About the CD/mp3
Facts About Sleep
Natural Sleep Methods
Sleep Disorders and
Other Haven Products
Home Techniques to Help You Overcome Your Insomnia
These are some common sense measures you can take to ensure you have the right techniques in place, at the very least, not to jeopardize your chances of success.
Essentially, you have a choice of medication, non-medication techniques, or a combination of the two. I always go for non-medication ideas first because you can use them as often as you need too, without any side effects, whereas long term sleep medication is not the ideal and should be avoided wherever possible. So whilst my recommendations slant that way, I am very aware that millions of sleeping pills are taken each and every day.
Medication (OTC = over the counter) can include one or more of the following:
Natural techniques include things like:
- Circadin (a brand of Melatonin)
- Dalmane (a brand of Flurazepam Hydrochloride)
- Diphenhydramine OTC
- Heminevrin capsules
- Mogadon (a brand of Nitrazepam)
- Natrasleep OTC
- Nytol OTC
- Passion flower/Valerian/Hops OTC (a generic version of Sominex Herbal Tablets)
- Passion flower/Valerian/Hops/Scullcap/Jamaica dogwood OTC
- Phenergan (a brand of Promethazine Hydrochloride)
- Sleepeaze tablets OTC
- Sominex Herbal tablets OTC
- Somnite (a brand of Nitrazepam)
- Sonata (a brand of Zaleplon)
- Stilnoct (a brand of Zolpidem Tartrate)
- Valerian/Hops OTC (a generic version of Natrasleep)
- Zimovane (a brand of Zopiclone)
- Relaxation therapy
- Breathing techniques
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) - Addresses the misunderstandings and dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep. Aims to give the patient a realistic view of sleep and offers guidance on what can be expected over time and the likely timescale to recovery.
Over the counter sleeping pills - any medication should be used with caution. It's not an exaggeration to say extreme caution because the after effects and side effects can be unpredictable. Most OTC pills contain antihistamine and these cause drowsiness. Unfortunately the effect can often last well into the next day, when you expect to feel alive and alert.
- Always go to bed when you are tired and refrain from fighting it.
- The bedroom should be used for sleep and sex only. It's not a TV or games room, restaurant, library or a counselling/marriage guidance chamber, or somewhere to vent your anger.
- Refrain from taking naps during the day.
- If you can't go to sleep within 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and move to another room. Sit in the dark, or listen to music (soft, low music), or read something light.
Avoid eating late or raiding the fridge. Avoid heavy metal, punk rock (showing my age now) or that ridiculous crap, sorry rap. Avoid sensational books and newspapers, and instead pick a shopping catalogue, magazine, love story or hobby book. Loud, violent, horror or bloody films or TV programs arouse the senses unduly and will delay the onset of sleep.
- Wake up at the same time each morning and get up, including at weekends.
- I know of a few people who do ironing, or dusting, or polishing the silver. The idea here is not to reward sleeplessness with treats, but to do something mundane and boring. The brain soon gets the message that there is no reward for staying awake.
What about melatonin? Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain when it gets dark. Strong light, even artificial light, delays or suppresses melatonin release. The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep–wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature.
Melatonin has been studied as a potential treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, cancer, immune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), circadian rhythm sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction and insomnia in the elderly. But it would be wrong to think it a miracle drug for insomnia.
Prolonged release melatonin has shown good results in treating insomnia in older adults (2007). It may also improve circadian misalignment and SAD. While a 2004 review found that melatonin significantly increased total sleep time in people suffering from sleep restriction. However, for many types of sleep disorders, melatonin is not effective. A 2006 review found that although it is safe for short term use (of three months or less), there is "no evidence that melatonin is effective in treating secondary sleep disorders or sleep disorders accompanying sleep restriction, such as jet lag and shiftwork disorder."
Melatonin appears to cause very few side-effects in the short term, up to three months, when healthy people take it at low doses, but it's important to talk to your doctor before starting a course to ensure it will not interfere with any other products you are taking.
It's important to maintain some common sense rules because they help you establish a routine that allows the mind and body to use them as a trigger that you intend to go to sleep, and to comply with the request. They should NOT become a ritual.
By developing this routine and sticking to it, as the evening progresses, your body will move toward sleep naturally, rather than there being a sudden transition to, 'right it's bedtime now so go to sleep', which any insomniac will tell you never works.
- Sleep as long as you need to feel refreshed and rested.
- Eliminate things from your routine that are incompatible with sleep, like raiding the fridge at night.
- Go to bed at a regular time and wake up at a regular time. This includes the weekends.
- Avoid napping during the day.
- Stop drinking coffee from mid-afternoon onwards.
- Use the bedroom for sleeping and sex.
- Don't stay in bed watching TV, listening to loud music or when at loggerheads with your partner.
- Try not to think about work, chores or anything that will happen tomorrow. There are special directions on the CD to help you remove this problem from the equation.
- No caffeinated drinks from teatime onwards (and preferably before then), such as tea, coffee, cola or any other fizzy drinks. The new 'energy drinks' are a big no-no.
- Alcohol is not a long term solution to insomnia, so avoid alcohol late in the evening.
The reason some people think alcohol works and take a 'night cap' is because alcohol is a poison. The brain recognizes the poison and starts to get to work to eradicate it. Anything not required to complete the task becomes superfluous to requirements and so we can feel tired and sleepy.
This gives the body the chance to process the alcohol, but then when this is done, we wake up to eliminate the toxin. As alcohol levels fall, dreams more easily turn to nightmares.
- Stop smoking. Similarly to alcohol, smoke is a poison and the body consumes large amounts of energy to eliminate and repair the damage. Nicotine is also a stimulant of the nervous system.
- Don't go to bed hungry. Eat a good meal early enough in the evening to last until you go to bed. This is a good tip for anyone also trying to lose weight. Going to bed on a full stomach is not good for the digestion and escess fat and sugar is stored in the body instead of being processed properly.
- Bedroom temperature is important. Not too hot or too cold. If the room is stuffy, change the air at least once.
- Now for the swear work - EXERCISE. Take regular exercise, at least 20 mins early enough in the day to allow the chemicals of excertion to dissipate from the body.
- Keep your bedroom as dark as is comfortably possible.
- Herbal teas can have a mild tranquilizing effect, but long term use creates a tolerance for the sedative and they eventually have no effect.
- If you find your sleeping medication is losing it's effectiveness you will probably have built up a tolerance for it and need higher doses to produce the same effect. This too will suffer from a reduction in effectiveness over time. NEVER stop suddenly! Sudden withdrawal after extended use can cause a rebound effect and a worsening of symptoms of insomnia. If you can't taper off and try other methods, visit your doctor to see about gradually changing to a new prescription. Not necessarily stronger, just a different manufacturer with different ingredients, so that you can change meds periodically when tolerance becomes a problem.
You make your preparations as the day draws to a close and then allow your CD to take you the rest of the way. Good night.