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Getting to sleep at night can be difficult for some people for a number of reasons. And even those who usually have no trouble sleeping can struggle at times. An expert spoke with Express.co.uk about ways to make getting some shut eye easier.
Health coach and nutritionist, Arina Kuzmina, recommended drinking holy basil tea before bed.
Also known as tulsi or ocimum tenuiflorum, holy basil is a plant native to India.
It can be bought as tea, capsule supplements and powdered extract.
Ms Kuzmina explained: “Sip on holy basil tea before bedtime.
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“Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is a popular adaptogen used to ease stress levels, enhance relaxation, and improve sleep quality.
“This herb with Indian origins helps to bring a sense of calmness and easy anxiety levels, hence making it easier for you to fall and stay asleep.
“Before bedtime try having a cup of this tea, leaving all the worries of the day behind.”
This was backed by a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition journal in 2022.
As part of the research 100 volunteers aged 18 to 65 years received either 125 mg of holy basil twice daily or a placebo.
They were asked about their level of stress, mood and completed questionnaires about their sleep.
Sleep quality was also assessed using a wrist-worn sleep tracker and stress changes were examined by measuring hair cortisol and stress responses using the Maastricht Acute Stress Test (MAST).
Compared to the placebo those taking the holy basil supplement saw greater improvements in the perceived stress scale and Athens insomnia scale scores.
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At week eight, concentrations in hair cortisol were also lower.
The study said: “Moreover, ocimum tenuiflorum supplementation was associated with a buffered stress responses after exposure to the MAST as demonstrated by significantly lower concentrations in salivary cortisol, salivary amylase, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and subjective stress ratings.
“Ocimum tenuiflorum supplementation was well-tolerated with no reports of major adverse effects.”
It concluded: “The results from this trial suggest that eight weeks of supplementation with an ocimum tenuiflorum extract may reduce objective and subjective measures of stress, and improve subjective measures of sleep quality.
“However, further research using gold-standard objective sleep measures will be required to substantiate the sleep-related findings.”
Ms Kuzmina added: “Don’t eat three to four hours before going to bed.
“When we are asleep our body temperature is not 36.6 Celsius, but a couple of degrees lower.
“Hence in order to fall asleep, our body needs to cool down. Digestion process, on the other hand, always releases energy and hence increases our body temperature making it harder for our body to cool down.”
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