Originally Answered: Trouble sleeping, any advice? Should I take sleeping pills? HELP!?
It sounds like the problem is your stress.
"Oh my god it's 2:30. I'm so screwed if I don't sleep. Jesus Christ, if I don't get to sleep then *everything* is going to go to hell tomorrow. Damn it, why aren't I asleep yet? FALL ASLEEP! Crap, this isn't working, how am I ever going to take care of that thing at work tomorrow? Yeah, that project needs a lot of attention.."
If your mind is like that when you're trying to sleep, then we've got the root of your problem.
I'd recommend a few things:
1) Keep a notebook by your bed. Before you go to sleep at night, write down everything that needs to be taken care of in the morning- and tell yourself firmly that it can be taken care of later. Once you've nailed down what your stresses are you can control them.
2) Get sweaty for an hour every day. You might want to start with every other day, or twice a week, but work up to an hour of daily exercise. You'll sleep better, think more clearly, and feel better.
As for home remedies, I've used natural sleep aids in the past. DO NOT think that just because something wasn't created in a lab it isn't powerful stuff.
1. Melatonin. This is the stuff your brain secretes to make you sleepy. Take a 500-mg dose 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Trader Joes makes chewable peppermint-flavored tablets.
2. I've used something in the past called Sound Sleep. Got it at Whole Foods. The two main ingredients are melatonin and valerian. Valerian is a _very_ powerful sedative: at one point I was woken up by a loud noise when the effect was at its strongest, and I literally couldn't move. I was only awake for about two seconds and wasn't trying particularly hard, but it was like I was made of lead. Again, take this about an hour before bed
Use sleep aids sparingly and don't overdo it. I've never taken synthetic sleep aids before, but with natural remedies I always start with about half the recommended dose. It usually works for me, though I'm a pretty scrawny person. Don't take melatonin or Sound Sleep or anything else at 2 AM, or you'll be a zombie at 10 AM. Sleep aids are supposed to help you get back on track, so they work with your natural sleep cycle. They don't create a new pattern by making you instantly fall asleep.
You should definitely get yourself to a sleep clinic.
Eating before bed is bad because the food just sort of sits there and makes you devote energy to digestion when you should be sleeping.
Blood sugar effects mood and mental functioning. My dad has Type 1 diabetes (the kind where your pancreas tells you to go f*** yourself and shuts down, not the kind you get from a high-sugar diet) and when his blood sugar gets low he feels faint and can't concentrate.