Overcome sleeplessness with 11 simple tips

We all know sleep is important because our bodies' systems undergo repair and maintenance during our sleep.

But during our lives, we will experience some sleepless nights which are considered normal. But for some people, poor quality sleep is a recurring or even a lifelong problem.

When your sleep quality is affected, the end results could well be feelings of fatigue during the day, irritability, poor memory, loss of productivity and loss of interest in family and social life.

Thus, focusing on improving your sleep quality is very important to your health. The quality of sleep is associated with number of sleeping hours. Doctors normally recommend that adults should need 7 to 10 hours of sleep daily and children would require more hours. But it varies among individuals. What matters is, for the duration you sleep, are you achieving the right quality of sleep?

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep well, is a common problem which could affect anyone at one time or another. A person with insomnia may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up earlier than desired the next morning.

There are two kinds of insomnia, acute insomnia and chronic insomnia.

Acute insomnia, which can last from one night up to several weeks, may be caused by:

1. A single stressful event

2. A period of emotional stress

3. Illness

4. Temporary pain or discomfort

5. Disturbances in the sleeping environment such as noise, light or sleeping in a different bed

6. A change in the normal sleep pattern, caused by jet lag or working in a late shift

This kind of insomnia usually doesn't last long once the root cause(s) is resolved. But be extra careful as insufficient sleep could cloud your judgement, leading to accidents while driving or at work.

Chronic insomnia takes longer time to recover, from months to even years. The likely causes are:

1. Existing mental health situations eg. depression, anxiety or stress.

2. Poor sleep habits, such as watching television programmes in bed or going to bed at different times.

3. Excessive consumption of caffeine or nicotine laden items like coffee, tea or cigarettes.

4. Excessive drinking

5. Lack of regular exercise

6. Existing medical health problems such as breathing or heart problems, hormonal or digestive disorder, or chronic pain

7. Side effects of certain drugs

8. A different sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

Before we go on, a little more explanation is required here for sleep apnea. It is a condition whereby a person regularly stops breathing, or has slowed breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. Depending on the frequency the breathing stops (apnea) or slows (hypopnea), we classify the condition as mild, moderate or severe.

A person suffering from sleep apnea may snore loudly, and have restless sleep with difficulty breathing. As a result, he may wake up with a headache and tiredness which last the whole day. But, you can cure sleep apnea by adjusting your sleeping habits. Sometimes, doctors may suggest use of devices to help easier breathing during sleep or even surgery.

Insomnia can be cured as long as the victim develops a regular sleeping habit.

Here are some remedies to help you ease or eliminate your sleeping disorder:

1. Reserve your bedroom for sleeping and sex only i.e. avoid eating, working, computers, TV, video or loud music in the bedroom

2. Create a clean and comfy environment for sleeping - soft lights, good ventilation, appropriate room temperature, good support pillows, sufficient comforters

3. Avoid caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks or chocolate drink and/or cigarettes after 7pm in the evening. Also avoid snacking before bedtime.

4. Improve your diet by reducing meat intake and eating more fruits and vegetables especially kiwi, berries, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and cereals.

5. Switch off your mobile phones, blackberries, MSN or Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ etc after a certain time at night.

6. A cup of hot drink before bed does help you to sleep. Try soymilk or herbal tea specially concocted to relax your mind. But remember to visit the bathroom right before bed to reduce the chances of needing to get up later to do it.

7. If you find you can't sleep after half an hour in bed, get up and read a book or listen to some soothing music. Use warm tungsten reading lamp instead of florescent lamp and don't read books which are stimulating. Avoid watching TV, VCDs or DVDs as the light from these devices are bright and will affect the body's biological clock, worsening your sleeplessness condition. You can return to bed as soon as you feel sleepy.

8. Exercise regularly does help to release tension, aiding sleep. But note not to do it late at night as this can result in insomnia.

9. Train your body to sleep and wake up at the same time every day regardless of whether it is a weekend or public holiday. The ideal time to get into bed is between 9 to 11pm so as to achieve the desired 8 hours of sleep.

10. If you need to nap during the day, try to keep it within 45 minutes which is sufficient to rejuvenate you. If you nap too long, it may not help you instead it could hinder your sleep at night.

11. If you're working at home, stop work at least two hours before bedtime to allow your mind to unwind and relax.

With all these measures, doctors sometimes still need to prescribe hypnotics for sleep as treatment for insomnia But these medications are meant for short term only while patients try to find solutions to their various acute stressful problems.

Autor: Laura Ng

Laura Ng is passionate in providing quality nutritional facts and health tips, plus recommending 100% toxic-free vegan recipes to anyone who cares about his/her health. Join her iOneHealth Club now to receive more health secrets and freebies available to her members only. You'll gain plenty but lose nothing. Promised. Visit http://www.ionehealth.com now.

Added: July 13, 2008
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