as the obesity or fat hormones. So if PCOS has also brought you concerns about your weight, well, developing a regular pattern of enough sleep could be the solution to keeping these hormones steady.
Fortunately, there are some handy remedies that can help you get a better night’s sleep. And you’ll be glad to know, they’re all natural!
Queen of natural sleep aids, lavender should be your new bedtime bessie. In addition to all kinds of other health benefits, it’s known to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety…plus, it smells amazing! It’s available in many forms – in candles, incense or even tea – but I love to use it in its purest form, as an essential oil. I sprinkle a couple of drops onto my pillow every night and find it sends me on the train to Snoozeville in no time!
There’s a reason why all those yogis rave about herbal tea. Caffeine before bedtime is a big no-no – in fact, it should be avoided completely for those with immune system or hormone issues. And while green tea does have great antioxidant qualities, it does contain quite a bit of caffeine.
Chamomile tea, on the other hand, is completely caffeine-free. It can soothe the body and mind, while aiding digestion and any other problems you might have with your nervous system. Just the smell of it is deeply relaxing and a cup of hot chamomile tea in the evening is the perfect prelude to sleep.
3. Sesame oil
Sesame oil has long been used in ayurvedic therapies due to its antioxidant qualities, its ability to improve circulation and even to reduce high blood pressure. Used as a massage oil, it can relieve headaches, aid digestion and promote relaxation.
Simply warm a little organic sesame oil by placing a bottle into a cup of hot water. Then apply it in slow, circular motions on your stomach, chest, arms, shoulders and neck, before finishing with your head and temples. Even the act of giving yourself a bit of TLC in this way can have a deeply nourishing effect on your internal organs, your hormones and your mind.
You can also use sesame oil to replace your usual cooking oil. As well as providing a great, nutty flavour to your stirfries, sesame oil is high in Vitamins E, A, K and B6, plus in magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and calcium. Low in saturated fats, it’s a healthy and nutrient-packed way to treat your body – naturally!
Sometimes you don’t even need to look to herbs or oils to relieve your sleep disorder. As the experts will tell you, sometimes a change in habits is all it takes. For instance, switching off your TV and other devices an hour before bed can help your mind to settle down before you turn in. Having a long soak in the tub, doing a guided meditation or reading a few chapters of your favourite book is a much better use of your time!
If you’re checking your emails in bed, it’s unlikely that sleep will come soon after turning off the light. So be gentle on your body and mind in the evening. Try the natural remedies I mentioned if you need to but above all, create an evening routine that caters for a relaxing, soothing and sleep-inducing atmosphere.
Hopefully whatever conditions you have will no longer stand in the way of a decent night’s sleep. And you’ll wake to find a healthier, happier you come morning.
by Sarah Cummings
& Sleep Advisor at www.sleepadvisor.org