Insomnia: Put aside your sleeping tablets and maintain sleep hygiene
8 hour work, 8 hour recreation and 8 hour sleep- probably this is the most basic time management rule but your work and your life has become unmanageable due to a modern day disease called insomnia, thanks to our weird life style and its unprecedented pressures.
You go to bed, you close your eyes, then several thoughts cross your mind, it's already been 1 hour and yet you are not asleep... you get up, drink a glass of water, try to read something, then again you go to bed but this time too nothing happens. Then, you start chatting, explore internet and by 3 or 4 in the morning you get asleep! Your alarm rings at 7 in the morning and you get up... you go to work yawning all the way. You can't concentrate much in work... your performance is running downhill... You have dark circles... You look sad... You feel something isn't right... Then suddenly an idea pops up in your brain- "sleeping pills". Unless if your are in love, if these are the things that's happening to you it's time you do something to your sleep hygiene.
Both insufficient quantity and poor quality of sleep usually result in excessive daytime sleepiness and decreased daytime alertness levels. Sleepiness may be immediately recognizable as drowsiness, yawning, and the other “classic” manifestations of sleepiness. However sometimes, it often takes the form of mood disturbances, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and poor impulse control, and neurocognitive dysfunction, including inattention, impaired vigilance, and compromised “executive” higher level cognitive skills. Over time, these deficits may ultimately result in significant social, work, school, and learning problems.
Some insomnia or poor quality sleep can have some underlying medical disorder as the culprit. Here are some common disorders that need medical attention:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: If you snore, then it'd be better you seek medical attention both for your sake and your partner's too. Obstruction in airway causes snoring and this disturbs the normal pattern of sleep leading to poor quality of sleep.
- Anxiety disorder: Anxiety is one of the most common cause of insomnia. Restlessness, sweating, tremors, slurring are other common symptoms. Seek help from psychiatrist, they counsel you, teach you stress release exercises and if necessary prescribe suitable medicines.
- Substance abuse: Alcohol, narcotics abuse leads to insomnia. So, you need the help of rehabilitation center.
- Adverse drug effect: Insomnia can be the presenting complaints in person who were using sleeping pills in the past. Beta blockers commonly used in heart patient can also cause insomnia. So it's better you consult your problem with your physician and he/she adjusts dose or use alternatives.
- Psychiatric disorder: In mania, there may be insomnia.
If you don't have any of above conditions and still you're struggling for sleep, then the more likely cause is the poor sleep hygiene. So, changing your habits and routines can help you regain the good quality and quantity of sleep. Here are the basic principles of sleep hygiene:
1. Wake up and go to bed at about the same time every night. Bedtime and wake-up time should not differ from working days to week ends nights by more than approximately an hour.
2. Avoid sleeping in on weekends to “catch up” on sleep. This makes it more likely that you will have problems falling asleep.
3. If you take naps, they should be short (no more than an hour) and scheduled in the early to midafternoon. However, if you have a problem with falling asleep at night, napping during the day may make it worse and should be avoided.
4. Spend time outside every day. Exposure to sunlight helps to keep your body's internal clock on track.
5. Exercise regularly. Exercise may help you fall asleep and sleep more deeply.
6. Use your bed for sleeping only. Don't study, read, listen to music, watch television, etc., on your bed.
7. Make the 30–60 minutes before a quiet or wind-down time. Relaxing, calm, enjoyable activities, such as reading a book or listening to calm music, help your body and mind slow down enough to let you get to sleep. Don't study, watch exciting/scary movies, exercise, or get involved in “energizing” activities just before bed.
8. Eat regular meals and don't go to bed hungry. A light snack before bed is a good idea; eating a full meal in the hour before bed is not.
9. Avoid eating or drinking products containing caffeine from dinner time on. These include caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea, and chocolate.
10. Do not use alcohol. Alcohol disrupts sleep and may cause you to awaken throughout the night.
11. Smoking disturbs sleep. Don't smoke at least one hour before bed (and preferably, not at all!).
12. Don't use sleeping pills, melatonin, or other over-the-counter sleep aids to help you sleep unless specifically recommended by your doctor. These can be dangerous, and the sleep problems often return when you stop taking the medicine.
Following these principles help you maintain your circadian rhythm. So, don't jump over sleeping pills, they are just temporary solution and have lot of adverse effects too. Be a little more organized,sleep like a baby- be energetic, be beautiful. Best of luck!