18:09 20 May 2010
Nearly one in four people suffer from insomnia every night due to stress and women are the worst affected.
Financial woes, arguments and problems at work
were cited as major reasons in the survey of more than 9,000 adults.
But other than counting farmyard animals what practical and effective solutions are there to ensure you get your 40 winks?
Before you even think about being sleepy you should plan in advance what you'll be eating with just a few simple changes.
Foods to avoid:
Alcohol - it may initially help you to get to sleep but causes dehydration.
Red meat and too much protein - These tend to wake up the brain. Eat protein instead for breakfast and lunch. Don't eat big meals before bed anyway.
Caffeine - Avoid after 5pm. Caffeine is also found in cola, chocolate and some over-the-counter cold remedies.
Spicy foods - They stimulate the central nervous system so avoid curries late at night.
Pizzas - Ham, cheese, peppers and tomatoes are all to be avoided last thing at night because they contain tyramine - an amino acid that increases your adrenalin level.
Chocolate and sugar - High in tyramine too, which means
no tasty hot chocolate before bedtime.
But don't worry, there are foods that can help you out.
Starchy foods such as pasta, potatoes or brown rice encourage the brain to produce serotonin which can help reduce anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.
Serotonin is also found in fish, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, beans, avocados and wheat germ.
Amino acids should also be part of
your diet - Dates, plain yoghurt, figs and pineapples all contain amino
acids that promote sleep.
Bananas are the perfect sleep-inducing snack. For best results eat one an hour before you go to sleep.
Food isn't the only thing that hinders your sleeping chances however.
Get into a routine - go to sleep at a similar time every night - this will help your body adjust.
Try reading - If you can't sleep don't panic, get up and do something relaxing like reading a few pages of a novel then go back to bed when you start to feel sleepy.
Exercise on a regular basis - But not too late at night as the endorphins released by the brain can be stimulating.
Meditate - This will help to clear the mind and get rid of all those stressful thoughts. Reflexology, homeopathy, acupuncture and hypnotherapy - These will all help as well.
Massage - Treat
your chest with a mixture of essential oils - lavender, clay sage
marjoram and basil - or add them to a relaxing bath.
Give your bedroom a sleepy vibe:
Relax your mind - you'd be surprised at how simple breathing exercises can help.
Keep the window open even in winter to keep a flow of fresh air in the room.
Banish pets from the bedroom. Any movement in the room - including that of your partner - will disturb sleep.
Make the room as dark as possible. Even artificial light tricks the
brain into thinking that you should be awake.
Don't watch the clock - this will only stress you out.
Create a calm bedroom environment and don't watch violent or potentially upsetting programmes before bed. Once stimulated, the brain takes a while to calm down, which is bound to interfere with the quality of your sleep.
See a doctor if your problem continues.
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