The treatments for insomnia range from things to be swallowed, lay on, listened to, and a myriad of other things, The most common include practical things that deal with the envinronment.
If excessive noise is impairing your sleep, and you have tried dealing unsuccessfully with the source, then perhaps investing in a good pair of ear plugs or a sound machine will help. The sound machine can play a variety of sounds that mask the one that is annoying you.
If there is too much light in the room then wearing an eye mask, installing heavier drapes, or moving the angle of the bed away from the light source might solve the problem.
The placement of your bed is thought to be important by some as well, but not because of too much light. The most common belief is that the foot of the bed should not be facing the doorway, the head should be against a wall, but definitely not against the northern wall of the bedroom.
Cold feet can make it less likely that you will enter the Land of Nod, and something as simple as wearing a pair of comfortable, loose socks to bed could be the answer. An extra blanket, warmer nightwear, or a boost to the thermostat might also help.
Being too hot can be solved by opening a window if this is safe and practical, the strategic use of fans, wearing lighter weight nightwear or putting less blankets on the bed.
Get a different mattress, pillow or bed is recommended by some people, and this could be valid if your bedding is not suitable for you.
The colour of your bedclothes, walls and bedding may also influence your ability to sleep soundly. Colours that stimulate, like red and orange may not allow you to sleep as soundly as those that are calming, like blue and green.
The subconscious brain is quick to learn connections, and so if you always do your accounting in the bedroom, the brain is more likely to prepare for work when you walk through the door. Only using the bedroom for sleep and sex is more conducive to sending the right message to the brain.
Illness of any kind and pain often make it far less likely that sleep will be sound and restorative. If you have an infection, then deal with it. Talk to your health professional about ways to better manage your illness, health condition or pain so that you can enjoy better sleep.
Stress of any kind can make it difficult to sleep, and good stress management really depends on the source of the stress.
“A problem shared is a problem halved” is an old saying that is worthy of remembering. Worry is a common source of stress that as a general rule, only gets worse in the future by pretending that the problem doesn’t exist, or hiding it with drugs, alcohol or bad behaviour.
Instead, sometimes you just need to talk about it to make it get into the right perspective or to find solutions. Sometimes you need to talk it over with someone else, and sometimes you can just say the words out loud to yourself so that you face the issue. Once this is done then solutions to the problem can be proposed and chosen.
If the problem arises at three in the morning and there is no one that you can talk it over with, then write it down. Once you have done this, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t forget what you need to do in the morning.
Foods and drinks
Foods and drinks can have a profound effect on sleep, and so part of the insomnia solution can include managing these better.
Foods that are high in a substance called tyramine can lead to an increase in the production of the hormone norepinephrine, which is a stimulant. These foods include chocolate, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, fermented cheese, vinegar, wine, nuts, and citrus fruits. Since stimulants are unlikely to encourage you to fall asleep and to stay that way for a few hours, these foods might best be eaten earlier in the day.
Eating carbohydrates on the other hand tends to initially increase the feeling of sleepiness, and so does tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is found in milk and other dairy foods, as well as nuts and poultry. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin when the light gets dim.
Melatonin helps us to get off to sleep and it is said to help with jet lag and insomnia that results from sudden changes of time zones or shifts at work. Having a small snack of cereal, fruit, yoghurt, pie or biscuits washed down with a milky drink before bedtime could therefore be useful in taking the edge off insomnia.
However, eating foods that are high in sugar may cause insomnia later in the night because once sugar has been metabolised it increases adrenaline output, which can encourage insomnia, and so care should be taken with these foods.
A lack of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and the b vitamins can cause insomnia, cramps, headaches, frequent urination and nervousness, so eating a wide range of foods and including unprocessed, fully mineralised sea salt in food preparation may help you to enjoy better sleep.
Drinks that contain alcohol, lots of sugar, or the stimulant caffeine can disrupt sleep. If you have noticed a connection between these drinks and your insomnia, then avoid these drinks in the two – three hour period before bedtime.
Everyone likes to go to sleep and to wake up again at approximately the same time, which is why travelling to a different time zone or doing shift work profoundly disturbs sleep patterns.
You can enhance the circadian rhythm by:
Always getting up at the same time, regardless of how well you slept.
Avoiding bright lights for a time before going to bed.
Be exposed to bright lights on waking up.
There is a natural tendency to feel very sleepy between 2am – 4am, so if you are in a new time zone but your body clock is still in the old one, perhaps having some caffeine to stop you napping at this time will help you to adapt more quickly.