Let’s talk about a problem that affects approximately 33% of the population. And it occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. Can you guess what the problem is? I’ll give you a hint. This most frequently occurs at night, although if you work the graveyard shift, it can occur during the day. This problem, if uncorrected, can lead to crankiness, depression, decreased work and daily life performance, as well as dark circles under the eyes. Guessed it yet? You are correct, the problem is Insomnia.
Sleep is as necessary to life as food and water and air. Did you know that growth and repair of the body occur during sleep? Researchers have found that sleep acts like a brain cleaner. During sleep neurotoxic waste that accumulates in the central nervous system when people are awake is removed. Chronic insomnia, defined as lasting for 3 months or more and occurring at least 3 to 4 times per week, is associated with some health problems, such as weight gain, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Sleeplessness can lead to swings in your blood glucose by sending out hormones that make you feel hungry and decreasing the hormone that tells you when you are full. Your immune system takes a hit, leaving you more susceptible to colds and flus. Twenty-five percent of car accidents are related to sleep disorders. French researchers found that driving while drowsy can be almost as risky as driving drunk. Yowsa!
What to do? Experts recommend the minimum of 6 hours a sleep per night. Some folks need 7 or 8. Not a big deal. You’ll know when you aren’t getting enough rest. Get into a routine. For example, plan to be in bed at 10pm and up at 6 am. Sticking to your schedule will reset your body’s internal clock. If it is hard to wake up in the morning open the window curtains right away and let the sunshine in. Bright light wakes you up.
Keep your alarm clock facing away from you. That way you won’t be counting the minutes to when you have to get up. This is not very conducive to getting sleep. I know this, but last night, I kept checking the time from 3 am on.
Don’t use your bedroom as a TV room. It is too tempting to stay up watching just “one last show.” Also all the action on the screen stimulates your brain instead of winding it down. If you have your computer or other electronic devices in your bedroom, turn them off. The blue light coming from these devices has actually been found to be enough to disrupt sleep. Create a sleep environment that is dark, comfy, and free of distractions.
Some other ideas: Exercising for 20 to30 minutes a day helps sleep quality. But don’t exercise3 to 4 hours before bed as this may keep you from falling asleep easily. Take a relaxing bath or read a book with the lights low to help get in sleep mode. Be careful with naps. A short nap can be invigorating, but napping for hours or too close to bedtime will interfere with falling asleep. De-stress before bedtime. Yoga, medition, and prayer can be beneficial. Don’t watch the nightly news or pay your bills at bedtime. These can leave you worried and relaxing for sleep will be much more difficult. Go to bed a little hungry. Use a night light in case you have to get up during the night. Turning on the room lights will make your body think it is awake, disrupting your sleep.
Still having problems with insomnia despite trying these tips, then it is time to check in with your doctor and find out what’s up and what to do about it.
This advice column comes to you from the folks at
Sugar and Spice Designs
Makers of hand poured soaps, bath salts,
and greeting cards.