Everyone experiences sleeplessness or insomnia at one point in their lives. It may be once or twice in an entire lifetime (transient), a daily occurrence, a serious sleeping disorder (chronic), or it may be a recurrent problem (intermittent). It can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, social status and race.
Insomnia is lack of sleep due to the inability to initiate and / or failure to maintain sleep and the feeling of being unrefreshed the following day. Insomnia can be brought about by different factors. The most common of which are:
- Emotional factors: Stress, depression and psychological disorders.
- Environmental factors: Extremes in temperatures, noise, noxious smell and unfamiliar places.
- Medical disorders: Hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, arthritis, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, kidney disease, heart problems, etc.
- Use of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine.
- Change in sleep / wake cycle: Jet lag, shifting work schedules.
Insomniacs are often irritable and fatigued. They exhibit poor work performance and excessive drowsiness in the daytime. They have trouble concentrating, may appear dazed and confused most of the time, and get a bit too forgetful.
Just by looking at the effects of sleeplessness, we know this warrants treatment. The first step would be to have yourself evaluated and see if there is an underlying disease process that’s causing your insomnia. In transient insomnia, treatment may not be necessary because our sleeping patterns have a way of going back to normal. But if it is becoming chronic and is affecting your activities of daily living, proper treatment is certainly called for.
Resorting to sleeping pills to treat sleeping problems is only beneficial if you are going to use it temporarily. The risk of developing drug dependence is always there if you try using it to cure insomnia. Here are some tips that will help you sleep easier at night:
- Maintain a clean, comfortable and well ventilated bedroom conducive for sleeping. Avoid working, eating, or watching shows on TV inside your bedroom. That way, your mind will associate bedroom with sleeping.
- Set a specific bedtime and wake-up time even on weekends to get your body accustomed to a regular sleep/wake cycle. Turn off the lights when you sleep and expose yourself to day light when you wake up, this can help with the sleep/wake cycle you are trying to establish. Avoid daytime naps to make it easier for you to sleep at night.
- Stay away from alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. Coffee, cola, tea and chocolates are caffeine-containing foods.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid heavy meals, spicy foods and sweets for dinner. A glass of warm milk without sugar will help.
- Regular exercise in the daytime will help you sleep soundly at night. Body massages and a warm bath before bedtime also helps.
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