Diary of an insomniac!
Hi guys, it’s Ruth here, and today’s fb live Quick Bites is on something we ALL at some time will have a problem with, and that’s sleep.
I’ve been on my own journey for this, because for a few months now I’ve been having quite a few sleepless nights. But I just put it down to trying to do too much, and stress getting the best of me. Then over the last few weeks it suddenly became a MASSIVE problem!
Which meant for EVERY night, not being able to fall asleep until 2 or 2.30am. Waking 2 or 3 times a night. Usually needing to dash to the bathroom as well. Then trying to drag myself out of bed at 7.30am. I had racing thoughts that wouldn’t shut up. I wasn’t worrying about things, so I knew it wasn’t so much that anxiety was the cause, but those stupid boring thoughts that run around for no reason were keeping me awake. Things like: I must remember to take out meat to defrost in the morning, so it’s ready to cook when I get home. Seriously, who cares? If I remember, great; and if I don’t, it’s not going to break my world, is it.
Anyone who has had a baby knows how awful sleep deprivation is, and I was back in that place, only it was worse because this time I can’t just fumble my way through the day with small kids in tow, like I used to. Now I have to be functioning and have adult conversations with my clients!
Time for action. My mood dropped, my energy took a drastic nose dive, and my immunity dropped. I needed to be a guinea-pig. Although I’m pretty sure my sudden insomnia is due to overwork and hormones, I can’t wait the weeks it takes to bring that into balance. I needed to find if there are quick answers to getting a good nights sleep! I was after the magic pill!!
Here’s what I tried and how it worked. Keep in mind we are all different, and what worked for me (or didn’t) could be different for you. But there are some clear winners, which could save you having to try the long list of things I have.
Melatonin. (The real deal in capsules, or homeopathic in tablets or spray). The most obvious choice that everyone talks about, and works fine for hubby if he needs it. Complete zero affect for me.
Magnesium. Upped that to a therapeutic level. Certainly helped me feel more chilled during the day, but no impact on sleep. Works great for kids and many adults normally.
L -Theanine. A nutrient found in green tea, and can be bought in concentrated form as a powder or capsules. Pleasant to taste. Didn’t get to sleep any faster, (still awake for 2 hours) but my thoughts were fuzzy and I felt dozy, and the few hours I did sleep were fantastic. Slept straight through with no waking. Felt like I had a great night’s sleep. Highly recommend if sleep is poor due to overwork and stress, or anxiety. Possibly didn’t stay working for me (had no effect on the third night), because one of my reasons for poor sleep is changing hormones.
Amino acid blend. Quite a few amino acids will help with anxiety and stress, and used in a combination can help with sleep onset and quality. I tried a sweetened pre-made blend mixed into warm almond milk, which was creamy and delicious. Almost like a hot white chocolate. You could throw in some cocoa and you would have a hot chocolate. Unless chocolate at night keeps awake! Still had a few thoughts floating around but not too intense and fell asleep in 1 hour instead of the usual 2. I did feel quite drowsy soon after drinking so if I’d gone to bed then, it probably would have worked much faster. Slept well with waking only once and then going straight back to sleep. This one gets a thumbs up and highly recommend trying, if poor sleep is due to pain or anxiety and stress.
Inulin powder. Inulin is a fibre found in many vegetables, and can be bought as a powder extract. Prebiotic fibres such as inulin and GOS have been used in trials to enhance sleep (Dr Mosely tried it on himself for a week, with great results). It’s easy to take, by mixing in hot or cold drink at bedtime, or in a meal if you prefer. I mixed 3 tsps in a cup of Dandy Chai tea around bedtime and it gives a slightly sweet, creamy taste to the drink. I didn’t get the results that Dr Mosely did, but neither do I think it was ineffective. It deserves a longer trial than just the 2 nights I gave it, especially since it is so easy to take. Watch this space.
Herbal mixes. I had to play around with a few combinations, because although there are quite a number of herbs that treat insomnia, I found there were some that either didn’t work great, or possibly made things worse for me. I tried both premade tablet versions at high strength, and made myself up some customised liquid blends. The tablet versions were fairly successful, so they are great if you just can’t stand the taste of herbs, but the liquid blends were definitely more effective. The liquid blends were taken twice, with 1 serve at dinner, and another at bedtime. Although I am not yet getting to sleep that much faster, still between 1-2 hours, my thoughts are very fuzzy and I feel drowsy. They keep me from waking constantly and making bathroom trips, meaning I wake in the morning feeling like I have had a sleep. Now that’s a win! Despite the delay in getting to sleep I would highly recommend finding a herbalist to make up a custom blend for you. You may need to try a couple of options like I did, to get one that works. But it’s worth it.
Epsom salt baths. A classic for a good nights sleep for young and old. But for me this is not a quick fix, compared to taking a shot of herbs or some capsules. When I have had these baths in the past, it has been fantastic for a good nights sleep. Highly recommend.
Glycine supplementation. Glycine is an amino acid that has been getting some attention for being useful for sleep. There is glycine in the amino acid blend I tried, but not at the concentration recommended for sleep, so I need to give this a try at the higher concentration by itself. Glycine has a pleasant, sweet taste so will be easy to use. The advantage with using amino acids for sleep is that they are involved in a number of pathways in the body, particularly the liver and the brain, so they will enhance health in more ways than just sleep. I love multi-tasking stuff.
Customised herbal blends, or an amino acid blend, to get help fast.
Just remember, you will still need to work on the reasons for the poor sleep, if you want long lasting results, without having to rely on taking something.