Q&A Part 2- I can’t get to sleep!


Before we start, I would like to remind you again that I am NOT a medical professional, I post from experience only. Any advice given here should not replace guidance from a health care professional.

I can’t remember the last time I got a decent nights sleep. I get about 3 hours a night, but it is not continuous. I am loosing concentration, I can’t have my girlfriend over to sleep because I fidget so much it annoys her. I keep getting ill, I even worry about driving sometimes it is that bad, my coordination is going, I don’t know what to do, I am at my wits end! The doctor gave me some diazepam, which worked, but they can only give me one dose a week because of my past medical history [with addiction]. I have thoughts of suicide because I can’t go on like this, it is killing me. I am not sure if you can help, but if you can please help me! -Anon

Hello my dear,

Insomnia is definitely something I can talk about, I have huge problems sleeping through the night. Having spoken to you before posting this, I want to let people who read this know his doctor did not give him any information about sleep hygiene, which has made me cross, but never mind. So, I am going to talk about sleep hygiene, because that should  always be the first step before medication.

Sleep hygiene is not a quick fix, it involves a lifestyle change, determination and discipline. BUT it is worth it. It is not difficult, and will make a real difference, you just have to stick with it for 6 weeks or so to get the full benefit, but you may well be getting more sleep before the 6 weeks are up. This is a lifetime change, but it sounds like you could really benefit from it.

The idea behind sleep hygiene is that you are re-training your brain to dim the activity to let you get a restful nights sleep. When babies are a few months old, it is important to get them into a routine, perhaps bath, massage (I did baby massage on my daughter), into pyjamas, story, bed. No matter what steps you do, repetition is the key. Without it, you are going to struggle to sleep.

Here are some of the suggestions, you should adhere to as many of them as you can.

  • Avoid napping during the day
  • Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks etc) for 6 hours before bed.
  • Try to do some exercise a couple of hours before bed- the harder the work-out the better.
  • Don’t eat just before bed
  • Get exposure to natural light during the day
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine (I will elaborate below)
  • You have to train your brain that the bed is for sleeping… so no watching TV in bed.
  • Make sure the room is inviting and peaceful. (I will elaborate).
  • Set a bed time and a time to wake up, and stick with it. Doesn’t matter if you have time off, you need to do it every day.
  • Don’t keep looking at the clock throughout the night. It will only stress you out.

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine

This is the most important bit. As mentioned above, your bedtime routine can be anything you like really, as long as it winds you down. Ideally it would involve a nice warm bath or shower, pj’s if you wear them, and dim lighting. If you want to read for a while, don’t do it whilst in bed. It might help if you had a lavender plug-in or spray etc.

Make sure the room in inviting and peaceful

This means calm colours (really bright colours distract your brain), a comfortable bed (If you can’t afford a new mattress then buy a super thick fluffy duvet and place it under your sheet). Keeping your bedroom tidy will help, as mess again makes our brain work out rather than slow down.

You can also be referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help you sleep, it is pretty cool what they can do. There are plenty of alternative therapies you can try, such as a massage or acupuncture, and even hypnotherapy. There are also herbal remedies like Rescue, which you can speak to your pharmacist about it.

Doctors can provide tablets for short-term relief, but you might need longer term help. You can speak to your doctor about that tablet I gave you details about. (Sorry, I don’t want to be naming meds in a situation like this as some people may not check with their pharmacist before buying it, which can be dangerous).

If this is a long-term problem, you need to get the Docs to check for anything more sinister going on. Do you know why you are having trouble? Is it worry? Fear? Depression? Pain? Restless Leg Syndrome? Medication? Once you know what it is, you can act accordingly and get rid of the problem.

I wish you the best of luck! And if any of my readers here want some advice or want to add something, please use the comment box below. I would like to thank everyone that reads this for their overwhelming support of  what I am trying to do. Thank You!

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