Insomnia and how to Deal with It
Insomnia---That Thief of Our Dreams
Allegedly there was this Hollywood comedian who once said: "The only way to overcome insomnia is to get more sleep". Yet another smart-ass, upon hearing someone complain about tossing and turning and not having been able to sleep a wink, said: "Well, if I was tossing and turning all night long, neither would I be able to sleep a wink".
O.K., that's humor all right, capable of turning even those tragic life events into a joke; and while insomnia wouldn't qualify as a "tragic" thing, it certainly isn't a laughing matter to those who are experiencing it.
Now, everyone has those sleepless nights at one time or another, but in most cases it normalizes itself while being only a temporary nuisance, being hardly more than another theme to complain about to the family, friends, and co-workers.
However, we are not talking about that kind; rather, it's about those unfortunate folks who, for any of the possible reasons make it almost like a pattern to miss their sleep and it's driving them nuts.
Over a time it may cause a number of health problems, not to mention a reduced alertness while driving, operating machinery, or even cooking. Lack of sleep can considerably affect our interacting with people of our life, particularly making it much harder to deal with kids. Those usual and minor stressors in life suddenly get amplified, and then it may turn into a vicious cycle between too much stress and insomnia.
Some Possible Causes
There are quite a few possible causes of sleeplessness. Beside the list of them that follows, some may have to do with underlying health problems like hypoglycemia, hormonal imbalance, a stomach ulcer, clinical depression, anxiety, or anything else that a doctor could look into.
Of those more ordinary cases, what first comes to mind is, of course, a bad stress management, or allowing ourselves to emotionally respond to so many things in life over which we have absolutely no control. Even weather may become an irritant, not to mention political events, raising cost of living, or our neighbor parading with her new BMW on her driveway.
Numerous other things, over which we do have a control but we are not doing anything, may keep us awake at night. Like marital problems, problems on the job, or kids' behavior, all can make us overstimulated enough not to allow us to fall asleep.
Then, there are a few of those problems more directly affecting sleep, like uncomfortable mattresses, recent moving in and finding it hard to adjust to new noises from the traffic, frequent bathroom trips, a habit of eating heavy evening snacks resulting with indigestion, gases, or stomach discomfort, or having a coffee late in the evening. There are these minor things, which unchecked and not corrected, may keep us up the most of the night.
Supplements to the Rescue
There are several things that you can do to get rid of this condition of insomnia, other than correcting those already mentioned causes, by yourself of by a help of your doctor, depending on the nature of them.
You may try some over the counter supplements that are easily available in any good health food store. Since we are all different, some of the following ones may work better for you than others. However, my personal suggestion would be the herbal remedy called lemon balm, or melissa after its Latin name melissa officinalis.
Melissa is good for your daily stress level and excellent for sleeping problem. Apparently it's even better when combined with valerian. It's not likely that it will make you drowsy on its own, but it's prudent to test it over a weekend first, before you have decided to take it just prior to driving or operating machinery. Like I said, we all have our biological individuality, and it's better to test it first for its effect on us.
Then, women may sometimes have a deficiency of iron and copper, while anybody may benefit from taking extra magnesium, because that mineral is usually in a short supply in poor soils feeding our vegetables. Magnesium may do wonders for those who have problems in the department of nerves and ability to relax. The most absorbable form that I know of is magnesium byglycinate, or diglycinate.
Of other helpful supplements you may try 5-HTP, which is turned by the body into the neurotransmitter serotonin, a "feeling-good" body chemical. Also taurine, a calming amino acid may do the trick.
You may have read about melatonin, a hormone responsible for that "clock" in us, and naturally excreted by the pineal gland, being also available at health food stores. Well, personally I would not recommend it. In my layman's view, hormonal balance in our body is quite delicate, and supplementing one may disturb the others, or may even reduce the natural production of it, making you dependent on it.
By the way, as we are at these bio-chemical matters, let me mention that I have no degree in bio-chemistry, or in nutrition for that matter, and it's only that I remember quite a bit about this stuff from times when I was heavily into it myself. My intellectual preferences have greatly changed since then, and while I may still use a thing or two, I have turned into a believer in mind's capital role in matters of health.
Certain Helpful Practices
In that area I may feel so much more "at home", although I promise to spare you from too many possible finesses in connection between a general mind-style and insomnia.
Let me start with some good practices, meditation being at the top of all. It won't only help enormously with your sleeping problem, but will benefit you in many other areas of health and mental wellbeing. So, you may want to read some good instructions on the internet and start with that superb tune-up of your body, mind, and spirit.
Another practical suggestion would be to use your bedroom only for sleep and love making. Meaning that you should get rid of your bedroom TV, and leave your cell phone in your living room. Namely, it's definitely not a good idea to have those long bedroom chats with some other night-bird.
Specifically, since those chats hardly ever sound anything like lullabies, but have themes that are either exciting or depressing. While at these themes, if you have a sleeping partner, don't discuss problems on the job, with kids, or try to solve the Middle East issues in your bed.
Furthermore, if you can't fall asleep, don't be upset over it, because that may turn into the part of the pattern; like sleeping time associatively connected to feeling pissed-off, adding to the problem.
Also, after spending such a sleepless night, don't take an afternoon nap to make it up for that loss of sleep. That will only screw up your natural rhythm even further.
Examining Where Life Hurts
It may help to try tricking your mind into sleep. Many years ago when I worked rotating shifts, I would find it hard to adjust to sleeping at night after the week when I worked the graveyard shift. Then I would close my eyes, and as much as I could, imitate breathing of a sleeping person.
You know that heavy, slow, regular breathing resembling some mini sighs. At the same time I would let my body feel limp like a ragdoll.
If you have a good imagination, you can do what I used to do at times. Imagine that you are playing dead to a grizzly bear; or that your kid just sneaked into your room because she wants you to tell her yet another bed-time story, and now she is watching you and inspecting if you are really asleep.
Well, I have been saving you enough from those "deeper" possible causes of your insomnia. Now it's time to look inside and to check your general mind style, your attitudes, your beliefs, your style of relating to the people of your life, your possible lack of hobbies, lack of laugh and music...that stuff.
You know, sometimes it doesn't have to be anything dramatic happening in life, but rather something that's a little out of whack in life that keeps accumulating until it hits a critical mass when your organism had enough, and now is giving you this warning signal in the form of insomnia.
It could be anything from the above mentioned variety, and it's a good idea to make a little inventory of your ways of processing daily situations. Maybe life has become too much of a repetitive routine, and something in you is rebelling. Something may be overdue for a change in any department, whether private or professional.
Also, something in a relationship, whether romantic or with friends may be subconsciously eating you, because you failed to respond assertively enough, and it stayed to hanging from your bedroom ceiling as an unfinished business.
Well, I hope any of these mentioned pointers may have given you an idea how to go about your insomnia, or to convey it to a person close to you who is suffering from it. - Be well everyone.