Through the years I have tried multiple things to help me sleep. I consider myself master of sleep tricks, although they aren't really "tricks" but things that many people do to help themselves sleep. I just have gotten good at trying, choosing, rotating, and combining.
One of the first things I did when I first became symptomatic with my cyst and noticed that my head ached at night, was to change pillows. I couldn't figure out why my pillow suddenly felt like a rock rather than the soft, fluffy thing I used to love laying on.
After an MRI discovered the large Posterior Fossa Arachnoid Cyst on the back of my brain, it made sense. It was putting pressure on the back of my brain and pressing on the skull, so my head ached when I laid on it. Once the cyst was discovered, it all made sense and I knew I had to do something about the aching, so I began shopping for a different pillow. I went through about 4 pillows before I settled on the softest, down pillow I could find. It used to be that I didn't like down pillows, now, it is my best friend and the only pillow I can and will use. I have had the same down pillow since 2004, and it goes everywhere with me - on vacation, whenever I've moved, everywhere.
Today, not only does my cyst cause me to lose sleep, but also my Chiari Malformation and brain sagging. So more than the pillow, I have had to adopt tricks for sleeping. A few of the things that have helped me, and they may seem simple and no brainers, but they have helped many people get sleep, and for many - they do work. My remedies are all-natural remedies because I cannot take medication easily. With all my neurological issues, I have reactions to medications and simply cannot take sleep-aids.
If you have trouble sleeping, maybe you'll find that one of my tricks works for you, and helps you too.
- Warm Milk - Most of us have heard that a cup of warm milk before bed helps you sleep. Well, believe it or not, it does actually work. Milk contains the amino acid, L-Tryptophan, the same amino acid in turkey that makes many people sleepy after a big turkey dinner. L-Tryptophan triggers the feeling of being tired and sleepy and can get you relaxed, like a natural sleep aid. It works for me, and it is one of my favorite tricks to use.
- Warm bath or shower - A nice warm or hot shower before bed can relax tense muscles, relax your body, and for me, relax those sore, tense muscles in my neck that flare up due to my cyst and Chiari. A good 20 minute hot shower before bed can be enough to relax me so that I get more hours of sleep, rather than not doing anything at all before bed. It is especially effective when done in combination with another one of my remedies.
- Heating Pad - Sometimes a nice warm heating pad on my neck or the back of my head in bed, can help me relax enough to sleep. I own one that shuts off automatically so that I don't have to worry about it lying there all night, turned on. The warmth will help me relax, get sleepy, fall asleep, and many times - stay asleep.
- Chamomile tea - Matricaria recutita, or Manzanilla, is the main herb in Chamomile tea. This herb has been brewed and drank for centuries, especially as a sleep-inducer. It has a good flavor, is smooth, and about half way through a cup, I am relaxed and sleepy.
- Meditate - Some nights before bed, I will turn the TV off, put on some soft, relaxing music, and I will meditate. I sit on the floor in Indain style, close my eyes, and zone out. I try to think of nothing, but rather just get in touch with my inner self. I picture myself getting sleepy and before I know it, I am. I have even been known to doze off, right there in my spot on the floor.
Try a couple of these home remedies the next time you can't sleep. See which ones work for you. You may have to try it a few times to let your body adjust, or a combination of two remedies. I now am so glad I don't need medication to help me sleep, since medications and I don't mix well. I can get some sleep and not have any side effects.