It’s happened to every one of us. You’re lying awake at 1:30AM, just wishing you’d drift off to sleep. Then it’s 1:31, 1:32… and so on until 4:23, and every minute in between has dragged by. You realize that infomercials were designed for insomniacs like you: in 8-12 weeks, you’ll be the proud owner of new shampoo, Sham-Wows and something to inject flavor into a hunk of meat. Bye-bye credit limit. At this point you decide it’s time to just get up: make some coffee, begin the daily Facebook review, and even revel in the peace and quiet of your house before the chaos of the day begins.
An occasional sleepless night, unpleasant as it can be, is a normal occurrence. Add the stresses of parenthood, marriage, work and relationships and it’s no wonder they happen. Insomnia, however, is not the occasional sleepless night. Insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time. Our bodies and brains require sleep to restore and recharge. Without adequate sleep, over time, we can become more susceptible to injury, irritability and depression. Fortunately there are a number of remedies available these days, from the simple and natural to doctor prescribed.
A dependency on caffeine has become a regular part of our daily needs. To start the day, pick us up at that 4pm crash, or keep us going for that business dinner. Coffee shops on every corner, energy drinks advertised constantly… it seems like we’re constantly looking for that that next jolt. However, caffeine is more than just an immediate boost. It lingers in your body and can be the cause of those sleepless nights. Limiting how much you consume, and stopping your consumption midday, can begin to help.
We all know the many benefits of regular exercise. Increased energy, healthy hearts, reduced cholesterol and weight management. Add sleep aid to the list. There are different explanations for how exercise assists in sleep, the most common being that exercise reduces anxiety. Less anxiety means less to focus on trying to fall asleep.
Your bed should only be used for two things, sleep and sex. Working on your computer, making to do lists, or catching up on work should never be done in your bed. Either sleep in those sheets or roll around in them!
According to Dr. Mark Gerard, a one-hour transition time to get ready for bed can help with insomnia. Spending the time to create a calm mood and quiet time as you prepare for bed can calm the body and mind.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. However, for people with insomnia, taking a melatonin supplement can assist in resetting the bodies internal clock and getting back on a proper sleep cycle.
Valerian is an herb that is often used to help in sleep disorders. It can be taken internally or added to bath water. Commonly used not only for sleeplessness, but also anxiety and depression, it seems to act as a sedative on the brain.
When nothing else seems to work, there are prescription medications your doctor can prescribe you. Lunesta, Ambien and many other drugs work to not only help you fall asleep but stay asleep. The side effects of many of these medicines can make them undesirable, including feeling groggy in the morning, making it more difficult to wake up. However, under a doctor’s care, many of these medicines can return a true insomniac to a feeling of clarity and comfort.
Its important to discuss insomnia with your doctor, and together come up with a plan on how to get back to a full nights sleep. Often times, starting simply and naturally is the best option. Together with your doctor, a remedy is available and you can start to feel like yourself again quickly. No more counting sheep, or ordering random hair care products at 3am. Think of what you will do with all that empty shelf space!