"If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying

there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep."


   Dale Carnegie.


If you persistently cannot sleep, have difficulty getting off to sleep, wake up

regularly when you shouldn’t, awaken too early, or awaken feeling unrefreshed,

seek help.


You need sleep just as you need air, water and food!

Sleep is critical for health.  It’s food for the brain, regulates metabolism and

hormones, regenerates tissue, improves cognitive function and mood, boosts

immunity, and so much more.

Good sleep is even more important for children and teenagers than it is for adults. In fact, research suggests that teens need a full eight to ten hours of sleep to function properly.


Lack of sleep interferes with your cognitive processes by impairing your levels of attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This is particularly so for young adults in education.


The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, is strongly linked to depression. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. The two feed on each other: sleep loss aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms and vice versa.



Never once in my 19 years of living with depression, did any doctor take seriously my comments about lack of sleep, nocturnal ruminations of the mind, and depression itself. In fact it took 18 years culminating in a major life crisis to be heard seriously and given more than just an anti-depressant. But this page is about sleep.


My relationship with poor sleep – ie lack of sleep as well as poor quality sleep, began way back in 1997. But despite the number of times over almost 19 years since I raised the sleep issue with doctors, it has never been pursued, let alone treated. I resorted to self-help remedies. I researched. I experimented. Sometimes I was successful, but I was always convinced that I was never getting to the root cause, until relatively recently, in late 2015 when a bright consultant, exploring a possible lung condition, alighted on the fact that I may have sleep apnoea. It was later confirmed. As was a severe sinus condition.


I would lie awake most nights for many years, tossing and turning, my mind occupied and churning over and over, unable to stop. I’d awake tired, I became grumpy and irritable, I found concentration difficult and at times the motivation for life and living seriously diminished


Why it took 19 years to be believed by any doctor that I was having sleeping problems is anyone’s guess.





Lack of sleep, or insomnia is very common but that doesn’t make it okay or something to be tolerated or just accepted!


It affects people of all ages and for many varying reasons.


In some cases, we don’t even know we are lacking sleep or lacking in quality sleep. But once we know or suspect that we have sleep issues, it should be taken as a serious disorder and the root causes determined to find an effective treatment. Be aware that if insomnia continues for a long period, it can have detrimental effects on both physical, emotional, mental health and spiritual health.

The majority of people who struggle with their sleep are unconsciously doing something in their everyday life that is negatively impacting their ability to sleep at night.

How can you tell you have a sleep probelm - it isnt always obvious.


Whatever the initial cause, worry about poor sleep, and worry about feeling tired the next day, are common reasons for the problem to become worse. And left untreated, a vicious cycle kicks in.


Physical problems caused by chronic lack of sleep include high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and diabetes and men with sleep apnoea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, can be subject to a lowered testosterone level, due to the abnormally low production of the hormone during the night.


The media is rife each day with our global obesity and crises of almost pandemic proportions; in these sleep also plays its part.


Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you hungry, but creates a craving for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods in excess proportions.


​The consequences of a lack of sleep include:-



  • concentration becomes poor

  • decrease in co-ordination skills

  • depression

  • forgetfulness can be evident

  • lethargy and tiredness are common

  • irritability, not just  an occasional bout of the grumps but constantly becoming grumpy

  • low mood, sometimes sufficiently serious to lead to depression

  • memory is poorer



  • Accidents - both minor and serious

  • Dangerous driving

  • Failure to take important medications

  • Lack of self-care

  • Dangerous use of machinery

  • Reduced attentiveness at work or when looking after someone in your care

Left untreated these can also lead to:-

Imagine doctors, nurses, pilots, firemen, train drivers, care-workers, and other workers whose need for alertness is paramount. How would you feel if they constantly turned up late for work.  It’s why I have never understood why the medical system self requires doctor and nurses to work such long hours. It doesn’t just affect their sleep and energy levels, it impacts their efficiency their relationships, and their own health.


And inin the long term, for anyone, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.


It is not enough to simply find a way to treat the lack of sleep e.g.  by getting a pill or just “trying” to sleep more and better. Yu must identify as far as possible the causes – and they could be many – and tackle those.

Causes of poor sleep or poor quality sleep


Medical Conditions


  • ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics)

  • Adrenal fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Blurry vision due to excess cortisol

  • Breathlessness

  • Cancers

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Coughs

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Epstein Barr Virus

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Glucose level imbalance

  • Hot flushes

  • Indigestion, acid reflux

  • Insomnia

  • Insulin resistance

  • Itches

  • Joint cramps – legs, arms

  • Lyme disease

  • Mental health illness

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Pain

  • Persistent negative thinking

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Rumination

  • Sexual abuse

  • Sleep apnoea - where your air passages get blocked when you sleep,

  • and your brain wakes you up on each blocking episode – it’s just you

  • don’t always know that’s happening

  • Sinus problems


Finding out the causes of poor sleep will help you identify where you

need to take remedial action. E.g. how real is your anxiety?

What causes it? What fears do you take with you to bed? What do you

worry about? Does pain keep you awake?  What can you do to resolve

what ails you?

Environmental conditions


  • Light – standby lights on electronic appliances, street lights, not closing the curtains, uncovered skylight, shadows on the window,clocks going forward / backward

  • Noise – street noises, animal noises, weather noises

  • Sound – prowling pets, creaking doors, guests, snoring bed partner

  • Temperature – of your room, too hot, too cold, temperature of your body or partner’s body.

Psycho-physiological reasons – accounts for 75% of causes of poor sleep


  • Awakening too early and unable to (a) get back to sleep or (b) function

  • Fear of dying

  • Fight-flight system that is always on alert, sensing danger, geared up for action

  • Guilt and shame – regret over things you did that day, causes nocturnal rumination

  • Inability to get off to sleep

  • Stressors ruminating around in your mind

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Tiredness levels when you go to bed

  • Unresolved upsets, hurts, and anger

  • Worry wart warrior!

  • Your biological clock that automatically tells you when to awaken


NB   diabetes, glucose levels which are out of control, and insulin resistance can cause the following which in turn may prevent you from having quality sleep.

  • Anxiety

  • Brainfog

  • Cognitive issues

  • Fatigue

  • Mood issues

Situational – these are usually temporary and can be acted upon


  • Jet lag

  • Newness – baby, bed, home, job, medical condition, relationship, routine,

  • Stress

  • Work or family problem


Stimulants - avoid


  • Alcohol – does not aid sleep, it causes broken sleep and early morning wakefulness.

  • Caffeine - in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, chocolate, painkillers and other medicines

  • Internet surfing before turning in

  • Late night takeaways, midnight fridge raiding

  • Nicotine

  • Reading before going to sleep – especially if it stimulates your thinking

  • Street drugs

  • TV



Looking at the preceding lists, you may have identified some of your own causes in which case you could implement an element of self-help eg: -


  • Too much light in the bedroom – get darker curtains or blinds

  • Alcohol and  nicotine – quit alcohol and smoking

  • Stress – perhaps a need to reprioritise and / or adopt a different mind-set

  • Bad sleep habits – eg late night bingeing, watching TV, surfing the internet                                                                         into the small hours, too many electronic gadgets in the bedroom etc.                                                                                                              – develop good sleep hygiene and a more regular sleep routine.


In some cases, seeking professional help is essential and that could include working

with a counsellor or hypnotist if there are issues around stress and anxiety, or a

nutritionist or naturopath if the issues are related to your gut, your gut flora,

or metabolism. And if consulting your doctor, do not be fobbed off with a sleeping pill – that does not treat the cause though the blessing of a few good nights’ sleep is not to be denied! If necessary, take the pill and ask what else you can do to explore and address the causes of your sleeping dilemma.


There are, of course,  many other things you can consider yourself: -


If your need is for digestive support then calming and supporting the digestive tract is a crucial first step in attaining restful, restorative sleep. Yu may wish to consider locating supplements which will address your antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory needs. These could include:-


  • Hops – The flowers of the hop plant are used primarily as a flavouring and stability agent in beer and ale production and they are used as a herbal medicine as teas and act directly on the central nervous system to support the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, improve central nervous system activity, and calm and soothe digestion.

  • Ginger - a calming anti-inflammatory and digestive aid used to settle the stomach and as a muscle relaxant. It contains at least 22 known anti-inflammatories and 12 antioxidants. Use naturally or as a powder in cooking, or as a tea or supplement.

  • Lemon Balm – a herbaceous perennial plant of the mint family used to promote comfort, relaxation, and calm the digestive and nervous systems. It comes as a herbal tea, tincture, essential oil and provides sleep support when combined with Valerian.Passion Flower - provides support for stress, anxiety, and sleep. It is also has calming and restorative properties.

  • Peppermint - traditionally used as a relaxant, it calms the muscles of the stomach, helps reduce excessive gas production, improves the flow of bile used in fat digestion, and promotes proper elimination.

  • Valerian – the most researched sleep-supporting herb in the world is another perennial herbaceous, flowering plant, the root of which is dried and used as a herbal remedy and may be  an effective aid in treating sleep problems (insomnia) as well as treating anxiety, stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other conditions.


If your need is for muscle and nerve support, have your doctor check your magnesium levels; magnesium and zinc support sleep and healing by aiding in the transport of oxygen to nerve and muscle cells.


If your need is for Amino Acid Support - Amino acids being the building blocks of life and critically important for nerve cell health as well as hormone production and balance, you may wish to consider


  • Melatonin - a natural hormone produced by the body that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and other body hormones. It supports the body's own production of the tranquilizing neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a key role in healthy sleep patterns and mood. Recommended by more and more doctors as a safe and natural sleep enhancer, melatonin has become the most popular sleep-support compound in the natural food industry.

  • 5-HTP - used by the body to make serotonin a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Several though small clinical trials have found it may provide significant support for fibromyalgia, sleep, mood, and migraines.

  • L-Theanine - a calming amino acid found in green tea that can increase levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and aids in the reduction of feelings of mental and physical stress and may produce feelings of relaxation. alpha wave activity, which is associated with deep relaxation.



Vitamin B1


  • Ensure you have a firm, supportive mattress on your bed.

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Routine is important.  

  • If you can't sleep, go to a different room and read, listen to quiet music or do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

  • Make sure your room is neither too hot nor too cold.

  • Take a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils eg lavender, hops

  • Take regular exercise, but not before going to bed

  • Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only and not for work or watching television

  • Wear ear plugs or an eye mask if it helps you filter out any noise or light.



  • Avoid bulky, heavy or rich meals, especially within a few hours of bedtime

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol drinks or smoking a few hours before going to bed.

  • Avoid clock gazing!

  • Avoid daytime naps

  • Avoid all electronic devices in the bedroom eg phones, tablets and televisions.

Professor Matthew Walker

Sleep Diplomat

Metaphysical perspective




Metaphysical healing, part of the larger field of Energy Medicine, is based on the belief that negative mental, emotional or behavioural patterns, left unchecked, can eventually result in  dis-ease or illness and that the transforming of those negative patterns into positive patterns, and nurturing them, can in turn, lead to healing. What you think in your inner world affects your outer world.


If you live life believing you are unworthy, of no value, and that life means nothing, then don’t be surprised if “life” gives you illness. After all, the message you send out is – I am of no worth, I am of no value, I have nothing to offer, what’s the point, so just cover me up and let me be invisible. Life heeds your request. For brevity here, that’s one simplistic version of metaphysics… an opportunity to identify and transform your beliefs and ways of living. 


The individual, therefore, can be his or her own judge and jury, their own creator of illness - or healer, responsible for creating either health or illness.


This is not about blame, implying it’s all your fault. When you know differently, you can believe and behave differently. Metaphysics simply asks us to be responsible for our part in the creation of a condition and invites us to take responsibility for its transformation, its healing, for our health.

Mental causes


  • What is on your mind?

  • What are the restless thoughts in your mind?

  • What do you fear? What are you fearing?

  • Do you fear what others think of you? Is their opinion of you really of any importance to you?

  • Have you feel something to be guilty or ashamed of? Can you forgive yourself? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone?

  • Do you have a belief in not deserving to be here, breathing in the breath of life?


What beliefs are in your mind and what would be their opposite affirmation?


When I sleep I am vulnerable                         When asleep I am safe and protected

I must keep my guard up                                 I can relax and still be vigilant

There is no one to protect me                         I have a good network of people to call on

If I sleep, I will be hurt                                      I am protected at all times

I find handling change difficult                      I now handle change with ease

I am overloaded                                                  I manage all my affairs with ease

I am overwhelmed                                             I release and let go

I can’t turn my brain off                                   I draw to me relaxed sleep and peace of mind



  • What is robbing you of your peace?

  • What needs resolving?

  • Do you have issues around your own mortality? How can these be managed?

  • Do you feel anxious?

  • Do you feel guilty that you should make every moment count?

  • What’s the worst that could happen if you were to truly learn to relax?




If you could magically be relieved of all problems and difficulties and could lead a true life of your deepest desire, what would you be?

What is stopping you stepping into your deepest desire?

Baased on your thinking, reflections, and research now draw up your own prescriptions to help improve your sleep.


                                             Qi Gong


                                              Before going to bed, have a gentle ten minute routine of Qi Gong.


Be Patient with yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day, or even two.

You have allowed lack of sleep to be your companion

till now so continue to be patient! Think of planting sleep

seeds and watching them grow and blossom.Take things in

small steps, have no great, enormous expectations of

immediate improvement. It’s unlikely that the amount and

quantity of your sleep will be at maximum right away.


Facing and embracing your present state of non-sleep or poor sleep is an important first step in choosing how to respond.

Equally, if you can accept that you are not in a state of sleepiness and sleep is not likely to come soon, why go to bed or if in bed, get out of bed?



Practise a few minutes diaphragmatic breathing.



As the song goes, “One day at a time!” Each night is a new night.

Be open and try something different! But don’t attempt everything at once.


Stop trying and allow

Sleep is a a natural process that cannot be forced. You cannot “try” to do anything.

Trying is hard work. “TRY” blowing out a candle. You either b low it out or not.

Trying doesn’t work! Allow new refreshing sleep patterns to “bed in” – i

f you’ll pardon the pun. Trying hard is doomed and is counterproductive.


Cease ruminating

Easier said than done so perhaps before going to bed, at least an hour beforehand, write

down all your concerns. If it is your mind to, connect with your Higher Ming and ask that

these be solved or resolved whilst in the sleep state.


Trust that all you are  now doing to achieve better sleep will work over time.

Remember the 4 Rs

Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Use it only for reading, relaxation, rest,

and reproduction.

Now Let go
let go of all you have learned about the consequences of lack of sleep. Focusing on them is

counterproductive. Instead, let go of worries and anxieties and remind yourself, “I deserve

a peace-filled sleep.”


Sleep well!



          Sleeping do's and don'ts


          Sleep Disorders  Although it’s normal, from time to time, to experience difficulties sleeping, it’s not normal to regularly have

          problems getting to sleep, to wake up feeling exhausted, or to feel sleepy during your waking hours.

          Sleep Apnoea


Dr Andrew Weil
Breathing Technique for Sleep

Can't sleep?

CBT-I (cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia) is the only scientifically proven non-drug insomnia treatment. CBT-I improves sleep in 70-80% of patients, is more effective than sleeping pills and reduces or eliminates sleeping pills in the vast majority of patients

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