99 things that didn’t help me sleep…and one thing that did

I was a great sleeper for the first 30+ years of my life. Back in the day, I used to have to set the alarm clock on full blast and leave it across the room in order to be disturbed by it. In fact, normally other people in the house were disturbed first and proceeded to wake me up after shutting the alarm off.

As life evolved in my 30’s, I experienced a few sleep disturbances, mostly addressed with some sleepy time tea, magnesium and a yoga pose. Maybe some Acupuncture for the really tough times when I found I was waking up once or twice to go to the loo <insert eye roll here – how little I knew about real sleep issues>.

All that changed when I had a child.

To cut a long story short – my son was not a good sleeper in his infancy. Waking up with him every 45 minutes for 21 months took its toll on my innate sleep goddess capacities. When he finally slept again but I found that I could not, my desperation to find a solution reached a fever pitch in very short order.

My partner quips that I turned our house into a laboratory on my quest to join the ranks of the well-rested, sane population. But he’s really not kidding. Like the good science student I am, I conducted extensive research, consulting the literature – both the double-blind, placebo kind and the pop-science kind. I read books, I listened to podcasts, I talked to experts, I scoured the internet. I paid A LOT of money to a LOT of people. I gathered data and I ran experiments. A LOT of experiments.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of the things that I tried in an effort to improve my sleep:

Yoga breathing – Ujjayi

Yoga breathing – Nadi Shodana

Yoga breathing – Chandra Bhedana

Yoga breathing – Brahmari

Yoga breathing – Sama Vritti

Yoga poses – hip openers

Yoga poses – inversions

Yoga poses – forward bends

Yoga Nidra

Mantra Meditation

Kundalini Meditation

Insight Meditation

Guided Meditation

Silent Meditation

Tart Cherry

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy


Cranio-sacral Therapy


Osteopathic adjustments

Postural Patterning



Crystal Therapy

Sound Therapy


Emotional Freedom Technique

Yoga Therapy balls

Rescue Remedy’s sleep formula

Sleep drops


Magnesium capsules

Magnesium Oil

Epsom Salts baths

Flotation tank

Sauna with cold plunge





Lavender oil



Fish oil supplements

Vitamin D

Vitamin C mega-doses

Probiotics – several kinds


Reishi Mushrooms

light blocking blinds

turning off the Wi-Fi at night

exercising during the day

getting sufficient sun exposure

f.lux/Night Shift apps to reduce blue light

soft lamps with warm bulbs

watching funny TV before bed

not watching anything on TV before bed

reading before bed

101 kinds of sleepy-time tea

a shot or three of whisky in the above tea

avoiding alcohol within three hours of bedtime

cutting out alcohol altogether

only having caffeine before noon

eliminating caffeine altogether

eating chocolate in the morning

eating only whole foods

getting plenty of greens

cutting down on greens

eating carbs before bed

eating protein and fat before bed

not eating within three hours of bedtime

avoiding sesame seeds at dinner

having a heavy dinner

having a light dinner

having five meals a day

having three meals a day


not snacking

eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar

eating all of the above

tinkering with the spices in my food

getting lots of mental stimulation during the day

minimising mental stimulation during the day

keeping the room cool

keeping the room warm

lots of covers

wearing socks

sleeping naked

foot massage with oil before bed

sleeping alone


relaxation music


walking barefoot on the beach

sleeping on my back

sleeping on my right side

sleeping on my left side

windows open/windows closed


And do you know what? None of them worked.

Not in isolation anyway. There is no one single thing that worked to get me sleeping again. And no combination that seemed reliable. Just when I thought something was effective, it stopped working. Everything seemed murky and slippery and confusing.


Because all the self-help techniques, supplements and studies in the world cannot offer a universal solution for sleeplessness.

What finally got me sleeping again for a reliable 6.5-7.5 hours per night?

Super simple really – I had to start from the beginning. I had to throw out all of the ideas about what to do and re-align myself with nature’s rhythms first and foremost.

As free as we are to do what we like 24/7, there are certain biological facts that cannot go unheeded forever. In youth, maybe. I think that’s debatable as well – we’re learning now that some of the diseases of degeneration start as early as the womb or the highchair. For me, it all fell apart on the cusp of my 40th birthday.

So I went back to the beginning, to see what the rhythms of nature suggest in terms the timing of various daily actions. Despite deep resistance to some of the ideals, I was so desperate that I aligned my day as best as I could.

Within weeks, I started sleeping more than I had in years. Only then could I tinker with the variables above in a clear way so as to identify what needed to make up my personal sleep kit.

There is no one size fits all. But there is a biological rhythm that got it’s start 37 billion years ago that can form a solid baseline from which to refine. From there, I’ve been able to identify a handful of non-negotiables and a couple of nice-to-haves but I have been able to throw out the rest.

I can help you to do the same. If you want to know more about how, check out my Sleep Wise Habits and schedule a free conversation.

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