Getting a good night’s sleep seems to be one of the hardest things for us to do these days. People are always complaining of too little sleep, but never too much!
I suffered from varying degrees of insomnia for almost 15 years so believe me when I say I have completed a lot of research about this subject. I’ve tried all sorts of weird and wonderful lotions, potions, pills and regimes to trick that elusive sleep fairy into granting me a good night’s sleep. So I wanted to share with you what worked for me and what finally cured me of my insomnia for good!
Here’s my Top Five:
Meditation! I cannot stress strongly enough how important daily meditation (even the guided sort) is to sleep. There is a great deal of research out there to indicate that daily meditation reduces all of the following: stress and anxiety levels; helps our busy brains not be so busy; grounds you; reduces blood pressure and balances blood sugars and makes you feel more balanced. And as all of these things disturb our sleep patterns you can see why it helps so much. Also if you listen to a mediation when you’re ready for sleep it can even help you drift off.
Always get to bed by 10.00 pm, so that you fall asleep before 11.00 pm as this is when your body gets it’s second wind due to our circadian rhythm (which is our body’s nature cycle) and falling asleep after this time becomes much more difficult. Out optimum time for falling asleep is actually 10.00pm as this is when the levels of serotonin in the body are highest, but as long as you are asleep by 11.00pm you’ll find it a lot easier to get to sleep and stay asleep. According to much research any time asleep before midnight is twice as beneficial and any hours asleep after midnight.
Deal with underlying stresses and anxieties. If you have past issues that you run over in your mind time and time again or you worry a lot about the future then consider things like EFT, Bach flower remedies or hypnotherapy for dealing with these. It’s important to remember these things won’t go away and will interfere with sleep and general health and well-being until you address them, so you might as well do it sooner rather than later.
Believing you can sleep! I know this sounds a little odd or maybe even obvious, but if you lay there thinking ‘I won’t sleep’ or ‘I can’t sleep again’, then that’s exactly what will happen. However, if you think to yourself ‘at least I’m still resting, which will be benefiting my body’ or ‘I’ll drift off to sleep very soon, I just need to relax all my muscles (and then work on doing that), then your body and mind are in a much better state to rest and then sleep.
Learn not to get stressed about not sleeping. This never helps and only makes the ‘not sleeping’ worse as your mind and then body becomes stressed, tense and anxious and produces the stress hormones associated with this, which are usually produced for the body for the exact opposite of sleep, so will not promote you dropping off any time soon. Try listening to some relaxing music, reading a boring book or the best thing is doing a guided meditation like the Body Scan (you can find hundreds of these on YouTube and other similar sites). If you cannot get off to sleep, or wake in the night then listen to one of these (most people never get to the end of it before they are asleep).
I also found these items helpful:
Start to get ready for bed ‘winding down’ at least 2 hours before bed (some people put off going to bed later on because of the effort it takes to get ready for bed when they are already tired).
If you’re feeling particularly wired in the evening then take a soak in the bath with Espom salts and lavender or chamomile and get ready for bed straight afterwards.
Use Rescue Night, a Bach flower remedy (you can buy this online or from places like Boots and Holland & Barrett), click here for more information about this product.
Use Neal’s Yards Aromatherapy Night Time roll on, click here for more information on this product.
Remove or drastically reduce caffeine and processed sugars from your diet.
Eat healthy, well balanced and regular meals. This helps stabilise blood sugar levels, so try to eat every 4 hours and try to avoid foods and drinks high on the GI Index.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This not only helps reduce the stresses and strains that might be keeping you up at night but it also helps when actually trying to get to sleep. Just tap on how you’re feeling at the time and it will help shift these feelings and emotions.
Turn the lights down low in the evening. This helps the body start to get into sleep mode.
Stop watching TV, using computers and playing on phones and tablets etc at least two hours before you want to be asleep. All these items stimulate the brain and also make it believe it’s still daylight. If you must use them then turn screen brightness down, use a screen diffuser or use from Low Blue Light Glasses, click here for more info on these.
In the evening drink herbal teas that promote sleep, like lavender, chamomile, valerian or the Night Time blend by Pukka Teas.
Don’t read anything too stimulating at night time, so ditch the exciting novels just before bed in favour of something heavy and non-fiction.
Try attending a yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Pilates class a few times a week. These classes are very relaxing, balancing and supportive of body and mind and promote good sleep patterns.
Exercise regularly, even if it’s just going for a 10 minute walk every day. It is worth mentioning that high intensity exercise can interfere with some people’s sleep because of the additional hormones (particularly cortisol) it produces.
The bedroom should be a technology free zone. Each electrical appliance around you emits an electromagnetic field. These fields then interfere with your own electromagnetic field. This then disturbs sleep, mood, hormones and creates a whole host of other health concerns, click here for more info on electromagnetic stress. Remove all the electricals you can; the ones you simply can’t do without switch off fully (not standby) and put them the other side of the bedroom (do not have them next to you whilst sleeping, or trying to sleep).
Here are some relevant links you might like:
Wikinut, Five main reasons why we must go to sleep early, click here.
Karen Kingston’s Blog, Electromagnetic Stress Blogs, click here.
Sleepio Blog, click here.
Snoozester, click here.
The Sleep Lady, click here.
Psychology Today, Sleep Newzzz, click here
If you have any additional items you find are helpful in promoting sleep please feel free to share them in the comments section below.