Tuesday, October 2, 2012


If you sleep well, you not read this.  But if you do not then it is for you.  What is the big deal about sleep?  A lot!  Sleep is a period of rest.  But it is much more.  It is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance and repair damage from your day.  But do you get adequate sleep daily?  Inadequate sleep or insomnia is harmful to the body and mind and makes you less able to function effectively.  Insomnia is not a respecter of age.  Although, it is more common in adults, its frequency increases with age.  When do you experience inadequate sleep?
  1. When you are under stress.  Insomnia is not unusual when undergoing a particularly stressful period.  Some worry about whether or not they are going to be able to sleep, even before going to bed.  This, in turn, causes insomnia as the person lies awake worrying about not being able to fall asleep.
  2. When there is a health issue.  Health problems often interfere with sleep.  People who suffer pain, perhaps from a condition like arthritis, may find the pain keeps them awake at night.  Heart conditions and respiratory problems can make it difficult to lie down comfortably too.  An overactive thyroid gland may cause restlessness and sleeplessness.  For aging women, they may discover that menopause disturbs sleep patterns.
  3. When under the influence of drugs/alcohol.  Drugs and alcohol interfere with natural sleep, and people who are withdrawing from substance abuse also report problems of sleep.  Not only hard drugs cause sleep problems, but prescribed medications too.
  4. Other disturbances.  Surprisingly, a partner who snores, loud neighbors or shift work distort sleep.  In particular, night work may disturb the body's natural clock and sleep pattern.  Short term sleep problems may be caused by jet lag.  The environment itself may play a role; for example, the bedroom or bed may be too hot or too cold.
Yes.  Just adopt healthy life style practices.  Insomniacs should also get out of bed if they do not fall asleep after a reasonable amount of time and return only when they become sleepy again.
  • Have a schedule.  Associate your bedroom with sleep and rest and do not multitask in it.  Maintain a consistent schedule and go to bed and wake up around the same time everyday.
  • Avoid cigarettes and caffeine.  Stop smoking, avoid alcohol, caffeine and a heavy meal before bed time.  Cut down on your coffee or switch to decaffeinated one.  Tea may cause insomnia if consumed in large quantities.  Remember, something that charges you during day will also keep you up all night.
  • Stay awake.  Try not to sleep during the day and do not nap.  By not napping, you will make your body more tired at night.
  • Exercise.  Exercising within three hours of bedtime can keep your body alert and make it harder to fall asleep.  Instead, engage in body exercises during the day or early evening rather than at night.  Vigorous exercise during day is followed by a good night sleep.  The more physically tired you get during the day, the better sleep you will get at night.
  • Keep a daily stress log.  Write down your daily stress triggers, responses and outcomes.  By taking notes of these, you can begin to see how you respond to certain situations and eliminate or learn to cope with stress causing agents.
  • Seek professional help.  Talk to a licensed therapist about the core issues surrounding your insomnia.  Ask your doctor about over the counter or prescription sleep medications.  Before you take any sleep aids, be well informed of potential side effects, risks and interactions with other medications.
  • Take a hot shower.  Taking a warm bath before going to bed helps to relax your tense muscles.  This helps you to sleep better.
  • Please, eat right.  Many healthy foods contain ingredients that can act as sedatives or boost certain hormones to induce sleep.  By altering your diet, include other foods.
Myth: To function best, you need to get eight hours of sleep.
Fact: There is no big deal about that number.  Everyone has different sleep needs, and you will know you are getting enough when you do not feel like nodding off in a boring situation in the afternoon.  It does not have to be eight hours.
Myth: More sleep is always healthier.
Fact: Long sleepers may suffer from problems such as depression or uncontrolled diabetes that makes them spend more time in bed.
Myth: Waking up during the night means you will be tired all day.
Fact: It might be your natural cycle so you do not need to be worried.
Myth: You need prescription drugs if you have insomnia every night.
Fact: Sleep medications are designed for short term sleep problems caused by stressful events.  People with long term problems benefit more from cognitive behavioral therapy like retraining your perceptions of sleep and learning better sleep habits.

No comments: