According to the National Sleep Foundation, 58% of adults have insomnia at least more than once a week. Getting rid of your insomnia can be a daunting task, but you’re not alone. Many have been helped, not from a miracle “cure”, but by adopting a number of successful sleep strategies.
To begin with, it’s important to identify types and causes. The causes vary, but the basic types of insomnia are:
TRANSIENT INSOMNIA is the most common. Most people, at one time or another in their lives will experience it. Stress at work is a frequent cause. You may have a project deadline to make that is causing some frustration. However, once the deadline passes, your sleep returns to normal. Transient insomnia lasts only a couple of nights. Other causes can be a change in your work hours or a short term illness like the flu. The excitement of travel also brings on transient insomnia, both in the preparation for a flight and the resulting jet lag.
SHORT-TERM INSOMNIA is often the result of dramatic life changing event. An example would be a death in the family or a loved one going through a divorce. Short-term is generally characterized as lasting less than one month, but it may take longer depending on the event in question. A change in job responsibilities requires a term of adjustment, for example. The insomnia may present during that time only and then dissipate after the situation becomes less stressful.
CHRONIC INSOMNIA is characterized by a term lasting more than one month as well as an underlying medical problem. Sleep apnea may be the cause. People who are overweight also suffer disproportionately with chronic insomnia. Too much caffeine too late in the evening is a frequent culprit. Many times, something as simple as turning off the bathroom light is enough to alleviate the problem. However, chronic sleeplessness can be indicative of more serious medical problem and should be addressed by your healthcare provider.
“Curing” insomnia is probably the wrong word. More appropriately, one should adopt certain sleep “strategies”:
1) Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
2) No smoking six hours before bedtime.
3) Avoid alcohol. Although a depressant, it may throw off your sleep pattern.
4) Be careful of medications. Read the directions carefully for contraindications. Some medications contain slight elements of stimulants.
5) Keep a careful diary of what you eat and when. It might hold the key.
6) Avoid sweets. They give you a boost and then a crash.
7) Limit your water intake early in the evening. It will cut down getting up in the middle of the night.
8) Make note of any other symptoms. Example: Is there cramping in the legs? It could be Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) or another neurological cause.
9) Program your first dream. Start every evening with the same thoughts or place in your mind. After a time, a pattern will take hold.
10) Concentrate on your breathing. Often times, we have too many thoughts racing in our heads. Listen to yourself breathing instead.
11) Filter out noise. Do not sleep with the TV on. Use soothing music, white noise, or ocean wave sounds to mask any room noise.
A good night’s sleep can refresh and recharge. Adopt a sleep strategy and start sleeping well tonight.