It’s 2 a.m. and you still can’t sleep a wink. You toss and turn and you can’t stop thinking about work, family, money, or what you need to do tomorrow. All of these stressors can thwart your attempts towards a good night’s rest. If you find yourself spending too much time trying to fall asleep, or if you wake up feeling tried and cranky in the morning, then you might be experiencing insomnia.
Signs that you may be experiencing sleeping problems:
— Taking a long time — more than 30 to 45 minutes — to fall asleep.
— Waking up many times each night.
— Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep.
— Waking up feeling tired, and unable to function well during the day.
Poor sleep affects our health. People who have poor nighttime sleep are more likely to have attention and memory problems, a depressed mood, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls, and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.
Why we need sleep
Sleep is important for good health. Studies show that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions. During deep sleep your body produces and releases hormones that fight infection, repairs cells, builds muscle tissues, and determines how the body uses energy. Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight.
Insomnia triggers you can control
— Skip the nightcap. Initially alcohol may relax you and make you sleep, but alcohol produces unsettled sleep by reducing REM sleep, the deep dream sleep, and increases the middles-of-the-night- wake-ups.
— Avoid caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effect of caffeine and nicotine disrupts the signals from adenosine, the chemical that helps induce sleep.
— Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime. A large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep. Also, digestion takes energy that prevents you from a well-rested sleep.
A sleepy invitation
Stick to a sleeping schedule. Set your internal clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day — even on weekends. Sticking to a sleeping schedule will get you back into a proper sleeping rhythm.
Don’t take naps after 3 p.m. Napping can boost your brain and energy power, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Relax before bed. Take time to unwind. Turn off the television and try reading, listening to music, meditating — anything that qualifies as quiet relaxation.
Create a sleeping sanctuary. Get rid of anything that might distract you from sleep: Turn the face of your clock away from you; put up darker shades to make the room darker; keep the room temperature cool; and keep your bedroom clean and clutter free will help create a soothing environment for a well-rested night’s sleep.
Energize in the
day and sleep well
Exercise early and often. Regular exercise can help keep you in shape as well as help you sleep. Daytime exercise can relax you and promote sleep later.
Get some sun. The right sunlight exposure is key to regulating daily sleeping patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day
Eat well-balanced meals. Properly fueling your body with the right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will give your body the energy it needs for the day and the nutrients it needs for a good night’s sleep.
Natural alternatives for a natural sleep
— Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and it is the main hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm, the sleep-wake cycle.
— Valerian/hops: These plants have a long history in folk medicine as a sedative. In a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial, a total of 184 adults took a valerian-hops combination for treating insomnia: a two nightly tablets of standardized extracts of valerian (187 mg) and hops (41 mg) combination for 28 days.
— Calcium and magnesium: Calcium has a calming effect and magnesium relaxes the muscles and is needed to balance calcium. Taking 1,500 to 2,000 mg daily of calcium and 1,000 mg of magnesium, in divided doses, taken throughout the day and at bedtime are effective and safe sleep-promoters.
Taking care of your health will help take care of your sleep.
Filed Under: News