While I can’t guarantee these tips for overcoming insomnia will work for you, you are likely to get some benefit somewhere along the line.
Supplements & herbs
Herbal teas or tinctures made from valerian, passiflora, wild lettuce, chamomile, lavender, hops and passion flower can be useful.
Take the supplement 5HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5HTP is a compound created in the body which is used to regulate serotonin levels in brain and central nervous system (serotonin makes us relaxed). It is the effects on the levels of serotonin in the body that gives 5HTP its active effects.
- Eat a large lunch and have a light evening meal at least three hours before bed.
- Reduce the number of cups of coffee, tea or cola drinks you drink, especially later on in the day.
- Only drink alcohol in moderation. It may bring on sleepiness, but will tend to cause early waking.
- Warm milk contains high levels of tryptophan, a natural sedative. Adding honey to warm milk helps get the tryptophan in your system faster.
Preparing for sleep
- Regular daytime exercise can help you to feel more relaxed and tired at bedtime.
- Mentally dealing with the day’s unfinished business is helpful. Writing down any worries to deal with the next day may help to clear them from the mind and prevent them re-surfacing in the early hours.
- Relaxation techniques aim to reduce your mental and physical arousal before going to bed. For example, progressive muscular relaxation has been shown to help promote sleep.
- The bedroom should be a quiet, relaxing place to sleep. It should not be too hot, cold, or noisy. Earplugs and eye shades may be useful if you are sleeping with a snoring or wakeful partner. Make sure the bedroom is dark with good curtains to stop early morning sunlight. Don’t use the bedroom for activities such as work, eating or television.
- Hide your alarm clock under your bed. Many people ‘clock watch’ and this does not help you to get off to sleep.
- Essential oils such as jasmine or lavender in a warm bath help induce a state of restfulness.
- Stop smoking – nighttime breathing problems are more likely in smokers. Do not smoke before bed or if you wake in the middle of the night.
- The body becomes used to rhythms or routines. If you keep to a pattern, you are more likely to sleep well. Therefore no matter how tired you are, do not nap during the day. It’s best to go to bed only when sleepy-tired in the late evening – Switch the light out as soon as you get into bed. Always get up at the same time each day, seven days a week, however short the time asleep. Use an alarm to help with this. Resist the temptation to ‘lie-in’ even at weekends.
Author’s favourites: Bach Flower Night-Time Remedy, completing my steaming roller-coaster of a novel or relaxing all the muscles in my body and doing some deep breathing while wearing a sleep eye mask.