Showing posts with label sleep. Show all posts

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep Tonight

“Getting hit with insomnia is a lot like having your heart broken,” write Doctors Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman in The Insomnia Answer. “You feel betrayed and sapped of vitality; what used to flow naturally and effortlessly is now agonizing.” There’s no real secret to a great night’s sleep, they say, but cultivating good habits will have you catching zzzs in no time.

good night sleep

Get Up

Sound counterproductive? Sleeping until noon because you’ve tossed and turned all night might feel good in the moment, but you’ll be paying for it later. Set at alarm and get up at the same time every day, you’ll soon train your body onto a more regular schedule. This goes for naps too: zonking out on the couch after work will do you no favours come midnight.

Go Easy on the Chemicals

Insomnia isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. Don’t dream that a sleeping pill will somehow fix the problem—though it may work for a short time, you risk long-term chemical dependency. Instead of putting more things in your body, look at what you’re already ingesting: Have you had eight cups of coffee today? A big meal of pasta before bed? Two glasses of wine with dinner? All can cause or irritate insomnia, so pay attention.

Get Moving

It’s a common misconception that exercise before bed will energize you. In fact, a study of highly active young men found that prolonged, vigorous exercise 30 minutes before bedtime had little effect on sleep. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., says “Exercise initially increases such stress hormones. But several hours after a workout, a rebound effect occurs.” Yep, you know what that means: less stress is more sleep.

The Physical Necessities

It’s not all mental practice; some tricks are as easy as going to the drugstore. Warm milk or herbal tea (without caffeine of course) are for many people very effective. A small snack could also help. A good firm mattress—or a soft one, if you like that better—and air-conditioning is a good investment, as are thick curtains, earplugs, a sleep mask, and a clock without a torturous illuminated screen.

Visualize, Visualize, Visualize

Forget counting sheep, new sleep techniques are much more effective. Try progressive relaxation: start at the feet, feel their weight and let them relax and sink into the bed. Move to ankles, repeat. By the time you make your way to your head, you’ll be in la la land. Or if this doesn’t work, there’s always the old backwards-count. Start at a thousand, and count one number between breaths. Good night and good luck.

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Insomnia – An Overview of Causes and Treatments

insomnia

Defined as having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia affects 58% of U.S. adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Women are more susceptible to insomnia than men, and occurrences seems to increase with age. Those in lower socioeconomic groups appear to have an especially high incidence of insomnia, as do alcoholics.

Types of Insomnia

Many people experience an occasional day or even several days of insomnia, where sleep just won’t come, no matter how tired they are. This is known as “transient insomnia” and typically lasts for less than one week. With “acute insomnia,” sleep difficulties last slightly longer, but less than a month. Sufferers of “chronic insomnia” are unable to sleep or to sleep enough most nights for more than a month, to the point where it is affecting their relationships, their job and their wellbeing.

Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by certain medications, by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, by another condition such as menopause or asthma, or even by having too much caffeine. All of these causes are what is known as “secondary insomnia,” and most people with insomnia have this form of the condition.

When there is not a separate medical cause of sleep problems, a patient is said to have “primary insomnia,” which occurs in only about two in ten cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. Shift workers or anyone keeping a schedule that results in widely varying bed times are frequently plagued by primary insomnia and stress is believed to play a role in this type of insomnia.

Treatment of Insomnia

Lifestyle modifications are the first line of defense against insomnia and some doctors recommend a series of behavioral changes before prescribing medical treatment. Sufferers are advised to:
  • Avoid eating right before bed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol within eight hours of bedtime
  • Take a bath or find some other way to relax before going to bed
  • Don’t eat, read or watch TV in bed
  • Make sure the bed is comfortable
  • Keep the room darkened and quiet and the temperature cool
  • If sleep won’t come, get up and read in another room, don’t stay in bed
  • Try to stick to the same schedule every day for going to bed and getting up

For those with acute insomnia, lifestyle changes may be enough to help relieve the occasional sleep-related problems. That is likely not the case for chronic insomnia, however, which may require some other form of intervention, including pharmaceutical treatment.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach to relieving insomnia that involves re-training the body and mind to sleep at the appropriate and desired time. Working with a therapist, the insomnia patient will incorporate new behaviors into their daily routines and will learn relaxation techniques that target the anxiety that many with insomnia have about falling asleep. CBT has been proven effective, often more so than pharmaceutical therapy, particularly for long-term relief of insomnia.

Prescription medications are often used to treat insomnia and there are a variety of types available. Benzodiazepines such as Halcion and Restoril and non-benzodiazepines such as Lunesta and Ambien are well-known examples of prescription sleep-aids. These drugs can be effective for some people, but they are also associated with some serious side-effects, including sleep walking and daytime fatigue. Users can also develop dependence on some of these medications with long-term use.

Non-prescription and natural sleep remedies are also widely available for insomnia treatment. Perhaps the most well-known non-prescription sleep aid is melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone and its use as a sleep-aid has been demonstrated to be effective. Other products that are available over the counter are L-tryptophan supplements and valerian teas and extracts. Many sufferers find relief with these treatments, but the research on their effectiveness is limited. Over the counter antihistamines are also used frequently for inducing sleep.

Insomnia plagues many people and can take its toll on lives and relationships. But with proper attention, short bouts of insomnia can be kept from becoming long bouts and chronic insomnia can be finally resolved.

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Better Sleep

Achieve better sleep, improve moods and health. Lack of sleep results in an irritable mood and affects behavior. Depression is also more likely with a lack of sleep. Most adults need around eight hours of sleep a night, children need more.

better sleep
Deep sleep is when hormones are released in the body. These hormones fuel growth in children and repair cells and build muscle mass in adults and children.

Wake up refreshed by evaluating sleep conditions. Many people are not getting the quality and quantity of sleep they need.

Take a look at a few better sleeping tips to make improvements:
  • Don't drink a lot of fluid right before bed. Too much fluid before bed will result in trips to the bathroom during the night.
  • Don't eat a large amount of food right before bed. Digestion problems can interfere with deep sleep.
  • Exercise regularly, but not right before bed. The body takes a while to slow down and relax.
  • Darken the room. Sometimes even a tiny light on an electronic device can be an annoyance. Wear a sleeping eye mask or tape over any LED lights that might cause irritation.
  • Keeping the temperature cool in the bedroom can aid in sleep. Just a degree or two might be all it takes.
  • Maintain a regular bedtime schedule. Don't take naps after 3 p.m. Go to bed the same time on the weekends as well as weekdays.
  • Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine, as well as nicotine in the evening. These are stimulants which can keep people awake, and as the nicotine wears off smokers will experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow. Support and comfort are the main points of a good mattress. Bad mattresses hinder good sleep. The life expectancy for a mattress is around 10 years for good quality brands.
  • Some people need low background noise, like the gentle sound of a fan, to cover other environmental noises to fall asleep. Other people might need absolute silence.
  • See a physician if sleep problems persist.

Sleep Disorders

Some people are in bed the recommended amount of time and still have problems sleeping. Common sleep disorders are sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and insomnia.

Doctors are able to diagnose sleep disorders, sometimes through the use of a sleep lab, and provide a treatment to give relief.

Better Sleep

Spend some time to consider current sleep habits and develop a plan to make a change for the better. Better sleeping can be achieved, and the benefits will be worth it.
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