Sunday, 28 April 2013

Get some Zeds - battling insomnia

I go through phases of insomnia. Rio Ferdinand sometimes tweets about finding it hard to sleep after a big game. The rush of adrenalin, the internal analysis and the exhilaration of going out in front of a crowd mean that footballers and comedians a like, can experience the same issues when it comes to catching zeds at the end of an eventful day (in my case, the crowds are a little smaller).

I've experienced different types of insomnia over the years. The overactive mind that can't rest, the waking in the early hours only nodding off minutes before the alarm goes off, the common or garden tossing and turning all night, you name it, I've been there.

When it starts to go on night after night, it can get pretty depressing and rather than being about getting some well-earned rest, going to bed can often become about just not being vertical for eight hours.

Even as a kid, I had the odd night where I'd have trouble getting shut eye. You know how stressful it can be, being seven. I've got a big colouring in test in the morning and my Simon Says game needs new batteries.

Here are my top five tips, guaranteed (they're not really guaranteed but they will probably work) to help you get a proper nights sleep (by the way, take booze off your list of insomniac aids. Even though it may get you to sleep, you are more likely to wake in the earlier hours and there's no need to start a hang over earlier than you need to).

Sleep on the floor
This is a trick I developed as a child. If you've been trying to get to sleep for a while, set up a bed on a floor. Don't make it too comfortable. Wrap yourself up in your duvet, take one pillow and try to sleep there. What usually happens is you toss an turn for a while thinking about how uncomfortable you are, it's too cold, the floor is hard, you need another pillow. Stick with it for as long as you can. If you don't fall asleep get back into bed. You'll be so grateful to be warm and cosy, you'll fall asleep immediately. Worked for me every time.

Sleep balm
This was given to me about a year ago and sat in its gift packaging for months. Finally, out of curiosity I had a look inside and found this. Sleep Balm ( is a lavender-scented gel which you apply to your temples and pulse points (I guessed what they meant by this and put it behind my ears, on my wrists and inside of the elbows).

The first time I used it, I was surprised at just how quickly drowsiness hit me. I read a couple of pages of a book and I was gone.

This is a tried and tested method. A book or online reading are equally effective. I find Twitter sends me into the world of sleep faster than the Sleep Balm.

Deep Breathing
This is another of my made-up but effective techniques. If you find you're not dropping off, start taking deep, deep, breaths. Continuously breath to the full capacity of your lungs and exhale fully. Do this until you fall asleep - and you will.

The interesting thing about the deep breathing is that not only does it work but it also seems to ensure a better, night's sleep. I wake more rested and refreshed.

Another technique that seems to aid the quality of sleep is meditation. The technique I use is Vipassana meditation where you put your attention on different parts of the body, start with the face and just keep moving. Use which ever style and technique works best for you.

Also, look at your diet. Is it loaded with coffee, black tea, chocolate ((which contains caffeine), cheese and fatty foods or refined carbs? Do you regularly partake of a fair amount of 'falling down water', are you hydrated enough? Often, making changes in these areas can have a huge impact on our sleep patterns.

Good luck and sleep well...... zzzzzzzzz (Do Americans read that as zed, zed, zed, zed... sounds more like a motorbike rather than someone sleeping anyhoo!)


  1. With the deep breath thing, rest your left hand on your belly button and your right hand on your left hand. Also pause for a couple of seconds between each inhale and exhale. That's what I find works for me. The hand thing was a tip I got off a daytime tv show.

  2. Masturbation usually works for me. It's easier than meditation, but requires more clean up.

  3. A little physical exercise may help Andi, a few press-ups say, will get those endorphins, the body's natural tranquilisers, flowing. Tone the arms and shoulders too - not that you need to!


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