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Overcome insomnia

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SymptomsThe main types of insomnia are:

· Sleep-onset insomnia, in which individuals have a hard time getting to sleep

· Sleep-maintenance insomnia, in which individuals have a difficult time maintaining sleep

The boundary between these two categories is not entirely distinct, and individuals can suffer from both.

CausesThe most common causes of insomnia are psychological, and can include:
· Anxiety or tension

· Emotional arousal

· Fear of insomnia

· Phobia of sleep

· Disruptive environment

· Caffeine

· Alcohol

· Depression

· Sleep apnea

· Hypoglycaemia

· Parasomnias, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome

· Drugs

· Pain or discomfort

DietThere are several dietary factors that can promote sleep:

· Avoid eating a heavy evening meal late. Avoid heavy protein, spicy, fatty foods and foods containing the stimulant tyramine such as red wine, bacon, cheese, ham, soya, nuts

· Avoid anything containing caffeine, such as coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, hot cocoa and tea

· Reduce alcohol which is a stimulant and alters sleep patterns

· Have a banana, slice bread, cereal just before bed. This increases serotonin, which aids sleep and balances blood sugar levels

· Drink hot milk or camomile tea

LifestyleLifestyle changes that may help with insomnia include:

· Avoid naps during the day

· Use a dimmer switch on indoor lights in the evening

· Create right bedroom setting – no tv, computer, pastel colours, good bed & pillow

· Maintain regular bedtime and awakening hours each day

· Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature

· Keep the bedroom as dark as possible

· Use ear plugs if noise is a problem

· Have a bath 2 hours before bed, add lavender oil

· Regularly schedule relaxation time before bed, using relaxation techniques

o Music such as ‘The most relaxing classical music in the universe’, Soft Jazz, Chill Out albums

o Relaxation exercise: This involves forcefully contracting one muscle group for a period of 1 to 2 seconds, then giving way to a feeling of relaxation. Begin by contracting the foot muscles; hold the contraction of a few second; then relax the muscles. Repeat this process progressively up your body, i.e. calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, lower arms and hands, the upper arms and chest. Repeat 2 or 3 times, or until you fall asleep

· Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality but avoid late in the evening. Outdoor daytime exercise increases melatonin, the sleep hormone. Try a brisk walk

Learn more about healthy sleep in my best-selling book ‘How to Prevent Burnout’ and my latest book, Life Force. The revolutionary 7-step plan for optimum energy’.

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