Although we all suffer from insomnia occasionally, for some people, it is more than just an irritating condition that strikes the night before a big job interview or important meeting.
It can be a debilitating condition that, if left untreated, could even lead to a range of more serious health problems from heart disease to Alzheimer’s. The name insomnia is said to come from the Latin words “in,” which means “not,” and “somnus,” which means “sleep.” The main characteristics of insomnia are difficulty getting to sleep and difficulty remaining in sleep. However, insomnia is often used to describe a wide range of sleep disorders. Insomnia can last just a few days or it can become a chronic condition and last for months or even years. If you find that you are getting insufficient sleep for long periods of time, it could result in problems such as poor performance in work or school, poorly functioning immune system, obesity, depression and even an increased risk of heart attack. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 34 percent of adults are plagued by some form of insomnia. If you suffer from it, then you are already well-aware of how frustrating it can be when you are unable to fall asleep. Unfortunately, it is hard to say exactly what causes insomnia, although it is generally thought to be a result of a number of factors combined. This could include medications, drugs, alcohol, stress or anxiety, medical conditions such as sleep apnea or asthma, or hormones. Jet lag or frequent schedule changes may also cause short-term insomnia.
People who often suffer from this type of insomnia are those who work night shifts, such as nurses or stewardesses. In some cases, insufficient exercise is also thought to be the cause of insomnia. If you work at a desk job for example, where you sit in one place all day, you may be more prone to insomnia. To counter this, you could try walking or cycling to work. If that is not an option, you should try to get some form of exercise when you get home. Short-term insomnia, although frustrating, is not as serious as chronic insomnia, and can usually be remedied by some lifestyle changes. However, a Norwegian study that was carried out at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found that in the long-term, people who suffer from sleep disorders are nearly 45 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who never have trouble going to sleep or remaining asleep. Insomnia can last just a few days or it can become a chronic condition and last for months or even years. The study was carried out over the duration of 11 years, during which the 52,610 subjects were observed and their sleeping habits, such as how often they had trouble falling asleep and how often they woke up throughout the night, were monitored.
Although it is generally believed that psychiatric disorders such as depression may cause insomnia, some scientists are of the opinion that it is actually the other way around. A study carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health found that individuals who suffer from insomnia have a 39 percent higher risk of developing depression than those who sleep normally at night. Indeed, this does seem to make sense, because anyone who is severely sleep deprived and operating on three or less hours of sleep a night is bound to become a bit unbalanced in the long run.
Now that you know the danger of leaving your insomnia unchecked, you are likely wondering what you should be doing about it. If you prefer to take a more natural route and stay away from sleeping drugs, the first thing you should do is try to identify why you are having trouble getting to sleep at night, or waking up throughout.
Do you leave in a noisy neighborhood? Some sleep therapists suggest keeping a fan on during the night to minimize the variety of noises you hear.
Are you getting enough physical exercise throughout the day? Do you drink a lot of caffeine? Maybe you are under a lot of stress? Often, changing one or two of these things can make a big difference in how well you sleep at night. Of course, not all insomnia is solved as easily as this, but if you are determined to beat the bedtime blues, then try some of the following tried-and-proven tips to start sleeping more peacefully.
Consume a Light Snack Before Going to Bed.
Many people swear by this technique and it is often recommended by sleep therapists. The general advice is to consume a 150-200 calorie snack before heading to bed. The idea behind this is that it will combat the low blood sugar that usually follows a long night without food.
Take an Icy Bath
Although this may seem rather extreme, it is thought to be an effective way to trigger sleep. You would think that immersing yourself in a tub of cold water would have the opposite effect, but according to some professors at Stanford, this method works to regulate and speed up the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Just be sure to do it about an hour before you actually plan on going to bed, or the adrenalin response to the cold water will keep you up.
Eat Your Meals at Regular Times Throughout The Day
You probably already knew that maintaining a regular sleeping schedule was better for you, but apparently, how regular your meals are also plays a part in how well you sleep at night.
Take Timed Naps
Because of the different sleep cycles, it is very important to regulate the length of your naps. You probably experienced the after-nap effect at some point, where you feel worse when you wake up than when you went to sleep. The reason for this is that you probably woke up in the middle of restorative sleep, which can be disorienting. Researchers suggest sleeping for periods of 20 minutes if you want a short nap. For longer naps, 90 minutes is said to be the correct amount of time.
One thing you should never do when you are trying to go to sleep, is think about how you can’t get to sleep. While this may seem like an impossible task, you probably know from experience that the more you try to make yourself fall asleep the less likely it is to happen. If you find yourself laying awake thinking about falling asleep, it is best to get up and do something until you feel sleepy.
Incorporating a natural brain supplement like Neurolon into your diet could aid with any chemical imbalances in your brain that could be causing your insomnia.