Doctors have said that at least 1 out of 3 people suffers from some form of insomnia. It is said to be present when you regularly have problems falling (and staying) asleep. Insomnia comes in many forms, from the very mild to the very severe. The end result being that you wake up extremely tired the next morning and feel very unproductive.
There are many causes of insomnia. Drug/alcohol abuse, poor health, stress, prescription medication, depression, and anxiety can all contribute to a poor night’s sleep. In a desperate attempt to fix their problem, some people turn to sleeping pills. This is very dangerous as these prescription sleeping meds are only designed to be taken for a short period of time. They are highly addictive and can cause more problems than they solve.
Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a medical term to describe what happens when your body doesn’t get enough sleep. The average human being requires at least 8 hours of sleep per night. During those 8 hours, your body undergoes different types of sleep, such as REM and non-REM sleep. REM stands for ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ and is when your eyes physically move rapidly while you are asleep.
REM sleep is when dreaming occurs. Dreaming is thought to occur because your brain needs to process and ‘file away’ events and other things that were on your mind when you were awake. Non-REM sleep is the deep sleep (or ‘slow wave sleep’).
Both REM and Non-REM sleep occur anywhere from 3-5 times per sleep cycle. Your body needs both kind of sleep and will normally self-regulate. The problem arises when external (or internal) factors inhibit or prohibit your body from getting both REM and Non-REM sleep that it requires.
When your body doesn’t get the type of sleep that it requires, you wake up in the morning feeling lethargic, tired, irritable and overall in a general malaise type of mood.
Sleep deprivation can affect all aspects of your life.
- Driving a car
- Being able to perform at your job
- Being able to study for school
- Relationships with loved ones
- Taking care of yourself
All these things (and more) can be negatively affected by sleep deprivation. Not to mention if they are neglected for long enough they can cause further (unrelated) health issues which could snowball over time. Such health issues as: stroke, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease can all be caused by lack of sleep over a long period of time.
Ways to Deal With Insomnia
Due to the fact that insomnia can be cause by one or more mitigating factors, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure. For some people, it’s as easy as reducing the amount of stress in their lives (such as resigning from a stressful job) or limiting their drug or alcohol intake. For other people, it’s not that easy as the causes of their insomnia are more deeply rooted in other problems. Here are 5 ways that you can try to help heal your insomnia without resorting to dangerous, addictive pills that could negatively affect your health even further.
1. Au Natural
There are many natural ways to help fall asleep. First off, you’re going to need to cut out caffeine and nicotine from your diet. If you must partake, try not to ingest any caffeine (or a cigarette) after 12 noon. Assuming you follow the traditional sleep cycle of most people, this will give your body ample enough time to process and break down the caffeine/nicotine so that it’s no longer affecting your body/mind when you go to sleep around 9pm.
You can also try to take a warm bath before bed, or get at least 45 minutes worth of physical activity done every day (eg: walking 10,000 paces). Eliminating caffeine, nicotine and non-prescription drugs seems to have the greatest effect upon those suffering from insomnia.
Chinese acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. So it’s no wonder that they have come up a fix for some people who suffer from insomnia. It’s best to pay a visit to an acupuncturist as they will be able to make a better determination if they can help you or not.
When you walk in you’ll be given a consultation and the acupuncturist will want to know about your medical history, drugs you take and anything else that may be relevant to your insomnia. After hearing your story, they will then tell you their recommendation.
In a nutshell, acupuncture works because it stimulates the self-healing processes of the body. Acupuncturists know exactly where to stick the small medical needles and for how long. The needles stay inside your body anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Most people report that during the treatment they feel extremely relaxed. The end result being a better night’s sleep for those who undergo it.
Meditation is a process in which you sit still for 10-15 minutes at a time. You can close your eyes or focus your gaze on a particular point in the room (such as the flame of a small candle). You should find a quiet place, free from distractions.
By you sitting there and focusing on your breathing, you will find that you will become much more relaxed. You may not realize it, but if you are stressed in life, your breathing becomes very shallow. Meditation focuses on taking deep breaths, which in turn removes a lot of stress from your body. Many people who suffer from insomnia report that by performing just 15 minutes of mediation before bed has drastically improved their sleep.
4. ’White Noise’ Generator
White noise generators are designed to help drown out noises that may prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. There are variances in price, and the more expensive white noise generators come with features that literally ‘cancel out’ nuisance noises. They run anywhere from $15 for an entry level model all the way up to the $50 model that features noise cancelation technology.
5. Blue light
Stop playing with your cell phone/smartphone/laptops/etc an hour or so before bed. Most of these devices emit a ‘blue light’ which can wreak havoc upon the natural clock of your body (circadian rhythm). This blue light tricks your mind into thinking it’s daytime and prevents the necessary natural brain chemicals from being formed that put you to sleep.
Some of the newer cells phones have what they refer to as a ‘blue light eliminator’ which removes blue light from the cell phone screen. It is said that by eliminating the blue light, it causes your brain to be in a more sleep ready state.
6. Valerian root/Melatonin
Both of these remedies can be purchased over the counter at any drug store. Valerian root has been used by people to fall asleep since the 2nd Century AD. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. When the sun goes down, the pineal gland turns on the production of melatonin and that eventually helps you fall asleep.
Both melatonin and valerian root have been studied in various scientific tests. They have been shown to help people get to sleep better. There are a few drawbacks. If you take certain medications you should ask your doctor if its ok to take valerian root or melatonin. As with any herbal supplement, you could experience dizziness, nausea, headaches, sleepiness in the daytime. It all depends on how your body reacts to the herbal remedy.