An insomiac's journey to the promised land
An insomiac's journey to the promised land
As this is the first Sleep By Simba blog, I thought I would make it personal. My story is not unique and like many people I have a troubled relationship with sleep.
In my case I fall asleep quite easily but wake frequently and sometimes struggle for hours to get back to sleep - what is commonly known as middle-of-the-night-insomnia.
So to gain a better understanding of what the heck was going on, I started to track my sleep and the results were quite startling. My tracking app revealed I was sleeping on average of 3 - 4 hours but what was really surprising, it showed I was getting 1-2 hours of deep sleep and this worried me.
Reading around the topic of sleep I discovered deep sleep is essential for the proper repair and regeneration of the body. An article in the Harvard Business Review states
So it prompted me to dig a little deeper and to my relief discovered the amount of deep sleep I was getting was adequate. However, light sleep is equally important to the healthy functioning of many cognitive functions in the body and I wasn't getting enough of it.
Note: If you want to know more about the different stages of sleep you can find the Harvard Business Review article mentioned above here.
So the question of what exactly was going on remained unanswered. I knew ever since my teens I was a very light sleeper; the faintest of night light or the slightest sound would wake me, but I was always able to fall back asleep and never felt sleep deprived.
So I turned to the grand oracle in the sky - Google and began a search for remedies as I didn't want the situation to become chronic. What I discovered were there are a lot of search results! Just try this search.
Given the vast array of choices, I started with what I didn't want to do and that was to use prescribed medication - and not because of any prejudice towards modern medicine. It was more a desire to seek a 'natural' remedy. After trialing a few, none of which worked, I read an article suggesting magnesium could possibly help. After trying many formulations, I settled on one that worked extremely well for me. It is made by Nutra-Life and consists of three types of magnesium. Here is its composition:
- Magnesium (as oxide)
- Magnesium (as phosphate)
- Magnesium (as amino acid chelate)
The additional benefits was my muscle cramps virtually disappeared but what I didn't count on was an upset stomach. So I decided to keep looking and in the process discovered a few things that helped, which I have listed below; I must stress these are personal to me and may not work for you.
- Get to bed a little earlier: I adjusted my bedtime by an hour. I noticed that I fell asleep earlier, and stayed asleep for longer, the net effect being I got more sleep.
- Reduced nightime usage of my mobile phone - the blue light apparently signals our brains to stay awake. I found little or no change to my middle insomnia with this and as mentioned earlier, I never had a problem falling asleep.
- Drink some warm milk! There are plenty of articles that say this does not work, but it worked for me and I found I was able to sleep more deeply.
- Take a supplement such as Magnesium (mentioned above) or Melatonin, which is known as the sleep hormone. I have tried this twice - the first time it did not work, so I upped the dosage slightly and it did work and my dreams were incredibly vivid! The only downside, I woke the next morning feeling terrible. Therefore I advise consulting with your doctor before trying this as the dosage may be important.
- Exercise: exercising in the evening was another thing that helped tremendously. HIIT (High Intensty Interval Training) or lifting weights for 30 minutes was enough to help me. However, as I became fitter I noticed my middle-insomnia returned!
- Coffee after noon. Although caffeine is metabolised quickly, it's half life is 5-8 hours and it can take 1 to 1.5 days for complete elimination from your body. I have found reducing my coffee intake from 3 - 4 cups a day to one has had a marked improvment in my overall sleep.
- A weighted blanket! I have to confess this is my favourite. For me this has been a revelation, and although I still wake up in the night I am able to go back to sleep within 30 minutes, which is an amazing improvement on my previous state.
So there you have it. The list above is by no means an exhaustive one, but I hope it helps if you are suffering from insomnia. Do let me know in the comments below if you have any sleep remedies that have worked for you.