Sleep is a state of consciousness, which gives your body time to rest and build up your strength. While you are asleep, your body goes through different stages at approximately 90 minutes cycles. These includes light sleep, deep sleep, dreaming (also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Newborn babies can sleep for 16 hours a day, while children of school age need average of 10 hours. Adult usually need, on average, 7 to 9 hours sleep a night, as we get older, it’s normal to need less sleep. Most people over 70 need less than 6 hours sleep per night; and tend to be light sleepers. Insomnia is the disturbance of a normal sleep pattern, the inability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Insomnia can last for days, months or even years. There are different types of insomnia:
Transient Insomnia lasts for 2-3 days; Short-term insomnia lasts for more than a week but less than 3 weeks; Chronic insomnia can be defined as insomnia most nights for 3 weeks or longer. Chronic insomnia can lead to mental health problems such as depressions, or misuse of alcohol or other medicines in order to gain sleep; – Difficulty getting to sleep (sleep onset insomnia). This is most common to young people;
-Waking in the night (frequent nocturnal awakening) – most common in older people;
-Waking early in the morning- the least common type of sleep disturbance
-Not feeling refreshed after sleep. You may have trouble functioning normally during the day, feel irritable, tired, and find it difficult to concentrate;
– Waking when you have been disturbed from sleep by pain or noise.
Every individual is different so, it is hard to define what ‘normal sleep’ is for you. Other factors include your age, lifestyle, diet and environment. Insomnia affects males and females in all age groups, but it is more prevalent in women and elderly.
More than half of all insomnia cases are caused by depression anxiety stress or grief. Other common causes of insomnia include breathing problems, arthritis, asthma, indigestion, hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia and other health problems. A condition called Restless legs Syndrome is also to blame for insomnia, as is sleep apnea. Caffeine consumption, jet lag and certain medications can also results to insomnia. Chronic insomnia can be a symptom of a serious underlying medical disorder. People suffering from insomnia also experiencing irritability and sleepiness after one or two sleepiness nights, but when insomnia extends to three or more consecutive nights, overall performance and mild personality can result.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES, HELP AND RECOMMENDATIONS
~ Do not use caffeine, alcohol or nicotine (especially after noon).
~ Check with a doctor to rule out any underlying medical condition.
~ Establish regular bedtime and wake times. Reserve the bed for sleeping and sexual activity only; do not read or watch television in bed. Do not nap late in the day. Set the stage for sleep by keeping the bedroom quiet, dark and cool. Establish a bedtime routine to prepare for sleep.
~ Exercising regularly- best when done before dinner; exercise can stimulate arousal so should not be done too close to bedtime. Do not drink liquids before retiring to prevent frequent trips to the bathroom.
~ Eat tryptophan-rich foods like bananas, dates, figs, milk, nuts, butter, tuna, turkey, whole grain crackers and yogurt, to promote sleep. Half a grapefruit at bedtime also helps.
~ Getting regular exposure to late afternoon sun- stimulates release of melatonin which helps regulate circadian rhythm.
~ Practicing stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep relaxation.
~ Early treatment of insomnia may also help prevent psychiatric disorders such as depressions.
~ Taking a hot bath about two hours before bedtime is helpful; Avoiding looking at the clock; this promotes anxiety and obsession about time.
~ Eating a carbohydrate snack, such as cereal or crackers, just before bedtime is helpful;
~ If sleep does not occur within 15 to 20 minutes in bed, move to another room with dim lighting.
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