Sound sleep is the foundation of good health. Unfortunately, about 40% of the population experiences occasional or chronic insomnia at least once in their lifetime. In fact, insomnia is one the most common complaints presented in family practice. Most people seek a magical pill, but which comes at a cost of habit formation. Understanding what is insomnia, its causes, addressing them and basic sleep hygiene practice are the key to getting the night rest.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is defined as difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. Insomnia can be transient or chronic. When insomnia lasts longer than 4 weeks it is classified as chronic insomnia.
Causes of insomnia:
There are several different causes for it.
Psychological disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, obsessive and narcissistic personality disorders account for about 50% of all cases.
Drug and substance abuse account for about 10-15% of all cases. These include alcohol, nicotine, decongestants, inhalers and drugs used in the treatment of ADHD.
Acute or chronic stress, especially one associated with loss, has been linked with causing insomnia.
Health issues ranging from sleep apnea, pain, restless leg syndrome to urinary frequency are major causes of sleeplessness.
Circadian rhythm disorder such as shift work or jet leg are common insomnia causes as well.
Cure for insomnia:
Understanding the root cause of insomnia on an individual level and addressing it is the key to a cure.
Foundations of sound sleep:
Whether the cause of insomnia is psychological disorder or a medical health problem, proper sleep habits are the most important components of a sound sleep.
1) Adopt regular bedtime hours and go to bed only when sleepy.
2) Avoid caffeine, nicotine, decongestants and alcohol at least 6 hours before bedtime.
3) Keep your bedroom completely dark and move the TV out.
4) Confine your bedroom activities to sleep and love-making only.
5) Ban your phone from the bedroom.
6) Exercise regularly.
7) Avoid trying too hard to fall asleep–if you can’t fall asleep for 20 minutes, get up and do a quiet activity such as reading.
8) Avoid computer and other electronic screens at least 2 hours before bedtime.
9) Take a bath, drink a cup of Nighty Night Tea or warm milk.
10) Melatonin supplement can be also very helpful to re-establish sleep habit.
11) Get up at the same time each day regardless of how many hours of sleep you get.
Literally and figuratively, your well being depends on your dreams. So, go to sleep.