01 May 2006

Sleep Naturally

Tossing and turning all night? The clock is ticking over; minute after minute, hour after hour, but you just can't sleep. The only thing worse, is the feeling of being totally zonked the next day. Insomnia is a problem that affects most people at some time during their lives. It has many different causes and many different ways of being expressed. For some, it may be a case of a few restless nights or a lifetime of poor sleep. Sleep is an important part of our lives allowing us to regain strength, heal and grow. So when it is disturbed for any reason it can seriously affect our lives.

There is a large variation in the amount of sleep needed. Some only need a few hours sleep, while others may need up to 10 hours to feel refreshed. Insomnia is the condition where a person feels as if they are not getting adequate sleep on a regular basis. Their sleep is non-refreshing and their ability to function normally on a daily basis is affected.

Sleep patterns are different with different people, as too is the patterns for insomniacs. Some may fall asleep easily, but wake during the night and not be able to return to sleep. Others may lay awake for hours before being able to drift off to sleep. Some people wake hundreds of times during the night, without realising it. It has been found through electrical monitoring of insomniacs, while they sleep, that they don not change sleep stages very often. Normal sleep requires many stages and insomniacs may not reach the deep sleep known as 'REM'.

If you are suffering from sleep problems, it could be related to many different causes. A whole lifestyle check needs to be done. Are you eating right? Heavy meals in the evening can certainly affect sleep. Are you getting enough exercise and fresh air? One of the biggest issues with sleep problems is stress. What is happening in your life that is playing on your mind?

Have a look through the following suggestions; there may be something that will help you.  Most importantly, try not to be worried about not sleeping. Go to bed with the thoughts of a good nights rest, relax and sleep well

Suggestions to help you improve your sleep

* Try to get some regular exercise and fresh air.
* Allow time to relax before going to bed.
* Take up some form of meditation; if you find this difficult a class may help. Deep breathing techniques can also be helpful.
* Try reading before bedtime. Stick to something light and easy, maybe even boring, don’t read anything too exciting. Watching a stimulating television program should also be avoided. * Develop a regular bedtime relaxation routine. Try keeping your bedtime and getting up time regular.
* Relaxing in a warm bath or even a warm shower can be helpful.
* Make sure your bed and pillow are comfortable for you, not too hard or soft.
* If light or noise is a problem, use earplugs or eye-mask.
* Make sure you are warm enough, but not too hot and that the room is well ventilated.
* Try a warm drink before bed, such as a warm milk or chamomile tea.
* Keep a pen and paper beside your bed. If you have a lot of things on your mind, write them all down, if they are preventing you from sleeping. Similarly if you wake up and start to think about something, write it down and then you can forget it, until a more suitable time.
* Listen to relaxation music while preparing yourself for sleep.

* Put the clock out of sight, it doesn’t help to have a constant reminder of how long you’ve been awake.

* When you go to bed try some relaxation techniques. Relax your muscles individually and imagine yourself in a peaceful setting.

* Don’t take any stimulants in the evening. These include tea, coffee, cola and chocolate drinks, smoking and alcohol.

* It is best not to eat too close to going to bed and allow at least three ours to digest your evening meal before going to bed.

* If you are having difficulty sleeping, get up and do something