Many people come into the clinic for insomnia. Here are my 16 tips if you have trouble sleeping.
1. This may sound weird but getting up 30 minutes earlier can actually help. I realise if you aren't getting enough sleep this sounds counter-productive, but science has proved this is the single most effective strategy for insomnia. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier and your body clock will change too.
2. Don't go to bed unless you are sleepy.
3. Don't nap during the day.
4. Exercise, this helps relieve stress and remove toxins from the body and helps us sleep.
5. Change your diet - remove any sleep disruptors - we are all individual, so if you find some foods or drinks keep you awake, remove them from your diet. Caffeine, alcohol and processed sugary foods are culprits. Avoid caffeine after midday. Coffee drinking all day can have a rebound effect. Did you know that women on the oral contraceptive take twice as long to metabolize caffeine.
6. Include foods with tryptophan in your diet - turkey, milk, yoghurt, fish, eggs, bananas. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which helps with sleep.
7. Make sure the evening meal is at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
8. Sleep environment is also important. The bedroom is for sleep and making love only. Do not read, watch television, snack, use electronic equipment like Ipads in bed. Remove mobile devices from the bedroom.
9. In Chinese Medicine we recommend removing ear-rings before going to bed.
10. Have a dark room, turn the clock away from you. You don't want to be watching it tick!
11. The only time you can use music when trying to sleep is to listen to meditation CD's, self-hypnosis CD's for sleep or natural sounds like rain or waterfalls.
12. Have a comfortable bed with nice linen and make sure the temperature is right - not too hot or too cold.
13. Don't have any stimulus from electronic devices one hour before bed, this includes turning off the television. The only exception is No. 11 above.
14. Start systematically dimming the lights a few hours before bed, slowly getting the rooms darker until bedtime.
15. Go to a meditation class.
16. If you are still having trouble sleeping have a course of acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Some medical conditions can disrupt our sleep pattern - depression, restless leg syndrome, pain, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, asthma, allergies, Parkinson's disease and attention deficit disorder. Please seek help for these disorders first.
Here is a recipe for a delicious snack to help with sleep, also useful for keeping grey hair at bayWalnut and Black Sesame Balls
2 cups walnuts
1 cup black sesame seeds, toasted lightly
4 Tablespoons honey
extra sesame seeds for rolling
Blitz the toasted seeds in a processor then add walnuts and blitz again until mixture is just a little grainy.
Add honey and give it one more whiz to mix in.
Remove mix from blender/processor. You can refrigerate the mix at this point if it is summer and the mix feels a little sticky.
Have a small bowl of water nearby to wet your hands. Get a teaspoonful of mixture and roll into a ball.
Continue until you have used all of the mix. Roll them in extra sesame seeds. You could use a mix of black and white sesame seeds. Keep in refrigerator. Have one each night just before bed. They may help with insomnia and are also good for constipation, especially for elderly people.
In Chinese Medicine dietary therapy walnuts nourish the kidney-adrenals and brain. Black sesame seeds nourish and strengthen the liver and kidney and lubricate the intestines & are also helpful for constipation and prematurely gray hair. Acts as a general tonic and blood builder. Honey is best used raw (except for infants).
Click below to link to a guided sleep meditation