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The Insomnolent Blues: Useful Tips to Combat Rogue Nights

Updated on September 5, 2014
Insomniac
Insomniac | Source

Sleep is a universal mandate which consumes a third of our daily lives. On average, most adults require six to eight hours of sleep for an adequate night of rest; however, factors such as insomnia, caffeine and stress can negatively impact your nocturnal period. This article details methods and procedures that can benefit those who struggle with sleeping difficulties.

Sleepless Man
Sleepless Man | Source

The Sleep Debt Effect

Insufficient sleep can result in vehicle fatalities, work-related accidents and an overall decline in health. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 100,000 crashes occur each year because of drowsy driving, which causes 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths annually. In 2013 a sleep deprived operator derailed a Metro-North train that killed four passengers and wounded more than a dozen others. Earlier this year comedian, Tracy Morgan, was involved in a six car collision on the Jersey Turnpike. This tragic incident claimed one life and left four others in critical condition. An investigation later determined that the Walmart trucker responsible for the wreck hadn't slept in twenty-four hours. Apart from the millions of dollars in lost revenue and property damage, fatigue and insomnia account for a rise in medical expenses, as well.

The School of Medicine at the University of Maryland classifies insomnia as a chronic inability to sleep through the night. This can range from an acute case of sleeplessness that lasts a few days to a prolonged period of restlessness that lingers for a month or more. Insomnia has been linked to medical conditions such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Yet, substance abuse, a poor sleeping environment or a lack of diet and exercise are habitual behaviors which may also trigger this disorder. Ultimately, sleep deprivation can lead to impaired judgment, weight gain and obesity, immune deficiency and erratic mood swings.

Therefore, it is advised to implement changes if you are encountering sleep problems. While prescription sleep aids or over-the-counter medications are approved for short-term usage, a lengthy drug dependency increases the risk of death and cancer by 25%. In order to successfully combat this issue, incorporate a good regiment that will improve your sleep hygiene, or nightly routine. Experts have established the following guidelines to enhance sleep quality and restore nocturnal balance.

1. Avoid Chemical Stimulants that Disrupt Sleep

Stimulants such as nicotine, chocolate and caffeine should be avoided six hours prior to bedtime. Although a couple of cocktails may initiate somnolence, excessive drinking interrupts sleep and causes wakefulness a few hours later. It is best to abstain from these elements, especially in the evening time.

2. Exercise Regularly and Consume Light Meals

A change in diet and three to four days of moderate exercise may promote sleep health. But, workouts should take place at least four hours before bed since stress hormones are released during physical activity. Combine these efforts with smaller meals and schedule supper five hours in advance to avoid waking from a case of indigestion in the middle of the night.

3. Create a Cozy Bedroom Atmosphere

A cool, quiet, dark room equipped with comfortable furnishings induces sleep and relaxation. Firm pillows and adequate bedding are essential components to your sleep quarters. A worn-out box spring or a sagging mattress with protruding coils may cause poor circulation and discomfort. Therefore, these items should be replaced every ten years. In addition, animal lovers should refrain from sleeping with their pets in bed, and the room should be void of intrusive technology (e.g., computers, stereos and televisions) which can hinder a peaceful slumber.

4. Develop a Pre-Sleep Regiment

Engaging in a pre-sleep regiment an hour before bed aids the sleep-wake cycle. Relax in a bubble bath, browse a light-hearted novel or practice breathing techniques. Avoid work material and emotional topics around this time. And, utilize blackout shades or an eye mask to ban light. Play a collection of ocean waves or thunderstorms to sedate you, or listen to the soothing sounds of a fan or a “white noise” appliance, which drowns out background acoustics. Whether you prefer to sleep in the daytime or the nighttime, combine a variety of these options to achieve maximum results.

These four steps only represent a few of the tips prescribed by doctors, but the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School has compiled an in-depth list of twelve recommendations. Following this advice can have tremendous benefits. If you invest a little effort in improving your sleep hygiene, you will gradually deplete sleep debt and awaken more refreshed. Acquiring the best rest of your life leads to the highest quality of life.

Cloud Nine
Cloud Nine | Source

© 2014 Adrienne Jones

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    • Adrienne R Jones profile image
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      Adrienne Jones 3 years ago from USA

      I'm excited by the news that my article was featured on Hubs! Thanks for reading my work!