Insomnia and
the Quest for Sleep

I have been crowned the Queen of Insomnia. I am forever on a quest for a good night's sleep and the chance to give away my crown. Because of my bad heart and the fact I have severe asthma, taking sleeping tablets is not a good option for me as they slow down the heart and lungs too much.

In my search for a natural cure, I have found several things you can do to help you get a good night's sleep.

First, check out your bedroom:

  • Make sure your mattress is comfortable and the sheets unwrinkled and clean
  • Sometimes sprinkling your sheets with baby powder, rose or lavender water will enhance the pleasure centers in the brain. (Aroma therapy)
  • Remember, it is preferable NOT to use aroma candles before going to sleep as they can be a fire hazard
  • Make sure the window blinds are tight, so no disturbing light or flickering car lights shine into your room
  • Try using a small fan in the room to create "white noise", a static sound that masks other sounds that could awaken you (fighting cats, neighborhood dogs)
  • A CD with water sounds and classical or new age style music can soothe your mind. The music should be instrumentals only. If there are words, you will tend to try to sing along with the music (a couple of good choices are “Himalayan Passage” and “Handel’s Water Music” both are put out by Nature Quest)
  • Make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated but not too cold.
  • Your pajamas or nightgown should be comfortable, not too tight. Or try sleeping in the buff.

Second, review your nightly routine:

  • Try to relax before bedtime; take a walk or read a book; just do something that is not stressful.
  • Learn to meditate and relax. Lie on your back in bed and relax each muscle in your body. Visualize various parts of your body relaxing starting with your feet and ending with your forehead. Concentrate on doing some deep breathing as you lie in bed.
  • If you like to read before going to bed, keep it light. Read to a logical stopping point, so you won't lie awake wondering what's going to happen.
  • If you watch television before bedtime, watch a comedy or something light ..  history documentaries are a good bet. Watching a horror show before sleep is not a wise idea. Do NOT watch television or read in bed.
  • The bed should become a “sleep area only”.
  • Establish a regular bedtime so that your body gets used to going to bed at that time.
  • Rise at the same time seven days a week, no matter what. Do NOT go back to bed after waking in the morning.
  • Avoid napping in the afternoon.
  • Don't socialize with friends with whom you are likely to argue in the evening. Nighttime arguments are like poison to an insomniac.
  • Think about how you feel after having sex, are you sleepy or alert? Plan sexual playing early in the evening if you become energized after sex.
  • An herbal bath can soothe your nerves and relieve insomnia. Boil 2 ounces of Lemon Balm leaves in water for a few minutes, and then let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and add to your bath water. Your bath water should be warm, but not hot, as the latter could stimulate rather than soothe.

Third, scrutinize your diet:

  • Cut down on smoking and drinking alcohol at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Don't drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks containing caffeine after dinner.
  • Avoid eating too much salt with your dinner and in any after-dinner snacks. Eating salt requires water to quench your thirst, causing you to wake up to make more trips to the bathroom.
  • Try eating snacks high in calcium and protein before retiring; small amounts of cheese and nuts contain Tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. A good choice would be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich followed by milk. If you are lactose intolerant, then drink juice or water. NO sodas.
  • If you get home late, and haven't had dinner, a good choice would be chicken noodle soup and a peanut butter and jelly, turkey, or a cheese sandwich.
  • Herbal teas such as chamomile, catnip, oat straw and valerian induce sleep. If you have heart problems, avoid the valerian. A good mix for a nighttime tea is one third each of chamomile, lemon mint, and catnip, and then flavor with honey.
  • A teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water is said to induce sleep, so why not put it in tea that will help you sleep.

Sleep is required for good health. If your sleep is constantly interrupted and you do not dream, your mind becomes unstable. In this hustle bustle world we live in, we are working more and sleeping less. We are bringing our work home with us and our personal lives are suffering.

We are becoming an irritable sleep-deprived people. More and more, instances of violence and road rage are plaguing our society. In denying our bodies a restful sleep, we are making the problems worse.

A good night's sleep is essential in keeping a balance in our lives.

© August 2002 Brenda “Rion” Sewell

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