Rooibos could be the antidote to SA’s poor sleep hygiene

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PHOTO: THE SOUTH AFRICAN

According to research, South Africans don’t sleep enough, which is considered a major public health concern as it not only costs the economy billions as a result of lost productivity and motor vehicle accidents, but could also lead to a variety of health complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
On average, South Africans sleep around six hours a night, based on data collected by a sleep app called Sleep Cycle. Most cited 6.24 am as their rising time but said they found it difficult to go to bed before midnight. The majority only crawled under the covers again at 12.20 am.
While six hours of sleep might sound adequate, it’s the sleep you clock before midnight that really counts.
According to sleep experts, the time you go to sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep.
Home-grown rooibos could be the natural antidote to cure the nation’s sleep crisis.
Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council, says research done by several academic institutions proves rooibos’s calming effects on the body.
“A study by Stellenbosch University showed that rooibos tea could alleviate stress and anxiety levels, and as a result, aid in a good night’s rest. There are two critical compounds found in rooibos which interfere with the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. These are aspalathin and nothofagin – both potent antioxidants. The lower the levels of cortisol in the body, the higher the likelihood of uninterrupted sleep.
“Rooibos also contains magnesium and calcium – both minerals which play a role in a good night’s sleep. Studies published in the European Neurology Journal confirm that calcium levels spike during deep sleep. The brain uses calcium to manufacture the sleeping hormone, melatonin, which enhances the quality of your sleep. Other research has shown that magnesium deficiency can also lead to chronic insomnia (inability to sleep). Magnesium is also known as nature’s tranquiliser and has a calming effect on your nervous system which promotes deep sleep.
“If your children have trouble sleeping, give them a cup of rooibos about an hour or two before bedtime to ensure you all get some needed sleep” recommends Du Toit.
“Drinking rooibos tea supplies your body with all the nutrients it needs for a peaceful night’s rest.”