Do you struggle to get to sleep, no matter how tired you are? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for hours, anxiously watching the clock? Experts have identified Insomnia as the culprit. Insomnia is a common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, health, and ability to function during the day.
Chronic insomnia can even contribute to serious health problems, as it has been rightly pointed out by medical practitioners.However, simple changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can put a stop to sleepless nights.
A medical practitioner, Dr Harrison Nelson, with May Hospital, Ilasa, Lagos, has recommended some relaxation techniques to treat insomnia, otherwise known as sleeplessness.
According to him, avoiding large meals, especially late in the day, may help you sleep. “A light snack of warm tea before bed time will be of help. He disclosed that indulging in strenuous exercise, especially before bed time, may stimulate you and make it hard for you to fall asleep. Excessive fluid intake before bed time should also be avoided, to beat insomnia,” he added.
In an exclusive chat with Pharmanews, he disclosed that insomnia is often caused by psychological problems, moral disorder and neurological problem. It results in poor concentration, poor memory, impaired social interaction and irritability.
He listed symptoms of insomnia to include:
- Difficulty falling asleep, despite being very tired
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Trouble getting back to sleep, when awakened
- Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Daytime drowsiness, fatigue or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Difficulty falling asleep despite being tired
- Exhausting sleep
Nelson advised people suffering from sleeplessness to see a physician and not rely on the sleeping pills alone. This will help to ensure that the treatment will be evaluated and the cause will be determined.
He explained that Psychological problems can cause insomnia such as depression, anxiety, chronic stress and bipolar disorder.
Some medical problems too, he pointed out, can cause insomnia: such as asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, and cancers, chronic pain.
However he emphasized that anxiety and depression are two of the most common causes of chronic insomnia.
“Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder or depression have trouble sleeping. What’s more, the sleep deprivation can make the symptoms of anxiety or depression worse. If your insomnia is caused by anxiety or depression, treating the underlying psychological issue is the key to the cure.”
He outlined the following means as cure for the problem:
Treatment options for sleeplessness:
“While treating underlying physical and mental issues is a good first step, it may not be enough to cure your insomnia. You also need to look at your daily habits. Some of the things you’re doing to cope with insomnia may actually be making the problem worse.
“For example, if you’re using sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep, this will disrupt your sleep even more over the long-term. Or if you drink excessive amounts of coffee during the day, it will be more difficult to fall asleep later. Oftentimes, changing the habits that are reinforcing sleeplessness is enough to overcome insomnia altogether. It may take a few days for your body to get used to the change, but once you do, you will sleep better.”
Adopting new habits to help you sleep
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to hide outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends. Get up at your usual time in the morning, even if you are tired. This will help you get back in a regular sleep rhythm.
Avoid naps. Napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel like you have to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 3 pm.
Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes vigorous exercise; big discussions or arguments and TV, computer, or video game use.
Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least eight hours before bed. Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening; while alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it interferes with the quality of your sleep.