Why My Insomnia is Getting Worse and Worse?
Have you ever suffered from a night where you toss and turn, count sheep, think calming thoughts, or try to "will" yourself to sleep and it just didn't work? That has been my situation, as I've suffered from sleep deprivation for quite some time now, and it just doesn't seem to get any better. I wake up, feeling like I haven't even rested and my overall health has suffered tremendously. Approximately 30 to 50% of the world's people are left tossing and turning, unable to get a good night's sleep. So here's what I've learned about insomnia.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder, characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Insomnia is usually characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty falling asleep; waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; and feeling tired in the morning. As we get older, our ability to sleep for long periods of time and to get into the deep, restful stages of sleep decreases. Dr. Ronald A. Popper, the founder and medical director of the Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center says that, "as we age, we get more aches and pains that interfere with our sleep." Furthermore, it is usually stress, tension and anxiety that lead to insomnia and sleep disorders.
So what can we do to conquer insomnia? Below you will find some suggestions from sleep experts and sleep disorder clinics that I've checked by own experience and found to be useful.
1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
2. Develop a ritual by doing the same things each night before bed, because routine cues the body to settle down for the night. Unwind early in the evening, so that worries and distractions don't keep you from getting a good night's sleep. Read a book, listen to soothing music, or take a warm (not overly hot) bath with Epsom salts.
3. Create a restful sleep environment: sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room on a comfortable, supportive mattress and foundation. If you sleep with a partner, your mattress should allow each of you enough space to move easily.
4. Exercise regularly, but complete your workouts at least two hours before bedtime.
5. If you do smoke, avoid nicotine close to bedtime, make it a habit: it can lead to poor sleep. Also avoid caffeine and alcohol: these products can keep you awake. And finish eating big meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. While there is controversy about snacking before bedtime, a small, carbohydrate-rich snack, such as an apple or some crackers will help to release a hormone called serotonin, which will help relax you in preparation for sleep. Another great suggestion is to drink a glass of warm milk 15 minutes before bed: it soothes the nervous system, and contains calcium, which works on jagged nerves to help you to relax.
6. If you like herbal tea, try a cup of hot chamomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea. All of these contain natural ingredients which help bring about sleep.
7. Limit naps during the day. Naps affect the quality of your sleep.
8. Get a massage: even a short backrub and/or face/scalp massage with slow and gentle, yet firm strokes will help work the tension out of your muscles and soothe you to sleep.
9. Consider participating in cognitive therapy. It helps to identify and to correct inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to insomnia. It can also give people the proper information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, and help with reasonable sleep goals. In addition, studies have shown that relaxation training, stimulus control, and other cognitive-behavioural treatments are the most effective for eliminating a majority of insomnia-related problems.
10. Have your doctor give you a referral to a sleep disorder clinic. This assessment may help to define the problem, and assist you to find the solutions you so desperately require.
11. When ALL else fails......and ONLY on the advice of your medical practitioner.....sleep medications may be recommended when sleep difficulties interfere with daily activities, when insomnia is temporary or acute, when insomnia-like symptoms occur in association with a diagnosed medical condition and/or when cognitive-behavioural approaches are ineffective.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to insomnia; however, I'm hoping that one or more of these suggestions will be beneficial to you. Good night!