- Mental Health»
- Mental Health Self-Help
Taking Care of Insomnia Naturally
Not a Joking Matter
Allegedly there was this Hollywood stand up comedian who once said: "The only way to overcome insomnia is to get more sleep." And yet another one, upon hearing a person complain about "tossing and turning all the night long without being able to sleep a wink said: "If I was tossing and turning all the night long, neither would I sleep a wink".
Well, that's humor all right, capable of turning even some tragic aspect of life into a laughing matter. Not that insomnia would qualify for a tragic event, but those who can't sleep at night don't see it as a laughing matter either.
Now, everyone must have experienced sleepless nights at one time or another for any number of reasons, only to get back to a normalized pattern of sleep after a short while. We are not going to talk about that temporary type of insomnia, but that stubborn one which drives the sufferer crazy and exhausted, and reaching for anything that may knock them out for some hours.
Who Gets It and Why
Those suffering from insomnia don't need to be told about that nocturnal ordeal of wrestling with the bedding in a futile attempt to find a right position for sleep, desperately checking the clock every little while and cursing their rushing minds.
For some reason that hasn't been cleared by experts, women tend to suffer from insomnia much more than men. Also single folks, including those who became single through divorce or death of spouse.
Possible causes may be quite a few, the main ones being : uncomfortable mattresses, too much light or noise from the street or neighborhood, pain, indigestion, fullness of stomach, frequent bathroom trips, depression or anxiety, stress, too much coffee or another stimulant, or hypoglycemia ( a sudden drop of sugar).
So, if you are a sufferer of insomnia, check among these mentioned causes and see first if you can correct any of them, because sometimes we can't sleep for a simple reason that we are just not aware of.
Some Supplements May Help
There are several things you can try in order to bring back your sleeping to its normal pattern. First off, you may benefit from taking some supplements like calcium and magnesium at bed time. Make sure calcium is about twice the amount of magnesium, as that's the ratio that apparently works the best. They are also available together in health food stores usually called "cal-mag". Look for capsules rather than tablets because they are easier to digest.
Along with them, you can take the amino acid called taurine, or l-taurine in a free form. This is a great supplement with many other benefits beside helping you to fall asleep, like calming your nervous system and lowering your blood pressure.
Some experts are recommending melatonin, a hormone normally produced by your pineal gland which regulates the sense of time in the brain and sets you up for a sleep at night. However, although you can get it without a prescription, I would not go for that, because hormonal balance in the body is very delicate, and without supervision you might disturb it by adding anything to the existing hormone pool.
Things Not to Do
Other than that, it may not be so much a matter of what you can do, but what you can stop doing. Like taking an evening coffee, too much alcohol, sugary foods, tobacco, chocolate, sausages, bacon or ham, or any other hard to digest food for that matter.
Also, don't use your bedroom for anything other that sleeping and love making. Meaning that you shouldn't read in bed, do crossword puzzle, watch TV, have long telephone conversations with another "night bird", or discuss with your sleeping partner about household issues, problems with kids, those on the job, or gossip and argue.
In short, don't talk at all, especially if it gets you emotionally stimulated, like enthusing about the upcoming holiday or buying that new piece of furniture. You see, quite a list of things to avoid that could be causing your lack of sleep. Love making allowed and recommended though.
Loosening down a Bit
As you lose a night sleep, don't try to make it up by having afternoon naps, as that is bound to further disturb your daily rhythm instead of normalizing it. Rather, slowly taper down all your activities, mental and physical towards the sleeping time.
Also, rise about the same time, no matter how sleepy or tired you may feel. I don't want to sound naïve if you normally have too much on the plate from day to day, but maybe you could minimize your daily stress even without any elaborate stress management.
Sometimes it's those little things that add up, not something huge, and by monitoring our daily routine we may be able to lessen their effect on us. A general positive attitude can do wonders in that direction, by not only helping us to fall asleep at night but also by setting a much more relaxed tone in our life and our reactiveness to it.
Help from Herbs
There are a few good herbs in form of capsules or tinctures that you may try. Their value may vary from person to person because we are all different, so it's a little something to experiment with.
In my opinion, however, the best one would be lemon balm, which has been globally and historically used for insomnia, anxiety, depression, and related conditions. It's also going under the name "Melissa", which is the short form of its full Latin name "Melissa Officinalis".
Lemon balm can be easily found in every health food store. It is not addictive, and it could be that "magic bullet" for your problems with nerves. To do some justice to those others on the market, here they are : catnip, lady slipper, passion flower, skullcap, and valerian root, among those most popular ones. Any of these may help you just as much or even more than than lemon balm - depending on your particular biological individuality.
That Old Balsam of Self-Love
In a strictly psychological sense, don't let something that has already passed become your night time obsession. I know that you know it, but let me remind you that you can't feel "enough" anger, or "enough" sadness, or "enough" resentment - that would turn the clock backwards and allow you to edit the past.
Like so many other emotional problems that may have nothing to do with sleeplessness - the basic self-love could be at the bottom of the issue. It boils down to the question that we should be asking ourselves : "Am I such a bad person that I have to keep doing this to myself?" So, instead of struggling with insomnia at night, have this little talk with yourself.
Open your heart to yourself, and then show some compassion to that person that you are, because you might as well do it while knowing that you are stuck with being yourself for the rest of your life.
Love that person as you are staring at the wall at night. Feel something new and something nice for yourself. How about acceptance? Tolerance? Forgiveness? How about being less of a perfectionist and just "settle" for your lot whatever it may be, warts and everything?
Finally - The Trick of Mindfulness
Who knows, maybe thoughts of self-love could turn out to be the most effective lullaby that you have ever heard. They certainly would be more effective than all that self-blaming for not being able to fall asleep.
Making life inventories and analyzing "what's wrong" won't bring that desired sleep to your tired soul. What may work instead is something similar to so called mindfulness meditation - and let it be my last tip for dealing with insomnia. All you have to do is just turn your attention inwards, and non-judgementally observe every thought, emotion, physical sensation that you can be aware of at the moment.
Just let them come and go, come and go. Don't stop at any to analyze it, and if you do, it's O.K., because now you will be observing this insistence of paying attention to that one thing. Whatever it is, accept it totally and non-judgementally, look at it with a curiosity of a scientist who wants to see the "fabric", design of each, not the meaning of it.
Well, I hope some of all this could possibly turn out to be helpful to those insomniac folks. Try anything before you resort to sleeping pills, alcohol, and drugs. Love yourself enough not to, because the solution may be much simpler than you thought.