We all know that sleep is often elusive when we need it most. Times of excitement, times of busy-ness, times of stress, times of overload....
Sleep is the thing which keeps us sane. I just read the other day that the latest thought on WHY we sleep is to give the brain a chance to take out its garbage. A surprisingly large proportion of our energy is utilized by the brain -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%, and in mentally-challenging work, even more; all forms of energy-burning have waste-products, and to export them from the walled enclave which is the inside of our heads, we have evolved to sleep.
Sleeeeep ... i hear the word as spoken by Henry V in the Kenneth Branagh version. :-) It sounds so seductive. Kids resist it, and adults have a hard time understanding why, because to us it's delicious.
I used to sleep very well, except the night before a fencing tournament or a major vacation trip. I've always been a sensitive sleeper, though -- my husband has learned the hard way that if he touches me and wakes me up there'll be hell to pay. ;-) Time, the great bitch, has changed that -- i'm one of those who usually dozes off pretty quickly if i haven't been overstimulating myself on the computer ... but within minutes i get a sense of dread and wake back up -- probably some of those afore-mentioned waste-product disturbing the chemistry. I reach out for my bed-side book (with the little book-light attached), read another five or ten minutes, and then get properly to sleep. But if my husband tosses too much, i can wake up to a too-great extent and have to read an hour or more to settle back down. My bedside book is usually a piece of fiction i've read before, so i'm not on-edge about how it'll turn out -- the current one is a Nero Wolfe, which i enjoy because of the mental atmosphere of the series more than the mysteries themselves.
All kinds of sleep-tricks exist out there -- I've tried eating more carbs at dinnertime, but they too can be disruptive -- probably because i overheat under those circumstances and i like to sleep cool. When we've been out for the evening, to dinner then to the theatre, i frequently come home and read for a good three hours before i get sleepy -- my supposition there is, too many carbs AND over-stimulation. More than two glasses of wine at dinner can also ruin my night for me.
No, if i feel the urge to consume something near bedtime to aid sleep (rare!), i prefer a light-but-fatty protein. I've taken to mixing a tablespoonful of collagen-hydrolysate into my evening vitamin drink, and sometimes i add a little liquid coconut oil too. That seems to help.
I "used-to could" just pop a low-dose melatonin to help me sleep, but i now have a much larger stable of sleep-encouraging supplements. I've mentioned valerian before, which is wonderful for dampening the cortisol/adrenaline rush that causes me to "wake up too much" in the wee-sma' hours. There's magnesium too, of course; even though my diet and multivitamin provides it, stressful times require more, and with our backyard project stretching well over the one-year mark, the stress his been both chronic and occasionally acute! I recently bought some theanine as well, and my most-effective antihistamine (benadryl) is a famous sedative. I layer these products as needed ... and this last year, HOW i've needed them!
Sleep is too important to let myself go too short -- when sleep suffers, it begins a cascade of effects which become catastrophic for weight, health, MENTAL health and life performance. Some people may find it worthwhile to go the pharmaceutical route, but as much as possible i prefer to lull than "force" relaxation.
A new bed would probably help too -- our vintage one tends to creak, groan and wobble when my 200+-pound, 6-foot husband has a restless night, himself....