Habitual sleeplessness, repeated night after night, is classified as insomnia. Insomnia can take the form of being unable to fall asleep when you first go to bed, or waking during the night and being unable to go back to sleep.
Insomnia can result form a wide variety of causes, including hypoglycemia, muscle aches, indigestion, breathing problems, physical pain, anxiety, stress, grief, depression, jet lag, caffeine consumption, and the use of certain drugs, including the decongestant pseudoephedrine (found in many cold and allergy remedies), beta-blockers (medications used for high blood pressure and heart ailments), the antiseizure medication pheytoin (dilantin) and thyroid hormone replacement drugs.
A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep. Systemic disorders involving the lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas, digestive system, endocrine system, and brain too close to bedtime. A sedentary lifestyle can be a major contributor to sleep disorders.
While one or two sleepless nights can cause irritability and daytime sleepiness, with decreased ability to perform creative or repetitive tasks, most people can adapt to short-term periods of sleep deprivation. After more than three days, however, sleep deprivation. After more three days, however, sleep deprivation begins to cause a more serious deterioration in overall performance and can even result in mild personality changes. If chronic, inadequate sleep compromises productivity, creates problems.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much sleep is enough, because every individual’s requirements are different. Some people can function on as little as five hours of sleep a night, while others seem to perform better with nine, ten, or even more hours of sleep. Most adults need about eight hours of sleep nightly in order to feel refreshed and operate at peak efficiency during the day. Children, especially every young children and adolescents, generally require more sleep than adults to be at their best. It is not uncommon for people to sleep less as they get older, especially after the age to sixty.
Millions of people have trouble getting to sleep due to a condition commonly known as restless leg syndrome. For reasons unknown, when these people are in bed, their legs jerk, twitch, and kick involuntarily. Restless leg muscle cramps that afflict so many people.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder that can cause repeated waking during the night. This problem is commonly associated with snoring and extremely irregular breathing throughout the night. In sleep apnea, breathing actually stops, for as long as two minutes at a time, while the individual is asleep. When breathing stops, the level of oxygen in the blood drops, resulting in oxygen deprivation. The individual then awakens, started and gasping. A person with sleep apnea may awaken as many as 200 times throughout the night. The affected individual may not remember these awakenings, but anyone else who is awake at the time can naturally become alarmed when a person with sleep apnea stops breathing.
Aside from disrupting normal sleep and causing extreme sleepiness during the day, sleep apnea is associated with other, more serious, health problems. People who suffer from sleep apnea tend to have higher than normal blood pressure and are more likely to have strokes than the general population, and face an increased risk of heart disease, although the reason or reasons for these links are not known. People with sleep apnea also seem to have a higher than normal incidence of emotional and psychotic disorders.
Avoid alcohol. A small amount can help induce sleep initially, but it invariably disrupts deeper sleep cycles later.
Avoid tobacco. While smoking may seem to have a calming effect, nicotine is actually a neurostimulant and can cause sleep problems.
Avoid caffeine-containing beverages after lunch.
In the evening, eat turkey, bananas, figs, dates, yogurt, milk, tuna, and whole grain crackers or nut butter. These foods are high in tryptophan, which promotes sleep. Eating a grapefruit half at bedtime also helps.
Avoid bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, spinach, tomatoes, and wine close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
Avoid taking nasal decongestants and other cold medications late in the day. While many ingredients in these preparations are known to cause drowsiness, they can have the opposite effect on some people and act as a stimulant.
Establish a set of habits and follow them consistently to establish a healthy sleep cycle. Among them.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
- Do not stay in bed If you are not sleepy. Get up and move to another room and read, watch television, or do something quietly until you are really sleepy.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex- not for reading, working, eating, or watching television.
- Set an alarm clock and get out of bed at the same time every morning, no matter how you slept the night before. Once normal sleep patterns are reestablished, most people find that they have no need for an alarm clock.
- Do not nap during the day isn’t a normal thing for you to do.
- Exercise regularly in the late afternoon or early evening but not right before bedtime. Physical exertion is an excellent way to make your body tired so that sleep comes about more easily.
- Take a hot bath (not a shower) an hour or two before bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom comfortable and quiet. If too much quiet is the problem, try running a fan or playing a radio softly in the background. There are also devices available that generate “white noise” sounds like the ocean surf or a steady rain that help people who are “quiet-sensitive” to sleep.
- Learn to put worries out of your mind. If you have occasional trouble getting to sleep, concentrate on pleasant memories and thoughts. Recreate a pleasurable time or event in your life and relive it in your mind. Learning a relaxations technique such as meditation or the use of guided imagery is extremely helpful in getting sleep patterns back to normal for many people.
- For occasional sleeplessness, try using melatonin, calcium Night form Source Naturals, or one of the herbs recommended above. These are effective and safe sleep- promoters.