The occasional sleepless night (due to anxiety, stress, a major life change) is something almost every human on the planet will experience. But when loss of sleep becomes chronic, your quality of life can rapidly deteriorate. The attendant fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability may affect you in profound and debilitating ways. Insomnia falls into two basic categories; primary or secondary. Secondary insomnia involves sleep problems that stem from secondary sources, like a health condition, medication, hormone imbalance or a substance like alcohol. Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem. While our ‘fix it fast’ culture often opts for sleeping meds (which can have long term side effects), it’s smart to start with a few more organic approaches to the problem.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can interfere with sleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
Get regular exercise. But try not to exercise close to bedtime, because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for 3 hours before the time you go to sleep.
Don’t eat heavy meals at night. While a light snack can actually help you relax, a full stomach (especially rich, difficult to digest type items) can prevent a good night’s sleep.
Follow a routine to help wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
Avoid naps during the day because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
Make a to-do list before you go to bed, if you have trouble lying awake worrying about things. This may help you to “let go” of those worries overnight.
That warm milk thing? Try soy milk instead. While milk contains tryptophan, (which is converted in to serotonin that helps regulate sleep), the amount is relatively small. Soybean products, egg whites, pumpkin seeds and cheese are better sources and will yield better results.