Natural ways to help you sleep
A NATIONAL newspaper (Daily Mail, May 11) Cries “UK addicted to sleeping pills”. It warns that the stress related insomnia is on rise in Britain, costing NHS £50 million a year on drugs and the fear that the patients may be getting hooked.
Tiredness and lack of adequate sleep are, indeed, the most prevalent disorders of our age, And both are linked with stress.
Stress is both a cause and an effect of poor sleeping. When you are stressed and anxious, you are likely not to sleep well. You may have trouble getting to sleep, or you may fall asleep at 11pm but wake up again at 2am unable to sleep again. When you sleep badly, instead of waking up fresh and clear, you get out of bed feeling stressed and anxious, afraid of not being able to function well. It is a vicious cycle.
But it is a cycle that can be broken, and usually without sleeping medications.
Sleeping pills and tranquilizers can be quite harmful. These medications usually cause dullness or drowsiness rather than good sleep, and you wake up with a kind of hangover. After some weeks on tranquilizers or sleeping pills, most people get less of the deeper stages of sleep. They may sleep longer, but the quality of rest is not good and becomes gradually worse with continued use of the pills. People start to have periods of sleeplessness, tossing and turning. So they take larger doses of pills and may become addicted to them.
Based on my experience and what I have learned, I wish to share with the readers some very practical suggestions for better sleep: Tips to help you sleep It is recommended that, if at all possible, we do not use medications to change unhealthy or unwanted patterns of sleep. Instead use natural relaxation techniques and cut down on foods, drinks and lifestyle habits that counteract sleep.
Natural relaxation techniques such as deep breathing (pranayama) and meditation are very helpful in falling asleep. A few minutes of alternate nostril breathing is very relaxing and can help us to settle into sleep.
Cutting down or eliminating caffeine, especially after midday, is very helpful. Caffeine is a stronger stimulant than many people realise, and its effects last many hours.
Read a book instead of fretting before going to sleep or listen to some soothing music.
Once you are in bed, don’t keep looking at the clock. Anxiety about falling asleep will not help you sleep!
Regular exercise is very helpful in promoting better sleep at night. You will find that half an hour’s brisk walking or cycling (in the morning, if possible) will help you enjoy more restful sleep.
No exercise should be undertaken too close to bedtime.
If stress and anxiety are keeping you awake, it is important to treat the cause, not just the symptom. Simply taking some sleeping medication to knock you out will not help in the long run if the situation that is the source of your anxiety remains the same,
In olden days, grandmother used to say, “Take a cup of warm milk before going to bed. You will sleep better.” Her advice was excellent and is now scientifically proven.
So, established bedtime rituals like a warm bath, a cup of hot milk, and a few minutes of reading are all helpful!
It is better to wake up at the same time in the morning regardless of the time you went to sleep.
Remember everybody’s cycle of sleep is different – five hours may be more than enough for one person, while eight hours may not be sufficient for another person.
Do not self-medicate with tranquilisers or sleeping pills.
Shelley said, “Sleep is the time when gleams of a remote world visit your soul.”
With best wishes for a peaceful sleep with sweet dreams!
HARMESH LAKHANPAUL OBE Ledbury Road, Peterborough