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Independent health store advice on promoting better sleep

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Joe Jackson, qualified nutritional therapist and founder of Apothecary 27 in Haslemere, Surrey.

The three most common enquiries we get from customers, here at Apothecary 27, are about sleep, stress and inflammation. I think a lot of people experience sleep problems but they just tend to get used to it. We have a sign outside recommending one of our sleep products and it has drawn in a huge amount of people, including those who wouldn’t normally shop in our store. I think it goes to show that lack of sleep is a big issue for many people.

Winding down

When a customer comes to us for advice about sleep issues, usually the first thing we do is ask them whether they are having trouble getting to sleep or if they wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. It usually seems to be one or the other, although some unlucky people have both problems.

We will then work from there and see whether the problem is linked to stress, an overworked mind or whether it’s a genuine imbalance that needs to be addressed. If a person is able to get to sleep easily but then wakes up in the night, we would recommend that they try Viridian’s Cherry Night powder which contains naturally occurring melatonin and also 5-HTP by Brainfeed which converts the 5-HTP to melatonin. Melatonin is the chemical responsible for controlling sleep patterns.

If the person has trouble getting to sleep, and perhaps has a wandering mind, then we would look at something like Pukka Night Time capsules which contain the herbs ashwagandha and valerian. This can help you to unwind a little bit and get a better night’s sleep.

Another good natural relaxant is magnesium. A lot of our customers have said that taking magnesium capsules just before bedtime has really helped them. Magnesium is absorbed very well through the skin, so the magnesium spray with added lavender from BetterYou is another good option. This can also help with leg cramps which can keep some people awake at night.

Sleep hygiene

Practising good sleep hygiene is very important. By this, we mean getting into a routine that allows you to have the best night’s sleep. So, we would recommend not drinking any caffeinated drinks after about 2pm or 3pm. Instead, try winding down with a herbal tea such as chamomile. Try to do some exercise during the day, but avoid working out in the evening as that can have the opposite effect and keep you awake.

Avoid sitting in front of the TV right up until you go to bed. Having a good hour or so where you are winding down and relaxing is better. Also, avoid eating too much in the evening because this can upset the digestive system and make it difficult to get to sleep. A lighter meal in the evening will probably serve you better in terms of sleep.

Blood sugar balance is very important. If you are eating a lot of food at once, or a lot of foods that are high in carbs or sugar, it’s going to give you energy spikes rather than a steady flow of energy. Be sure to eat little and often and increase the amount of good fats and protein in your diet whilst keeping an eye on the carbohydrates.

Lastly, getting outside during the day and getting some sunlight is important as this helps to control your sleep patterns and will help to top up your vitamin D levels, which can become low at this time of year.

Apothecary 27

Apothecary 27 is based at 71-73 Weyhill, Haslemere, Surrey. It received the Best Independent Retailer award at the 2018 Natural & Organic Awards Europe. Formerly known as Haslemere Health Foods, the store was rebranded in March 2017. Joe started out working at the store on Saturdays at the age of 16 and went on to buy the business after completing his studies in nutritional therapy at university.

He explains the story behind the name: “A lot of our customers used to say that the store was a bit like an apothecary because we would have a chat with them and then put together something that was bespoke and unique to them, whether that was specific vitamins, herbs or a lifestyle change. My lucky number was 27, and also happened to be the age I was when I took over the store. Then, one of our customers pointed out that 27 is the postcode for the area.”

The store stocks a wide range of health foods, supplements and natural bodycare products, and holds regular in-store events. Upcoming dates include a sleep and stress workshop with Pukka Herbs on 23 January. To find out more, visit or follow them on social media: FB /apothecary27 Insta apothecary27

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