Sleep, or the lack of it, can be a real problem when you’re stopping drinking. It was an issue for me for years. I used to wake up as many as 5 times a night, sometimes for an hour at a time. So I did a lot of research and found that Melatonin (3 mg) was the key in the early days, and later meditation sorted it out. Solving my sleep problem took about two and a half years, but I did get immediate improvements taking the melatonin and then the meditation improved my sleep, and improved it, and improved it.
I am the sort of person who when stressed, will revert to poor sleeping patterns, so I’ll share everything I found during my research that was useful. Many people in early sobriety seem to struggle with sleep issues. The response I received to this letter was a terrific help to me and I share it often.
To Sarah Stacey
Health Editor Mail on Sunday YOU magazine
I have a major problems with sleep quality and prescription drugs only make me groggy the next day. I have a max pro boost wristwatch which measures activity and sleep. If I’m lucky I get one hours’ deep sleep but this doesn’t happen every night. I have tested the wristwatch on others (my 8-year-old) just to check that it functions properly and it seems to as it reported the lucky kid getting four hours deep sleep. I have had acupuncture for this, and on the day I had acupuncture, I had 2 hours deep sleep. The difference was amazing – but I can’t afford acupuncture every day. I also wake up frequently during the night (average is twice a night but it can be 3 or 4 times).
I really, really need to improve the duration of deep sleep to achieve that refreshed feeling – please advise
Back at my desk again after ten days off – and sleeping much better myself. Do think a proper break from work and technology is hugely important.
Here are some thoughts which may help:
Cut down tea and coffee (you know this) and never after midday.
Ditto sugar – any sort, including fruit, at night, may keep you awake.
Have an evening stroll after supper.
Turn off all electronic gadgets after 8 – including max pro boost wristwatches!
Blue light is known to be a problem – from screens of all sorts but also light bulbs. Read a book in bed and put a pink or amber bulb or scarf over the lamp.
Have a hot milky (organic full fat) drink with nutmeg (sleepy spice) and cinnamon (balances blood sugar) and stir in tsp raw honey at the end – i.e. Don’t heat honey.
OR try CherryActive, clinically proven to deliver natural melatonin (sleep hormone). I put a couple of tsps of powder in some milk. Makes me sleep more soundly though not necessarily longer – but I definitely don’t wake as much.
A nutritionist I know swears by Zenbev, but I haven’t tried this.
Have a glass of water with Rescue Remedy by your bed, and one friend swears by a banana if she wakes up. I take Pukka Herb’s valerian and ashwagandha.
Go out and look at the dark sky before you go to bed. Hang head out of the window if you don’t have a garden to sit in.
Spray your pillow with ThisWorks Sleep Plus – clinically proven to help people formerly dependent on prescription sleep meds.
Do not turn on blue light if you go to the bathroom at night.
Keep regular sleep hours. Try to go to bed by 10 or earlier if you are not going out. Read a book, chat to your partner – but don’t rush around then fall into bed and expect to go to sleep.
Don’t flap if you wake up – for centuries before electric light people would have woken in the night and told stories, made love, walked around etc.
Do mindfulness breathing exercises: lie flat on your back, and follow your breathing, into 4, hold for 7, out slowly for 8. Think of a wave coming up the beach, hovering at the top, then ebbing slowly….
In the daytime, clean up your diet – have a good breakfast with protein, nuts, and seeds, oils (e.g. Eggs and avocado etc), a bit of carb e.g. Spelt bread/crispbread.
Very best wishes
Health Editor Mail on Sunday YOU magazine
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