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Insomnia: Put It to Rest

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/22/2006 | Self Improvement
Are you unsatisfied with your quality of sleep? Do you feel tired and un-refreshed on waking in the morning? Do you stay that way throughout the day or lack energy and have difficulty concentrating?

The World Health Organization says that one-third of the world's population experience insomnia at some stage in their lives, with approximately five per cent needing medical treatment.

To avoid medical intervention, try these natural techniques and remedies, and help put your insomnia to rest.

Relaxation
Relax before going to bed. Do some deep breathing, listen to soft music. According to Dr. Timothy Sharp from Sydney University, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine will also help.

Bedtime routine
Develop a bedtime routine so your body knows it's time to go to sleep. By winding down your physical activities and following a set routine prior to bed, your body will start to associate some of these actions with going to sleep. Start with a cup of hot milk. Milk contains a protein called tryptophan, which helps to promote sleep. This can be substituted with chamomile tea, which is known to calm the nerves. Follow this with a hot bath or shower, the heat will help to lower your internal body temperature, again telling your body to go to sleep.

For sleeping only
Make your bedroom your sleep-room. Turn the lights off as soon as you get into bed. Don't read, eat or watch television in your bedroom, or do any activity that is not sleep related. Make sure the room is dark and cozy; include extra pillows on the bed and even some teddy bears. Make your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary, a room that you will instantly feel secure and comfortable in, and best of all, a room that you will crave to sleep in.

Clear your mind
Clear your mind of the day's activities or things that are due to be done tomorrow. Write a 'to do' list for the following day. Organize uniforms, lunches, etc ... the night before. Make arrangements earlier than usual so you don't worry.

Mind demons
Kill all the mind demons from yesteryear. Many of us have issues or events from the past that may still affect our daily lives. These issues can also mess up our sleeping patterns. Whatever these issues may be, now might be a good time to finally set things straight; forgive that person, give back that item, start talking to that family member again (or even make that appointment to see a psychologist if necessary).

Give time back to yourself
Allow time to sleep. Instead of trying to cram as much as you can into the day then find you haven't left much time to sleep, try to find short cuts or solutions to give a little time back to yourself. Make a double casserole and freeze half for another night. Spot clean the house as you go. Have more barbecues, using paper plates (less washing-up). Offer to pay the kids, or the neighbour's kids, to do some extra chores.

Check your diet
A balanced diet helps to make a balanced mind. If you're lacking in essential vitamins and minerals your body cannot operate at its best. Throw out the junk food and fizzy drinks, and make a new start to good physical and mental health. Add in some regular exercise and watch your body respond with some improved sleep.

Get up
Don't lie in bed if you can't sleep. If you don't feel sleepy enough to drift off, your mind will probably anguish over the fact that you can't get to sleep. This will only make it harder to get to sleep each time you experience this. Get out of bed and go into a different room. Do something to distract yourself until you do start to feel sleepy and then try to sleep again later.

Medications to watch
Medications may interfere with your sleep. It has been shown that some of the medications below may cause sleep problems. Check with your doctor if you are experiencing insomnia and are also taking any of these medications - amphetamines (diet pills), antidepressants, beta blockers (heart and blood pressure), cimetidine (ulcers), clonidine (blood pressure), cortisone, diuretics (fluid), levodopa (parkinsons), methyldopa (blood pressure) and ventolin (asthma).

Above all, de-stress. Sharp says that stress is the worst cause of insomnia. Use some of the techniques above and try to remove as much stress out of your life as possible, and finally put your insomnia to rest.