Do you suffer with insomnia too? These are the things I did to help myself

November 8 2011No Commented

Categorized Under: Healthy lifestyle, Natural health information

I have suffered with insomnia for the last 15 months, so wanted to share with you some of the things I have found that help me. As much as this has been a terribly life altering problem for me, which has affected every part of my life, it has forced me into finding ways to help me to shut my brain off and get into a deep sleep – something I have always been good at and have never had a problem with before this.

So the first thing I did was take our Superior Magnesium to help to sooth my nervous system. I started diligently taking 2 of these approximately 1 hour before bed. This definitely helped. I noticed that after just a couple of days of taking this, I felt less agitated and could relax a little better. My nervous system felt a lot more soothed.

I tried the Tru2U Tart Cherry juice to give myself a natural source of Melatonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate circadian rhythms and sleep.  The body’s ability to produce melatonin is reduced by mood fluctuations, stress, anxiety, a lack of sun and overseas travel. This cherry juice is the only one I know of that contains a natural source of actual melatonin, something that is usually only available via a prescription. The Tru2u Tart Cherry contains the Montmorency tart cherry, the richest source of natural melatonin available in NZ. This is such a natural and safe way to boost up melatonin levels in any age group.  Do be aware, that the juice concentrate contains 10 times more melatonin per dose, compared to the capsules.

I took the amino acid L Theanine. Theanine has been shown to access the brain and nervous system, influencing brain wave activity in similar ways to that of meditation. This makes L-Theanine ideal to take throughout the day during times of anxiety, such as exams, driving or work stress, and where mental alertness must be maintained. This amino promotes production of the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA, which in turn influences serotonin and dopamine for mood stabilisation and feelings of well being. I noticed a much more soothed effect on my nervous system with this. Theanine is not essentially for insomnia, but more nervous system irritation which may lead to an inability to shut down at night and be able to go to sleep.

I took the herbal formula Valerian Night-time. This contains the herbs Valerian and lemon balm. These herbs have a definite soothing effect on the nervous system. I felt slightly sedated with this formula, which was just what I wanted before going to bed. I had a much deeper sleep with this.

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Tired of counting sheep?

I tried lots of other supplements, but for me, these were the ones that worked the best.

The other things I did were:

I made sure I ate properly throughout the day. If you miss meals or if the time between 1 meal and the other is far apart, your body can compensate for this lack of energy/fuel and make its own fuel, by releasing adrenalin a stress hormone. If you have done this a few times in the day, by the time you get to the evening, there can be so much of this stress hormone circulating in your blood stream, nothing will help you to unwind easily. THE most important meal of the day is breakfast. If you do not eat properly in the morning, and within the right time frame, there is little you can do all day that will compensate for this initial adrenalin hit you had.

The ideal formula for eating is to eat within ½ an hour after waking and then each 2 ½ hours throughout the day. Each meal should consist of protein, your slow burning fuel. Examples of protein are anything that comes from an animal – so meat, fish, eggs, dairy products. Also nuts and seeds and soy products, however we do not suggest the use of soy, unless it is a fermented soy product like Miso or Tempeh. .

So supporting your blood sugar levels is vital for being able to unwind and sleep soundly at night.

Another thing I did was to have an honest look at the amount of caffeine containing beverages and foods I ate and drunk in a day. I noticed that some days I was having 3 cups of coffee a day, so I reduced this to 1 cup, which I made sure I stopped to drink for 5 minutes, so I actually felt like I had had one. I did enjoy this a lot better than 3 cold, half drunk cups on the run. As well as this coffee, I was having 2 or 3 cups of tea a day. A cup of tea contains 2/3 the amount of caffeine as found in a cup of coffee. So when I added this up, it was a lot of caffeine in 1 day. So I swapped to a low caffeine tea. I was hesitant to do this, as I love my cup of tea and didn’t want to feel deprived. The brand I changed to is Madura, which is 100% tannin free and 98% caffeine free, but it still tastes just like tea (they even have an English breakfast)

I also made sure I did not consume any of these beverages after 3pm in the day, as I found that having these any later than this could definitely affect my ability to unwind properly at night. I wasn’t a huge fan of herb teas, but found a couple of “sleepy” teas that I did like and started having these. Remember that green tea contains caffeine, so this is not a suitable alternative, so make sure your herb tea does not contain this.

Anyone who knows me knows that exercise is not my favorite thing, but I started walking a lot more and going to my local beach for a brisk stroll 2-4 times a week. There is nothing nicer than breathing in all of that sea air. I found this to be energizing, but relaxing all at the same time. I felt revitalized after a walk and definitely noticed I slept a lot more soundly on those nights that I had done this walk.

I prepared my bed room for my sleep. I made sure it had been well aired out, so it wasn’t stuffy. A few hours before I went to bed, I put an essential oil burner in my room and vapourised oils that are relaxing, such as lavender, clary sage, neroli, bergamont and chamomile. I really felt these helped to clear my mind and I definitely felt a lot more relaxed on the nights I did this.

I’m a huge cat lover and I love to let my cute and adorable Ocicat sleep in his basket, all snug and sound on top of the dressing table in the spare room. However as part of his routine, he would jump on my bed and wake me up, usually around 3am, so I could let him outside (oh dear!). I hated admitting it, but part of sorting out my insomnia involved finding him a new sleeping place, outside. It took a few nights to sort him out but not having him jump on me to go outside, was also an important step in having a good night sleep and staying asleep.

I have to tell you that by taking these things and making the life style changes, I didn’t find that one night I all of a sudden started sleeping. But what I did find, was each night I started to sleep more and more soundly, until I work up 1 morning, having not woken once during the night. What a wonderful feeling this was to have finally got into a deep sleep (I can still remember it!)

So if insomnia is a problem for you, hopefully some of these things that I tried will also work for you

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