Friday, January 2, 2009

To Sleep Perchance To Dream

I can't sleep and it's becoming a problem.

Seriously, I don't remember the last time I slept through the night. And I would blame it on time zone shifts except that I wasn't able to sleep properly the last two weeks I was in London either.

I've never been a very good sleeper, and I have suffered bouts of insomnia before, but this is so prolonged that I'm starting to go insane.

I am not a big believer in medicating myself (I'm not Tom Cruise, I don't care if you take meds, I just mean for myself personally) so I haven't ever tried sleeping pills, and I'm loathe to start. Especially because I'm afraid if I take sleeping pills, I'll get addicted and unable to sleep without them.

BUT. I do need something. So, anyone have any good tips on how to cure insomnia naturally?

I just really, really want to sleep through the night.

26 comments:

Tanya said...

Sorry to hear you're having trouble sleeping. It all depends on why you can't sleep. If my mind is racing because of deadlines, lots of work, etc., then I read something that takes me out of my world, preferably a novel. Then I can be in the world of the novel as I try to fall asleep. I do use earplugs so about the only thing I hear is my own breathing. Good luck, and happy new year!

Jodith said...

If you're willing to try homeopathic, there's one called by Hylands called Calms. Actually, there are two. One is Calms, which is for anxiety and helps sleep when insomnia is caused by stress. Calmes Forte is for regular insomnia.

Another thing to try is melatonin. Some people just don't produce it properly. Your body naturally produces it in the wee hours of the morning, so you'll get the best affect if you take it around 1 or 2 a.m. local time. But if the problem is your clock needs resetting, then this is a good way to do it.

There's also come medical problems that can cause sleeplessness (hypothyroidism comes to mind immediately). If your sleep doesn't improve, you should definitely look into having a physical. Although, I'd suggest trying a naturopath or traditional chinese medicine first. They tend to be better with chronic problems than western medicine, which often just treats the symptoms.

Abbie said...

Take a warm bath an hour before bed. The increase in your body temperature will help you sleep.

I like to take a bath, then hop into my warm bed and read, then go to sleep.

Don't watch tv or go online in the hour before bed, it's too stimulating to promote sleep if you're having a hard time sleeping.

I know the bath uses resources, but if you're going to bathe anyway, it's worth it to do it then to get the sleep benefits. And it's worth it to try it if you don't want to take sleeping pills.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you are preparing for motherhood. I haven't slept in 8 1/2 years. Coincidentally the age of my oldest.
But really what you need is peace in your mind. Your head must be working overtime. Try resting during the day, not to sleep, but to relax. Meditation for calming. It will carry over when the true time for sleep comes. Peace during waking hours brings peace during sleeping.

Donna said...

I like Abbie's suggestion! But if you're like me, the pattern will continue until you get sick, and then the medication you take to get well will knock you out at night and reset your sleep cycle. Sorry about that!

Today Wendy said...

I had some crazy insomnia problems a few years ago, and my solution was antihistamines (regular, not non-drowsy)...which sounds a lot like taking medicine for its side effect...but it worked as a temporary solution, and gave me the energy to figure out what the long-term solution was. I found they left me feeling a lot better than the prescription sleeping pills too. Insomnia sucks, and it sure can make you feel like you're losing your mind...good luck.

Alison said...

I was a problem insomniac on a regular basis until I had a kid. Then I was so tired I slept when I could! However, a year later I periodically find myself wide awake once again and I've had success using the breathing techniques I learned in my hypnobirthing class. I am not sure if self-hypnosis is really the solution; however, the breathing and relaxation techniques involved work better than anything I've ever tried to lure myself to sleep.

And, from the mouth of babes: you might also try adding in the bed time ritual, a set bed time, a set wake up time, etc. to get on a schedule.

kimberly said...

hey ardy, sorry to hear you're having trouble sleeping :( it's always really frustrating when that becomes a prolonged problem... i use this really awesome sleep balm. i usually put a bit on my lips, 'cause its so moisturizing that it doubles as lip balm. and i find the smell is what relaxes me, so the lips are a great spot so that you keep smelling the balm until you fall asleep. i just found it online if you want to check it out: http://www.badgerbalm.com/pc-393-2-sleep-balm.aspx

also, a roll in the hay with my bf usually works for me too ;) i've heard that exercising regularly helps with your sleep patterns, although i've never gone to the gym regularly enough to find out personally...

finally, fish oils work as well. my dad started taking fish oil suppliments for the omega-3's and he found that it regulated his sleep a lot. he had actually started taking it for other reasons, and recognized that side affect as well. it's also great for the hair, skin & nails, it regulates mood/helps with depression, and other amazing things apparently...

Beany said...

I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping as well. I blame it on stress, but don't know how to reduce it besides meditating alot. In fact many time, it was two hours before my alarm went off when I would finally get to sleep. I probably should sign up for an exam, as studying always makes me drowsy.

Mary said...

ardy- Sorry to hear about your sleeplessness. I have used most of the remedies mentioned by the other commentors at one time or another and with good results. I'd also like to add: comfrey tea; a drop of lavender oil on your pillow or a sachet under the pillow case; a couple of asprin at bedtime sometimes are all it takes for me(not tylenol, not ibuprofen, etc); or getting up and writing down the things that are going around in my head. Good luck with this.

Mary said...

ardy- Sorry to hear about your sleeplessness. I have used most of the remedies mentioned by the other commentors at one time or another and with good results. I'd also like to add: comfrey tea; a drop of lavender oil on your pillow or a sachet under the pillow case; a couple of asprin at bedtime sometimes are all it takes for me(not tylenol, not ibuprofen, etc); or getting up and writing down the things that are going around in my head. Also, no caffeine several hours before bedtime. Good luck with this.

Mary said...

And for a third try, let me add a correction to my previous comments - Chamomile tea, not comfrey, specifically Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea.

michelle said...

Maybe also try exercise, but by afternoon at the latest - i.e., to make yourself tired enough to fall asleep.

Anonymous said...

Only thought to add- I can't remember if you've said what your caffeine intake is like- my roommate in college figured out that if she had any caffeine whatsoever she couldn't sleep through the night (not even decaf coffee in the morning). If the other suggestions don't work, it would be worth trying to sort out if you are sensitive to caffeine, or have any food intolerances that would influence sleep.

Good luck.(and happy new year :0)

kt

Debbie said...

I agree with anonymous, check your caffeine intake. I had trouble falling asleep for years and one day I was complaining about this to my son and he pointed to my venti-size cup of coffee and said "do you think that might be the problem?" Duh. I had never had a problem with caffeine when I was younger and it didn't occur to me that I could develop one. Sure enough, if I don't have any caffeine I fall asleep just fine. If I have a cup of coffee past, say, noon I do (and I work second shift, so I'm not in bed until 2 am earliest). If you use caffeine products, try giving them up and see if it makes a difference.

Melinda said...

I had a lot of trouble with insomnia until I realized that drinking caffeine, even late in the afternoon, resulted in my not being able to sleep. Also, honestly, anxiety was part of it, too. Are you feeling anxiety?

Meditation has helped a lot - clearing the mind and relaxing the body. My routine is to read until I fall asleep (usually has to be something totally mindless), and then when I turn out the lights, I informally meditate. Oh, and we have bedroom lights that are florescent but balanced for sunset, so they're soothing and don't keep me awake. (Stay away from the computer at night, as it has a tendency to keep sensitive people awake, too.) Good luck!! Think happy, calm thoughts. : )

Heather said...

If you think it might be stress, give rescue remedy a try. We recommend it for dogs who are high strung, but it is originally a human remedy. Might work and is totally "natural".

Jen said...

I recently overcame a year-long struggle of terrible insomnia and this book saved my life: "Say Good Night to Insomnia", by Gregg D. Jacobs. His approach is drug-free and his techniques got me off the sleeping pills and Benedryl and falling asleep easily before I was even halfway through the book.

I didn't believe for a second it would actually work for me, but the rave reviews on Amazon convinced me to give it a shot, and I would have read a thousand sleep books if I thought one of them might actually work.

Good luck! Insomnia is awful; you have my full sympathy.

ruchi aka arduous said...

Thanks everyone for the tips! I really, really appreciate it.

Betty Black said...

I have trouble sleeping sometimes too. I have had some sucssess with most of what other people posted (esspessaly the caffien thing) but I wanted to add: If I get at least a mile walk in each day it really helps. I don't have to do it at any partular time durring the day but just getting a bit of non strenuos excercise seems to even out my body rythms. Some times I end up resorting to pills but I try only to do that once a month. I too wish not to find myself addicted.

Anonymous said...

The sleepytime tea Mary referred to is good, but it's not necessarily the chamomile that does it. The other two actives in that tea are tilia leaves (aka lindenflower) and valerian. Valerian is a widely available herb used to relax and help with sleep; I'm surprised no one mentioned it here already! Linden flower tea is also very useful for relaxing - I know that Hispanic cultures (Spain & Latin America) use it extensively for relaxing nerves; it de-stresses and put my mother-in-law to sleep in no time. (a good thing! :) I hope that helps.
Alicia

Amber said...

Many people find gentle yoga helpful.
Supported forward bends like child's pose is great.
Slowing down the breath can calm an overactive nervous system. Try at 1:2 ratio. Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. So if you inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 6.
Guided relaxation can work well. The yoga nidra always puts me to sleep! This is the CD I have.
I hope you find some relief and catch some zzzz's!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I usually can't sleep when my brain is tired but my body isn't. Exercise definitely helps with that.

Green Resolutions said...

This probably won't help true insomnia, but I have to cover my alarm clock with a cloth. If I can see the numbers then I spend all night doing math to see how long I can sleep. The cloth helped me learn to resist looking at the numbers and I sleep better. Good luck.

Mary said...

anonymous- Concerning Sleepytime tea, I use the regular Sleepytime which doesn't contain valerian. Sleepytime Extra does contain valerian, but I have never tried it. Just the chamomile works for me.

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