When insomnia becomes chronic it can compromise an individual’s overall health.
Insomnia or sleeplessness is a type of disorder that can be varied and have different impacts on a person’s life. It can also be caused by many underlying issues, either in lifestyle or by underlying health issues. Insomnia is more complex than most individuals realize but there are steps one can take to try and ensure a better night’s sleep as often as possible. No one sleeps wonderfully every night. Occasional insomnia happens to almost everyone alive. Society now is hectic worldwide and stress higher than ever for most individuals. Outside pressures such as job worries and financial pressures do indeed contribute to sleeplessness. Family issues can also cause insomnia either chronic or intermittent. Health issues that are underlying are also a main cause of tossing and turning at night, and the health issues can be mental or physical health issues. There is just a myriad of ways in which someone can experience sleeplessness. As many as 30% of adults worldwide will experience insomnia for either short or long periods at some point in their lives.
Doctor’s appointments are many times made by individuals because of insomnia.
Even missing one night of peaceful sleep is hard to deal with for most people, and when sleeplessness becomes chronic individuals do head to the doctor for assistance. Also known as a sleep disorder, insomnia is so common there is an American Sleep Association (ASA)website available with common causes of sleeplessness and common remedies listed to assist individuals in combatting the inability to sleep peacefully and thoroughly. Sleep is important, as when sleeping, the body and mind rejuvenate and refresh themselves. Sleep deprivation that goes on for too long or happens more than one or two nights in a row can have mental and physical consequences eventually. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation is so common it is considered by government medical officials as a public health crisis. The incidences now of sleeplessness have risen over the years. A new classification by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA has been ordained for studying and assisting individuals with sleep disorders and the classification is now listed as Sleep Epidemiology.
The different classifications of insomnia are as follows:
- The inability to fall asleep. This type is extremely common and can lead to a cycle of sleeplessness in which a person might even dread going to bed and trying to sleep. Worrying about being able to sleep causes even more sleeplessness. In extreme cases, a person can suffer professionally and personally as their minds become foggy without sleep. Blood pressure problems may erupt as well as heart issues and other diseases. There is also an increased chance of accidents either on the road while driving, or on the job, or at home as sleep deprivation that is intense and longstanding leads to poor judgment and sometimes even falling asleep on the job or while driving. Doctors will generally suggest natural types of sleep aids such as melatonin or valerian root, but if nothing works will prescribe sleeping medications at least for short periods since this type of sleep disorder can have the most serious consequences. Individuals with the inability to fall asleep can toss and turn all night without even getting an hour of needed rest.
- The inability to stay asleep. The American Sleep Association and most medical professionals do suggest a good solid uninterrupted seven to nine hours of sleep per night. The inability to stay asleep usually has an underlying medical issue such as snoring or sleep apnea, where a person can stop breathing during the sleep cycle and therefore wake up several times a night. Doctors can usually tackle this sleep problem more easily, by clearing up any sinus issues, or by suggesting the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Individuals with sleep apnea can stop breathing unknowingly several times a night, and there are many causes. A medical professional can single out the causes and then prescribe a CPAP machine to keep the airways open and oxygenated. Sleep apnea is caused by some time of interference in continuous airflow during the night.
- Early morning awakening. This type of sleep disorder usually signals some type of depression, either mild or severe. This occurs because the Circadian Rhythm, which is the light/dark neurological functioning that signals when to sleep and when to awake is disrupted when a person is depressed. An antidepressant is generally the answer to this type of sleep disorder as clearing up the underlying depression will then clear up this type of insomnia.
Sleep disorder clinics now have increased to evaluate those with sleep problems.
Individuals can spend the night at a sleep lab and be diagnosed as to the type of sleep and amounts of awakenings that are occurring, especially in the cases of sleep apnea. However, most doctors do advise homeopathic or natural methods of falling asleep and staying asleep before resorting to any machinery, medications, or sleep labs. Doctors will do bloodwork to rule out underlying medical conditions but generally, also give “tips” on how to sleep quickly and soundly without medical intervention. A natural approach to solid sound sleep is always a preferred method overall.
Strategies that are hundreds of years old still work for good solid sleep.
Chief among these strategies and what every medical professional will suggest is setting a routine bedtime and sticking with it, even on weekends. Going to bed at the same time and awakening at the same time puts the Circadian Rhythm on an even keel and is a top tip for a good night’s sleep. If a person works swing shifts this can be more difficult, so other tips such as drinking a cup of warm milk or eating a protein and carbohydrate snack before retiring is also a good strategy. Protein mixed with carbohydrates (and milk has both), has been noted to induce slumber. Staying away from all types of technology, even television shows can help a person sleep better. Any type of vivid screen, or video games, or even shopping online before bedtime, rejuvenates the mind, not relaxes it. Blocking out all light also helps as the Circadian Rhythm revolves around a light/dark cycle. Buying an eye mask will block out daylight while trying to sleep as an eye mask can create total darkness for anyone at any time of the day or night.
Christina L., of South Boston, Virginia, a small town with a lot of swing shift workers said this:
“I work four twelve-hour shifts a week and it is first shift, middle shift, and night shift. One week of each rotating, so my body clock was off all the time. No matter what I did, I found it difficult to fall asleep each time at bedtime, whether I slept during the day or the night. The night shift was the worst though. Another worker at the manufacturing plant where I work suggested an eye mask that can be purchased at any retails store and after I used it the first time, I was hooked! I not only fell asleep during the day immediately but slept for seven straight hours. The best advice I was ever given!”
Other individuals concur:
Brad C., of Philadelphia, PA works at a large hospital in the emergency room and swings shifts.
Brad loves the night face masks as the hospital he works at gives them to patients to assist with sleep. He tells everyone now, “Get a face mask for a good solid sleep. Putting one on blocks out all light, and you feel like you are in a cave. No matter what shift I work, I use a night face mask now and fall asleep immediately each time I go to sleep.”
Besides the tips above, there are scores of others that assist with sleep.
Chamomile tea has long been touted as a great sleep-inducer as has valerian root. Couple the tea-sipping with a nice warm bath that has lavender oil added to the water and the mind and muscles do relax. Sprinkling some Epsom Salts, which helps tired achy muscles into the water, and the experience becomes even more enjoyable and more effective. Doing this a half hour or so before bedtime has helped countless individuals for centuries. These are not new approaches but rather home remedies that have been passed on for generations. Keeping a bedroom or any sleeping area cool also assists in falling asleep and staying asleep. A too hot environment does not enhance sleep but rather disrupts it. Everyone sweats a little while they sleep and too much warmth can hamper not help.
Above all else, do not allow sleeplessness to cause too much upheaval in your life.
If a sleep disorder is very persistent, a medical visit to your family physician should occur to prevent both mental and physical problems from chronic lack of sleep. Never be afraid to seek help when it is needed. Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, and should be on everyone’s list of priorities.