Not being able to sleep at night drives you mad, makes you very tired, snappy and fed up. Sleep is crucial to us as it is the time when the body repairs and gathers energy. Insomnia can be caused by several things. There are two main types: the type when you can’t get off and the type when you get off but wake early or several times during the night.
Top Tips To Help You Sleep
1. First, do the obvious, like stop drinking coffee, eating sugary or white foods after about 3pm.
2. It is important to eat healthily, avoiding stimulant foods and drinks such as tea, coffee, sugar, fizzy drinks, white bread etc and eat lots of wholegrains, oily fish and vegetables.
3. Build yourself a ritual that relaxes you before bed; some people have a relaxing bath, a chamomile tea and read a bit of a soothing book.
4. Watching a stimulating drama on TV or reading a horror novel before bed won’t help!
5. If you are waking most nights between 3am and 5am, it is normally a blood sugar problem. Eat something as you go to bed, preferably NOT something white, sweet or stimulating: a protein and carb snack like a banana and oatcake a wholemeal or high fibre cracker with some chicken or turkey, or a few nuts and a banana would work well. Put some next to the bedside and eat some more if you wake up.
6. Notice I kept mentioning bananas there? They are full of tryptophan so are very calming and are therefore a good choice. 5HTP is the precursor for making tryptophan in the body so that can be really helpful as can the Zen Bev I reviewed here.
7. If the problem is not getting off, a hypnotherapy tape can often help, supplemented with a couple of sessions of hypnotherapy to retrain your mind to shut up!
8. If the problem is tension or anxiety, I always recommend meditation before bed or listening to a hypnotherapy tape. Chill Food can help as it contains L Theanine, an amino acid which has been shown to improve sleep in studies.
9. If pain or problems such as depression, hot flushes or restless legs are stopping you sleeping, get some advice. Contact your health professional, GP or email me and I will point you in the right direction.
Boost magnesium levels too with something like Nutrigold Magnesium Citrate. Around 200-300mg with your evening dinner may help aid sleep.
In fact, you can read much more here in a blog post I wrote about neurotransmitters and how they are involved in sleep problems: Drug Alternative for Anxiety and Insomnia.
Homeopathy also has a really good pedigree here. Try this rundown of different remedies.
11. Could it be histamine? If you are a very light sleeper, waking every few hours and have anxiety dreams/nightmares a lot, this could be worth considering. Some people don’t break down histamine very well and need to either replace their DAO enzyme levels and/or follow a low histamine diet. I came across this with patients who just couldn’t crack it. If you wish to, you can check your histamine levels here.
Check Your Meds
Check if any medication you are taking may be causing the problem – look at the side effects list and talk to your GP.
Alcohol Doesn’t Help!
Hate to tell you but alcohol won’t help! It does make you sleepy but it is actually a stimulant so you will probably get off but have poor quality sleep or keep waking. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Hope those tips really help. Here’s to a snoring good night’s sleep!