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Beating insomnia

By Edited May 10, 2015 1 3

Insomnia, excessive wakefulness, or interrupted light sleeping can lead to all manner of problems in daily life, not to mention long-term health impacts. It affects approximately 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men in Great Britain, and can be caused by weight gain, dramatic lifestyle change, or stress, and is found to increase with age. Lack of sleep affects mood, concentration, reaction speed, and performance levels. That is just the beginning. Sufferers understand how the amount of sleep acquired can even affect familial and spouse relationships. Endure it no longer with these four useful tips, and remember that setting a routine is vital.

 

Keeping to a set bed time and rising time will be tough. The first few nights, maybe extending to weeks in serious cases, will be grim. You will probably find you get only an hour or two of sleep at the start, but you absolutely need to tire yourself out so you fall asleep only at your set time, so stick with it. An important point is that you must get up when the alarm goes off in the morning, no matter how tired you are, and this will be the most difficult part.

 

  Do not check the time. Removing clocks or phones out of sight and reach will help beat insomnia. Often, the pressure of not being asleep by a certain time, and counting down hours of wakefulness adds stress and pressure. You want to be relaxed and mentally unburdened. To further reduce stress, only go into the bedroom between your resting and waking hours, e.g. 1am to 7am. If you find you're still wide awake after 10-15 minutes or so, get out of the bed and occupy yourself for 20 minutes by reading a book, or a similar relaxing exercise. Only use the bed for sleeping.

 

Stay away from caffeine and nicotine! Nicotine is a lesser known cause of insomnia and sleeping difficulty, so cutting out your bed time cigarette has a spectrum of health benefits. Don't underestimate your relaxing nightly brew. A regular cup of tea has just under half the caffeine of a standard cup of coffee so keep clear of both after around 5pm. Similarly, sugary snacks must be avoided and preferably you shouldn't eat four hours before bed. Your stomach has difficulty processing carbohydrates at night as your digestion is much slower in the evening, as a general rule. Food will sit in your stomach, when what you want is for your body to rest and get ready for sleep. If you consumed coffee recently before bed, these tips will do nothing for you. It isn't insomnia, it's just stimulants at work.

 

The most effective way to encourage a regular sleep pattern, is to monitor the amount of light you're exposing yourself to. Try to stay away from computer screens and bright lights for at least an hour before bed. Wind your eyes down, as well as your brain. In mammals, a chemical called melatonin is released into the blood from the pineal gland in the brain. This neurohormone affects tiredness. Its levels typically rise at night time, and reach their peak during sleep. To relieve grogginess in the mornings, half an hour exposed to sunlight dramatically reduces melatonin levels and a fantastic way to beat insomnia is to get as much sunlight during the day as possible, repressing melatonin, so that at night time the neurohormone levels rebound in abundance and help put you into a natural, deep sleep.  

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Comments

Aug 25, 2011 3:38pm
jpwriter
Great article.

I like the tip at the end about relieving that groggy feeling with sunlight. I find I'm more likely to follow through when I know the biological reasoning.
Aug 25, 2011 5:08pm
MamaEarth
Thanks jpwriter, glad you liked it! I'm the same; I need my explanations or else I have trouble believing or wrapping my head around what I'm reading.
Aug 28, 2011 8:24am
vicrichardson
Great article. I have found that I have to cut off the caffeine by 1 pm not 5 pm to prevent it from impacting my sleep. The cutoff time probably varies with age and I'm in my 50s.
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Bibliography

  1. "Insomnia FAQs; Common questions about sleep disturbance." Insomnia.net. 16/08/2011 <Web >
  2. "Melatonin and sleep." National Sleep Foundation. 16/08/2011 <Web >
  3. "Insomnia and Disturbed Sleep." helpwithsmoking.com. 16/08/2011 <Web >

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