9 tips to help with insomnia

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Recently I wrote about how I had trouble with insomnia once my kids were sleeping through the night.

After a bit of a battle with sleep, my GP prescribed sleeping pills, and then eventually I had to relearn how to get to sleep without them. Here are the tools that worked for me.

1. Try sleep hypnotherapy

This is my number one tool for anyone who’s sleep has skewed off-course. Anything else pales in comparison. Sleep hypnotherapy helps you to a) challenge those thoughts that you have forgotten how to sleep, b) eliminate that middle-of-the-night ‘I’m-awake!’ panic and c) teach your mind to return to a drifting, peacefully sleepy state if you do wake up in the middle of the night. It’s not cheap, but, like me, you may only need a couple of sessions. Ask your GP to recommend a sleep hypnotherapist for you. It’s also a good idea to make sure they’re accredited by the National Council of Hypnotherapy.

2. Cut out caffeine after 4pm

Once I’d done the sleep hypnotherapy, I was then in a good place to help myself with some other props. Cutting out caffeine after 4pm by itself did nothing for me, but in conjunction with all these other tips – brilliant. It’s a bit like sugar for me – when I have too much caffeine, my mind races and I can kiss bye bye to any sleep plans.

3. Block out the morning light

Avoid disturbed sleep in the early hours by cutting out the morning light streaming into your bedroom. You can either put up black-out curtains or blinds, or wear an eye mask – yes, they look a bit daft, but honestly, who cares. It’s your sleep we’re talking about here.

4. Be wary of sugar in the evening

When I have chocolate in the few hours before bed, I can really tell the difference. It’s like it plays giddy-up with my brain and takes my mind longer to slow down.

5. Listen to sleep-inducing sounds last thing

Help yourself nod off by plugging in your earphones when you turn out the light and listen to something guaranteed to help you feel sleepy. I like the Buddhify app – their ‘go to sleep’ section helps you release the events of the day. I also like Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson. Eventually you might not need this sort of audio prop – nowadays, I can nod off entirely without it. Fist pump!

6. Spray a night-time pillow spray

At first I wasn’t sure about this, but now I can see that the more you use it, the more your brain starts associating the

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smell with sleepy-time. I like This Works Sleep + Pillow Spray – it has a very soothing scent. The spray is, interestingly, supposed to keep releasing its vapours as as you move around through the night, so that you stay asleep. It’s not quite as effective as that for me, but it still helps me feel like it’s bedtime and gets me to nod off.

7. Have a bath before bed

I’d like to tell you that I have a bath every night. But of course I don’t. But when I do have one,  I can definitely tell that it helps me unwind before bed. Pouring in a sleep-inducing bath oil is really helpful too – I particularly love Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil. Amazing scent that is especially soothing.

8. Jot down tomorrow’s to-dos before your head hits the pillow

Last thing at night, unload anything that’s bothering you onto your phone’s notepad or on paper. With no chance that you’ll forget them, your mind can wind down.

9. Don’t nap

I found naps completely screwed me up as I would be wide awake still at midnight. So no matter how knackered you are from the sleepless night before, it’s best not to nap if you’re trying to reset your sleep patterns. Without a nap, you will feel properly tired at bedtime.

Just so you know, when I had insomnia, none of these tools worked on their own – apart from the sleep hypnotherapy. But in tandem with the sleep hypnotherapy, they helped enormously.

If you have any sleep tips I haven’t covered, please let me know in the comments box below.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

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