Day 50 of 90: Curing Insomnia

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Yesterday I spoke about the importance of sleep and how muscle is actually built as much on the pillow as it is on the bench (link). So after a couple of good nights sleep I thought I would give some tips on curing insomnia. Something I suffered with for years. So, in no particular order, this is what I’ve found that helps:

1. Keep the bed for sleeping (well and of course…:-): watching TV, reading, working or playing video games in bed will mean that your subconscious will associate the bedroom with activity and not rest. What you want is to walk in and your mind to automatically begin to wind down because it knows exactly what it’s there for.

2. Have a bath: I shower in the mornings, however, every now and then I will take a nice relaxing bath which helps chill me out gets rid of any muscle soreness, gives me an opportunity to do some reading and gets me ready for bed.

3. Do not have anything to eat or drink up to an hour before: obviously if you eat something, particularly if it’s heavy, sour or spicy, you will struggle to sleep and could end up with indigestion or heart burn. Fluids will also have you going to the toilet…The only exception I would make is a little water bottle on your bedside cabinet. This will help with any late night dehydration but sip it rather than glugging it and make sure you go to the toilet, whether you feel like it or not, immediately before bed. (You’ll be amazed at how your increase in protein and water, whilst training, will have you getting up all night if you let it, so empty the tank when you can).

4. Avoid caffeine for two/three hours before bed: caffeine is a stimulant which, is ok in small doses, but has some negative side effects. One of which is it keeps you awake. I try to limit myself to one cup in the mornings and NEVER have it after mid-day.

5. Try a hot glass of milk or a malt drink: again you don’t want this too close to getting in bed but it is a renowned natural cure for insomnia.

6. Skip the exercise: when I was younger I would aim to do 50 press ups before bed. The problem with this, however, is that it gets the adrenaline pumping which disrupts sleep. You are better getting up 10 minutes earlier to do your press ups (or whatever you do) and bit o doing anything before bed.

7. Turn your phone on silent: ok unless you work for MI5 (or your on call or something) you don’t need your phone on. In fact, using electrical devices, like tablets and smartphones, before bed is known for significantly disrupting sleep.

8. Sort your life out: basically, all the bins should be out, your clothes should be ironed and the lunches made before you get into bed.

9. Have regular bedtimes: these do not have to be rigid but if your body knows you normally go to bed anywhere between 9:30 -10:30pm and you get up at 5am most days, then it will adjust accordingly…On rest/cardio days I do not set an alarm at all but still end up getting up somewhere from 5:30am – 7am.

10. Keep a notepad an pen at hand: it’s amazing that while preparing to sleep you remember the weirdest things and have your most creative ideas (maybe it’s just me then). If you don’t note them down you will forget them or you might end up thinking about them all night.

Added to this I would remove any noise (like ticking clocks), put in black out curtains and incorporate some physical training into my life (particularly if you do a non-physically demanding job). If you do this hopefully you should be able to turn your back on insomnia and get yourself a good night’s sleep. It worked for me – normally.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG (no food from 7pm yesterday till after workout – today is my carb-loading day)

Post-workout: all-in-one shake
Snack: plain popcorn
Breakfast: porridge, goji berries (it’s a carb super food link) and walnuts
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: plain popcorn
Lunch: chicken breast with brown rice and veg (kidney beans, broccoli and spinach) with chilli.

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Snack 1: as above minus chicken
Snack 2: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 3: plain popcorn
Dinner: Mexican chicken and vegetable (onion, celery, mushrooms, kidney beans, chilli and carrot) spicy rice
Evening shake: whey
Snack 1: mango and vanilla Greek yogurt
Snack 2: 2 tangerines and a peach
Snack 3: a small bowl of cornflakes

Note: I wouldn’t normally do chest twice in the week but boxercise was cancelled and the bench was set up.

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