Golden Slumbers or Waking Nightmares: Secrets To A Great Night’s Sleep
Assuming you have covered all the usual ‘how to get a good night’s sleep’ pointers such as
mobile phones and other devices switched off or in another room, house wi-fi switched
off if possible, room as dark as a cave, and the window open a tad for fresh air, in other
words controlled the elements you can – snoring bed partners, neighbourhood noises
and moon phases, are not always so easy – yet you are still not getting that longed for and needed deep and restorative slumber what can you do?
As someone who literally cannot function on any less than 5 hours, I’ve been
proclaiming for years that lack of sleep is like an illness, often to the bemusement of
those who slept soundly… Motherhood at the age of 20 rudely plunged me into the light
sleeper’s club, consequently I have experimented with many resolutions over the years,
and can proffer a selection of the ones that work.
Eat your last meal early. Unless you have low blood sugar, in which case a small snack
of protein before bed may well help, avoid eating anything at least two or three hours or even more before going to bed. You may need to experiment for a few nights. When we are in sync with the circadian rhythms affecting our bodily functions, such as the all important digestive process, we sleep better.
Don’t drink late. Avoid alcohol or other liquids, as obviously the need for the loo can
wake you and drive you out of bed. Train yourself to not have a drink later than 6pm –
often those bedtime ones are simply habits inherited from parents.
Take magnesium. This calms the nervous system and relaxes muscles. The best way to
absorb this is via the skin as magnesium oil. Another highly absorbable way is to add
magnesium chloride flakes to your bath water and soak for 20 minutes. Most people fare well on taking a magnesium supplement at night but some, including me, are overly stimulated by it, so need to take it earlier in the day.
Try 5HTP. This is a precursor to serotonin and a great sleep aid that you can use on a
regular basis until you have habituated your body into a good sleep pattern. A precursor
will nudge the body to attention rather than take over and disrupt natural biochemical
Use Inulin powder. Inulin is a prebiotic soluble fibre which is tasteless and therefore
can easily be given to children too. Dr Michael Mosley investigated this on a BBC sleep
programme and awarded it 9 out of 10 for its effectiveness in improving his own
Have a cold shower. Yes really. Although the very same will zing you awake in the
morning, it does actually help sleep when done before bed! I can count on 4 fingers the
number of times I’ve experimented with this as a) I hate showers and b) the thought is
just too off putting, but it’s free and it works.
Four square breathing. This will both relax you and regulate your breathing, quieting the mind, due to concentrating on the counting. Inhale to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 4 and pause for a count of 4 then repeat – as many times as it
Counting backwards. This is brilliant for actually getting to sleep when the mind is
overactive. This is the absolute best method I have found which involves simply
counting backwards from 300 – I rarely make it below the 200’s. It could be that it works
this well because it was programmed into me via Paul McKenna’s hypnosis recording;
he has various ones on sleep also, on YouTube for free.
For your bed
Grounding or earthing your bed. This is one of the best things you can ever do, for not only great sleep, but overall health and healing. I’ve had some deep deep sleeps on earthing sheets, and if a full bed sheet is out of budget, there are a variety of alternatives on the site linked above. Don’t be tempted by cheaper Amazon alternatives, says she who
was. “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to the discovery that bodily contact with the Earth’s natural electric charge stabilizes the physiology at the deepest levels, reduces inflammation, pain, and stress, improves blood flow, energy, and sleep, and generates greater well-being. Such effects are profound, systemic, and foundational, and often develop rapidly. Earthing is as simple as routinely walking barefoot outdoors and/or using
inexpensive grounding systems indoors while sleeping or sitting, practices that restore a lost and needed electric connection with the Earth.”
A magnetic pillow pad is another option and has similar benefits to earthing, drawing on magnetic fields to induce relaxation and sleep.
Weighted blankets are not something I have personally used but know they have had a
very beneficial effect on a five year old, a teen and their mother, all of them having
different reasons for not getting good sleep.
For your bedroom
If you could build your own salt cave I’d suggest this, but it is neither very convenient
nor speedily achievable, so the next best thing is to get a Himalayan salt lamp or 2 and
switch on for a few hours before going to sleep. These purify the air, balancing positive and negative ions, and simultaneously neutralize EMFs which mess with your melatonin levels. I have one on all day near my work table, to reduce the effects of spending so much time online. For children who like some light at night, it is also a restful healthful, soothing ambiance.
Both getting to sleep and staying asleep are overlaid with, and undermined by, fear.
With the upside-downing of our ‘normal’ during these freedom controlling times, to understand the root of fear and its subtle interplay with many of our thoughts, check out, Mastering Fear by Barefoot Doctor. Using a simple technique, you can nobble any destructive thoughts/feelings, both in the day and when they pop up at 4am, regardless of what is happening in your external world.
Helen Kirby is a nutritional therapist and freelance natural health writer, interested in metaphysics, Taoism, babies, cats and chocolate, though not necessarily in that order. Having searched over 2 decades for the best ways to eat to live long and strong, Helen switched 12 years ago to a highly raw, plant-based diet which she loves. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org