How to control insomnia

JamieTurner Mar 18, 2008 Health
We’re all given the ability from birth to perform certain bodily functions like sleeping. Sleep is meant to revive us and get us ready to live for another day. It’s an innate ability that usually doesn’t take much effort at all. But for many people, sleeping isn’t as easy as that. Chronic insomnia occurs when a person has difficulty falling or maintaining sleep for at least three nights in a week, and for one month or longer. It’s a perplexing condition that drives some people to the brink of madness – nearly literally. There is hope, however, in learning to control insomnia.

Things you’ll need

  • herbal or natural remedies
  • quiet, dark sleeping environment
  • prescribed medications
  • open-minded approach
  • turkey

Procedure Steps

  1. Medications can be helpful to control insomnia for the short term. While the thought of a pill or medication that can solve the problem easily is very appealing, it should be stressed that only behavioral or psychological techniques can actually cure insomnia. Prolonged use of sleeping pills can only result in dependency, and may often compound the problem over the long term. Of course, as with any medication, side effects should be expected. If you can commit to making your sleep habits and sleep environment more conducive to sleep, you have a greater chance of limiting the effects of insomnia on your life.
  2. Many people with insomnia choose herbal remedies for treating their insomnia. Some of these remedies, such as chamomile tea or lemon balm, are harmless for most people. Other natural herbal remedies such as valerian root, kava kava, St. John’s Wort, and passionflower have been used for insomnia for many years.
  3. Melatonin is the best studied natural remedy for insomnia, although in the U.S. it remains unregulated. Evidence on its effects remains unclear. Some studies suggest that it may help specific individuals, such as; elderly people, people without sight, travelers with jet lag, and people who are withdrawing from prescription sleep medication.
  4. If you can't sleep -- don't stay in bed. Get out of bed, move to another room, and return to your bed when you are tired. Read or do a quiet activity using dim lighting until feeling very sleepy. Don't watch television or use bright lights. Don’t look at the clock. Obsessing over time will just make it more difficult to sleep.
  5. Spend at least ½ of an hour in the sun each day. The best time is early in the day. One study suggests that when a person is exposed to bright daylight, melatonin levels increases in response to darkness at night, which aids sleep. Conversely, insufficient exposure to light during the day, as occurs in some disabled elderly patients who rarely venture outside, may also be linked with sleep disturbances.
  6. As one possible solution, you might try a psychological approach, which is used for other fears as well, called Paradoxical Intention. This is based on doing the opposite of what you want or fear and taking it to the extreme. Rather than trying to go to sleep night after night, try to stay awake and do something instead. Turning your attention to something else removes the fear of not being able to sleep and may allow you to relax and eventually go to bed.
  7. Another method to consider is called Sleep Restriction, which reduces the amount of non-sleeping time a person with insomnia spends in bed. To practice sleep restriction, keep a log of your sleep habits for two weeks. If you usually sleep 6 hours per night, but spend 8 hours a night in bed, sleep restriction therapy will only allow you to spend 6 or 6 1/2 hours in bed at first. In the beginning, you might not sleep all of the time, but gradually, the time spent sleeping should increase. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, the time allowed in bed is further restricted to encourage sleep when you are in bed. The overall time spent in bed is adjusted as it becomes clear how much sleep you need.
  8. Use visualization techniques. Focus all your attention on your toes or visualize walking down an endless stairwell. Thinking about repetitive or mindless things will help your brain to shut down and adjust to sleep.
  9. Get up and eat some turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, a major building block for making serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which sends messages between nerve cells and causes feelings of sleepiness. Note that L-tryptophan doesn't act on the brain unless you eat it on an empty stomach with no protein present, so keep some turkey in the refrigerator for 3 a.m. visits.
  10. Consider changing your bedtime. If you are experiencing sleeplessness or insomnia consistently, think about going to bed later so that the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping. If you are only getting five hours of sleep at night, figure out what time you need to get up and subtract five hours (for example, if you want to get up at 6:00 am, go to bed at 1:00 am).
  11. Keep the room where you are sleeping as dark as possible. A person's biological circadian clock is triggered by sunlight and very bright artificial light to maintain wakefulness. One study indicates that even dim artificial light may disrupt sleep.
  12. Sleep hygiene refers to sleep habits and conditions which promote sleep, and should be your first line of attack against insomnia. Here are some tips for effective sleep hygiene habits:
  • Establish a regular time for going to bed and getting up in the morning and stick to it. Avoid naps, especially in the evening.
  • Exercise before dinner. A low point in energy occurs a few hours after exercise; sleep will then come more easily.
  • Do something relaxing in the half-hour before bedtime. Reading, meditation, and a leisurely walk are all appropriate activities.
  • Eat light meals and schedule dinner four to five hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime can help sleep, but a large meal may have the opposite effect.
  • Avoid alcohol or stimulants like caffeine in the hours before sleep.  A general recommendation is not to consume anything that might hinder your sleep 4-6 hours before your anticipated bedtime.

Tips

  • Anxiety accounts for almost 50 percent of the cases of chronic insomnia.
  • Your partner’s sleep habits can also cause you to have insomnia. 
  • Pain and discomfort from an injury, illness, or disability can impair sleep. 
  • Insomnia is a side effect of many prescribed and over-the-counter medications. People who suspect their medications are causing them to lose sleep should check with a physician or pharmacist.
  • Exercising too close to bedtime may increase alertness.
  • Your bedroom should be exclusively for sleeping.  Well, maybe one other activity, but avoid eating, reading, smoking, drinking or watching television in bed. 
  • Fluctuations in female hormones play a major role in insomnia in women over their lifetimes. Such insomnia is most often temporary. For some women, hormone replacement therapy may be beneficial. 

Warnings

  • It should be strongly noted that a being labeled "natural" is neither equal to being safe or necessarily to even being natural. Alternative or natural remedies, such as melatonin, are not regulated and their quality is not publicly controlled. In addition, any substance that can affect the body's chemistry can, like any drug, produce side effects that may be harmful.
  • Even if studies report positive benefits from herbal remedies, there have been a number of reported cases of serious and even lethal side effects from herbal products. In addition, some so-called natural remedies were found to contain standard prescription medication.
  • Whenever you are out in the sun, take precautions against overexposure to sunlight by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen.

 

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wangui on Jul 8, 2013
 
i have suffered this for a long time now. it is the most depressing thing one can ever experience. If you cant sleep, you cant perform, very salggish, cant do little tasks and your body is permanently so tired that even to make a bed is an issue. I mean, you feel awkward and stressed all the time. the bigest fear is when you have to listen to yourself, waiting to fall asleep and its not coming. It is the thought that its night time again and no sleep that is more disturbing than the lack of it. please someone, give me or us a solution. we are many suffering and until i experienced this, i nether thought that natural happenings like falling asleep can actually be an issue. dont take anything forgranted.
bhushan on May 30, 2012
 
very nice tips
dania12 on Aug 6, 2009
 
Thanks dear! Very interesting! * I have Fibromyalgia and Helping Tips are always Welcome! I will share with my FIBRO-Support Group! It's positive to read you :-) ;-) So Write please! ( i don't understand you got a negative vote here?!)
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