Ask An Herbalist About Your Insomnia

Posted by Maria on August 30, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Guest Bloggers, Ingredients, Massages, Nutrition, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness, Yoga | Be the First to Comment

by Marguerite Wright, Guest Blogger

People are asking their herbalist for that special remedy to help them get a good night’s sleep, but getting rid of insomnia may not be as simple as taking an herbal supplement. With natural healing, the goal is to get to the root cause of the issue and deal with that, rather than covering up the symptoms with medications.

More and more people are seeking remedies for sleep disorders because they are suffering from insomnia or they are struggling to remain asleep throughout the night. Unfortunately sleep disorders lead to more health issues such as a suppressed immune system, stressed nerves, over active or under active glands and drained energy reserves.

It’s so important to get the proper amount of sleep in REM (rapid eye movement) — also known as dream sleep — every night. This is how the body rejuvenates itself and does the repair and maintenance it needs. The needed hours of sleep varies from person to person, some needing only 5 or 6 hours while others needing 8 to 10 hours.

Tips for better sleep

  • Establish a bedtime routine: In these stressful times we live in, we have to work harder to de-stress ourselves and do things to improve our rest. It’s important that we form a routine where we have a regular sleep pattern, retiring to bed at the same time each night.
  • Sleep in a dark room because Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland when it is dark. It directly influences the brain to induce sleep and is further broken down into the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which helps both sleep and mood. This shows why sleeping with the television on can disturb your sleep because it is a light source.
  • Depression, anxiety, and worrying are linked to insomnia. Try to clear your mind before bed. Write down your thoughts to ease your mind. Meditation and deep breathing will help you to release all your anxiety and stress.
  • Use diet and exercise in your favor. Don’t eat a heavy meal right before retiring, the undigested food can interrupt your rest and is hard on your health. Drink a soothing tea that will help you relax before bedtime. Smoking cigarettes only stimulates the body and can cause sleep problems. Avoid caffeine intake, especially before bedtime and don’t take stimulating herbal supplements. Some medications can disturb your sleep also. Beware of over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine or caffeine-related substances.
  • Find ways to relax and unwind. A good way to unwind is to take a walk and/or do some stretching. Yoga is a great way to unwind also. Including exercise in your daily schedule will help you rest better — just keep the heavier exercising for earlier in the day.

Suggestions from your herbalist for a good night’s rest

  • Make an appointment with your herbalist: Health issues that cause insomnia can vary from person to person, this is why it’s important to meet with your herbalist to review your personal issues, list of medications and daily routine. Take the free health analysis offered at
  • Eat nutritious food because it’s important to nourish the nervous system. Anxiety, tension, depression even high blood pressure can be linked to lack of vitamins needed for the nervous system. Nutrients such as Vitamin C, B-Complex, Calcium and Magnesium will help. Many of my clients love Nutri-calm, which is an antistress vitamin. Other supplements like Kava Kava, adaptogens like Siberian ginseng, and Licorice are good.
  • Detoxify your liver and colon. The liver is the organ of emotion and depression can lead to insomnia. Detox the liver with supplements such as Liver Cleanse, Dandelion, and Enviro-Detox. Ask your herbalist about a full detox program like the 90 Day colon cleanse.
  • Get a massage. A good massage from a professional massage therapist can help a person de-stress and get better rest.

Article written by Marguerite Wright, Certified Herbalist and Massage Therapist located in the Chicago area. Marguerite Wright is the owner of Mother Knows Best Herbal Solutions, a company she put together to assist people who want to learn more about natural solutions to health. She uses herbal supplements, homeopathic, aromatherapy, cleansing, massage and more. If you want more information on insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks or other health issues, contact your herbalist, Marguerite Wright. For every disease or disorder there is a natural alternative. All the supplements mentioned in this article are available at

Preparing Your Body & Mind For A Better Night’s Sleep

Posted by Maria on August 28, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Guest Bloggers, Ingredients, Meditation, Nutrition, Self-Care, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Yoga | Be the First to Comment

by Geraldine O’Keefe, Guest Blogger

Like the 71 million Americans who suffer from various sleep issues like insomnia, hot flashes, nervousness, and anxiety, I have found myself wide awake in the middle of the night on many occasions.

Here are some tips that have worked for me and may help you get a better peaceful and sound night’s sleep.

Try incorporating these tips in to your bedtime routine:

  • Pamper yourself and power down at least 30 minutes before bed. When your core temperature rises then falls (as it naturally does at night), it signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Help the process by taking a relaxing soak before bed and add some pure, organic lavender essential oil and/or some Himalayan salts to your bathwater.
  • Drink Escape to Sleep tonic, preferably on an empty stomach. It can help your body feel what it’s like to sleep naturally and soundly.
  • Try not to eat past 7 p.m. and avoid caffeine.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you wake up and you are achy and sore, consider a new pillow and/or mattress.
  • Lower the room temperature at night. Optimal range is 60-68 F.
  • Sleep in a pitch-dark room. It will help you get back to your natural rhythm.
  • Incorporate Lucid Dreaming: The object of lucid dreaming is to become conscious of being in the dream state.  Keep a dream journal; write down what you remember.

Learn Yoga Techniques such as Pranayama (breath control), Yoga Nidra, and Meditation:

These calming techniques can help assure that you get the 8 hours of sleep to function at your best.

  • Try Pranayama which is the art of restraining and controlling the breath.
  • Also try Yoga Nidra, aka yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is a highly powerful ancient meditation that originated in the Tantras. It’s a scientific way to eliminate the root causes of all negativities.
  • And Practice Meditation. Meditation will train your mind to induce consciousness.

Our minds can be like a ship at sea without a sail.  Practicing yoga nidra, and/or pranayama can help you observe and control your mind which will help to bring you into a deep, restorative and healing sleep. If you realize your thoughts are stressing about something in the future or in the past, gently bring them back into the moment. BE HERE NOW and don’t let those racing, “monkey mind” thoughts keep you awake at night. I always remember a monk that said, “when you eat, eat; when you walk, walk; when you talk, talk, and of course, when you sleep, sleep.

Be kind to yourself, yoga takes practice. Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind and a regular practice can help assure your restorative sleep.

There are seven levels of consciousness. Most people are operating in the first three: waking, sleeping and dreaming. As you begin to become more conscious of your thoughts in the three states, you will begin to understand and enjoy life more.  Sweet dreams, may they all come true.

Sleep Well, Live Longer!

Geraldine is an herbalist, lifetime yogi, and vegetarian who has had experience with insomnia. She decided to create an herbal sleep-aid and ultimately, her dream product, Escape to Sleep™, was born.

You can find Geraldine online @:

Use Lavender To Make Your Bedroom More Sleep-Friendly

Posted by Maria on August 24, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Green Living, Ingredients, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Many of my neighbours grow lavender and I often see vibrant purple and green bushes of lavender teaming with bumble bees and butterflies this time of year.

Lavender is the ultimate Homespunspa ingredient because it’s so versatile and can be used in thousands of different ways for thousands of purposes. But have you ever thought to use it as inspiration to make your bedroom more sleep- friendly?

Lavender has been recommended for centuries as a sleep aid and if people like the aroma, than using lavender in all of its forms — from the dried plant, to the essential oil, to the colour — is a quick, easy and natural solution to help with occasional insomnia.

If you associate lavender with sleep, then try decorating your bedroom with a lavender theme by:

  • hanging sketches and photographs of lavender growing in a garden;
  • keeping dried lavender in vases on your window sills;
  • stuffing sleep pillows and sachets with lavender;
  • keeping a bottle of lavender essential oil on the night table and if you’re having trouble falling asleep, put a dab of lavender under your nose. You will feel more relaxed almost instantly and will be able to get some shut eye sooner rather than later.
  • sleeping on a bed made and covered with lavender-coloured bed linens, comforters, and throw blankets;
  • wearing lavender pajamas, bathrobes and slippers;
  • misting your room with a light spray of lavender flower water will help set a relaxing tone for the evening;
  • painting or wallpapering bedroom walls in a soft lavender palette.

Together, these small visual and aromatic cues will help remind you that this is a sleep-friendly bedroom and may in fact improve your quality of sleep. Please leave a comment and let us know if this suggestion works for you.

Turn off those Blue Lights at Night

Posted by Maria on August 22, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Green Living, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Uncategorized, Wellness | 2 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Did you know that blue lights (like the lights from your tv, computer, cell phone and even your alarm clock/radio) dim your chances of getting a good night’s sleep? As it turns out, blue lights tamper with our circadian rhythms and therefore our melatonin levels and therefore our sleep cycles.

Circadian Rhythms

The circadian rhythm is an innate daily fluctuation of physiological and behavioural functions, (including sleeping and waking), that is generally tied to the 24-hour day/night cycle. Our rhythms are regulated by external cues (also known as “Zeitgebers”) such as sunlight and night sky, temperatures, what we eat (including medicines), when we eat, and our social interactions with others.

Light (and the absence of light) has always played a significant role in our daily lives and it affects our activities, hormone levels and sleep cycles. As humans, we have intuitively sought shelter and a safe place to sleep at night and we use the illumination and safety of daylight for hunting, gathering and travelling.

Blue Light

For millions of years, blue light (like the light from mid-morning sky) has meant daylight and time for us to be busy and productive. When we sense blue light, the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, is limited, and we stay alert and awake.

We have also evolved over millions of years to have the deepest, most restful sleep in a very dark environment that does not expose us to any light (especially blue and green wavelengths) while we are sleeping. The absence of blue light cues the melatonin and we get sleepy.

Have you ever watched tv in a room that doesn’t have any other lights on? Everything becomes blue. Manmade blue lights, like those eminating from your tv or computer screen, mimic broad daylight and also disrupt our sleep patterns and sleep hormones. If we are getting ready to go to bed at night but continue to “work” under artificial lighting, the blue lights will send mixed messages to the brain and the brain won’t know whether to 1)relax and go to bed or 2) suppress melatonin, stay up and be alert. This may be a good time to rethink having a tv in your bedroom or checking your Twitter and Facebook one last time before midnight.

Curiously, reddish light (like from a candle or fireplace) doesn’t effect melatonin production, so it’s fine to use in the evening hours or as a nightlight in the middle of the night.

Here are some tips of how to turn off the blue lights at night and sleep better:

  • Seek yellow light and avoid blue light after dark;
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of electronics that emit blue light after dark;
  • Trade your blue/green digital alarm/clock radio to one with red lights;
  • Pay attention to the time you start feeling sleepy and honour it — Don’t let that second wind kick in;
  • Go to bed earlier;
  • Take a bath by candlelight and see how much better you sleep. (The bath and the candlelight will work synergystically and I don’t recommend taking your iPhone with you on this occasion :) ).
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as pitch when you are sleeping.
  • Try falling asleep with a pair of eyeshades to block out more light.
  • Spend at least an hour a day in direct sunlight.
  • Try to decrease the light in your bedroom gradually in the hours before you hit the hay;
  • Try to time your wake up with light;
  • Spend less time watching tv or playing/working on the computer in the evening, especially within an hour of your bed time.
  • Use a reddish light as a nightlight if you need to go to the washroom in the middle of the night.

I hope this helps with your insomnia. Please leave a comment and let us know if this was new information to you or if you knew about blue light and insomnia already.

When was the last time you changed your sheets?

Posted by Maria on August 20, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Humour, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Here’s another tip on beating insomnia: wash and change the sheets on your bed, particularly if you had a fitful sleep the night before.

How often should people change their bedding and when was the last time you changed your sheets?

Housekeeping experts suggest changing your sheets once a week or once every two weeks. If doing laundry isn’t your strong suit, try sticking to a monthly schedule (whether you need to wash the sheets or not :) ).

What do sheets have to do with insomnia?

Clean bed sheets make sleeping easier. Sheets need to be changed often and regularly because our bodies naturally shed skin cells and secrete oils and sweat while we are asleep. These fluids get trapped in our pajamas and bed sheets and can cause bacteria to grow. This will contribute to an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

For those who have allergies to dust mites, it’s important to change bed sheets every couple of days because skin cells are food for dust mites and washing sheets keeps them to a minimum.

And if you eat or drink while in bed, you’re adding these ingredients to the mix. (Does anyone remember the quote, “I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers? :) ) But crumbs may make you feel itchy and can also attract insects and ants.

Of course, always wash your sheets right away after night sweats, illness, incontinence, food spillage, etc.

How to properly wash bed sheets

Wash your sheets in hot water (120-140 degrees F or 49-60 degrees C) and then dry them promptly. You don’t want the wet sheets to sit around damp in the washer for a few hours before you send them to the dryer or pin them up on the clothes line. Also, use laundry soap that is 1) compatible with your type of washing machine and 2) free of colours and fragrance (especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies). Some people like to iron their sheets and I never understood that until I bought some sheets that are way too wrinkly for my liking, so now I get it.

There’s something really inviting about a bed with crisp and clean sheets, particularly in the hot summer months. And if you’re suffering from insomnia, try to break the cycle and start off the night with a clean slate by making your bed with fresh linens. Once your head hits the pillow and the sheets cover your shoulders, I guarantee you’ll feel better and the agony from the night before will vanish into the night sky.

Let me know if you like this sleep tip in the comments. Thanks.

Less Caffeine is a Sleeper’s Dream

Posted by Maria on August 19, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Ingredients, Nutrition, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I like to start my day with one or two cups of coffee. It’s not that I can’t function without my morning coffee; I just like the taste.

Sometimes in the afternoon before I workout, I’ll have a cup of green tea (because apparently it helps you burn 19% more fat) though my personal trainer suggested drinking white tea instead because it would probably help the same way without the caffeine.

Occasionally, I like to drink a can of diet cola or have a piece of chocolate. But that’s as far as I go with my caffeine intake. I don’t buy energy drinks and wouldn’t know which brand to choose if I wanted one.

Caffeine and other stimulates can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Drinking caffeinated beverages can make it more difficult to fall asleep and reduce the quality of sleep. If you drink a caffeinated drink at night, you’ll likely wake up more often and will have limited deep sleep and REM sleep. All in all, less caffeine is a sleeper’s dream.

Cut down on your caffeine if you can

If you suspect that caffeine is keeping you up at night and is contributing to your insomnia, try drinking fewer caffeinated beverages in your day. But cutting down on caffeine can be easier said than done. If you go cold turkey, you may experience severe withdrawal headaches. It’s best to reduce your caffeine intake gradually. If you are having trouble sleeping at night:

  • Avoid energy drinks;
  • Try to limit yourself to 3 or 4 cups of tea a day;
  • Try to limit yourself to 2 cups of coffee a day (and drink them earlier in the day rather than later);
  • Try decaffeinated tea or coffee to see if you like the taste;
  • If you’re relying on coffee to give you energy, try drinking a glass of water first because your fatigue may be related to dehydration instead;
  • Replace one of your daily teas or coffees or colas or energy drinks with something like herbal teas, orange juice, or smoothies;
  • Instead of drinking caffeinated beverages, go for a snack like a banana, or a few pieces of dried fruit or a granola bar.

A note on energy drinks

Saying to avoid energy drinks may sound harsh, but they are loaded with caffeine and sugar. Energy drinks are popular (especially among young people who feel they need to stay up late to study in school) because they are formulated to boost mental and physical energy. (Coffee, tea and soft drinks are not considered energy drinks even though they contain caffeine).

Energy drinks are generally made with ingredients like carbonated water, acai, ginseng, gingko biloba as well as vitamin B and other herbs. They also often contain guarana and yerba mate which are hidden sources of caffeine. Ultimately, energy drinks contain more than 3 times the amount of caffeine than a can of cola and are served in larger cans which also increases their potency.

Although drinking energy drinks can improve mental alertness, excessive consuption can cause agitation, anxiety, irritability, nausea, nervousness, abnormal heart rhythms, increased urination, sleeplessness and insomnia, especially if two or more cans are consumed in a day.

So, if you’re at a loss of why you have insomnia, look at your daily caffeine intake. You just might be able to improve the quality of your sleep with this one change. As always, write a comment and let us know your progress.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Posted by Maria on August 17, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Do you know the magic number of hours you need to sleep in a 24-hour period to function at your optimum? Just as we all don’t have the same colour of eyes, the amount of sleep each person needs varies across the spectrum.

Some people are short sleepers and they only require less than 6 hours of sleep a night while others are considered long sleepers and they need to sleep 9 hours or more at a stretch. A good night’s sleep can range from less than 3 hours for some and more than 10 hours for others. Knowing how much sleep you need personally will help gauge how well you’re doing in the sleep department and if you need to make any adjustments to your sleep schedule and lifestyle.

Eight hours of sleep a night is usually assumed to be the best amount of sleep for most, however, most people get around 7 to 7 and a half hours of sleep a night and function fairly well.

Average Sleep Needs by Age

  • Newborns (0 to 2 months): 12 to 18 hours a day
  • Infants (2 months to 1 year): 14 to 15 hours a day
  • Toddlers (1 year to 3 years): 12 to 14 hours a day
  • Pre-schoolers (3 years to 5 years): 11 to 13 hours a day
  • Children (5 years to 12 years): 10 to 11 hours a day
  • Preteens and Teenagers (9 years to 19 years): 8.5 to 10 hours a day
  • Adults (18 years or older): 7.5 to 9 hours a day

Once we reach adulthood, the amount of sleep we need will remain fairly constant for the rest of our lives. Although you may have slept longer one night than another night, the number of hours of sleep will average out over a week or a month, give or take a half hour. Sleep needs may change, however, depending on circumstances and people may need more sleep in times of stress, depression, grief, and increased mental effort and some women may need to sleep more during premenstrual times.

The best way to figure out how much sleep you need is to check in with yourself several times a day to see how you feel. If you’re not sleeping enough and are sleep deprived, you may have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, you may feel lethargic in the afternoon, you may feel the need to take a nap, or you fall asleep within 5 minutes of your head hitting the pillow at night.

If you’re catching enough zzz’s, (not too much or not too little) you will feel energetic all day long from the moment you wake up (without an alarm clock), through the morning, afternoon and evening until your regular bedtime.

Take note of how much sleep you are getting and how you are feeling and then stick with what works best. Hopefully, this series will help you reach your magic number of sleep hours soon.

Do you have Insomnia?

Posted by Maria on August 16, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Mobile Spa, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Raise your hand if you consistently get 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day?

Hello, my name is Maria and I’m an esthetician and the owner of Homespunspa Mobile Spa where we bring the spa experience home to you. We specialize in the art of relaxation and getting a better night’s sleep.

In today’s blog post, I’d like to explore one of my all-time favourite topics, insomnia. The word “insomnia” comes from “Somnus, the Roman god of Sleep” with the prefix “in” added to negate the noun. Insomnia is defined as the “chronic inability to fall asleep or stay asleep without interruptions for an adequate amount of time” and an “insomniac is a person who suffers from insomnia.”

You have some degree of insomnia is you can say yes to either of these questions:

  1. Do you have trouble sleeping?
  2. Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for several hours?

According to my research:

  • We spend around 1/3 of our lives sleeping or an average of 24 years out of 75! (you’d think we’d be really good at it :) )
  • If you suffer from diabetes, hypertension, depression, or are obese, you may also be experiencing poor quality sleep.
  • 20-40% of all adults suffer from insomnia at some time during the year.

Insomnia is obviously a huge topic and I’m going to explore it as best I can over the next 30 days as part of a series. I’m going to uncover some of the mysteries and myths that surround sleep and offer tips on how to sleep better. And if you have any tips of sleeping that you’d like to share, by all means, leave a comment. I hope you join me on this journey and maybe we will all improve the quality of our sleep soon.

It’s National Relaxation Day

Posted by Maria on August 15, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Humour, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Pop-Psychology, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Unless a spa told you in one of their promotions, I’m pretty sure you didn’t know that August 15 is National Relaxation Day. But it is. The origins of National Relaxation Day are unclear but it’s here on the calendar to encourage people to put their feet up and take a break.

As a lover of all things spa, I’m all over this day and I think this is a day worth celebrating. I strongly suggest you rush off to the Hallmark store to buy National Relaxation Day greeting cards for your friends and family. :)

I’m all about relaxation and I don’t think we relax enough in this hustle and bustle world. But one person’s relaxation is another person’s torture. What would you do if you had nothing to do all day? Some people would just go nuts if they didn’t have anything scheduled into their day and other people would say, “Well, I’ve got my feet soaking in the bath… now what?” They just can’t relax or enjoy the time off.

Like most people, I’m pretty tightly wound myself. I’m almost a different person when I do finally let go and relax. Life is so much easier when you’re relaxed. I like to use the time I went Zip-lining in Alaska as my gauge. After the initial stress of going out of my comfort zone and riding over the tips of trees down a mountain, I was way more fun to be around. I was cracking jokes and enjoying the people around me and I wish that Maria would come out to play more. I have since decided to make relaxation a priority.

So, how did I celebrate National Relaxation Day? First a gave a pedicure to a lady and she really enjoyed the foot massage I gave her. Then I worked out with my personal trainer and you may think that that’s not a relaxing activity but in my mind it is. I felt great after my work out! N0w I’m enjoying a glass of white wine as I’m writing this blog post. All in all, a pretty relaxing day.

This day also marks day one of my 31 blog posts in 31 days challenge. I found out about this challenge through Eric Brown from Bodyworkbiz who was inspired by Kelly Wise. I’m not in it for the “Bad Ass Blogger Trophy” but now that I think about it, that would be kind of cool. See you tomorrow!

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