Do you have trouble dropping off to sleep?
Or maybe you drop off fine but wake later and can’t get back to sleep again.


These five helpful tips should get you a good night’s sleep.



1. Keep Healthy


✦ Exercise regularly.  Exercising for at least thirty minutes each day will help you fall asleep at night.  Just make sure you don’t do it too close to bedtime or the reverse will be true.

✦ Lose weight.  Being overweight increases the risk of snoring and sleep apnoea, neither of which result in a good night’s sleep.

✦ Have a health check.  Many diseases interfere with sleep.  For example, thirst through the night may indicate diabetes, burning feet can point to small blood vessel or nerve disease, and frequent visits to the bathroom could signal a prostate, kidney, or heart problem.

✦ Balance menopausal hormones.  Hormonal changes at menopause can cause hot flushes, joint pain, and palpitations that interfere with sleep.  Bring you body back into balance with the help of your local homeopath or natural therapist.



2. The Food Factor


✦ Avoid caffeine.  Drinking coffee, or even tea, will stop some people falling asleep.  Be aware that caffeine is also in some processed foods, drinks, and even medications such as diet pills.

✦ Avoid foods which irritate.  Dairy and wheat products are high on the list of foods that cause sleep-disturbing problems such as gastrointestinal upsets, congestion, gas, and apnoea in sensitive people.

✦ Eat a protein snack a few hours before bed.  L-tryptophan from protein foods will help your body produce the sleep-promoting neurotransmitters of melatonin and serotonin.  Carbohydrates such as a small piece of wholemeal bread may also help tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.

✦ Avoid fluids two hours before bed.  This will reduce the likelihood of waking to go to the bathroom.  Empty your bladder before going to bed.

✦ Avoid snacks, especially sugars and processed grains, before bed.  These foods cause rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels that disturb sleep.

✦ Avoid alcohol.  The drowsiness produced by alcohol is short-lived and stops you entering the deeper and more restful stages of sleep.  As its effect wears off some hours later, you are also more likely to wake and then be unable to go back to sleep.

✦ Sip chamomile tea before going to bed.  Chamomile tea has a mild homeopathic effect of relieving anxiety and inducing relaxation – just the thing for a good night’s sleep.



3. Prepare the Bedroom


✦ Make your bedroom an attractive place to sleep.  Don’t dump work, chores, or junk on or around your bed.  You will sleep much better in a relaxed and uncluttered environment.

✦ Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) and remove electrical devices.  These can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of the neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin that lead to sleep.  If you are especially sensitive to EMFs try switching the circuit breakers off at night, cutting the power in your home.

✦ Maintain a moderate temperature.  The recommended temperature for sleep is no more than 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit).  A warmer temperature can disturb sleep.

✦ Darkness helps.  Even small amounts of light can disrupt your body’s production of the neurotransmitters needed for sleep.  Reduce the light in your room by black-out curtains and avoid sudden exposures to bright light if getting up at night, as these can stop your body’s production of melatonin and delay your return to sleep.

✦ Change the noise.  Gentle music, white noise or relaxation CDs can help you relax and unwind.  Sounds of the ocean can be particularly soothing for sleep.

✦ No TV before bed. Stop watching TV well before you go to sleep and certainly do not watch it in the bedroom.  An exciting program will over-stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.

✦ Add a beautiful scent.  The essential oil of lavender soothes and relaxes.  Sprinkle a few drops around your bedroom before going to bed.

✦ Keep your bed for sleeping.  Bed should be reserved only for sleep, or that other pleasurable activity.  If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, your brain will associate it with these activities rather than sleep, making it harder to relax when you turn off the light.



4. Night-time Ritual


✦ Pack up your work at least an hour or more before going to bed.  This will let your mind relax so you will more easily go to sleep.  Write the following day’s ‘to do’ list before finishing work to stop your mind compiling lists as you try to go to sleep.

✦ Start a relaxation routine.  This could consist of a warm bath, massage, aromatherapy or listening to a calming CD – anything that relaxes you.  Repeat this routine each night and your body will soon associate it with going to sleep.

✦ Go to bed at the same time each night.  And get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.  Your body clock will synchronise with these times making it easier to go to sleep as well as wake up in the morning.

✦ Take a hot bath or shower before bed.  This increases the temperature of your body.  The fall in temperature as it returns to normal encourages relaxation and helps with sleep.

✦ Write it down and get it out. If your mind races when you try to sleep, writing you thoughts, plans and worries in a journal can be a useful way of calming and emptying your mind.

✦ Read something relaxing.  Slightly boring material is best as stimulating material such as mysteries or suspense novels will only wake you up further.

✦ Go to bed early.  It is often said that every of hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after it, and there is truth in that saying.  Our bodies do most of their detoxing before the early hours of the morning, something that is hindered if we go to bed too late.

✦ Use the homeopathic effect of coffee.  In homeopathy’s ‘like treats like’ approach, coffee will paradoxically help some people sleep better as it will calm their busy mind and body if drunk before going to bed.  This approach only works if your symptoms of insomnia are very similar to those of having had too much coffee.  Coffee can also be taken in homeopathic potencies.  This homeopathic preparation of coffee goes under the name of ‘Coffea cruda’ and may be available from your local health food shop.



5. Once in Bed


✦ Warm your feet with socks.  Feet often have the poorest circulation of your body.  Wearing socks will stop them becoming cold and disturbing your sleep at night.

✦ Wear an eye mask to block out light.  As I’ve already mentioned, blocking out as much light as possible will help you sleep.  An eye-mask is an easy way to do this, especially if it’s impossible to have your room in complete darkness.

✦ Stop the noise.  Use ear plugs to block or muffle sounds if you are a light sleeper or if you have to sleep in a noisy environment.

✦ Face your alarm clock away from you.  Watching the hours tick by as you try to sleep will only increase your stress and make it harder to drift off.



I hope these five tips help you get the good night’s sleep you need.