I have suffered from insomnia for most of my life. Possibly for all of my life actually, but since the first time I can remember, there are some nights when I wake up at a silly hour of the night/early morning and that is it for sleeping. It doesn’t seem to matter when I go to bed either… I will ALWAYS wake up at 3am. Sometimes I am lucky enough to go right back to sleep, and other times… ummm… not so much.
I have tried all the remedies. Every single one of them. Valerian, Lavendar, Ylang Ylang and variations of those in oils, sprays, embrocations and even pills. I have stopped drinking caffeine in the afternoon. I have had a bath, a milky drink, a cold bedroom to sleep in… all sorts of things. They tend to work for a week and then we are back into the old ways of sleeping and waking and not sleeping again.
So, what can my “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor” recommend? Some of their advice is really good common sense. For example, if you to bed and haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes, then get up and go and do something else. Read a book, have a wander around the house, watch some TV, do some knitting or whatever it is that relaxes you. When you feel sleepy again, head back to bed. If you just lie in bed waiting for sleep to arrive, it reinforces the insomnia patterns in the brain, and that is no good for anyone.
If you have had really bad sleep the night before, how do you manage it? I tend to keep to my routine, get up at the normal time and then self medicate with caffeine for the rest of the day. Apparently, this is the right course of action (though perhaps with less caffeine involved!). Staying in bed to try and “make up” the lost sleep will just train your body to go to sleep late and to get up late.
Another tip is to remove all the clocks from the bedroom, especially those glowing ones that you can see across the room. If you are lying awake, it is tempting to clock watch and clock watching leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to lack of sleep. It is a vicious circle. So, put the alarm clock in the Hall. It will also have the benefit that you will guarantee that you HAVE to get up when the alarm goes and there won’t be much chance of using the snooze button.
Getting up and at them is supposed to be a good cure for insomnia – exercise is good for sleeping, but make sure you do it at least 3 hours BEFORE bed. A great work out will give you an adrenalin buzz and that won’t help with going to dreamland. Another great tip is to do something boring before bed. Don’t study, or pay bills – do a jigsaw, read a book, listen to wind down music. It will get you into the sleeping vibe.
If you thought that having a wee dram of something alcoholic was the key to a sleep filled night… ummm… sorry. It’s not. It will actually disrupt your sleep. And the same with Nicotine – give up on the e-cigs or cigarettes before bed. It is a stimulant and will disrupt the sleep patterns not help it. But, you can eat some turkey or have a glass of milk before bed. Both turkey and milk contain tryptophan which is a chemical that causes drowsiness. Which might explain all the snores after Christmas Dinner!