The information I have on how to sleep comes from my personal trials and tribulations, pursuing elusive sleep. Call me a delicate sleeper. Call me a difficult sleeper. This is how sleep became one of my hobbies.
There are so many articles out there on how to sleep. Bleary eyed and desperate, I’ve read dozens. They often have the same damn sleep tips. I wonder how many of them are written by delicate, difficult sleepers. Not many, I suspect.
So over our weeks, months, years together, I’ll tell you a little about what I have learned. I’ll tell you what actually works for me and what doesn’t. My hope is to save you some time by doing some of the leg work for you. Do with this information, as you will.
Today I’m talking sleep aids. Things you swallow to court a restful, rejuvenating sleep.
In very desperate times, when I was scared of losing my physical or mental health due to insurmountable insomnia, I resorted to sleeping pills. I’ve talked to clients who adore prescription sleep aids and those who abhor them. My experience was the latter – I didn’t sleep great when I took them and I had rebound insomnia when I didn’t. I gave up on those PDQ – Pretty Damn Quick. If you are considering prescription sleeping pills, keep this in mind. I hope they work wonderfully for you; they do for many. However, beware that they might not be the end all and be all you are hoping for.
I tried melatonin. My Mum swears by it. Rebound insomnia again. Dammit.
I tried GABA. Nope. 5HTP? Negatory. L’Theanine. Strike three, you’re out.
So here are the things that work for me these days. I mean, these nights.
Valerian capsules work. I find less is more. The bottle says to take two, one hour to half hour before bed. One works, two doesn’t. Half hour before bed works. One hour doesn’t. Side note: valerian tea doesn’t cut it for me. It’s stinky and it tastes like I think my gym socks would taste if I steeped them in hot water.
Another one that’s working: A combination of Valerian, Skullcap, Passionflower and Hops. I found this combo in a formula by Natural Factors called Herbal Factors Sleep Relax Formula. The bottle says one to three capsules at bedtime. One does it for me; two or three doesn’t. At bed time doesn’t work; half an hour before, does.
I also like Lemon Balm. It’s also called Melissa. I take one capsule in the morning and one at supper. The bottles says to take three capsules, three times a day. Again, for me, less in more. I find that Lemon Balm calms me without making me tired. It sets me up to be relaxed throughout the day and into the evening.
I keep Hyland’s Calms Forte and Bach Rescue Remedy on hand. If I wake up anxious or fretting in the middle of the night, I swallow one or two Calms Forte with water or I put four drops of Rescue Remedy under my tongue. This soothes the savage beast in my brain and I relax enough to get back to getting some zzzzz.
My point, in all of this: Read natural sleep aid labels. Start with one capsule or tablet. Slowly increase, one at a time, if the formula isn’t working yet. If you get to full dosage and it’s still not working, it’s just not working. Don’t feel hopeless and terrified that you’ll never sleep again. Just move on to the next formula and start again, with one capsule. There are lots of options out there. If I was able to find a sleep solution, I know you will as well. Be patient and persistent.
Lastly, ask and listen. Lots and lots of people you know, work with, love, don’t sleep well. Find out what they have tried, what has worked, and what hasn’t. It may give you a place to start.