Can’t sleep : Insomnia

The science of psychology has a lot to say about what works and doesn’t work for people who cannot fall asleep (insomnia). Individuals with insomnia and other sleep problems often benefit from a range of solutions, rather than a single cure. But foremost, here are some everyone should be educated about.

I. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of conditions including: change, stress, physical pain, trauma, illness, and emotions, PTSD, death of a loved one, or recurrent thoughts.

II. Insomnia can come on at any stage in life. Old sleep habits might need to be changed or altered to be successful at overcoming insomnia. Returning to more natural rhythms and habits can take time. Be patient. If you’ve had a lifelong problem with sleep, you unfortunately may not find an overnight cure. There is no immediate solution unless you want to take medicine, which can often lead to a wide range of other serious problems. The goal of this article is to help you make sensible decisions regarding the role of sleep in your life, and return to more natural, reasonable ways of approaching and thinking about sleep.

III. Tips to SLEEP;Overcome Insomnia

  1. RETINAL STIMULATION – also known as eyes (retinal) stimulation. Let the eyes get stimulation from the sun. To do so, head outdoor for activities for around 15 minutes per day. A short 15 minutes packed lunch in the garden would do wonders for your sleep. It will also help you receive Vitamin D (available from sunlight) and will help in calcium production.
  2. NO NAPS – your body will be tired by the time it reaches night time. It should help enhance the chances of falling asleep.
  3. COOL ROOM – make sure room temperature is cool and comfortable. ‘Cool’ is objective. If you are living with a partner, work out a suitable, comfortable temperature for both of you.
  4. NO WAKING ACTIVITIES IN BED – do not get involved in waking activities such as eating, watching television, usage of computers etc. in bed. With such, your body will automatically associate ‘sleep’ with your ‘bed’.
  5. GO TO BED AT REGULAR TIME –remember the days where you are at the school camp or the army? Once the sleeping hour hits, you will be sleepy.
  6. DON’T EXERCISE BEFORE BEDTIME – avoid exercising 3 hours before bed time. When exercising, the heart rate increases and makes it hard to sleep.
  7. AVOID CAFFEINE – We all know how caffeine ‘wakes’ us up in the morning. Avoid caffeinated drinks at least 2 hours before sleep.
  8. WIND DOWN – do not engage in brain-taxing activities before bed. Let the mind rest and relax which makes falling asleep easier.
  9. CALMING MUSIC/SELF-HYPNOSIS – Listen to calming music. Classical music are my personal favorite. Remember the number times you fall asleep in the concert hall while listening to it?

If you are doing all the above suggestions and still have problem sleeping, please contact a physician or psychotherapist who specializes in sleep.

References:
1. “Several Sleep Disorders Reflect Gender Differences”. http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/42/10/40. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
2. Mendelson WB (2008). “New Research on Insomnia: Sleep Disorders May Precede or Exacerbate Psychiatric Conditions”. Psychiatric Times 25 (7). http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/insomnia/article/10168/1163082.
3. Kripke DF, Garfinkel L, Wingard DL, Klauber MR, Marler MR (February 2002). “Mortality associated with sleep duration and insomnia”. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 59 (2): 131–6. PMID 11825133. http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/59/2/131.
4. Kirkwood CK (1999). “Management of insomnia”. J Am Pharm Assoc 39 (5): 688–96; quiz 713–4. PMID 10533351.
5. Jacobs, Gregg; Edward F. Pace-Schott, Robert Stickgold, Michael W. Otto (September 27, 2004). “Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Pharmacotherapy for Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Trial and Direct Comparison”. Archives of Internal Medicine 164 (17): 1888–1896. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.17.1888. PMID 15451764. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/164/17/1888?ijkey=6a2af558….
6. KARL E. MILLER, M.D. (July 2005). “Cognitive Behavior Therapy vs. Pharmacotherapy for Insomnia”. American Family Physician. http://www.aafp.org/afp/20050715/tips/7.html.

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