Do you climb the hill to Bedfordshire, enter the Land of Nod with ease and stay there all night long? Do you dose off the moment your head hits the pillow instantly entering a calm dreamland and awake as the alarm cheerfully buzzes you back to reality at 7am?
If you do then you are very lucky and not one of the millions of people who suffer from sleep problems which are gaining in number every day.
We don’t realise what a precious commodity sleep is until we are deprived of it and it suddenly hits home just how it effects every other facet of our lives. Sleep recharges our batteries and gives our bodies a chance to catch up, it is when digestion is easier and chemicals are replaced and general maintenance takes place within.
Sleep – It is as important as food and water and the very air we breathe. Sleep brings health and well being, and lack of sleep does the exact opposite and can even make you put on weight!
I used to sleep like a log, I never thought about it, it just happened. I was one of those people who couldn’t understand why other people had problems sleeping. I just thought it was a natural thing, a God given right – you go to bed, you fall asleep and you wake up in the morning. Simples eh!
Sleeplessness can be caused by many reasons; stress, depression, weight gain, other illness, bad habits, smoking, alcohol, food allergies and poor eating habits plus a host of other causes.
For me sleep problems came about through a combination of stress and depression. It was like a downward spiral, a vicious circle. I couldn’t get to sleep and would toss and turn for ages, eventually I’d nod off but woke up at 3.20am with the regularity of Big Ben striking the hour. This became a fear thing, I knew I’d wake up and dreaded the nightly fight with insomnia. It went on and on. I tried sleeping pills from the doctor and went from one strength to another to try to reach oblivion. I’d lost the map to the Land of Nod and was in a scary place.
It wasn’t until I made the decision to fight it on my own without the pills that I really made headway. Sleeping pills may seem like the answer for some folks, but for me they just didn’t work. I was left feeling thick headed and heavy hearted.
I had to rethink my sleeping plans and make a few changes in my lifestyle that I didn’t really want to make. Chucking my furry friends out of the bedroom was one that really rankled, but hey it has helped and I just have to give them more attention in the evening to make up for their demotion to sleeping in the kitchen.
Here are 20 tips to help you sleep.
1. Avoid booze late at night. you may think it will help you to nod off, but it is more likely to make you pass out. this isn’t real sleep and doesn’t do you any good at all.
2. Drink a gentle caffeine free herb tea (tisane). Try chamomile on its own, or my own favourite home brew of chamomile, lavender and lemon balm. One large teaspoonful in a teacup with boiling water left to steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired.
3. It goes without saying that coffee and other caffeine filled drinks are a complete no-no. In fact you shouldn’t really drink coffee in the evening at all. If you must then switch to decaf for evening drinks.
4. Limit your liquid intake at night to avoid having to get up to go to the loo.
5. It is said that lettuce, apples and bananas can help you to sleep. Personally I’ve found an apple to be a good bedtime snack. Avoid sugary or grain foods as these will raise blood sugar and keep you away from nod.
6. The sound of silence. Some people sleep better in complete silence and hate any sort of noise in the bedroom. Other people find white noise beneficial, and many enjoy sounds of the sea, gentle nature sounds and soft music a help. If sound helps you sleep put it on a loop player so that it just gently continues and lulls you to sleep.
7. The Darkness. Sleep in the dark, close out all light. Even that digital clock that has a greenish glow can disturb your sleep.
8. Clock Watching. Remove the clock from view. If you do have trouble sleeping the last thing you need is the constant reminder of the time. Turn the clock away.
9. Keep the bedroom for sleeping. Don’t take work or laptop to bed with you. It is best not to have a TV in the bedroom if you have sleep issues. The news and violent programmes can keep you awake for hours with your mind whirring round on things it doesn’t need to ponder on at this time of night.
10.Reading. Don’t read violent, action packed books in bed. Go for something soothing, boring even, if you are having trouble nodding off.
11. Keep the bedroom under 70 degrees F. If you are cold add a blanket to snuggle under, but the room itself should not be too warm. If you can have a window open for fresh air flow throughout the room.
12. Wear sox if you suffer from froze toes in the middle of the night. Our feet suffer from poor circulation and lose heat during the night, a snuggly pair of sox will keep them at a good temperature.
13. Write a journal. Write a list. Write it down. Just write about what is on your mind before turning out the light. It could be your “To Do” list for tomorrow, or just your thoughts about the day. Writing things down gets them out of your head and clears space.
14. Count your blessings and write them down. Ah does this sound just too Pollyanna for you. Well think about it, writing just a few words about what is good today right now in your life is a positive step, doing this right before sleep means it is in your head and good thoughts are better sleep mates than worrying ones.
15. Sleep time. Most animals (and in fact humans used to) go to sleep when the sun goes down. Your body naturally does its back up work between 11pm and 1am, give it a chance to do this by being in bed and asleep at this time. Try to keep a routine bed time.
16. Exercise is good for you and 30 minutes per day keeps your body in good condition and also helps you to sleep at night. You don’t have to hit the gym or take up running. just go for a walk, park further from the office or shops and add some extra steps to your day.
17. Sleepy scents; Use aromatic herbs to help you sleep. Have lavender and chamomile in pots on the windowsill in summer. Use dried herbs in a little Sleep Pillow to help lull you to sleep with nature’s goodness. I often have sleep sacks with my own sleep blend available in My Shop.
18. Natural sleep tablets like Valerian are very good. This is non addictive and has very few side effects. Valerian was the original nerve tonic many many years ago. You can pick up Valerian tablets in any good chemist.
19. Animals. Many people sleep well with their pets, while others like to have the cat or dog in bed and then it gets up during the night and disturbs their sleep. Be ruthless, is your sleep pattern worth more than the snuggle of a pet? Decide what you want more.
20. Yawn. Yes yawn and imagine yourself in a group of friends sitting around at the end of a good evening and all feeling tired and yawning as you talk. you will soon find yourself yawning and dropping off. Funny but it works!
So there you go, 20 tips to help you Sleep and reach the Land of Nod. Sometimes a bit of rethinking and a wee change of habit and lifestyle is all that is needed. It takes time to change habits so patience is called for, this can seem impossible at first, but hang in there and persevere.
Don’t let the Sleep Bandits get you down.