Help With Sleeping Difficulties

I quite often have clients discussing sleeping difficulties with me and I guess this is no surprise given that sleeping difficulties are symptoms of many other problems such as depression or anxiety.
I thought it might be useful to put together a short guide to help with the sleeping difficulties themselves. Please note that this is not meant to be a substitute for seeking help from a counsellor or doctor if the problems are severe.

Top Lifestyle Tips
• Create a regular bedtime ritual to help you wind down and prepare for bed. This ritual depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it. Keeping regular sleeping hours is important. This helps to program the brain to expect to sleep.
• Wind Down. Again this depends on what works for you but this can be a warm bath (not hot). Writing a to do list for the next day can help to empty your brain. Relaxation exercises can help such as light yoga exercises. Relaxation CD’s or apps from your telephone may be helpful here too. Reading a book or listening to radio can be helpful to distract the brain. Stop working on any task an hour before bedtime to calm the brain. Don’t discuss emotional issues at bedtime.
• Don’t have a TV in the bedroom – keep your bedroom for sleep only.
• Think about your environment – is your bed OK, does your pillow support you correctly. Is your room at the correct temperature? Keep noise and light to a minimum.
• Keeping a Sleep Diary – may be helpful to track what works for you and what doesn’t.
• Exercise Regularly – moderate exercise can help with tension so that sleep is encouraged.
• Caffeine Intake – the effects of caffeine can last a long time so it is important to look at your total intake as well as control when that intake is.
• Avoid too much food or alcohol especially late at night.
• Avoid smoking.
• Don’t nap in the late afternoon.
• Keep pets outside your sleeping area.

Natural Remedies That May Help
• Chamomile Tea (not if allergic to ragweed or pregnant or nursing)
• Melatonin – consult with your doctor before use and is meant for short-term use only.
• Valerian – works better with time so best taken every night. Not to be used with other sleep aids. Safe to take for 4-6 weeks but again best to consult with your doctor.
• Kava – short term use but not to be used with alcohol or medicines metabolized in the liver. Consult your doctor.
• Warm Milk – helps the brain make melatonin.
• A small light snack can help – please see my other article on food.
• Magnesium – good sources in food are leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Even a marginal lack of this can stop the brain settling at night but too much can cause serious health issues so care with daily dosage.
• Lavender – evidence shows that it decreases heart rate and blood pressure making you more relaxed. Having oils, candles, or sachets in your room could be a calming part of your bedtime routine. Research shows also that it can influence dreams. This should not be used during pregnancy.

Please note before using any natural remedies it is important to check them out for yourself and your circumstances and speak to a doctor if necessary.

Helpful Sources for Further Information:

Helpful Sources for Relaxation Exercises:

Your telephone – for apps.

Other Sources Used for Info: