When To See A Doctor About Your Sleepiness
If you find that you canât stop nodding off when you need to be alert, consult a doctor or sleep specialist. You may have an underlying sleep disorder such as excessive sleepiness or narcolepsy, which can be treated. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you with a sleep disorder. If you have trouble falling asleep because of stress or other reasons, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you develop good sleep habits and relieve sleep anxieties.
The Types Of Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects your quality of life. For some, insomnia makes it hard to fall asleep. Others go to sleep quickly but cant stay that way. And some fall asleep, but not deep enough for good quality rest.
The type of insomnia you have is based on how long youre affected by it:
- Acute insomnia typically doesnt last long and often comes with big life changes.
- Chronic insomnia generally lasts longer than three months and may need treatment.
One in four Americans experiences acute insomnia each year. Its more common in women than men and more common in people over age 65. But many dont know they have it, which is why it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
How To Combat Insomnia
ByLewis Waller | Submitted On November 12, 2008
Looking to find out how to combat insomnia? You’re not alone. Many who battle with this condition turn to the quick fix of drugs, whether over the counter or doctor prescribed. The problems with this often first-thought-of method, is that sleeping pills are easy to develop a dependency upon. The side effects they can cause are also enough trouble on their own. To top it all off, these don’t even last – they completely lose effectiveness after a mere handful of weeks.
Another form of treatment which seems to be the better alternative by far is the natural approach to inducing brainwave activity which is conducive to sleep, as opposed to forcing it chemically. This is how to combat sleeplessness and insomnia the safest way by using audio therapy which utilizes certain tones and pulses at specific frequencies that promote such brainwave activity, allowing the constant mental chatter to slow down and allowing you to slip into restful sleep.
Now, this breakthrough has become quite popular since the advent of binaural therapy. This takes sound in pulses at two frequencies just slightly out of sync with each other, one for each ear, and when the brain processes this as one signal, the desired brainwaves are induced and sleep is the inevitable result.
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The Role Of A Sleep Therapist
A sleep therapist will help you identify what behaviours are contributing to your sleep problem.
Together you will also explore what thoughts and emotions show up around not sleeping .
The sleep therapist will then teach you skills and tools how to deal with your thoughts and emotions more effectively.
Together, you will develop an action plan and set goals for implementing your new strategies into your daily life.
This will encompass psychological therapies, as well as developing routines and behaviour that promote regular sleep.
When Should I See My Doctor
It is a good idea to see your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping or you are having problems with your mood, feeling restless in bed, snoring badly or waking up not feeling refreshed. Keeping a sleep diary is a good way to track symptoms, which you can share with your health professional.
If they think you have insomnia, your doctor may refer you to see a sleep specialist or psychologist.
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When To See Your Gp
Make an appointment to see your GP if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life particularly if it has been a problem for a month or more and the above measures have not helped.
Your GP may ask you about your sleeping routines, your daily alcohol and caffeine consumption, and your general lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise.
They will also check your medical history for any illness or medication that may be contributing to your insomnia.
Your GP may suggest keeping a sleep diary for a couple of weeks to help them gain a better understanding of your sleep patterns.
Each day, make a note of things such as the time you went to bed and woke up, how long it took you to fall asleep, and the number of times you woke up during the night.
Try Tart Cherry Juice
This refreshing juice contains melatonin, flavonoids and other compounds thought to promote sleep. In a study in the American Journal of Therapeutics, a small sample of older adults with insomnia who were given 8 ounces of tart cherry juice, twice a day for two weeks, slept an average of 84 minutes longer per night , says nutritionist Kayleen St. John, RD, adjunct professor of nutrition in food studies at New York University inNew York City.
Other study data has shown a significant elevation in melatonin in groups consuming cherry juice, leading to increased total sleep time. This isnt to say we should all increase our juice intake , but consider adding tart cherry juice to a smoothie, or having a small serving in the evening to see how it affects your sleep.
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The Body’s Internal Clock
The sleep-wake cycle is controlled by the body’s internal clock. Many other bodily functions also wax and wane cyclically in response to the 24-hour circadian rhythm. For example, normal body temperature is lowest at about 5 a.m., when it averages 97° F, and highest at about 5 p.m., when it averages 99.4° F. Similarly, sodium excretion and urine output are normally higher during the day than at night. Hormone levels also fluctuate cortisol secretion is highest during the morning. Testosterone production peaks in the morning, growth hormone at night. Melatonin, the “dark hormone,” is produced by the brain’s pineal gland during the night.
The daily cycles of light and darkness help set the body’s internal clock. Disturbances in the normal coordination of light and darkness with wakefulness and sleep account for the temporary sleep disturbance of jet lag or the chronic disorders experienced by many shift workers. Travel is a common cause of disturbed sleep today, but similar disturbances originated long before the jet age Robert Burton got it right way back in 1628 when he said, “Our body is like a clock, if one wheel is amiss, all the rest are disordered… with such admirable art and harmony is a man composed.”
Avoid Sleeping At The Movies
Many people struggle to stay awake during a film, even if it is one that they particularly enjoy. If youre tired of missing the ending, check out some of these helpful hints that may help you get through your next viewing party.
Try some of the previous tips to prevent falling asleep during your favorite films. Sit up straight, keep an energizing snack close at hand, or go for a job before beginning your movie night.
If youre still struggling to get through an entire film, rearrange your viewing habits to avoid the times when you know you will feel most tired. Watch movies earlier in the day and avoid watching from the bed so your body wont pick up any sleepytime signals.
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The Symptoms Of Insomnia
While acute insomnia often resolves on its own, chronic insomnia usually needs treatment. How do you know if its chronic? Its the rule of threes: If your sleep problems happen more than three times a week and last more than three months, you may have chronic insomnia.
People with chronic insomnia also experience daytime symptoms, including:
- Feeling tired or fatigued.
- Irritability or a depressed mood.
- Problems with concentration or memory.
Losing your sleep battle can affect every part of your life. It can spill into your day as you struggle with fatigue and decreased attention. Its also associated with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. Eventually, it can lead to heart disease, depression and injury from falls or other accidents.
Avoid Consuming Caffeine Or Stimulants
Stimulating drinks, like energy drinks or coffee, contain caffeine and other chemical ingredients that can cause difficulties with getting to sleep at a healthy time.
- These substances keep the brain active and so inhibit the effect of the neurotransmitters that enable us to rest.
- It is essential to limit your consumption of these substances as much as possible, especially in the evening.
- Instead, it is better to drink natural juices, infusions or hot milk.
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What To Do When Insomnia Wakes You Up In The Middle Of The Night
Many people with insomnia are able to fall asleep at bedtime, but then wake up in the middle of the night. They then struggle to get back to sleep, often lying awake for hours. If this describes you, the following tips may help.
Stay out of your head. Hard as it may be, try not to stress over your inability to fall back to sleep, because that stress only encourages your body to stay awake. To stay out of your head, focus on the feelings in your body or practice breathing exercises. Take a breath in, then breathe out slowly while saying or thinking the word, Ahhh. Take another breath and repeat.
Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. If you find it hard to fall back to sleep, try a relaxation technique such as visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation, which can be done without even getting out of bed. Even though its not a replacement for sleep, relaxation can still help rejuvenate your mind and body.
Do a quiet, non-stimulating activity. If youve been awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet, non-stimulating activity, such as reading a book. Keep the lights dim and avoid screens so as not to cue your body that its time to wake up.
Relaxation techniques that can help you get back to sleep
Mindfulness meditation. Sit or lie quietly and focus on your natural breathing and how your body feels in the moment. Allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment, always returning to focus on breath and your body.
Physiological Causes Of Insomnia
Difficulty sleeping and daytime sleepiness can be a side effect of a large number of physical and medical problems.
Additionally, problems with sleep may also occur as side effects of common over the counter and prescription medications.
The most common health problems that can cause disrupted sleep and daytime sleepiness are:
Dental Appliance for sleep apnoea
Additionally, the anxiety caused by having such health conditions can cause insomnia.
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Exercise To Increase Energy And Reduce Fatigue
In an analysis of 70 studies involving more than 6,800 people, University of Georgia researchers found that exercise was more effective in increasing energy and reducing daytime fatigue than some medications used to treat sleep problems. Regular exercise also improves quality of sleep.
Try to exercise 30 minutes a day. If you decide to exercise hard some days, your energy level may drop for a bit and then surge for a few hours. Eating a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within two hours after a heavy workout will lessen the initial energy loss. Be sure to finish your workout a few hours before bedtime so you are not energized when you try to sleep.
Drink A Glass Of Milk
Milk may help control melatonin production since it is a great source of calcium, a mineral that plays a role in the regulation of melatonin in the body, explains Palinski-Wade. Milk is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan which is a precursor of melatonin and has a calming effect on the body.
Interestingly, milk collected from cows at night, known as night milk, may be particularly helpful in promoting sleep. In a lab study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, mice were given night milk, day milk or Valium , a sedative and antianxiety drug, followed by a sleep-inducing drug. Mice that drank night milk fell asleep more quickly, slept for a longer duration and had reduced anxiety compared to mice that drank day milk. These effects were similar to those seen in the mice treated with Valium. The researchers attributed these benefits to exceptionally high amounts of tryptophan and melatonin in night milk. A comparable product is not yet available in the United States, but the researchers suggest that night milk might be an effective natural aid for managing sleep-related disturbances and a promising alternative for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
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How To Treat Insomnia Without Medication
Before we explore how to treat insomnia without medication, let’s get into some of the more frequently asked questions about insomnia and their answers. We want this to be a complete resource for you and your loved ones, and so we try to be as comprehensive as possible in this write-up. So first things, first
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. It affects many people differently. Some may have difficulty falling asleep, while others may find it hard to stay asleep at night. Others may be plagued by both types of sleep disturbance. Whatever the type of sleep disturbance experienced, persons with insomnia usually have daytime impairment due to their lack of sleep.
What are the Three Types of Insomnia?
Acute can last a few days to weeks.
Transient may last about one week and does not recur.
Chronic is manifested as difficulty sleeping for at least three days per week for a minimum of one month.
Will Insomnia Go Away on its Own?
If you are suffering from acute insomnia, it can go away on its own. Even in these cases, there can be dangerous effects brought on by insomnia. If you have chronic insomnia, there are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms and of course, transient insomnia goes away on its own.
Is There a Cure for Insomnia?
There are many cases in which insomnia can be cured. And often those changes can be done by you without the need for a sleep specialist, prescription medication, or even over-the-counter medications.
Use The Bed Only For Sleep And Sex
If you have trouble sleeping, get up and do some light chores around the house or another activity until you feel tired. Do dishes or declutter a closet or drawer. You should only use your bedroom for sleep and sex. If you work, read, watch TV, or use the computer while in bed, you may be too stimulated to fall asleep. Keep the TV and computer out of the bedroom. You want your body and mind to associate the bedroom with sleep and relaxation. Another good tip is to keep the room cool to improve sleep quality.
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Switch Tasks To Stimulate Your Mind
In 2004 Finnish researchers who studied people working 12-hour night shifts found that monotonous work is as harmful as sleep loss for alertness. At work or home, try to reserve more stimulating tasks for your sleepy times. Or switch to more engaging work responsibilities when you feel yourself nodding off.
Dont Rely On Sedatives
After enough sleep-deprived nights, youll inevitably find yourself reaching for something that puts you out of your insomnia-ridden misery.
Whether its Advil PM, ZzzQuil, alcohol, or even prescribed tranquillizers, they all help temporarily by putting you to sleep, but its essential to be mindful of the side effects.
For starters, youre likely to still feel tired and drowsy during the day. After repeated use, you might find your tolerance waning and dependency increasing. At some point, you might learn that you need a higher dosage than what you initially took, and over time, you may struggle to sleep at all without them.
The sleep complications that arise from swearing off the sedatives can be even more severe than the initial bouts of sleep deprivation you mightve been experiencing.
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Can My Insomnia Be Cured
Absolutely. It may not be easy though, as curing insomnia often means improving your sleep hygiene and establishing habits that are more conducive to good sleep. And habits, especially routines you follow every day, can be tough to break.
But it is possible. And according to Aouad, each small step you take to establish better sleep is an important one.
I think people underestimate how much making small changes to their habits can be beneficial, Aouad says. Even though those habits can be hard to change, gradually changing them over time can really improve someones sleep.