Insomnia, the inability to sleep properly at nights, is mostly caused by emotional stress or depression, but other reasons may be pain, illness, medications that interfere with sleep, going to bed too soon after eating, or drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime. Insomnia can become a real terror, and it impairs your ability to function optimally the following day. People who have tried counting sheep to help them fall asleep say it really works. You might try to make changes to your lifestyle, perhaps have a relaxing herbal tea, or fix a strict time to go to bed and wake up, or any of the various tactics listed below to sleep soundly.
- Having a little bit of turkey or chicken or a banana before going to sleep can help since these foods contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body needs to produce serotonin, which is a brain chemical that aids sleep.
- Have a glass of warm milk, as it contains tryptophan, and a biscuit before going to bed to help overcome insomnia.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal too late in the evening or too close to bedtime as the body needs 3-4 hours to digest it.
- Having foods that are too spicy or sugary at dinnertime is not such a good idea if you suffer from insomnia, as they can cause irritation in the stomach.
Herbs that help
- Valerian is an awful smelling herb, but it helps you fall asleep by working on the brain in about the same way that valium does. Take a standardised capsule or tablet one hour before going to sleep.
- Have some passionflower tea. Take a spoonful of the dried herb and put it in a cup of boiling water, let it infuse for 5-10 minutes, and drink before bedtime.
- Have camomile tea. It calms the nervous system and promotes sound sleep.
- Some other herbs that might help curb insomnia are Californian poppy, lemon verbena and lime flower.
Setting up a rigid routine
- Perhaps the best way to overcome insomnia is to fix your waking up time, and not to deviate from it, regardless of how little sleep you managed in the night. Don’t wake up late at the weekend either.
- Take a walk in the morning, it need not be too long, but it needs to be outdoors as natural light signals that it is time to be awake. Your body clock will start responding better when it comes to bedtime.
- Avoid taking naps during the day. For people who are not suffering from insomnia, an afternoon nap may actually be beneficial, but for those suffering from insomnia it can disrupt the body clock and is best avoided.
What not to do
- Don’t exercise during the last four hours before going to sleep because it stimulates your entire body. The exceptions to this thumb-rule are some yoga exercises which are designed to calm your body and mind. Yoga can actually help you overcome insomnia.
- If you can’t avoid watching TV altogether before bedtime, at least don’t watch any violent or action-packed shows because they only stimulate your brain.
- Stay away from drinks that contain caffeine, as they stimulate the body and cause sleep disorders.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic drinks. Though these drinks may help you fall asleep faster, the effect wears off soon and may result in fitful and restless sleep.
- Don’t smoke during the last four hours before bedtime, it is a major cause of insomnia as it stimulates the central nervous system.
It might be a good idea to turn towards your partner and have some great sex. It is a pleasurable way to relax, and it also helps the production of hormones that promote sound sleep.