“About 60 million people suffer from insomnia each year, which can lead to serious sleep deficits and problems.”
Insomnia is not related to the number of hours of sleep you receive each night but is related to the quality of sleep you receive. Many people have difficulty falling asleep at night, are wakeful during the night with difficulty getting back to sleep, wake up too early in the morning or wake up in the morning with a general sense of being unrefreshed by the hours of sleep. These are all characteristic signs of insomnia.
Insomnia can pose problems during the day with sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability. It appears that insomnia increases with age and affects about 40% of women and 30% of men. Dr. Carolyn Dean, a physician in City Island, New York states that “The inability to sleep quite often comes from a combination of a lack of nutrients and dehydration.” She encourages her patients to eat foods high in calcium, magnesium, and essential fatty acids along with lots of water. Stress and depression have also been linked as leading causes of insomnia.
Gaining relief from insomnia is very important to having a healthy, happy and productive life. I have included some helpful and healthy tips for helping you overcome the effects of insomnia.
What To Look For
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble getting back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Stay out of bed until you feel adequately tired to fall asleep.
- If you lie in bed for 20 minutes or longer unable to sleep, get out of bed and go into another room finding something relaxing to do such as reading until you are sleepy.
- Endeavor to go to sleep at the same time every night and arise in the morning at the same time.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will prevent you from falling asleep. Alcohol, though it may help you to initially fall asleep, has a tendency to cause you to wake in the night and interferes with the quality of your sleep.
- Regular exercise will help you sleep better at night. Avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime as the exercise stimulates your body by speeding up the heart rate and metabolism.
- Avoid drinking fluids before bedtime to lessen the chance of needing to go to the bathroom in the night.
- Eat foods high in calcium, magnesium and essential fatty acids.
- Drink a glass of warm milk before retiring to bed. Milk contains tryptophan which is a chemical that promotes sleep in some people.
- Eat some protein a few hours before going to sleep. Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is a major reason many people wake throughout the night.
- Do not eat big meals up to three hours before going to bed. The process of digestion may keep you awake.
- Take time to relax before going to bed by reading or listening to soothing music.
- Try turning off the television and computer an hour before bedtime to assist in your relaxation.
- Do some slow stretching exercises which will help to relieve anxiety and help your body to relax.
- Some helpful sleep inducing herbs are Valeriana, Kava, Saint John’s Wort and lavender.
- Take a warm bath.
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