J.J. asks from Wayne, NJ on May 22, 2008
J.S. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
S.R. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
First and foremost, stay away from Rx and over the counter sleep aids. Rx products like Ambien cause more problems, are highly addictive. Read the fun side effect that Ambien has of night eating!That's enough to keep anyone away.
A friend of mine was unable to get the cheap rate from her life insurance company. This woman did not smoke and was not overweight, her cholesterol levels were great. the only "black mark" on her medical records was that she received one RX for 10 tabs of Ambien! Think about it, if the insurance companies consider that a risk factor, why do it? not to mention it cost something like $10 a pill!
There are lots of great non drug ways to improve sleep.
Second, keep things dark! No night lights, computers, TVs. Lights keep us awake. Keep on a good schedule, like lights dim @ 9:45, lights out by 10 or so. Make it earlier in the winter because we naturally need more sleep in the winter. this will help reduce winter weight gain as well.
whatever you do, if you wake up in the middle of the night, do not turn on a light, do not go and work on the computer or watch TV, that will only make you more awake as your body will think it's day time. (great book out there called LIGHTS OUT! Sugar, sleep & survival- all about how excessive light contributes to weight gain, sugar cravings and a number of diseases.)
lots of great herb teas. chamomile, valarian, kava kava to name a few.
meditation is another great option. lots of great CDs out there on guided imagery, sleep. All way cheaper, safer healthier than whatever the drug industry has to offer.
E.R. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
If it is an active mind you are dealing with, you can try breathing techniques. Breath is inextricably linked to your body, mind and emotions. As you lay in bed, actively focus on your breath; you can bring attention to your nostrils as you feel the cool inhalation and warm exhalation. Count as you inhale and again as you exhale. The longer the exhalation, the more relaxed you will become. Try to sustain this rhythm as long as you can. it may take some time and practice to be able to do it long enough before your mind/thoughts start taking over. But if they do, just gently bring your awareness back to the breath. You can also try visualization techniques along with your breathing which are great for healing yourself. For example, as you breathe in, direct the inhalation to a part of your body you feel needs to let go of tension. Imagine it caressing all the layers of your body or even your mind. And as you exhale, see all the tension that was there escape either out of your nose on the breath or maybe down out of your feet (or wherever you feel). Another idea is to repeat a phrase instead of counting as you breathe. In your case something to help you relax like "It's okay to let go" or if you prefer an affirmation like "peace is within me". It may seem like a lot of effort compared to popping a pill, but you will see many benefits, trust me!
L.H. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
Keep in mind that you have to try different methods, because not all sleeping ideas work for everyone. There are culprits that can cause insomnia so here is a check off list to see if any of these culprits are the problem:
1. Worrying about not getting enough sleep - try not to worry about it and go to bed with the attitude that your body will sleep when it needs it.
2. Worrying about everything - You might want to meditate before you go to sleep to clear your mind. In this case, it is permissable to lay down and meditate. Think of a really nice setting like a beach. You can even get a CD-player or tape recorder that shuts off automatically, so you can play meditation tapes/CDs.
3. Your body isn't tired yet. - You need to exercise after super or 1-2 hours before bed. While some people's adrenalin keeps them awake, others need to be tired out just like some children do.
4. Too much caffine during the day/night - Cut out the caffine completely. (No coffie, tea, cola, chocolate, or caffinated drinks.)
5. Bed isn't comfortable - Some people need a pillow soft bed topper to be comfy.
6. Pillow's too high or too low.
7. Room temperature - It's too hot or too cold.
8. Too much potassium or B vitamins - all vitamins should be taken in the morning.
F.A. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
Hi there. I have had problems with insomnia since I had kids (hadn't been a problem before). Sometimes it can be related to depression and anxiety but I think some people just suffer from it - it seems to go in my family.
I am a little skeptical about some "alternative" remedies but I have found taking valerian (herbal) tablets helpful. Also learning meditation helped me to relax and focus on something other than worrying about whether I was going to get off to sleep! Also I tried a self-hypnosis CD for insomnia that I found really useful in helping me relax.
I also use over the counter sleeping tablets (eg tylenol night time) sometimes to break a bad patch of poor sleep.
The most important thing I have found is to keep positive about it and remember that almost everyone has poor sleep sometimes, because the worst thing for me is getting into a panic about sleeping because that is a guarantee that I will find it hard to sleep.
B.B. answers from New York on May 26, 2008
I too have trouble with insomnia. It seems like the only way for me to get to sleep is with the TV on. But this annoys my husband. Even when I do get to sleep, I'll always wake up in the middle of the night. But I tried something that has been really helping me. I bought these CDs that have nature sounds like rain showers, oceans waves, waterfalls, soothing music,etc. I have a CD player with very small "ear buds". I put the ear buds under my pillow case and listen to the CD and it puts me right to sleep! And when the CD is done, the player turns off. Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night,but I put the CD player on and the next thing I know it is morning. I think it is the soothing, repititous sound that puts me to sleep. You can buy sound machines, but my husband would also hear it. The way I have it, he can't hear a thing. And it's kind of fun to know that I'll feel like I'm at the beach when I fall asleep! or some other beautiful, serene place. I hope this helps you. Good luck.
K.L. answers from New York on May 23, 2008
I have had terrible cycles of insomnia throughout my life since I was a junior in college. Currently I am doing okay. As far as advice for you, I would say that the sleeping pills really don't work. I also hate taking medications like that. But most of the time they only allow you to sleep for 4 hrs. It is also bad to rely on that forever.
Always pay attention to your diet throughout the day. Someone with insomnia can be affected by caffeine that they drank or ate at any point in the day. Even decaf has some caffeine- avoid all of it. Chocolate, coffee- obviously anything with caffeine. Try and have things like turkey, hummus, or anything that is supposed to promote sleep. I'm sure you can look up on the internet foods that promote sleep. TV at bedtime is supposed to be bad as well. Try and follow routine. Get up and go to sleep at the time each day.
Some people recommend herbal tea. Maybe it works for some people, but not for me. I find that it has the opposite effect on me so I avoid it even when I am sick. If you are drinking it, stop b/c it might be having the same affect on you.
Massages are relaxing for me. My husband gives me a quick massage when I am having trouble sleeping.
Some people recommend acupuncture but I have never tried it. I hear it's great and certainly would try it if I needed to.
I hope I added something new to your list of things you have tried. Good Luck!! I know what it feels like to sleep 2 hrs/night for a long time.
C.B. answers from New York on May 22, 2008
Yes. Try Melatonin. It is a chemical found in the brain and as we get older, we make less of it. It should be taken about 30 minutes before bed and you should not have any "morning hang-over" affect like you would with a sleep aid. Melatonin is safe to use. Google it for more information. I can tell you, it has worked for me!!