Eating a carbohydrate-rich snack, like a few oatcakes or a bowl of cereal, an hour or so before going to bed stimulates the release of insulin. This helps to clear amino acids that compete with tryptophan from the bloodstream, allowing more of this sleep-inducing amino acid to enter the brain.
Herbal teas, such as camomile, passion flower tea and valerian, have a sedative effect.
Valerian as a tincture in water also works, as I indicated above.
Foods that aid sleep include yogurt, milk, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs, peanuts and tuna as they all contain good amounts of tryptophan.
Reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Try decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks like red bush tea.
Start a relaxing bedtime routine, perhaps having a warm bath, some gentle yoga or reading a book rather than watching TV. Try to go to bed around the same time every night and get up at a reasonable hour in the morning as this will set your body clock to these times.
Two words: Guided Imagery. To relax and so promote sleep, a meditation in the form of guided imagery may be used. The best method is a imagining a "beach or a waterfall" which forces you to expend more mental energy, and will fall asleep faster than simply counting sheep.
Certain minerals seem to be effective as a natural remedy for insomnia. Magnesium and calcium work together to calm the body and help relax muscles. A lack of these minerals may cause you to wake up after a few hours and not return to sleep. Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods. In magnesium deficiency, chronic insomnia is one of the main, central symptoms. Magnesium rich foods include spinach, bananas, nuts, seeds, fish and wholegrains.
Exercise and fresh air can help you sleep soundly. Exercise produces endorphins which lift our mood and increase metabolism. However, exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly, so it's better to exercise earlier in the day rather than last thing at night. And of course, it helps you to lose weight and that will lower your pressure and your AHI.
Make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold. Turn off lights and computer consoles. When it’s dark, your brain secretes more melatonin. A dab of lavender oil on your pillow aids relaxation too.
Erm, ummmm, sex! Sex, and specifically orgasm, may have an effect on the ability to fall asleep for some people. The period after orgasm (known as a refractory period) is often a time of increased relaxation, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin. Even a visit to Mrs. Hand and Her Five Lovely Daughters works. And for guys, it helps to stave off certain male problems down under.
So, if natural methods can help you to sleep, what are the things that do the opposite? What are your no-no's?
Say no to an after-dinner espresso or late-night cuppa. The stimulant effect of caffeine reaches its peak one to four hours after it's consumed, but some people can feel its effects up to 12 hours later. Some over-the-counter cold and headache remedies are also high in caffeine.
A large late evening meal interferes with sleep as your body is busy digesting. You may also suffer from heartburn or indigestion. Try to eat at least three hours before going to bed.
Avoid watching TV or using your computer last thing at night. You have all heard about the dangers of blue light on this forum.
If you are eating high amounts of starchy or fatty foods, or very refined, sugary foods that stress your body, you are more likely to feel sluggish and lethargic as these foods place high demands on your digestive processes.
Avoid foods such as pork, cheese, chocolate, aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and wine near bedtime as they are rich in an amino acid called tyramine, which the body converts to noradrenaline, a brain stimulant.
Although a couple of drinks may help you to drift off to sleep, too much alcohol decreases the REM sleep we all need and disrupts the body’s natural rhythms. It causes blood sugar levels to drop, so you may wake up in the middle of the night. Alcohol is also dehydrating so you are likely to wake up feeling thirsty.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so smokers take longer to fall asleep and are more likely to suffer sleep problems.