Sleep problems and insomnia.  It is probably safe to say that most people have or will suffer from sleep trouble at some point in their lives.  Research has shown that between 35-45% of adults in Australia either sleep poorly or not enough during the night.  Of course, there are certain factors that are beyond our control, such as children or an unfortunate noisy neighbour.  However, if you lie in bed waiting for hours to finally fall asleep or you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, it may mean you have insomnia.

According to diagnostic criteria, insomnia can be classified by experiencing one or more of the following complaints:

  • Difficulty maintaining sleep
  • Difficulty initiating sleep
  • Early wakening
  • Chronic non-restorative sleep

The above complaints occur despite someone having adequate opportunity to sleep (i.e., no waking children etc).  Additional to this, an insomnia sufferer complains of at least one of the following daytime impairments:

  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Attention, concentraion or memory impairment
  • Social or vocational dysfunction or poor school preformance
  • Irritability or mood disturbance
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Reduction in motivation and/or energy
  • Proness to making errors at work or whilst driving
  • Tension headaches
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Concerns or worries about sleep

Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis is paramount for our health.  Whilst we sleep our body detoxifies, produces hormones and renews our immune system.  If sleep is disturbed, so are the above processes.

Practicing sleep hygiene is a step in the right direction to improving one’s sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping, consider adopting the following sleep hygiene techniques:

  • Establish a regular time for bed.  The more sleep you get before midnight, the more refreshed you will be the next day.  Ideally, aim to go to bed by 10pm.


  • Avoid looking at screens 1 hour before going to bed.  Looking at bright screens such as our computers, phones and televisions can interfere with our production of melatonin.  Melatonin is our ‘sleep hormone’, that is activated at night and when it begins to get dark


  • Create a sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom.  Make sure the lights are dim before you go to sleep and the room is completely dark when you decide to fall asleep.  Make sure the room isn’t too warm as having a higher body temperature can intefere with your sleep.  Also ensure the room is quiet, i.e., no stimulating music


  • Avoid exercising too late at night as it can stimulate adrenaline production, rendering it more difficult for your nervous system to calm down and prepare for sleep


  • Try not to eat too close to your bedtime.  Aim for at least 3 hours before for your last meal of the day.


  • Avoid eating foods high in tyramine in the afternoon and evening.  Tyramine is an amino acid which is involved in the production of stimulating neurotransmitters, hence giving you more energy and a perk-up.  Foods high in tyrosine include: aged cheeses, chocolate, smoked meats or fish, beer, red wine and pickled foods (such as sauerkraut).


  • Cut out the alcohol.  Whilst many people may drink a glass of wine to relax and wind down after a long day, alcohol in the long run can disturb sleep and this fact is well documented.  It is also closely associated with snoring and sleep-apnoea


  • Stop ingesting stimulants such as coffee and black tea after midday.

As well as adopting the above, there are also complementary medicines to help improve your sleep.

  • Drink calming herbal teas.  Chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, valerian and hops are herbs that are very well known for their calming and sleep-aiding abilities

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, always check with your practitioner before taking herbs

If you are taking prescription medications, always check with your practitioner for interactions


  • Try taking magnesium before bed.  Magnesium has the ability to calm your nervous system down.  Taking 150-300mg of elemental magnesium before bed can do the trick.  Make sure your magnesium supplement doesn’t include any B vitamins, which help create energy. 

*Check out our previous blog on Magnesium for more information regarding this mineral.


If there are any concerns about your sleep, or other factors that you think may be contributing to your poor sleep, consult with your practitioner to get a proper assessment and treatment plan.

Call (03) 9570 3388