Have you ever been lying in bed at night unable to fall asleep for hours on end? If so, you are not alone; 10 out of every 12 people have experienced this at least 100 times in their life.
This is better known as insomnia, which is the difficulty of falling or staying asleep. Although up to 15 to 20 percent of individuals may experience short-term insomnia, which usually lasts less than three months, 10 percent of individuals may experience chronic insomnia which could occur up to 3 times a week for longer than 3 months. Chronic insomnia has a negative impact on your life. Sleep deprivation from chronic insomnia not only lowers the quality of your day-to-day life, but it could heighten your risk for high blood pressure and depression. Chronic insomnia can lower motivation or energy and an inability to focus or concentrate. A good night’s sleep plays an important role in how you function throughout the day. Although insomnia is a common sleep problem for adults, there are many things you can do to have a better chance at getting a good night’s sleep.
- Eliminate any distracting noises. Some people use earplugs, earphones, or listen to relaxing soundtracks. These aids are intended to induce relaxation and block out any annoying noises such as a barking dog or loud neighbors.
- Keep a sleep journal. A sleep journal will help you have a better understanding of your sleep habits and what affects your sleeping. Additionally, keeping a record will motivate you to be more conscientious about your daily lifestyle choices. A sleep journal should consist of daily entries recording the following:
- Amount of caffeine intake during the day (especially after 10 PM)
- Amount of exercise for the day
- Food consumption for the day
- Entire sleep time from when you fall asleep until you awake
- How many times you woke up at night and for how long
- Avoid all electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Photo receptors in the retina sense light and dark; they send signals to our brain letting our body know when it is time to go to sleep or when it is time to wake up. Our body mistakes the artificial light generated from electronics for daylight which causes an alert and wakeful state.
- Temperature regulation. Keeping your head nice and cool is conducive to good sleep. If you have air conditioning, set your thermostat somewhere around 65 degrees. Keeping a small portable fan by your window or a ceiling fan on can help airflow and maintain a comfortable temperature. Also, keep in mind that heat rises so if you live in a multi-story home consider sleeping on the lower floor of the house.
- Sleep restriction. You should limit your time in bed by using it only for sleeping (watch TV or read in another location). Increase your body’s drive for sleep by temporarily restricting the amount of sleep you get. For instance, if you have trouble sleeping, go to bed later and wake up at the same time every single day. By restricting your sleep time, your anxiety about going to bed and falling asleep is replaced by drowsiness. If you feel that your sleep habits improve within a week, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier. Reassess weekly but keep your wake up time the same for every day.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.