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Advice

Beating Insomnia

How to nab yourself that elusive bit of shuteye

by George Watkins

It’s 3 in the morning, and you’ve managed to work out every pattern on the ceiling a good five times. Why can’t you sleep? It’s incredibly frustrating, and there’s all sorts of reasons why insomnia can happen. Here are a few possible ideas about what might be causing it, and what you can do to beat it for good.

Stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can have a huge impact, leading you to feel immensely tired in the daytime and increase the spiral even further. Besides talking therapy (which is often hugely beneficial), exercise can be a great cure. Even a small amount can help reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and adrenaline in your body, and help you call it a day on those feelings of angst and frustration.

Are you drinking a lot of caffeine? It can be difficult to know how much is too much, but considering the effects it has on waking your body and mind up, it will come as no surprise that it will often cause havoc with your body clock, making you feel alert at times you really do not want to.

Then there’s the issue of sleep hygiene, which doesn’t mean how many times you wash your sheets. It’s a strange term to try to define, but it essentially means a combination of your bedtime routine and the area you sleep in. Have a look at your bed? Have you got clean sheets? Is the mattress in good shape? Is there anything you need to change? Then there’s your room itself? Is it clean? Surprisingly, even though it might feel like something you wouldn’t be caught dead doing, making your room more comfortable and somewhere you enjoy spending time in can really help. Candles are optional.

The final area to think about is medicinal remedies. Lavender is great, and fairly cheap. You can sprinkle a bit on your pillow before you sleep. There’s also teas, such as chamomile, or Horlicks, both of which can help you drift off. Sleep aids by prescription are worth discussing with your GP if you might be interested in going down a stronger route. Just be careful that you don’t become totally reliant.

In short, you need to have a deep think about where you think you’re falling short. What do you need to do that could help? It’s worth trying a variety of tips and seeing what works for you.

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