Sleep: I've tried it all and nothing works, help!

Ideas to try...

Here are some methods to help you develop a restful sleep pattern to help you wake feeling refreshed.

If you have difficulty getting to sleep

  1. Switching off all screens an hour before bed. Put your phone to sleep, switch off your TV/iPad etc. use low lights, preferably candle light. This all helps to reduce blue light which has been shown to interfere with melatonin production and disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. Orange sunglasses may make you look a little silly but can also work to eradicate blue light.

  2. Get outside during the day. Following on from the importance of regulating our circadian rhythms, by getting some natural daylight and exercise can assist in regulating our circadian rhythms.

  3. Waking at the same time every day. By setting an alarm even at the weekends you are reinforcing a regular sleep/wake cycle.

  4. Clear your mental clutter. Write down your thoughts, reflecting on your day and plan for the next day. Then, importantly, leave it all on the page.

  5. Unwind. Have a relaxing bath with some lavender oil and a warm comforting drink. You can also add a drop of lavender oil to your pillow case. Use this time to create a bedtime routine, over time this signals to the body that its time to rest.

  6. Breathing exercises. These can help by activating the parasympathetic pathway helping you to relax. A simple one is to take a deep breath in for the count of 3, hold that breath for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 5, do this 6 times (easy to remember, just think... 3-4-5-6).

If you wake frequently

  1. Keep your bedroom cool. At night time we are meant to be cooler so keep your bedroom cool. If you are cold when you go to bed, use a hot bottle.

  2. Try meditation. You could simply start with the breathing technique mentioned above or just focus on your breath without trying to change it. Just observe and when thoughts pop into your head as they naturally will just return to the breath as soon as you are aware o being distracted. Or, use a meditation app to guide you. You may fall back to sleep but if not at least you won't be frustrated or angry at not sleeping.

  3. Read a book by candlelight. The candlelight won't interrupt your circadian rhythms and you will distract yourself from the fact that you are not asleep.

  4. Use earplugs. This is an easy modification if you have a noisy partner or live in a noisy neighbourhood.

If you wake early

  1. Get blackout blinds. Sorry if I am stating the obvious but this can make a big difference.

  2. Don't sleep in. If you sleep in you are disrupting your sleep routine. Having said that, there is evidence that as humans we naturally sleep in a biphasic (in 2 slots) pattern. The problem is that in modern life we need to get up for work and so we really need to cement our sleep routine.

  3. Go to bed earlier. If you naturally wake with the dawn chorus then maybe try going to bed earlier to ensure you get enough sleep.

  4. Hydrate. Make sure you are properly hydrated during the day. Try sipping warm water throughout the day rather than gulping down a glass of cold water. Why warm water? That is a subject for another day, just trust me!

I've tried all this , now what?

Firstly you need to give your methods time. Sleep problems can occur spontaneously and sometimes for no apparent reason. Rectifying sleep issues often take time for your body to adjust. So, be patient and do whatever you can to support your body and your mind while you work on developing a natural sleep routine. Sometimes we have an inkling as to what disrupts our sleep, so we need to address these issues. Do not get let it get you down or get angry and frustrated as these emotions compound sleep problems.

Remember, we are all different and what works for someone else may not work for you. If none of the above works or there are other health issues impairing your sleep, try acupuncture! One of the side effects of most acupuncture treatment is beautiful deep sleep. If you are curious to know more or have any questions please get in touch.

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