Inside insomnia

A problem for Brits at the best of times, sleep issues are being exacerbated due to the coronavirus pandemic and the inevitable increase in anxiety and stress it brings, leaving many feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Jane Wolfe looks at how to stay rested and energized in this continuing crisis

According to Natural Products Health Check 2018/19, the sleep, stress and energy category is the second biggest driver of sales in health food stores. Not surprising, given the fact The Sleep Council estimates that 40% of Brits suffer with sleep issues – trouble falling/staying asleep, waking too early and being unable to get back to sleep, or feeling unrefreshed upon waking – and that the cost to the UK economy is around £40.2 billion.

If you’d asked people a few months ago if they would have welcomed the chance to stay at home for a while, have a lie-in and not have to endure the daily slog to work or the stress of a day at the office, many would have jumped at the chance. Be careful what you wish for…

Inside story
Now that we’re faced with an imposed lockdown and severely disrupted routines, the reality is often far from relaxing. Boredom, the inability to work off excess energy outside the home, and being stuck alone or in a confined space with your nearest and dearest can be exhausting. 

But even if you remain busy during the day or are working from home, the constant stream of fear-inducing news reports are bound to have an effect, causing minds to race when it comes to bed time. “We are currently experiencing a period of uncertainty and dealing with things outside our control, so it is no surprise our sleep will be suffering,” comments Sultan Dajani, healthcare practitioner and advisor to DragonflyCBD. 

“The usual things that keep people awake at night – money, relationships and health – are all heightened, with people unsure about their income, worried about contracting COVID-19 and being indoors with the family or partners for a much more concentrated time period. Even if people aren’t outwardly showing signs of stress, it can manifest when their heads hit the pillow and their brains start to subconsciously process thoughts.”

People’s sleep patterns may change too, with later bedtimes, napping through the day and the desire to sleep more, all of which Dajani says adds to a feeling of lethargy.

Good zzzzs
Stress and anxiety causes the adrenal glands to produce the hormone cortisol, which makes the heart race and increases blood pressure. “This basically means that your body is in a heightened sense of alert so it’s not going to be easy to switch off, relax and fall asleep,” explains Dajani. “If we are lying there worrying about things or feeling anxious it’s impossible to drift off. This becomes a vicious cycle: stress affects sleep, making the next day harder to deal with, so our body releases more stress hormones, and this then impacts the next night’s sleep.”

The usual things that keep people awake at night – money, relationships and health – are all heightened, with people unsure about their income, worried about contracting COVID-19 and being indoors with the family or partners for a much more concentrated time period

We all know how just one disturbed night’s sleep can affect our mood, but the health implications of continuous poor rest are serious. “Good sleep is essential,” says Dajani. “We can operate on a night or two of restless sleep, but even then we probably notice that we are more impatient, that we take longer to process things, have poor concentration and tiredness during the day. Prolonged sleepless nights can impact both our mental and physical health. It can increase the risk of mental health and memory problems such as depression and anxiety as well as putting us at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and even fertility issues.”

“Mood is always going to be adversely affected by poor sleep and that will influence how we look and feel,” adds Suzie Sawyer, clinical nutritionist for Alive!. “The body repairs during sleep, therefore physical issues are going to become more likely, which includes skin problems. Weight gain is more common as appetite increases due to inadequate levels of the hormone leptin being secreted, which suppresses appetite. Additionally, our main sleep hormone, melatonin, is a key antioxidant; if less is produced then we will naturally be more susceptible to premature ageing and degenerative disease.”

To help achieve good quality sleep, Keeley Berry, nutritional expert and product developer at BetterYou, suggests a magnesium-rich bath or applying a magnesium lotion – such as BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion, which also includes lavender and chamomile essential oils – before bed to help stimulate sleep hormones. “Magnesium has been proven to be instrumental in many physiological and psychological functions which are critical to proper sleep and the avoidance of insomnia, in particular type two insomnia which is characterized by falling asleep easily but waking frequently. Magnesium can also help regulate hormones including serotonin and melatonin which are key for boosting mood and helping with sleep.” 

Magnesium has been proven to be instrumental in many physiological and psychological functions which are critical to proper sleep and the avoidance of insomnia, in particular type two insomnia which is characterized by falling asleep easily but waking frequently

“I would recommend, wherever possible, regular ‘go-to-bed’ and ‘wake-up’ times in order to maximize the synchrony between natural tiredness, circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock) and quality of sleep,” says Sawyer.

She also advocates physical exercise for promoting both sleep and energy. “Getting out of the house for an hour a day to exercise is great for mental wellbeing and important for sleep, giving feel-good endorphins a push and further increasing vitality. For those unable to go outside there are plenty of online classes including workouts, yoga and Pilates – or just turn up the music and have a good boogie in the privacy of your own home!”

Dietary impact
Although, theoretically, staying at home should provide people with more time to cook nutritious meals, the inclination frequently deserts us and boredom can result in lazy eating habits. 

“Lockdown poses new and uncharted territory for many of us which can mean that our daily routine goes out the window,” says Berry. “This lack of routine, especially when it comes to mealtimes, can impact regular eating habits and people may be tempted to turn to sugary comfort foods. Changes to our diet can affect the nutrients the body is used to receiving and needs to keep us healthy. So in order to maintain energy levels, we need to consistently fuel the body with meals that contain slow-releasing carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Opt for fatty fish paired with energy-releasing carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or brown rice and nutritious fruit salads with berries, apple and banana.”

Dajani agrees the current situation may lead people to reward or treat themselves with unhealthy snacks. “This may make us feel good in the short-term, but prolonged snacking can lead to an energy rollercoaster of highs and lows as sugar dips in and out of our system. It can also lead to weight gain – our energy expenditure is low while our calorie intake is higher – and carrying extra weight also affects our energy.

“Evidence from pre-clinical and clinical trials demonstrated an anti-anxiety effect for CBD, and some preliminary research shows that CBD can influence sleep”

Dietary changes, stress and anxiety all contribute to a depletion in vital nutrients – not to mention the current guidelines restricting outdoor exercise and thus access to sunshine making a lack of vitamin D – which is frequently deficient anyway – even more of an issue. 

“Many people underestimate the importance of vitamins and minerals when it comes to energy metabolism, and deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D and magnesium can leave you feeling fatigued and can increase your risk of illness,” says Berry. “Whether it’s due to a change in routine or the fact that there is less variety of foods available in the supermarket, if you feel that your nutrient intake will suffer during lockdown, consider supplementing to bridge any temporary gaps in nutrition.”

Plugging the gap
“Whilst lockdown is necessary, the fact that we will all be leading much more indoor-led lifestyles means there is an increased need for vitamin D supplementation,” says Berry. “Typically, between April and September we would be building up our vitamin D stores, however remaining unexposed to adequate direct sunlight inhibits the body’s synthesis of this essential vitamin. Supplementing vitamin D during lockdown will not only maintain optimal health, but also provide the body with the tools it needs to fend off disease as it plays a crucial role in activating immune defences.”

Dajani recommends taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, along with fish oil or krill oil. “Plus, I would also take CBD oil – it ticks all the boxes for helping to relieve stress, anxiety, sleep problems. Evidence from pre-clinical and clinical trials has demonstrated an anti-anxiety effect for CBD, and some preliminary research shows that CBD can influence sleep.” DragonflyCBD recently launched a limited edition line of light flavoured oils – in Orange, Mint, Anise and Cinnamon – to make a daily CBD dose more palatable for those not keen on the taste.

Supplementing vitamin D during lockdown will not only maintain optimal health, but also provide the body with the tools it needs to fend off disease as it plays a crucial role in activating immune defences

With stress depleting the body of nutrients, and sleep potentially becoming more problematic, Sawyer also recommends a high potency multivitamin and mineral to plug any gaps and deliver energy-producing B vitamins. “This will also encourage better sleep, thereby helping combat tiredness and fatigue. The right formulation will also deliver additional minerals such as magnesium and calcium, frequently depleted, but essential to help balance stress and aid sleep.” She also recommends the Alive! B-Complex Soft Jells – which contain vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12 along with vitamin C – to boost energy
and help reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Nutritional energizers
“During this COVID-19 lockdown, many people will feel unusually tired and lethargic as the reasons to get up, get ready and go have been greatly reduced,” says Nat Hawes, author of the new book Nature Cures: Recovery from Injury, Surgery and Infection. “Some will also be eating more than usual, and many may resort to comfort eating foods which are quite often not as healthy as they should be and this can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

“There are many natural foods that can provide extra energy and help with uplifting the mood. Try to enjoy preparing meals, even if just for yourself, and use all colours of the rainbow in your choice of fruits and vegetables to ensure you get all the various nutrients and healthy compounds in those foods.”

Hawes’ top energy-providing foods include:

  • Green vegetables and fruits – these should be consumed every day as they provide vitamin C and minerals for proper body and brain function
  • Red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits – these are important
    sources of vitamin A
    and carotenoids. Adding nuts and seeds or a little butter, coconut, vegetable or fish oil to these will increase absorption 
  • Dark skinned vegetables and fruits such as aubergines, beetroot, red and black grapes and berries – these contain anthocyanins that exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory activity and increase vitamin C levels in the blood 
  • Herbs and spices such as basil, chillis, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and turmeric. In addition, ground black pepper added to a meal will enhance the absorption of nutrients.

Other foods known to improve energy levels and brain function include mineral-rich algae and seaweeds; dark chocolate (70% and over); bananas; Brazils, cashews and walnuts; citrus fruits; coconut oil; eggs; honey; fish, especially crayfish, mussels and oily fish.

Proper hydration is vital for energy too, so drink a litre of water through the day and a full glass just before going to bed. Coconut water, apple, berry, pineapple and vegetable juices can be incorporated in this.


Better sleep, naturally

Tel: 01226 814030
E-mail:  [email protected]

A natural, easy and effective way to support sleep, BetterYou’s award-winning range of transdermal magnesium sleep products help you to drift off with ease, night after night.
An essential part of any bedtime routine, BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Lotion has been proven to improve sleep quality, enabling you to wake more refreshed. *
Delivering an expertly blended combination of Magnesium Chloride and essential oils of Lavender and Chamomile, BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion and Magnesium Sleep Body Spray naturally relax body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.
For ultimate relaxation, unwind in a BetterYou Magnesium Flake bath to relax tired and aching muscles and quieten the mind before bed.

* Independent clinical trial of 78 users over 5 weeks. 70% of participants reported improved sleep quality whilst using BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Lotion.


Enhance natural energy with a fast, effective daily oral spray

Tel: 01226 814030
E-mail:  [email protected]

In an ‘always on’ culture, tiredness and fatigue are becoming increasingly common place for many individuals who struggle to find the energy to meet the demands of modern life.
Frequently, people can feel low on energy or generally fatigued if they’re lacking in key nutrients that are either underrepresented in their diets or which are difficult to absorb from food sources.
Vitamin B12 and iron are notoriously difficult to absorb through the gut which may be the cause of regular tiredness and fatigue. Supplementing these key nutrients using BetterYou’s award-winning Boost B12 and Iron Oral Sprays is a fast, effective and convenient way to enhance energy levels–naturally.
Scientifically formulated, BetterYou oral sprays deliver nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing primary processing in the gut. The tiny droplets within the spray absorb quickly into the buccal membrane of the inner cheek, providing fast and effective nutrient uptake to enhance natural energy.


Make sure you get your beauty sleep!

Email:  [email protected]

Do you suffer from unexplained feelings of tiredness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, sore throat, insomnia or forgetfulness?

This could be a result of chronic fatigue and lack of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep inhibits the body’s ability to repair daily cellular damage and reset mind and body for the next day. Sleep deprivation also effects your skin – disrupting collagen production, increasing inflammation, breakouts, wrinkles and puffy eyes.
But in order to get a good nights sleep our minds need to be calm and clutter free. Here is where yoga, meditation, aromatherapy massage, and mental clarity can help.
Did you know that massage is one of the most recommended alternative therapies? Especially deep tissue massage, which targets muscle tissue located below the skins surface. This type of massage utilizes increased pressure and slower movements to stimulate pressure points and improve blood circulation.
Therapies which include touch (massage) and scent (aroma from essential oils) result in heightened relaxation and body suppleness. Nothing beats the human touch. Try one of our massage oils infused with CBD to truly relax into the moment. Our massage oils can also be added to your bath for extra relaxation, relief and sense of well being.
Mental clarity is a result of relaxation, and for this we recommend our Full Spectrum CBD oil. CBD oils have been trending

as an alternative sleep aid without the harsh side-effects since 2015. A team of Brazilian scientists have reported that CBD has anxiolytic (calming and soothing) effects for both body and mind.

Relax, unwind, and enjoy a great nights rest with CBD. If you haven’t tried CBD yet make sure 2020 is the year, it really is an effective relaxation ingredient. And if organic-certified vegan products is your thing, be sure to check out Pura Vida Organic.


AQUA Carpatica Still Natural Mineral Water 

AQUA Carpatica
Tel: 01895 549 041
E-mail:  [email protected]

Always tired? Dehydration could be the cause. A glass of water is just what you need to restore your body’s balance, so reach out AQUA Carpatica: try still for everyday hydration and sparkling for a boost of minerals, all natural, just as nature intended. Drawn from two pristine and pure aquifers, nestled deep in the heart of the untouched Carpathian Mountains, AQUA Carpatica is virtually nitrate free and combines an exceptionally balanced mineral content of calcium and magnesium, making it a great choice for health-conscious consumers. At least 2L should be consumed per day as part of a healthy lifestyle- choose wisely.

Discover more: 


FSC Magnesium 500mg

Tel: 0800 083 0356
E-mail:  [email protected]

Magnesium is needed for energy production, growth and repair, and formulation of blood cells, nerve signals and muscle relaxation. This high potency formulation has Vitamin B6 added to assist the absorption of the Magnesium.  

As with all FSC supplements, FSC Magnesium 500mg is made in the UK with the finest ingredients and based on widely recognised scientific evidence of their health qualities. Our formulations provide maximum efficiency with minimum additives.

Suitable for Vegetarians and recommended to take one tablet daily with with food. 


Nutrisorb® D3 & K2

BioCare Ltd
Tel: 0121 433 3727
E-mail:  [email protected]

Introducing our new Nutrisorb® D3 & K2, a liquid vegan vitamin D3 and K2 in a simple oil base for bone, immune and cardiovascular support. This high potency supplement contains 1000iu vitamin D3 and 75mcg K2 for optimum support. This form of vitamin K2 as MK-7(menoquinone), is soya-free. The liquid form allows flexible dosing, is easily mixed into liquids or taken under the tongue, and is convenient to use on the go. It is especially suited to individuals who have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules, and those with digestive and absorption difficulties. Find out more.



HealthAid Ltd
Tel: 020 8426 3400
E-mail: [email protected]

Haemovit Plus- Vital Energy Booster – Haemovit® Plus is a synergistic formula that provides a form of Iron easily absorbed by the body. Iron contributes to normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin and to normal oxygen transport in the body. The formula has the added benefits of B6 and B12 that help reduce tiredness, fatigue and maintain a healthy immune system. The vitamins in the formula also help the nervous system to function properly; Iron contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and cognitive function. Haemovit® Plus formula to help maintain a healthy hormonal balance, nervous system and normal psychological and mental function, vital factors to combat fatigue and stress levels.

Haemovit® Plus retails at £7.99 for 30 capsules. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit


Lamberts® MagAsorb® Powder

Lamberts Healthcare Ltd
Tel: : 01892 554313
E-mail:  [email protected]

Magnesium is increasingly recognised as a nutrient that contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. In the highly bioavailable citrate form, each 5.5g scoop provides a full 375mg of magnesium, which is 100% of the adult NRV. Our highly soluble, pleasant citrus flavoured powder is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and is easily mixed into a glass of water. Some clients struggle to take magnesium products due to the tablet size, making this product an ideal choice.


NutraBoost Herbal Remedy Tea

Nutra Tea
Tel: 02031 467 171
E-mail:  [email protected]

NutraBoost® by Nutra Tea® is 1 in a range of 19 herbal remedy teas that has been expertly formulated to maintain optimal physical and emotional endurance and improve resistance to stress. This unique blend contains 100% active botanicals that have been sustainably sourced including Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Astragalus, Liquorice and many more well-established ingredients to provide vitality and focus. The comprehensive herbal tea blend offers 2 grams of active ingredients with no additives, oils or excipients resulting in a completely natural supplement that can reused throughout the day to help enhance activity levels.


CoQ Plus Carnitine

Tel: 0370 3341575
E-mail:  [email protected]

CoQ Plus Carnitine, formulated by pioneer nutritionist Patrick Holford, is a great product for heart health. More than half the heart’s energy supply comes from fat. Fatty acids are complex packages to deliver, and they generate toxic waste. Carnitine delivers the fatty acids to process for energy and takes away the toxic by-products. The heart needs to liberate energy every second, and carnitine helps it to do so efficiently. With three types of carnitine: L-carnitine, Acetyl-L-carnitine and Propionyl – L-carnitine plus Coenzyme Q10, this product supports the heart to have a consistent high level of energy and reduces the toxic by-products of energy production.
[email protected]


Bio-Kult Migréa 

Bio-Kult Migréa
Tel: 01460 243230
E-mail:  [email protected]

Don’t leave your customers in the dark with head discomfort! Bio-Kult Migréa is an advanced multi-action live bacteria formulation that targets both the digestive tract and the head. Alongside the same great 14 strains of bacteria found in the original Bio-Kult, Bio-Kult Migréa has the added bonus of magnesium and vitamin B6, both of which contribute to normal functioning of the nervous system, and reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B6 contributes towards the normal function of the immune system and has been shown to help protect against inflammation. Vitamin B6 also contributes to the regulation of hormone activity.


Superfoods for Energy

Raw Living Ltd
Tel: 01803 658989
E-mail: [email protected] 

Raw Living’s own brand range of over 30 superfoods is the most comprehensive in the UK. From Ashwagandha to Wheatgrass, all superfoods assist the body in achieving homeostasis and restoring normal functioning in one way or another. What we now call “superfoods,” are simply plants and herbs which have been recognised by traditional cultures for thousands of years for their ability to work with the body’s intelligence and promote health. Special mentions go to Maca (particularly good for women), Chlorella which oxygenates the blood, Cordyceps which stimulates ATP production, MSM which aids joint motility, and Chia which was given as rations to the Aztec armies!


Bee energised and Bee rested

Unbeelievable Health
Tel: 02079 932471
E-mail:  [email protected]

Studies show lack of sleep and physical exhaustion can weaken the immune system. There are a number of plant based ingredients which have been shown to help and many of them can be found in Bee energised & Bee rested supplements. The two complement each other well- Bee energised helps banish brain fog and lethargy during the day (plus benefits build with time) & Bee rested is ideal to take before bed to help you nod off faster and wake up less in the night. These highly nourishing supplements have won numerous awards. See what the buzz is about!


Ancient Magnesium Cool Relief Lotion

Wholesale Health Ltd
Tel: 01606 889905
E-mail:  [email protected]

‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Sports Nutrition category at the Health Food Business awards in 2019, Ancient Magnesium Cool Relief Lotion delivers a soothing combination of ‘ultra-pure’ concentrated Zechstein magnesium chloride, ginger, menthol, and arnica oil, providing fast recovery from tiredness & fatigue, and muscle tension.   Magnesium is one of the most important minerals as it plays a fundamental role in electrolyte balance and energy production, muscle contraction, skeletal strength, stress and anxiety, immune health, and may help sustain high oxygen consumption for improved sports performance. Taking magnesium through the skin significantly increases its uptake and health-protective abilities. 


Magnesium Taurate

Tom Oliver Nutrition
Tel: 0208 1669414
E-mail:  [email protected]

Magnesium has many functions throughout the body including energy production. Deficiency is widely observed with many accompanying symptoms, including fatigue. Taurine is needed for energy metabolism, cardiovascular function and liver health.
Beneficial Effects of Magnesium Taurate

• Improves energy levels • Stabilises blood sugar levels • Protects cardiovascular health • Lowers blood pressure • Helps prevent migraines • Helps prevents cataracts • Protective against pre-eclampsia

Those with the following conditions could benefit from supplementation:

• Fatigue • Diabetes • Insulin resistance • Cardiovascular disease • High blood pressure • Cataracts • Pre-eclampsia • Migraines