“Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again.” 

― Paul Simon

2am. 3am. 4.30am. 6am already. You know that feeling don’t you? Laying in bed, watching the shadows of occasional night time traffic sliding and glowing across your ceiling like a Hitchcock film. The tension heavy in the black shroud around you. Or laying wide eyed and wondering why you decided not to take that job opportunity 30 years ago and how serendipity would have planted you in a different place and in a different zone had you have just had the balls to say yes. 30 years ago was a long time. Not when you can’t sleep though. You. Must. Analyse. It. Now. At 3am. It’s the right time to go through every detail……….!!!

This is me. Often. However, I have found some amazing remedies that I’ve recommended to people with mostly success. Like with everything……one shoe doesn’t fit all. This is my disclaimer. It works for me so I want to share my remedies with you if you’re suffering. 

Magnesium body lotion. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/BetterYou-Magnesium-Skin-Body-Butter/dp/B00STNTFN8?ref_=ast_sto_dp

Magnesium is important for our bodies. It helps our muscles function properly, helps convert the food we eat into energy and helps maintain our nervous system as well as lowering our blood pressure. However, we are easily deficient of magnesium in our bodies due to regular poor dietary intake or certain illnesses. Rubbing magnesium lotions or gels onto our body at night activates our parasympathetic system which, in a nutshell, is what helps us to relax and make us calm. Here is a link to the BetterYou range of lotions and potions which I use and thoroughly recommend. https://betteryou.com/pages/magnesiums-role-sleep.

You know how some people get restless legs? I get restless arms! They get really fidgety, hot and itcy. I rub the magnesium lotion onto my arms and it calms them right down. As an added bonus the cream also sends me off to a lovely deep sleep!!! I made this video for TikTok….

Pukka night time organic herbal tea 

This tea tastes absolutely delicious! The fact that it contains lavender may put you off – it’s a scent not many people love let alone want to taste. However, it really doesn’t taste that bad and together with the limeflower and oatflower this blend is wonderfully relaxing. Included is also chamomile a known flower to aid sleep and valerian, a herb which also acts like a sedative and helps relax us. 

If I’m not rubbing magnesium into my arms then I have a cup of this tea before I sleep – it contains no caffeine – and I sleep wonderfully. Here is a link to Pukka website where you can read more about their teas. https://www.pukkaherbs.com/uk/en/products/organic-teas

ASMR sounds (ASMR = Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – basically sounds which make you feel warm or cosy or comforted)

I’m not very good at falling asleep to silence. I can but I’d rather not. I like to listen to podcasts or talk-show radio or audiobooks etc. I find it very soothing. What I also love falling asleep to though are sounds. Whether it’s varying degrees of rain falling on rooves or city streets etc or a fire crackling away or even a grand thunderstorrm rumbling away in a pretend starry sky, these sounds can often send you off into a calm, soporific state and into a lovely deep sleep. Usually I opt for the thunderstorm and light rain which I find so soothing. I also love falling asleep to the hum of distant traffic. It reminds me of falling asleep as a child in London when the daily night time sounds were London black cabs or occasional police sirens or just people driving all around so now those sounds are very comforting to me. 

If you’re on spotify, this is a playlist I like to use https://open.spotify.com/album/6rPIfpNKpHJRbv5wOdZyrC?si=k9_vZ0i-QbS1ZdVjsaWE7g

Or this one where you’ll be slightly overwhelmed at the choice of sounds to aid your sleep!! All are very lovely though. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1TiMcPmkKo5GtdM1CNRe7I?si=92d1ad5ee81b4c8c

If you’re not on spotify, just type into youtube ASMR thunderstorm / city rain / fire etc sounds

Meditation

I know. It’s not for everyone and it’s a common thought that “I can’t meditate / it doesn’t work for me”. Let me ask you…..do you ever sometimes just drive with a head full of thoughts then get to a junction for example and think “oh I’m here already! How did I get here?” well you meditated. You’re on autopilot and you know these streets like the back of your hand, you’re safe and in control but your mind briefly “switched off” or meditated. Or do you sometimes just stand looking out a window and you drift off with thinking until someone jolts you out of it? That’s also considered meditation. It’s easier to meditate than you think. 

Here is an easy way to meditate if you cannot sleep.

  • Close your eyes and imagine a shape. A square, a triangle etc but a simple shape with no more than 4 sides. A circle might work I suppose…..I like to imagine a triangle so I’ll use that to illustrate.
  • Now, inhale slowly and deeply as you imagine drawing with your finger one side of the triangle going upwards.
  • When you get to the top of the triangle exhale deeply and slowly as you draw the other side of the triangle going downwards.
  • Then hold your breath for about 3 or 4 seconds as you draw the final line of the triangle at the bottom.
  • That’s it.
  • Now do it again.
  • And again.
  • And again.

I only get to do this about 5 times before I start to fall really sleepy. It doesn’t matter if your head is full of thoughts or worries, keep imagining those lines, see them, watch your finger as it draws the lines, keep breathing deeply, keep going. This works. You can do this nightly in silence or while listening to ASMR sounds. You can even do this in your car if you’re feeling anxious – just don’t fall asleep in the car park!!!!!

Like with the ASMR sounds above, you can find lots of really lovely meditation playlists on Spotify or youtube. Here are a couple that I would recommend and that work for me…

Max Richter – Sleep album: https://open.spotify.com/album/0JLN7JryQ2T7lBEYIrSQF1?si=d1P18c-LRzui5zslcb8WGg

Adrienne short meditation on youtube (her simple to advanced yoga is amazing!) https://youtu.be/d4S4twjeWTs

Essential oils

I love essential oils. I use them in my face and body lotions. I use them as disinfectant around the home. I use them to scent rooms or my car. As we know lavender is a very well known scent that aids sleep. I bought a plastic spray bottle, filled it ¾ full of water then put 5 drops of lavender oil into it. Shake it up and spray on your pillows, duvet etc before you get in. The aroma is so calming and relaxing. Likewise you could light a lavender candle an hour before bed – but please set an alarm for 1hour on your phone to remind you to blow the candle out or remind yourself to check on it every 15mins or so. Leaving lit candles in empty rooms can be very dangerous especially if you have pets wandering about. Your room will smell lovely and relaxing……..from the lavender candle I mean. Not from the smell of your house burning to a cinder!……….

Still waiting…. for the lavender to kick in 236 years later

If you just cannot abide the smell of lavender there are many other options. Here is a link to the wonderful Tisserand site that recommends other oils you could use. https://www.tisserand.com/aromatherapy/dislike-lavender-essential-oil-here-are-the-alternatives-to-help-you-sleep/

There are other remedies I have heard about too such as CBD oils or gummies you can take at bedtime, massage of course if you have a willing partner and yoga is particularly good at night. I have not tried these and others yet but will add a blog on more remedies as I experience them.

I really hope some or all of the above help you with your insomnia. Please do let me know in the comments or feel free to send me a message. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

2 comments

  1. Very interesting piece.

    Jasper Carrott live cassettes used to get me off to sleep as a kid. Now it’s a bedtime podcast (Guardian football weekly, Talking Politics, Chart Music and Desert Island Discs are my favourites). My boys swear by Harry Potter audiobooks read by Stephen Fry, his voice is very soothing.

    Sleep teas are nice too although that invariably leaves you waking up at 2am with a full bladder. Trying to get back to sleep after that is where the real fun starts and I have a bunch of random man lists to help with that (FA Cup winners by year, capital cities A-Z etc). Come on scientists, when you’re done with all this vaccine business how about inventing a nighttime bladder fairy?

    I must have ventilation too, a stuffy bedroom is a ‘nightmare’ (see what I’ve done there) to sleep in although admittedly it’s sometimes difficult to open a window if you live on a ground floor or close to a busy road.

    Liked by 1 person

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