I can’t sleep

Not so long ago, I’ve had some terrible sleeping patterns. One night I would sleep quite well only to suffer sleeplessness the next. This lasted for quite some time and was very annoying. I just wanted to sleep better!

Oh, it's one of "those" nights

Oh, it’s one of “those” nights

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, can be very frustrating. And let’s face it: we’ve all experienced insomnia. That is why I looked around for solutions to the problem. So, if you suffer from sleeplessness I recommend you read on.

Before we can answer the popular questions “How can I sleep better?” or “What is the treatment of insomnia?” we need to understand what insomnia is and what are its causes.

The term “insomnia” is – scientifically – used to describe a wide range of sleep disorders. Medically, it can be classified into three types, according to how long the symptoms last:

  • Transient Insomnia: When it lasts for a few days to a few weeks
  • Acute Insomnia: Lasts for several weeks
  • Chronic Insomnia:  Can last for months or sometimes years.

The causes of insomnia are numerous. These include certain drugs, drinking alcohol, psychological disorders (such as schizophrenia and depression), hormonal changes during menstrual cycle and disruptions in the regular day/night cycle (called Circadian Cycle).

Apart from being an annoying situation in itself, it also may result in undesirable consequences. Research shows that lack of sufficient sleep may affect the integrity of the immune system. This can result in making the body more liable to viral infections and requires longer recovery periods. So you see it’s not just about feeling exhausted or in a terrible mood.

Before taking any sleeping pills, keep in mind that sleeping pills are tricky. If taken incorrectly, they might lead to dependence, aka addiction. Now, to answer the question “How to sleep better?” here are a few tips to help you sleep.

  1. Fixed sleeping schedule: Try as much as you can to sleep (and get up) at fixed times, everyday; even on weekends and holidays (I know it’s not easy!). This daily routine helps stabilize our natural sleep/wake cycle and enables you to sleep easier day after day.
  2. Monitor what you eat or drink: Do not sleep when you’re hungry, or when you’re full. Either situation can cause discomfort, which in turn makes sleeping almost impossible. Also, smoking (anything containing nicotine) and caffeinated drinks, obviously, will keep you awake. If you absolutely have to drink coffee, have your last cup early (2 PM) so that your body has enough time to get rid of its effects. Some drinks such as anise have been reported to aid sleeping.
  3. Set the mood: If you want to sleep better, your bedroom must be extra comfy and set in a relaxed mood. Turn the lights off, make sure it’s quiet and choose a mattress and pillow that are most comfortable to you.
  4. Exercise: The effort you make during exercise will help you fall asleep faster. Just make sure that your workout is not too close to bedtime which might have reverse effects.
Nothing seems to work

Nothing seems to work

At the end, I have a little piece of advice. If apparent causes of insomnia are excluded and the symptoms last for a long time, maybe it’s time to see a doctor. I wouldn’t recommend taking any sleeping pills or antihistamines without a prescription. Taking any medication without reason or for the wrong indication is not a wise choice and might make the case worse.

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